You Can’t Be Replaced

You can’t be replaced. Read the words again. You. Can’t. Be. Replaced. If you haven’t heard that in your life, you need to know it’s true. It’s one of the many things I have learned by being adopted. In order to explain myself better, I’ll need to tell you the respective stories of my adoptive parents and my natural mom. I don’t pretend to tell the story from their point of view, but am expressing what they have shared with me.

My adoptive parents were young when they married – 18 to be exact. They had my brother shortly thereafter and tried to have other children. They wanted at least 5, but there were other plans for their lives. My mom was 22 or 23 when she miscarried a baby, a tragic event by itself, but it was made worse by the discovery that she had cancer and would be unable to have additional children. They had my brother (who was 4 or 5 at the time), but were determined to have more children. So, while in the midst of battling cancer, they set out to adopt.

My natural mom was 16 when she found out she was pregnant with me. She was five months pregnant by the time she shared the information with her parents and after a couple of weeks of discussion, she moved to Memphis, TN to have me and put me up for adoption. She labored over the decision for the final months of her pregnancy – frequently wavering between keeping me and letting me be adopted. She was told I would be better off with another family and that she would have other children, which would replace me and relieve her anxiety about having me adopted.

Meanwhile, my adoptive parents waited patiently for a child. The primary battle with cancer was over and my mom was getting healthier and healthier, which enhanced their prospects of receiving a child.

After I was born, my natural mom waited 10 days to finally “sign away” her rights to be my parent. And shortly thereafter my parents received word that they would become my parents.

My natural mom did have additional children – my brothers – but she never stopped wondering about me – because people aren’t replaceable.

My adoptive parents raised me, but I am confident that did not resolve the grief they experienced in losing a child – because that child wasn’t replaceable either.

As for me, despite having amazing parents and the coolest big brother anyone could ask for, I lived with a hole in my heart – a hole that demonstrated my natural parents weren’t replaceable either.

Now, I have all the people I was supposed to have in my life – my natural parents, my natural brothers (and, at some point I hope, the sister I have thanks to my natural dad), my adoptive parents, and my adoptive brother. I have lived without some of them in my life in the past, but now I can’t imagine what that would be like in the future.

My natural parents couldn’t be replaced. I couldn’t be replaced. I couldn’t replace the child my adoptive parents lost. Because no one can be replaced.

And that goes for you too. You are who you are, where you are, and with the people you are for a reason. You can’t be replaced. Trust me, I’ve been part of a process that seems to suggest it’s possible, but it’s not. Please know that – you are unique, special, important, irreplaceable.