Courtney is a Portland native, with a passion for pizza and an artistic appreciation for Adele's latest album (and Taylor Swift too, as long as Taylor doesn't get too angsty 😉). Courtney works with our friends and community partners in the Justice Department of Bridgetown Church, serving the vulnerable throughout Portland. Courtney's latest adventure is becoming a parent, as she and her husband prepare for their first baby! Courtney is many cool things: an expectant mama, an advocate of justice, and a connoisseur of good music and good food. But Courtney is also an important voice in the wider adoption story.
Courtney is an adoptee.
We were so honored to interview Courtney for National Adoption Month and to share her story with you! As an agency who seeks to serve all people involved in the adoption process, we believe that part of serving is listening to and telling the stories of those people. We believe that these are the stories that change us, encourage us to grow, and help us to reimagine adoption.
I was adopted at birth through a local private adoption. My adoptive parents struggled to conceive for years and were unsure if they could ever have a family. They were connected to a young mom within their doctor’s practice who was interested in exploring options for her pregnancy. The story that has unfolded since then has taught me to never question my worth or my value in that space because of the way both parties [birth family and adoptive family] handled the adoption. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to tell and share and experience that part of my story with others. I was able to meet my birth mom when I was twenty-one.
The first thing she said to me was, “I hope you know I made this choice because I love you.”
It was shocking to me that she felt the need to say that, because that was never a question in my mind.
Now that I am married and expecting my first kid, I’m also getting to experience this from a whole other perspective, of a mom’s love and a parent’s desire for kids, which I’m sure will only expand more as we welcome our baby into the world.
Can you give us an idea of what your household was like growing up?
I was raised with a loving set of parents and a sister, who is about two years younger than me. My family is very, very involved in the community and with their immediate families and with our local church. All of those things played into a really healthy childhood. It was fun!
Was your sister also adopted?
She was not. They were able to naturally conceive my sister, which was an interesting dynamic as we got older, understanding that one of us was born from my mom and one of us was not. But again, my parents did such a fantastic job sharing the story and showing unconditional love from day one, and also honoring and dignifying my birth mom’s choice. So there were no big questions about whether or not I was wanted or desired. So that was…it is really special.
How did your adoptive parents present the concept of adoption to you? As they shared your own narrative with you, what was most helpful in your process?
As long as I could understand, I’ve known that I was adopted. I mean, literally sitting on my nursery shelf right now, I have all of the books that my parents used to read to me about adoption. It was just a very open conversation in our family, not only with my parents, but my grandparents and cousins and people from within our community. I was given the affirmation of being wanted, told why my birth mom made the choice that she did, and taught what it means to be adopted into a family.
There were seasons when I was little when I did struggle with the concept of it. When I was frustrated with my adoptive parents, I would lash out or say mean things. But deep down I always knew that they were mine, I was theirs, they chose me.
Deep down I always knew that they were mine, I was theirs, they chose me.
When I asked about how they shared your narrative with you, I was picturing something abstract, but the fact that they read it to you, as a story is so powerful. Can you share more about those stories and how they impacted you?
I’ll have to pull them off the shelf soon, they’re pretty sweet. Those images are like, so engrained in my brain. They read them to me when I was probably like three- or four-years-old. Pretty impressionable memory of literature and putting that together with my story.
Now I get to explore books for my own Baby Registry. I mean…I’m not going to be reading adoption books to my baby, because my baby won’t be adopted. When I get to tell them about my story, I’m excited to pull those out and explain it in that way.
As an adult adoptee, you have a unique perspective. In the wide adoption conversation, what do you feel needs to be said?
Adoption is a gift. It’s a privilege. It’s an honor. And it’s the way that God designed "community" to work. In the sense that when there are those who are vulnerable--others walk alongside them. It is, and it can be, a gift for all parties when it is handled well. At least in my experience adoption from end to end is all about love for a child, having their best interests at heart, and taking care of one another.
At least in my experience adoption from end to end is all about love for a child, having their best interests at heart, and taking care of one another.
Is there anything you’d like to share with birth parents who are considering placing their child in an adoption?
Just know that you are valuable and you are loved. The decision you are making is not taken for granted by anyone. As a kiddo who was adopted at a very young age, I want to tell the story in a way that reminds everyone that they are loved and valuable as a part of the family.
Is there anything you’d like to say to adoptive families or families waiting to adopt?
Based on my parents’ experience, I would encourage you to surround yourself with community who will see you and know you and love you. You’re not going to have it all figured out. This is coming from a child who questioned and pushed back on things and desired to be reaffirmed in her understanding of her own story. Be willing to be wrong and be willing to grow with your child. The fact that there are families lined up for years to say yes and bring children into their homes, that’s about all you can ask for.
Is there anything you’d like to say to younger adoptees, from your experience?
In my experience, there’s ups and downs. There were seasons of my life where being adopted was something on the forefront and then seasons of the my life where it was just the eyes--the lens that I see life through. It’s not necessarily the first thing on your mind everyday. When you’re either learning information about yourself or you're experiencing relationships in a new way, with your birth parents and adoptive parents, I would just encourage you to have someone to talk to about it, because everyone can benefit from therapy.
Huge thanks to Courtney, and to all those who shared their story with us during National Adoption Month! We have been so moved by the stories we've heard and the generosity we've seen through the month of November.
We know that there are so many wonderful charities you could donate to this Giving Tuesday, and we would be honored if you would consider partnering with Choice Adoptions as we provide safe and loving adoptions for the vulnerable children of Oregon and Washington.