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Adopted Soul
Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

JM gives an overview of the book:

Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul will touch your heart with stories of finding and creating families. From tales about international orphaned babies and children who spent years in the foster-care system to those who were adopted at birth, this very special compilation conveys the true meaning of unconditional love. Read a moving letter from a birth mother to her son explaining how difficult it was to give him up when she didn't have the means to care for him, how she still thinks about him often, and how she will always love him. Read stories from now-grown children and even those from the Vietnam Operation Babylift in 1975. Through their stories, you will delight in meeting happy, well-adjusted, grateful members of families and society. Find hope in stories of infertile couples who are given the gift of parenthood, adopted children who thrive and find joy in life...
Read full overview »

Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul will touch your heart with stories of finding and creating families. From tales about international orphaned babies and children who spent years in the foster-care system to those who were adopted at birth, this very special compilation conveys the true meaning of unconditional love. Read a moving letter from a birth mother to her son explaining how difficult it was to give him up when she didn't have the means to care for him, how she still thinks about him often, and how she will always love him. Read stories from now-grown children and even those from the Vietnam Operation Babylift in 1975. Through their stories, you will delight in meeting happy, well-adjusted, grateful members of families and society. Find hope in stories of infertile couples who are given the gift of parenthood, adopted children who thrive and find joy in life, and older couples given a second chance at family. Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul provides insight into what adoption is all about and what it's really like to be adopted. Share in our celebration of the lives of adopted children who found forever families and parents who found forever love.

Read an excerpt »

My favorite story was one I didn’t completely understand and one that made me feel special. “We chose you out of all the babies in the world,” my mother told me from as far back as I could remember. It wasn’t until I was ten years old that I finally understood what she meant; I was adopted.  I was nearly thirty years old when I understood how my biological mother felt because I faced the same choice.

I wasn’t supposed to see the baby after he was born, but somehow the nursery slipped up and brought him to me. The moment they put him in my arms I was lost. The attorney said he’d break the news to the prospective parents’ attorney. “No, it’s my choice. I’ll tell him,” I said. The prospective parents' attorney was angry. There’s no doubt the parents were hurt, but they sent me flowers; so did the attorney they hired for me. He thought I had done the right thing, so did my doctor.

I changed my mind when Jaime was born because I believed love was enough. The attorney the adoptive parents hired to protect my rights and the doctor who delivered my son and kept me alive in spite of the dangers talked me into keeping him. It wasn’t a hard sell; I wanted to keep him, but wasn’t sure how I could since I was barely making it without a child. Jaime and I went home.

 Jaime Bohdan was a laughing child with strawberry blond curls, eyes the color of a clear blue sea, and an inquisitive nature. He refused to sleep in a crib past the age of ten months; he kept looking for ways to climb out and crying, beating the bars with anything within reach, until I relented and either put him in bed with me or put him on the hide-a-bed with chairs ringing him in. He didn’t mind the bars of the chair; he just didn’t like the bars on the crib, so I took it down.

He wasn’t really mischievous, just curious. As he got older he climbed bookcases and furniture and cabinets to look inside and drag out whatever he found.

One morning before six, he woke me up. Through sleep-blurred eyes, Jaime looked odd. Blinking and rubbing away the sand and grit, I looked again. He smiled a lopsided smile, his teeth white in a mask of smeared makeup. His chubby hands pulled at my arm. “Look, Mommy.” Little hand prints in mingled shades of green and blue and violet and pink covered my arms. I got out of bed and followed him into the bathroom, every surface a smeared Jackson Pollack in every shade of eye shadow, blush, and lipstick I owned. Variegated body parts decorated the inside of the claw foot porcelain tub and Jaime looked up at me, his eyes bright with excitement, and giggled. I couldn’t help myself. In spite of how much work it would take to set everything right, I laughed, swung him up into my arms, and kissed his painted cheek.

“Look funny, Mommy,” he said.

