I am always amazed when I see things come full circle.

I can remember at an early age my grandparents coming to get me and my brother and sister from our home when my grandma opened up the refrigerator and saw that there was no food.

I can also remember my grandpa cutting the toes out of my black patent leather church shoes because they had grown too small and were scrunching up my toes.

My biological mother and father were alcoholics for as long as I can remember. They divorced when I was 5 and my mother got custody of me and my brother and sister. But, she could not hold a job or take care of her children due to her drinking. By the time I was in fifth grade, my mom dropped us off at my grandparents for a visit and didn’t come back.

We were enrolled in school and I realized I would be living with my grandparents now.

My mom decided she wanted her children back a year later when I was in sixth grade and took us from my grandparents’ home. My brother ran away and decided to live with my father and my sister decided to go out on her own.

That left me at my mom’s.

Ultimately, I would move eight times and be in four different schools during that year as my mother moved from place to place because she could not pay her bills.

When I turned 12 that year, I was old enough to make my own decision about where I would live and told the judge I wanted to live with my grandparents.

My mother sobbed in the courtroom at the table in front of me and the decision was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do — especially at such a young age. I realized then that my mother loved me. But, love alone was not enough and she simply could not be responsible for me due to her addiction.

I was blessed because my grandparents, although very strict, loved me, encouraged me, and pushed me to be my best. They taught me the value of hard work, honesty, and integrity. Although they never legally adopted me, they became my legal guardians and supported me into adulthood and beyond.

My daughter, Jennifer, came into my life when she was 4 years old. When my husband deployed with the Army to Operation Desert Storm, we decided that I should legally adopt Jennifer in the event that my husband did not make it back from the war.

By the time Jen turned 7, she was legally mine on paper but had been mine in my heart for three years.

Interestingly, people would say to me, “If you had a daughter of your own (meaning biologically), you would REALLY love her.” What?!

Obviously, these people were speaking out of school. I both then and now love my daughter, Jennifer, with all of my heart and would give my life for her. I could not have loved a child more.

Today, Jennifer is 30 with two of her own children and we remain extremely close. I adore her. When people find out that we are mother and daughter, they remark how much we look alike.

In reality, we look nothing alike. But, we are bound together as mother and daughter, which goes beyond blood and biology.

It’s a love I bask in because I opened my heart to a child.

Consider adoption. It will change your life more than you can imagine.

Contact Wendy Sledd at wsledd@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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