Voices of More
Because we are made of so much more.....
Each story has more. More than we think and more than we know. We invite you to scroll through this page to learn about the personal stories because through real experiences, can you truly understand the tropic of adoption. This is because adoption is more than what you read in the news, it's more than the movies with happy endings, and it is more than we think.
"To open your heart and your home to a child or teen that needs a family is probably the best gift you could ever give to them!"
Read Meredith's Story
Hi! I’m Meredith Lesney and I was adopted from Korea when I was four months old. I was adopted into my forever home which consisted of my mom, dad and sister who was also adopted from South Korea. I had a wonderful childhood. We did a lot as a family and took family vacations, visited my grandparents and went to the shore with my cousins. Growing up I was always curious about Korea. I would read books and watch any programs about Korea. I was always curious what my birth mother looked like.
When I was in my 20's, my mother and I decided to take a birth land tour with my adoption agency. It was my first international trip. It was the most exciting experience of my life! The people, the smells, the sounds, the buildings and just the differences between Korea and the states were amazing! I got to go to my adoption agency and hold the babies that were being given up for adoption. Wow, did this change my life. I even asked to go back on our free time so that I could hold those babies again. I wonder all of the time what those babies are doing today and how adoption has changed their lives.
I grew up in Massachusetts and then we moved to PA where I still reside today. I graduated high school, college and persused two different Masters’ degrees in technology. I’ve been a school librarian for 17+ years. I love my job and my students. I am such a big advocate for adoption and foster care that I wrote a picture book about how “love makes a family.” The title of my book is “Spaghetti and Meatball.” I am proud of being adopted and wanted to show others that not every family structure has to be the same. It’s the love between each other that truly makes a family.
I think adoption is an amazing thing. To open your heart and your home to a child or teen that needs a family is probably the best gift you could ever give to them!
Before I end this post, I wanted to add a couple things: Through the gift of adoption, Ms. Lesney was able to lead a successful, joyous life. She went to Lock Haven University for her Bachelors degree, Wilkes University for her Masters, and now she is our favorite librarian EVER! It’s not just that either, she is so involved in our school! When I had her as a teacher in middle school, she organized a multicultural potluck night to educate our school about the cultures around the world, was the leader of the Reading Olympics Team, and led the iTeam to some victorious wins! Also, we can’t forget about how Meatball is a living icon. He is the coolest duck out there and I just LOVE how she and him share their voices to spread awareness about adoption. Their work is changing lives and impacting the world! I am so honored that I got to share her story here and I hope you all enjoyed it!
ALSO if you would like a copy of Ms. Lesney’s FABULOUS book, here’s the link>>>>>
"Every adoptee feels differently about sharing their story, but just know that it’s a very personal and sensitive topic"
Read Téa's Story
Téa Tamburo - she/her(s) - Adoptee
Instagram - @teatyt11 @girls.adoption.connect
Special date: Birthday (11/28/04)
Who are you and what do you do?
I was adopted from Hunan, Changsha China in 2005 and moved to Chicago, IL. I founded Girls Adoption Connect to connect adoptees since I have spent most of my life knowing no one else that was also adopted.
How are you impacted by adoption?
I do a lot of work focused around diversity and inclusion. So one of the areas of diversity that I’m focusing on is bringing adoptees into the discussion and thinking about “adoptee” as an identifier.
What is the biggest challenge you faced related to adoption?
I’ve grown up knowing I was adopted, but knowing is different than actually accepting and acknowledging. I spent many years not wanting to think about my adoption and just shut out that side of myself. The hardest part was learning to embrace that identity.
What do you wish people knew about adoption?
I really just wish people knew that adoption is a sensitive topic. Every adoptee feels differently about sharing their story, but just know that it’s a very personal and sensitive topic. Do not pry!
What have you done to support the adoption community?
I founded Girls Adoption Connect, spoke in interviews and panels for other adoption groups, written a journalism column about self identity and advocate for adoptees’ voices and perspectives to be heard in talks about diversity, equity and inclusion.
How has your opinion about adoption changed as you got older?
