“I’ve learned that things in life are not always perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eventually make them great with positivity and hard work.”
In our blended family culture, do you ever wonder how children truly feel about the situations in which they find themselves? Do you wonder if the pain adults navigate through as relationships are severed, built, and re-built is destined to become their offspring’s legacy? Do we do enough to protect and love them when we fear the love or a bond they deserved or needed is somehow missing? Must the aberrations of the parent always become that of the child?
Phoebe is a 2o-year-old college student. When she was born her biological father didn’t want her. He didn’t feel that he was ready to be a father. The 28-year-old professional preferred that another choice be made when her mother, a 21-year-old college student, broke the news that she was pregnant. He walked away. Phoebe was subsequently born to a single mother in 1980’s Louisiana during a time when it was still unpopular to “go it on your own.” Abortion was barely turning the corner of mainstream acceptability in many parts of the nation. Her mother made the calculated and heartfelt choice to stick it out, and for two and a half years raised Phoebe as a young, single parent in a society that frequently gave “funny looks” at unwed moms while also deeply frowning upon abortion. You could say that Phoebe was born between a rock and a hard place.
Phoebe is an example of a choice made by a young women who weighed all the factors, took what, for her, was the unselfish road, and chose to believe that everything would work out for the best because she would make it so. In fact, Phoebe’s life is proof that when faced with a life altering aberration, you can turn lemons into lemonade through sheer strength of will, faith, and fortitude. Attitude goes a long way toward the paths our lives take, and that is an individual choice no one can take away. As founding member of the Aberration Nation, I am honored to bring my own daughter, Phoebe, into the fold. She is a remarkable young woman, and a role model for how we can all focus on the bright side.
How has not being wanted by your biological father shaped your life, including your self esteem and world view?
Honestly, I believe it has shaped my life for the better. Who knows what my life could have turned out instead, but the one I have is wonderful. I truly wouldn’t want it any other way even if it included having my birth father in it. I do sometimes wonder where I would be now and who would be in my life if he had stuck around, but it’s more out of sheer curiosity than out of longing.
I don’t believe the situation has affected my self esteem at all really. I always looked at the situation as stemming from a character flaw of his, for not taking responsibility, and for not wanting an amazing woman and child in his life. I never really thought it had anything to do with me not being good enough, probably because my mom always raised me feeling special and wanted above anything else. Actually, sometimes I’m really surprised how unaffected I feel by it . . . I’m sort of waiting for it to hit me and mess me up or something, but it doesn’t seem to be happening so I’m extremely grateful for that.
My view of the world . . . I’m a trillion times luckier in life than most of the world so this one thing really isn’t something to harp on.
Your father adopted you when you were six-years-old. As you were growing up, how did your mother and adopted father handle the situation? Is there anything you believe they could have done better?
I can’t remember the first time my mom and dad sat down and explained everything to me. I really just grew up knowing how things were from an extremely young age. I was just told my dad was adopting me because he loved me as his own child–there never seemed to be another option. Sometimes people will refer to my dad as my step-dad, and that always sounds so jarring to me. He’s not my step dad, he’s just my dad. He always has been. I don’t think there’s a rule-book on how to handle a situation like this. But above anything, my confidence in myself and my family now, prove that my parents handled it greatly. I really can’t think of anything they could have done better.
What have you learned from the situation, and how will you apply this to your own life moving forward?
I’ve learned that things in life are not always perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eventually make them great with positivity and hard work. Although I’m the child in this situation, it was my mom who had to bear the brunt of the emotional hardship. She was able to not only get over her own heartbreak and fear, but to instill in me, with the help of my dad, a sense of calm and acceptance in life. For that I will always be in awe and extremely grateful.
Moving forward in life I will always, of course, be careful who I let close to my heart, but most of all I’ll try not to be afraid when life takes drastic turns I don’t expect. It has already taken many in the past few years that have turned out to be better than I could ever ask for.
Hmmm, I guess the worst is the curiosity I have. Particularly on my birthday every year I wonder if my birth father stops at some point during the day and thinks, “Wow, today Phoebe is 20.” I also think about the fact that I apparently have some half siblings out there in the world. I’m really more saddened that I miss out on those family members more than missing out on my father. Those kids could be awesome, amazing people that I’m related to, and I’ll probably never get to know them. The best aspect is probably just knowing how lucky I am. Not that a father, or husband, makes for everything in your life, but the life we would have led if my mom stayed with my birth father and the life we ended up having with my dad are radically different. Who knows what my first “chance” at a life would have been, but the second one we got has been so amazing that I feel like it’s extremely unlikely the other could have been better. Even though the beginning of my life was certainly not storybook, it turned out fantastic–what more can one ask for?
How has your aberration shaped your views on abortion and adoption?
I have always been steadfast on my views on abortion – I believe a woman has a right to choose. If that grew out of anything in my familial past, I really wouldn’t know. But it’s definitely made me a strong believer in adoption. I don’t feel I can even begin to relate to children who were adopted by both parents- that’s a whole other ball game. I almost feel bad writing this in such a nonchalant way because I know that some adopted children are deeply affected by it, and I would never want people to find me cold to those situations. My situation has made me realize that you don’t have to be blood-related to have a great family love. I think any parents that give the gift of adoption to a child, whether it be in a situation like mine, or a total adoption situation, are amazing selfless people. The world would probably be a much better place if everyone were able to share their love, name, and family with a child who is not their “own.”
Your mother was a college student when she became pregnant, and now you’re a college student. From the perspective of a child born to a single mother, can you share any insight with young women who may be facing an unplanned pregnancy, or young single parents?
That’s a tough question. I could never begin to understand what it’s like to have an unplanned pregnancy. I would love to say to all those young girls that they can definitely do it, and everything will work out. I am extremely lucky that it did for me. My mom is extremely strong and determined, and she survived through it and made a wonderful life for us. Reality is, a lot of young pregnant women cannot and do not do that. I think each woman who is unexpectedly pregnant has a lot of tough questions to ask themselves–the resolution may not always be what everyone would love for it to be. As for young single parents . . . the best advice I could give is to do the best you can and let your love for your child come first in everything you do.
You’ve never met your biological father. Do you think adopted children should search out their birth parents and why?
That’s a personal choice. I think it’s really great to hear stories about how adopted children reconnect with their birth parents years later and build a relationship. I’ve thought about contacting my birth father before, but as I get older I realize I don’t have anything to say to him. and no need for him in my life. If I were raised without a father, it would probably be a much different story. But that part in my life is filled by a great father, and there’s really nothing I could need from anyone else. Some people probably want to face their birth parents for closure. But I don’t even feel the need to ask him why he left. He was a young, stupid guy. The world is full of them . . . I would only hear a story I’ve heard many times before.
I believe families are built around love. Perhaps that usually happens in a biological situation with parents and children, but it doesn’t mean that alternative situations are any less valid or steadfast.
For more on this story, read Curve Ball Salvation.