Disclaimer: These are the confessions of an adoptee through the eyes of a private, closed infant adoption and Arms Wide employee. Arms Wide Adoption Services exclusively works with children in the Texas foster care system who have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment and are in need of safe and nurturing forever families. If families are willing to take a risk with Emergency Foster Care, they can foster an infant at birth, although adoption is not a guarantee.
Part 1: My Adoption Story
Hello, it’s me.
I’m going to get real with you upfront (in my very first sentence) – Adele is my spirit animal, and I’m not ashamed of it. Hello, my name is Melissa Daigneault Neeley, and I am the Development and Marketing Coordinator for Arms Wide Adoption Services. After working here for a year now, I’ve decided it’s probably time for me to contribute more to the blog I helped launch. I tend to tell people I’m an outgoing introvert. So although I’m an open book when asked questions, I am not one to be forthcoming with the private details of my life.
When I found this gig at Arms Wide, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me. Being adopted myself, I know firsthand the impact having a family can have on an individual. And I believe every child deserves a loving one. Each and every single day, I feel extremely lucky to be adopted, and extremely lucky to give back to those who also hold adoption close to their hearts. For my four-part blog series being unveiled every week during March (my one year work anniversary), I thought I would take readers through my adoption journey, some confessions of being an adoptee, advice to adoptive parents, and finally, some closing thoughts. This week, I’m going to tell you about my adoption story…
Let me take you back to when I was in utero. (Oh, wait. Let me clarify, my utero stories will be a collection of secondhand memories and my personal interpretation of those secondhand stories, as well as some pure speculation.) Right around Christmas time, my adoptive sister’s weekday caretaker, Santa – that was really her name – approached my adoptive parents about an unwed, young mother who was about five months pregnant with her second child and was trying to find a great family for her unborn baby ( Hey, that’s me!). My parents, having struggled with fertility before and after their first biological daughter’s (my sister ) birth, had started looking into adoption.
After exchanging letters with my biological mother through Santa, my parents got in touch with a family lawyer. The lawyer helped walk everyone through my adoption process. Like many adoptions in the 90s were, my adoption was a closed one – meaning after I left the hospital, I would not be in touch with my biological parents and would have no identifying information about them. Throughout her pregnancy, my biological mother was dedicated to providing me with the best care. Once she was setup with a doctor, thanks to the lawyer and help of my parents, she never missed an appointment. You could tell she was doing all of this purely out of love.
My parents and lawyer did run into one hiccup during the process – my biological father. My adoption almost fell through, because he wouldn’t sign away his rights… because not even for one second, did he want to admit I was his. You see, my biological father had impregnated another local, young mother, and he was very dedicated to doing the right thing for her, but not for my biological mother. Finally, after some pleading and convincing from the lawyer, he signed away his parental rights. Everything was set!
On April 19, 1991, I was born. Due to adoption laws and regulations, I was required to stay with my biological mother for 48 hours. This gave her time to recover and ensure she was ready to place me up for adoption. Thankfully and selflessly, she was. At just three days old, my parents picked me up from the hospital. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the video of them dressing me in tiny, pink socks and holding my 5 pound, 14 ounce body in their arms. I was finally theirs.
From the moment I could talk, I knew I was adopted. I was so proud… So proud I would willingly announce it to strangers when I walked into a new room. My parents made me feel very special, very wanted. We read adoption books. We watched videos from the day the court officially made me a Daigneault. My parents, my older sister, and my entire extended family celebrated my adoption and showed me more love than I could have ever known elsewhere.
“I Got It Good”
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I feel beyond lucky to be adopted. I would not be where I am today had I not been. It’s very much a part of who I am. I believe my biological mother did a very selfless thing. She allowed a family to grow and provided me with the life she knew I deserved.
With that said, life as an adoptee isn’t always easy. Even though “I got it good” – I was adopted before ever experiencing trauma or being put into the foster care system (unlike all of the children we work with here at Arms Wide) – being adopted adds an ongoing, seemingly uphill battle that you fight with yourself every day. It’s what I’m going to explore in my next post.
In the meantime, thanks for being a part of my adoption journey. It’s scary to share with you, but I’m glad I have this incredible platform to do it, and the support of my families – adoptive and Arms Wide. I couldn’t think of any better way to celebrate my one-year work anniversary than this. Talk to you next week!
Melissa Daigneault Neeley
About The Author
As the Development and Marketing Coordinator, Melissa Daigneault Neeley tracks donations, creates communication pieces, and brings awareness to the mission of Arms Wide Adoption Services. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she discovered her passion for nonprofit work.
Learn more about Melissa here.
- Changing How We Talk (and Think) About Adoption and Foster Care
- From Cynthia’s Couch: What I’ve Learned from 20 Years at Arms Wide
- Not Sure Where To Start? Here’s What You Need To Know About Adopting From Foster Care.