As I’ve grown, I have been able to better process and understand my adoption and embrace that part of myself. When I was younger, I didn’t really understand what being adopted fully meant, so I didn’t really think much of my adoption journey. When I thought about it, I thought of it as something that made me different, in a bad way. So as I’ve matured, I really started to embrace that part of myself and see it as an opportunity to be part of another community.
What has helped/supported you through learning your adoption story?
Just connecting with other adoptees and being given opportunities to openly share our true thoughts and feelings about our adoption.
Taneisha Imani Lormand
"At one point, I thought I was going to age out of the system"
Read Taneisha's Story
At age 16, Taneisha's mom gave birth to her. When Taneisha was just three, her mother was arrested and Taneisha began her journey in the foster care systems. She lived in a children's shelter in Florida for a while before she was moved to her first foster family. She lived with that family for awhile, but was then adopted by a family when she was five years old. Unfortunately, at age 9, Taneisha went back to the children's shelter. There, she met her forever parents, but at that time they were just her foster parents. She was 10 when she went with her foster parents and she was 11 when she became a part of their family.
As mentioned before, Taneisha went through three foster families before finding her forever family. She says, "at one point I thought I was going to age out of the system". This isn't unordinary in foster systems. When the child turns 18, now, young adult is sent into the real world.
Taneisha is forever thankful for what her adoptive parents provided her. They helped her find a passion for choir, theater, and swimming. She says that she felt an instant connection with her family from the beginning.
Taneisha's biological mom has not reached out to her yet that she knows of and when I asked if she wanted to try to find her she wasn't sure. If she were to have the opportunity, Taneisha admits she would not know what to say. Personally for me, I feel the same way. I don't know if I want to go out and look for my birth parents. Mainly because I don't want to be disappointed.
Now, Taneisha is 18 years old and actually has a birthday coming up! She is currently enrolled at Florida International University. She plans to obtain a masters degree in recreational sports management so she can later on become a sports therapist.
Taneisha's story is so inspiring and unique. She has been through so much. From battling anger issues, to depression, she has proven to be the epitome of a strong, confident, and kind person.
" I want other adopted children to know that they are special"
Read Julianna's Story
My name is Julianna Lee and this is my story. I was left and abandoned at a temple in Karad City, India. At a year old I was only 9lbs, 70oz- this is because I was a failure to thrive. After I was born I was very weak and malnourished. Many of the orphanages in India were filled with up to 500+ babies, and there were very few caretakers. Since there were so many children, caretakers didn’t have time to feed every baby the amount they needed. So, we were spoon fed. To put it in simplest terms, I was not fed very often; and when I was, it was not a lot. Many of the children were not fed the general amount of formula all babies need. Also, because the orphanage was in such a small area in India and not a very wealthy and clean part of India, caretakers didn’t have enough money to buy baby bottles to fed all the children- so all of us would share bottles. When we all would share bottles, many of us would get sick. During the Summer of 2003, Several babies, myself included, had IVs and countless tubes running liquids through our bodies. We were all very very sick- plus it didn’t help that many of us, including myself were already a failure to thrive.
Unfortunately, I have never been able to reconnect with my birth parents. My adopted
mom has told me that when she was in the process of adopting me, there was no paperwork on my biological mother. (I have never heard anything about my father. I’m guessing he left). I am assuming my birth mother was very young and didn’t know what to do with me when she had me, so she just left me- luckily it was in a public place where she knew people someone would find me. Fun Fact: My biological name is Pakali. It means the ‘petal of a flower.’
Sometimes it can be hard growing up in a society that defines beauty or to be beautiful is Another one is that since I was so malnourished at a young age, my body and my brain
to have lighter skin. Or to look any certain way. Especially having darker skin. I have always known from a young age that I was adopted. But it wasn’t until my fifth grade year that I really started to understand and really question my adoption. When I was younger I used to get bullied for having darker skin than everyone else. Kids in my class would say things like, ‘your skin looks like poop,’ ‘you should bleach your skin,’ & ‘you look weird.’ Etc. Then I started to become very insecure for having brown skin & being Indian. I remember thinking to myself ‘you should bleach your skin. People would like you better. You’ll be beautiful again.’ It breaks my heart to look back on what I thought of myself. And how I was letting others define me and tell me what I should do to look beautiful. That’s something I’ve definitely struggled with being adopted.
