Foster Care, Adoption, and Development by Alex Conrad

IMG_2783.jpg

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog series, “Foster Care, Adoption, and Development”. My name is Alex Conrad and I am very excited to take this journey with all of you!

Let me begin by telling you a little about myself. I have my own history with a “system” in that I was adopted from Khabarovsk, Russia when I was about two-and-a-half years old by my parents, Mark and Maureen Conrad. I arrived to America malnourished, untrusting, and terrified. As a child, I did not like any type of change (an attribute that affects a lot of children that I will go into further detail later on), so moving halfway around the world was a monumental change for me.  I would have to learn a new language, culture, and even, as I grew up, learn how to cope with the fact that I was adopted by a family rather than being born into it.  

My parents never hid the fact from me, nor my blood sister, Kristen, that we were adopted. They wanted us to understand that even though we were not blood-related to them, we were still a family.  Rob Scheer, at a book signing event at a store I used to work at, once said something that really stuck with me that best described what my parents meant.  He said, “Blood doesn’t make a family, love does,” and, boy, did my parents love me and my sister. But on the flip side of this was the conversation about my birth parents and how their role led up to the event of my sister and I getting adopted.  My parents always told me that the reason we were put up for adoption was because our mother loved us, not because she didn’t want us.  This, however, was not an easy concept for me to comprehend.  

Throughout most of my school-age years, I had to answer questions ranging from innocent inquiries to misinformed judgements.  Questions like “You’re adopted?” said with a sneer, to “Did your parents not want you?” to “Your parents didn’t love you.” It was (and is) disgusting what children could say to someone they never took the time to get to know! But the questions that they had had definitely crossed my mind at some point in time.  Unfortunately, I may never know the actual circumstances that led to me or my sister and brother to be put up for adoption, as is the case for many who are adopted. These burning questions pushed me to look into adoption and foster care to find some sort of reasoning I could assign my birth parents. I was angry, but with no reason!  I felt abandoned and I felt, above all, unloved, even though I knew I was loved by my adoptive parents. I wanted answers from my birth parents, even though getting those answers is impossible.

My sister and my adoption fell into a category of adoptions known as “closed.”  Closed adoptions are best described as where there is no contact between the birth mother and the prospective parents.  This includes medical history (an issue that I will discuss in a separate blog post), contact information, and much more.  More information can be found at Considering Adoption. This being said, my sister and I did not have the option to find out anything about our birth mother and father, and this is a hard truth to swallow at a young age and even now.  

One question I have been asked many times is “If you could ask your birth mother one question, what would it be?”  And this is a question I have found myself pondering because, to be honest, I don’t really know. But I have ideas of what I could say to her.  They range from “I forgive you,” to “Why did you do what you did?” But I think if I were to say something to her, I would just say “Thank you for loving me enough to give me a better life than I could have had in Russia.”

It is because of her actions that I was raised by a loving family, given the opportunity to attend Georgetown Prep, earn the Christian Service Award while there, earn the Volunteer of the Year for Potomac Community Service, Inc. (PCR, Inc), and marry the man of my dreams, Daniel.  And while I will never know the actual reasons for her putting me up for adoption, or, as I saw it for many years, abandoning me, I can only hope that she would have been proud of what that decision has allowed me to do.

Thank you so much for reading my first post!  If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact me at aconrad@comfortcases.org.  My next blog post will discuss mental health for children in the foster care system, including an interview with our Founder, Rob Scheer.  Stay Tuned!

Photos from the 20th anniversary of Alex’s adoption.

Photos from the 20th anniversary of Alex’s adoption.

Alex Conrad is the Executive Assistant for Comfort Cases located in Rockville, Maryland.  He has a B.S. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, University College and will be pursuing a PhD in Developmental Psychology with a focus in Trauma Informed Crisis Care.  For further information, or inquiries, please contact aconrad@comfortcases.org.


Dana McKayComment