Some of my memories and thoughts on my adoption
By Mike Taylor
One of the first memories I have is sitting on a park bench in Mercer County Park when I was about four. The only other memory I have of that day is riding the paddleboats in the lake they had there. For many years I had no idea why I remembered this so clearly (I will swear to this day the boat we were in was yellow) until one evening late while on vacation with Kristine, my biological mother, did I come to understand that this was in fact the first time I had ever met my mother.
It may sound strange to hear that it wasn't until four years into my life did I first meet the woman to whom I owed my very life, but for me it was perfectly normal. I never once in my life felt bad about being adopted, even when I was older and truly understood the circumstances that led to my life being the way it was. In all honesty if anything I have always considered myself very, very lucky.
I consider myself to be this way for one very simple reason (cliché as it may sound): love. An abundance of love, in fact, at times more than I even knew what to do with. Everywhere I looked all I could find were people who loved me and were there for me. Among all these people two clearly stood above the rest though; my mother and father Bob & Eileen Taylor. To say that they were important to who I am today would be an understatement (not to diminish the impact of Kristine, with whom I share more than a few personality traits).
Aside from my own personal beliefs I have been told more times than I can count about how amazing my parents are; truly every friend I have ever brought over has harped on this fact. My father was a true Irishman and one of the smartest people I have ever met in my life. He was the kind of man who could have a conversation with anyone regardless of who they were. His hospitality and way of being are something I hope I can aspire to be even half to in my life.
While writing about my father I can go on and on about telling story after story of his good nature and wit, with my mother is much trickier to put into words. I don't believe there is any way in which I can describe her that won't sound as if I am coming off boastful, but she is in fact the most wonderful woman I have ever encountered in my entire life. Kristine is a very close second but my mother Eileen Taylor possesses such an unbelievable amount of love and compassion that it has enabled all that has transpired in my life to come to pass. Undoubtedly without Kristine I would not exist but without Eileen none of the rest of this would have ever been possible.
My adoption was done through an organization called Catholic Charities. I am not an expert on how other adoption agencies may work but I am aware of Catholic Charities approach. In their effort to make the adoption process and the adoptees life be as un-turbulent as possible they attempt to at least somewhat match ethnicity between parent and child. While this is being done all prospective parents are required to fill out paperwork detailing virtually every aspect of their life in a sort of biography about who they are. Once a prospective mother comes in and decides that adoption is the course of action she wishes to pursue Catholic Charities then makes a portfolio of all the possible families for their unborn baby to go to. It is then up to the birth mother (the term I have always used to describe Kristine) to chose to which family to go too.
It has been an ongoing joke for virtually my entire life that if I had not ended up with my parents Kristine’s second choice would have been to a pair of math teachers. While I am sure these people would have been loving, good-natured parents I am also sure that describing this as hell for me would have been an understatement. Math has plagued me for my entire life and it has given me no indication it plans to relent anytime soon (evidenced also by the fact that no one on Kristine’s side of the family possess any talent in math what-so-ever) [Kristine says, some of us are fine at applied maths. It is the random fractions we all just ignore!].
Luckily for me (see, I told you I was lucky) Kristine made what I like to say is the correct choice and picked Bob and Eileen, my parents. I don’t know what went through Kristine’s head as she made this choice but I do know that when she did she also had no idea that she would be able to have a relationship with me. That was simply not what an adoption was, you were giving up you child completely; you didn’t get to have your pie and eat it too. Fortunately for her my father and mother were two of the most compassionate and understanding people Catholic Charities had ever seen. To this day I will always remember being told this story of how when Kristine first inquired about whether maintaining contact (not even in person, at this point I believe she was just hoping for letters) to which my father replied “Kristine, you're family now.”
My parents have always wanted what was best for me, as most parents do. In their opinion knowing my biological mother was what was best for me. As I said before, my father had the ability to talk to anyone, but along with that I also believe came the ability to judge a persons character. I believe he saw Kristine for who she was and instantly understood that it would be of value for me to have her involved in my life, even if she was only 18 at the time. Just 4 years later my parents would be in attendance for her graduation from Chestnut Hill College; a place where 22 years later my mother would be again, only this time standing alongside Kristine watching me graduate.
I met Kristine when I was four but it wasn't till around eight that I knew who she actually was. The first few years to me she was just a nice girl who would visit every once in a while with presents. Then she showed up with a man named Rich who she wanted for us to meet and not long after that wedding bells were in the air. This was not just any wedding though, Rich was a graduate of the Naval Academy which entitled him to be married in the church that belonged to the school in Annapolis. To my eight year old self seeing soldiers walking around with swords on was about as cool as it could get.
Not only were my parents and I invited to this wedding but Kristine had also asked if I could be ring bearer for the ceremony. Another thing I can say about my life is that I have never been ashamed or embarrassed about being adopted. The environment I was raised in had too many good people in it for this to be possible, and the main factors were my parents and Kristine, who never once even gave me a hint of a reason to feel that way. Clearly Kristine had no problem with people knowing considering I was walking right in front of her down her wedding aisle. Nor did my parents ever once wince as they went through countless introductions that day.
The wedding was also one of the first times I ever met my extended family. The Kirby’s welcomed me as one of their own from the first time I met them. Kristine was the oldest in the family followed by her brother Craig, her sister Alison (whose son Gavin is now my Godson), and last but not least the twins Brooke and Heather. Her parents Barbara and Mike, my biological grandparents, have never missed sending a card or inviting me for dinner for holidays and my birthday since that time.
Over the years I have grown extremely close with all of my biological aunts and uncle as well as my cousins Ashton (Craig’s), Aidan, Paige, and Gavin (Alison’s). We celebrate together, watch football together, and support each other when we need too, because that is what a family does. And that is what we are. A family.