I missed out on big milestones most babies make because of my failure to thrive. When I started school, everything seems fine the first few years. But until my fifth grade year my grades started to dramatically drop. I would always tell myself and eventually convince myself that I was dumb. I wasn't getting the grades I used to get, and school was now very overwhelming and no longer fun anymore- and I loved school. My mom took notice of my bad grades and decided to homeschool me. That didn’t really improve much- I was homeschooled for three years and my eighth grade year I went back to public school.
After a year in public school of continued struggling with grades, my English teacher, Mrs. Darras, took notice of this and brought to my moms attention that maybe I should be tested for A.D.D. When I tested for A.D.D., I was relieved to find out that I wasn't really dumb- it was because of all the missed brain connections from when I was young from not receiving a lot of food. And now I can say that I very much enjoy school again and my grades are better than ever!! (My lowest grade is a B+!!)
I currently live in Celina, OH. I am a freshman at Celina High School. Adoption has definitely given me my ups and downs, but looking back on those hard times, I am definitely grateful for them because they have made me into the person I am today. I want other adopted children to know that they are special. When their parents first saw them, they chose you. They looked at your picture and hand picked you- that should make you feel very special and loved. It makes me feel that way :)
"Without adoption who knows where I could have ended up"
Read Julia's Story
On January 2nd, 2002, Julia was boring in Mixco, Guatemala, a city in south central Guatemala. This city was not necessarily the safest because of its high rates in crime and drugs. Her birth mom was young when she had her, so Julia lived with a host family. However, due to financial difficulties, they could not keep Julia and chose adoption to give her a better life. That was the time when her adoptive/real parents were looking to adopt. They chose Guatemala because it was a small country and would be unique to adopt there. On her father’s birthday, they received the long awaited call informing them that Julia was available for adoption. After 8 months in Guatemala, Julia was adopted on September 2nd of 2002.
Ever since, Julia has lived with her family that she truly loves and she emphasized that so much throughout our phone call! It really just pulls at the heartstrings to see such a loving family built through adoption.
Of course along the way, Julia faced some challenges being adopted. Specifically, in science class one year, they had that project where you learned about recessive and dominant genes, so now you had to see what traits you got from your parents to apply this new knowledge. Although it’s a project we all do, it is actually really hard for adoptees; especially for Julia during that time because she didn’t know anything about her birth parents. Her best friend, Skylar was also adopted so they were able to get through the awkward school projects together. She is proud to say that they still have each other’s backs now and that it’s nice to have other people who understand adoption at the same level as you. Also I have to mention that during this time she got her ADORABLE DOG BO! He eased her during these hard times and helped her get through them in addition to her huge support system being her. Another obstacle Julia faces from time to time is explaining adoption to people. There’s people who just don’t understand what it means and sometimes it feels awkward answering their questions, but Julia said that deep down she knew that her adoptive parents were her real parents so all the questions people asked didn’t change the fact that she had a family.
Now, Julia is committed to play field hockey at St. Francis University- a District 1 college on a generous scholarship! She has been a part of various leadership conferences where she has demonstrated her skills too. She is currently a senior in high school and finished up her final year of high school field hockey! Now, she has a secret dream that she wants to open her own taco truck and call it “Taco to me nice.” She plans to to major and business marketing or business management with a minor in Spanish and aviation. Julia said that she wants to adopt children when she is older after having some of her own(She wants to have about 4). She would be interested in adopting from Guatemala, but would mainly adopt from a country going through hard situations. She said that adopting from those countries helps the children and the country out overall and being able to do that is an opportunity to give back. Since she is adopted, Julia has been able to spread awareness about adoption among her friends and anyone she meets. In doing this, she is making a difference in her own group of friends and the world!
Julia said that “without adoption who knows where I could have ended up, since Guatemala is known for their gangs, she could have been a part of one on the streets.” Luckily, adoption gave her the family and life that would give her the act opposite of that.
