Adoption is not a one-size-fits-all experience. If you ask ten people who have any sort of encounter with the matter, you may very well receive ten completely different answers. It’s a delicate topic and a deeply personal experience. I’ve come to realize that adoption takes a lifetime to process in one’s own way. Yet, from my front row seat on the issue, I have come to find that, there are a handful of widely shared beliefs about adoption, known by those who come face-to-face with it. 

I am the oldest of eleven siblings, seven of whom are adopted. A lot of people have asked me whether I would adopt someday, trying to tell, I think, whether I appreciated the process and my unique upbringing.

It’s a little premature for me to answer that question definitively, but here’s what I do know for sure. My life has changed seven times for the better, each moment one of those boys joined our family. Perhaps one universal truth about adoption is this—everything changes.

An Open Letter to my Brother’s Birth Mom: We Have a Love in Common

To my little brother’s birth mom,

As I reflect on National Adoption Day, you’re on my mind and in my heart. Let me tell you a story.

“…Eight, nine, ten,” I whispered under my breath as I gently passed his fingers through mine, properly introducing myself individually to each one. My heart was still racing with anticipation from the quick change of plans and long car ride downtown. 

It was a hot summer day, and my family and I were on our way to the local pool when my mom got a call. It was our case manager. All of us kids knew that a call from our case manager could be routine or it could mean a new sibling. Between the squeals of excitement, the older ones shushed the younger ones, so we could attempt to make out why she called. To our excitement, your baby boy had just been brought to the case manager’s office from the hospital delivery room. 

Just two days old, he had left your side in the hospital delivery room, only hours before we got to the office. Hunched over his car seat, I examined the crevasses of his almost angular lips and perfect, doll-like nose. My 11-year-old self-marveled at this tiny being in wonder, much like you must have done. A few feet away, my mom and his case manager discussed logistics. Amidst all the change, I knew one thing. This boy was stuck with me and I made sure to let him know it; “Hi brother, I love you. We’re going to be good friends.” 

In all, my parents adopted seven boys, making us a complete family of 13. All too well, we know the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with adoption. To us, it is no secret. Adoption exists and is needed because of brokenness. Sometimes it is a decision that is made only days or weeks before the child is born. Adoption is not convenient or painless. It is not something we see women proudly march for or boast in as a human right. Yet, in a world that loudly publicizes “convenience” while drowning out the quiet and steady voice of love, you courageously chose the latter. You gave your child the most important gift of all — life. 

Two, three, four thousand fears must have been swirling through your head after he was born. The most important being: Will he be loved? I’m writing you today to tell you that he is fully loved, and he knows it. He’s a daddy’s boy through and through. He’s kind and looks out for others. He has grown up with siblings who love him, laugh with him, and tease him. The child you gave to us is experiencing life in the fullest sense. No, he did not choose his family, but none of us, no matter our circumstances, get to make that choice. Only you as his birth mom get to give the gift of life and a future. What comes next is an adventure of its own and a beautiful one at that.

One baby boy changed your life forever, 14 years ago. You gently passed his fingers through your own, your heart racing with fear of what would come next. You marveled at his tiny being in wonder, examining the crevasses of his angular lips and perfect, doll-like nose, while the nurse cut his cord a few feet away; “Hi little one, I love you. We’re both going to be ok.”

Today, I celebrate the love we have in common.


Tori Colgan is the oldest sibling of a family of 13, seven of whom are adopted. An MBA graduate of Grand Canyon University, Tori uses her unique life experience to challenge and encourage the adoption community.

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