Alison AustinEducator and Autism Instructor Therapist
I like to think that I started life as a framed picture in my mothers’ suitcase, on her way to England, to share the news that she and my dad had just adopted a baby girl with family and friends.
My mom said that that picture, me in a dress with a piecrust collar (all the rage in the eighties) with no official name and spaghetti sauce all over her face, created a family that would later see two more sisters adopted and countless fur children.
I always knew I was adopted; it was something my parents talked about openly with all of us. At school, I always felt like it was something I had to overcome or hide.
I desperately wanted to be able to know what time I was born, if I was a fussy infant or whose nose I ended up with. I felt like an oddity when I told other kids or their parents that I was adopted. There were always so many questions and the concept of being “given up” was a tough reality to face as a kid.
I identified with characters like Annie, Oliver Twist or any orphaned Princess of the Disney variety; I liked the idea that there was some dramatic reason why I ended up being adopted.
The truth, my birth parents were just two young kids from Newfoundland who knew they couldn’t take care of a baby at that point in their lives.
Thirty-one years later, I am only beginning to appreciate the pain, courage and strength it must have taken to let go of an infant daughter.
Now when I look at that picture, my mother carried across the ocean, I see a little girl who was immensely loved and about to be given the chance for an incredible life.