She has always known that she was adopted because of the visual factors and the corny picture frames with those sayings we all know we love. Also, she gets to rage to her brothers that she was the “chosen one,” and honestly, us adoptees can all relate to that ;). She said that she is so grateful she was adopted because it helped appreciate the little things in life like being able to play music in her car on the way to school and having a dog that can come inside. She says that being adopted opened her eyes to what her life could have been and what it is now. If she were to ever have a conversation with her birth mom, she would want to know if she has any siblings and her morals are. She said that her brothers and parents are so noble and she is interested as to how should would have been brought up compared to how she is now. It’s the idea of touching on the whole Nurture vs. nature aspect of adoption.
Leading into that, she loves her adoptive family especially her brothers! She said that he parents and brothers built her character to who she is today because they demonstrated their hard work ethics to achieve their goals. Her brothers Grant and Adam are extremely athletic and seeing them work hard in sports and to reach their professions motivated her to get that D1 scholarship. Her family has always been so supportive in everything she does. She said that they “never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to.” She tried many things from horseback riding to playing the piano.
Her brothers never teased her for being adopted and always supported her dreams and aspirations. When she was first brought to America, Grant and Adam were extremely excited! In 3rd grade, Adam brought Julia into school for show and tell. Julia had only been in America for a couple of months during that time and he was just so excited to share his new sister with everyone. Her brother Grant jokes saying that since Julia is such a bubbly person who laughs all the time, he can identify her laugh in a crowd of people. Whenever his teammates commented about their physical differences, he was always proud to say that she was his sister.
"Restoring Hope, Transforming Lives"
Read Tiffany's Story
Tiffany’s story did not begin easily because she was born addicted to cocaine and due to this, she was given a life expectancy of 2 short weeks. The doctors said that if she did happen to live beyond those 2 weeks, there would be body deformities and intellectual deficiency. She is currently defying those odds by living well past 2 weeks without any disabilities. In fact, she is thriving. This is all because of the gift of adoption. Anyway, back to the beginning, Tiffany’s birth mother lost parental rights to the lack of meeting the criteria while her father gave up those rights when she was born. Eventually, Tiffany was placed in the foster care system at Holy Family Institute. This Catholic safe haven does not do adoptions now, but they did at the time Tiffany was there. I wanted to quickly change the pace and congratulate Tiffany because she is a nominee and recipient of the Holy Family Institute Courage House Award. It is such an honor to be able to call Tiffany my friend because she is the real deal people!
Shortly after, Tiffany’s foster/adoptive/real mom got a call asking if she would be able to take in a little girl. At the time her mom was a working nurse who faced many obstacles. Her lungs were contracted 2/3rds due to air conditioning vents with mold or fungus. Her mom also had severe rheumatoid arthritis. Despite these setbacks, she had a heart of gold and took Tiffany in with love and compassion, providing her with more than she could have ever asked for.
Until Tiffany was 2 and a half, she still had visits with her birth mother to see if they could still reconnect, but her birth mom did not meet the criteria to keep her rights. When her birth mom’s rights were terminated, her foster parents could finally adopt her. On March 20th, 1998 Tiffany was finally adopted, now being able to call her foster parents her adopted and real parents.
When all this was going on, Tiffany did not quite understand the foster care system, but she knew that she was lucky enough to have been taken in as an infant. This is because many children may not ever get adopted since once they hit the age of 8 years old, their chances of finding a forever family decrease immensely. That is in addition to the emancipation age if 18 years old.
Tiffany has three brothers who were all in the foster care system too. One of her brothers lives with a form of Autism, but these disabilities NEVER diminish the love families have for each other. Her brothers all have different last names since Tiffany was the only child who was “officially” adopted. They aren’t in the foster care system now since they were emancipated. Although they are not officially adopted, they are still a big part of the Seitz family.
Since her adoption, Tiffany still was able to keep up with what her birth parents were up to. Unfortunately, in 8th grade her birth mom passed. Also, on her birth mom’s side, she has many siblings but with different fathers. Although, Tiffany is happy with her family now. She says that her parents now have always been her parents and forever will be too.
