An adopted girl, now 18, tells her story:
This was the speech given Friday at the Miami Children's Museum
Good Morning. My name is Deborah Petkovich. I’d like to start off by congratulating all the families today who are adopting.
“Put your faith in what you most believe in two worlds, one family,” Disney’s Tarzan.
My birth mother didn’t make the best choices while she was pregnant with me; she had other children, but ultimately made the decision to let me go. That was the world I came from. My parents John and Trudy Petkovich were foster parents with two grown children and one adopted child already. That was their world. May 16, 1995 our worlds collided and three years later we officially became one family.
When I was younger and people would ask about me the first thing I would do is proudly say that I was adopted. Being adopted to me was and still is like wearing a badge of honor. People I know who see my family for the first time their initial reaction is to tell me that my parents are white. And that I am black. I take in their shocked faces and go about explaining adoption. As they processed this they would ask slowly as not to confuse themselves if that meant my parents weren't my real parents. To which I would reply they are before attempting to get them to understand the concept of adoption again. After years of sharing my family’s story, it only cemented in my mind that being adopted was something special. Something to be proud of. Something I will share and fight for for the rest of my life.
I was brought up in the foster care and adoption world. I’ve met so many amazing people who are just like me. People who are loved and cherished by their families even though it's not the one we were originally given.
Adoption is my future. Being blessed with my family has taught me more about the value of life and love than I could possibly explain. I want to be able to share the gift that keeps on giving.
Sometimes this gift is hard. Just ask my mother. At 18 years old I still can’t empty the dishwasher on time or take my laundry out when I am supposed to. There are times when I am having a bad day and take it out on everyone around me. But my mother is still there. Still loving. Still supportive. Still hoping I will empty the dishwasher. It’s all apart of being a family, there are good times and there will be bad times. As a trouble making Disney alien once said “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
What is adoption? Adoption is not about saving children that you find less fortunate. Adoption is my parents looking at the little baby in their arms and knowing that this was right. Adoption is seeing past the wheelchair that bounds the little boy and thinking he is still cute when he drools. Adoption is knowing that even though she turns eighteen in two months feeling like the weight of the world is on her shoulders; being angry because everyone in her life has let her down, that you want to spend forever showing her that you’ll always be right by her side. Adoption is looking past race, past disabilities, past situations that people want to define your child by and to love them for everything they are, everything they were and everything they are going to be.
Adoption is about family. And family is forever.”