 I kissed him again. “You look funny, too.”

Each day was a struggle, working two full time jobs and seeing my son before work and on alternate weekends when I had a day off. I felt like I was cheating him, and myself, but I was trapped. I couldn’t quit one of my jobs because I couldn’t afford the babysitter and a place to live. We had nowhere else to go and no one to help. So when Jaime was nearly two years old, just two weeks before Christmas, I made a decision.

Sitting in the judge’s chambers the morning I met with him and Jaime’s new parents, I swallowed back the tears around the lump in my throat as I answered the judge’s questions.

“Yes, I understand what I’m doing. Yes, I am giving up my son of my own free will. No, the parents have not paid me or given me any money. No one is coercing me. No one is threatening me. No one has made me any promises of financial gain or any kind. Yes, I want to give up my son.”

No, I didn’t want to give up my son. I still don’t want to give him up even though I haven’t seen him since he was nearly two years old two weeks before Christmas. No, I don’t want to surrender the memory of his laughter the morning he woke me covered in eye shadow, blush, and lipstick or the way he looked when he led me to the bathroom and showed me he was a rare and special artist.

No one forced me to give up my son. But the voice inside me said love was not enough and I had to choose between working eighteen hours a day for enough food and clothing (and makeup) and seeing the mischief and laughter in my son’s eyes every morning.

Jaime has a different name now and he is twenty-five years old. I don’t know where he is or what he does, if he went to college or got married and has children of his own. I have no idea how to find him or if he would welcome me if I did. He belongs to someone else now. All I kept are the memories of a little boy who didn’t want to sleep in a crib and woke up laughing every morning.

It has taken me a long time to understand the meaning behind the words I loved to hear as a child. “We chose you out of all the babies in the world.” My parents told me I was adopted when I was ten years old; I was their daughter two days after I was born. I met my biological mother when I was eleven years old. She was a nice woman who seemed a little sad. When she talked to me, she wouldn’t look me in the eyes. She talked about my biological father and showed me a small picture from a high school yearbook. He played basketball and he wasn’t very tall, neither was she. I wanted to know where I came from, why I’m so much taller than my parents. Why was my hair brown when she had strawberry blonde curls and my father’s hair was blond? Why wasn’t I thin? Where did my grey eyes come from?

“Why did you give me up?” I asked.

“I didn’t finish high school and I didn’t have a good job. I couldn’t give you what you needed or what you deserved.”

“Didn’t you love me?” Afraid of the answer, I still needed to know.

She finally looked me in the eyes. Her eyes were blue and clear as the sea, the same blue as Jaime's eyes. “Yes, I love you. Your parents could give you everything I couldn’t.”

“Even love?”

“No one loves you more than I do. Love isn't always enough.”

I can still hear the words, but I didn’t believe them then. How could someone love their child and give her up to strangers? Isn't love all anyone needs? I was a child. I didn’t understand. Love is not always enough, not if you have to see your child hungry or forced to live in a shelter or small apartment in a bad part of town because it’s all you can afford.

Working two jobs was not enough. Love was not enough. Love was all I had to hold onto the day I answered the judge’s questions and signed the papers that made another woman Jaime’s mommy. I signed the papers for my son. Now, love and memories of Jaime Bohdan are all I have.

I know now how my mother felt, but she was wrong. Love is enough.

jm-cornwell's picture

My first published story was about being adopted and the editor sent it back to me. She said it was well written and descriptive and she wanted to know where I was in the story, how I felt. I rewrote the story and I've kept her questions uppermost in mind whatever I write. Where am I? How do I -- or the characters -- feel? It has made a big difference in my writing and in how I relate to the world. "Love is Enough" is the answer to those questions.

About JM

Although chronologically middle-aged, I still feel like a youth except on those mornings when time, temperature and joints more used to sitting and typing than running, walking or just moving remind me I have been around a while; then I'm about 432. 

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