As I mentioned before, Tiffany is THE MISS PENNSYLVANIA. She will be competing for the title of Miss America THIS DECEMBER ON NBC! Her social impact initiative is Adoption Advocacy- “Restoring Hope, Transforming Lives.” With her platform, she has been able to advocate and share her experiences all across the state and nation. Tiffany mainly advocates for domestic adoptions and has been a volunteer with the “foster love project” which is a part of a foster care retreat. On another note, Foster Care to Success is the process of assisting a teenager who is about to be emancipated, equipping them with skills for the future such as completing college applications and paying taxes. Once they’re emancipated, they might not go to college and go down the wrong path. Tiffany is making a difference in a child’s life and helping the families as well.
There are so many myths that need to be terminated. Considering adoption requires a lot of thought, but making the decision to take the plunge could have a plethora of benefits for the family that chose adoption. Adoption should be mutual because foster children are coming from different backgrounds and these foster families have to be prepared to take on their vigorous histories. It’s not their fault they are in foster care. They still deserve an equal chance at success as any other child would.
Tiffany would love to connect one on one with adopted kids and foster kids, but due to confidentiality she has not yet had the opportunity. Despite this, she is educating thousands of parents about the different processes of adoption. With this, she explains on a daily basis how adoption can give countless opportunities for children. “Adoption may be an unconventional way to start a family, but not an invalid way.” Every child, infant, and teen deserves a family. It’s not unconventional, it is just a unique and diverse way to start a family. Adoption is just as valid of a way to make family as if having your own kid. She has truly been building families throughout her year so far and I cannot wait to see how much more she does this year! So join me in congratulating her once again for ALL THAT SHE DOES and wishing her the best of luck as she embarks on her journey to the Miss America Crown.
"You call it chaos, we call it family"
Read Landry's Story
I was nine years old when Bennett and Bowen officially became my little brothers. To be honest, it did not feel much different than it had before because I always felt I would call them my nuggets forever! Our family’s daily life has of course changed in various ways. It now starts earlier and louder as you can imagine with two little boys running about but it is also filled with a whole lot of joy, laughter, and love. The youngest, Bowen, was born three months early and came into the world as a little warrior. Eating has been his biggest battle. As an infant, my mom would be giving him a bottle for up to three hours only for it to be spit up in about five minutes. That was only the beginning of the long journey of a G-Tube being placed in his stomach, overnight feedings, long hours at the table, and many conversations of how important food is. It is hard to think that eating is not a natural instinct. I know for me, mealtimes are my favorite times! He has made leaps and strides and today he is feeding himself and starting to recognize how hunger affects your behavior and that when you are hangry, it affects the people around you too. He is as smart as a tack and so incredibly musical, I think we may see him performing in Carnegie Hall one day! For Bennett, I’m pretty sure he was born with a six pack. He loves baseball, basketball, and Pokémon, but doesn’t love when things don’t go his way. I think we can all relate to that feeling. With elevated ADHD, it is harder for him to control his actions and stay focused. With a loud, strong voice and the curliest hair you’ve ever seen, he is leaping into new improvements every day. He is about to start the third grade and is getting stronger, physically and mentally, every day. Since bringing these little dudes into the Feldmeier home, all of our lives have changed but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Some times a rough day knocks us off track and we go to sleep with many worries running through our minds but that is where we help each other up, trust in God’s plan, and “keep moving forward” as the Robinson’s say. Our experiences through being a foster care home and now an adoption family helped steer my older sister into her career as a speech therapist and she is thriving. We continue to work alongside each other and help them through the challenges they were born with because we know that they have such bright futures ahead of them. Every victory, no matter the size, we think should be celebrated! There are seven Feldmeiers all together and one quote sums us up pretty well,
“You call it chaos but we call it family.”
As for Landry, she hopes to attend an arts school and major in either dance or musical theater. With her scholarships she puts towards her education, she aspires to dance on Broadway or at Radio City Musical Hall as a Rockette. I think it is safe to say she has a bright future with a great family made through adoption.
"There were many forks in the road, but in the end, it straightened out and she found a forever home"
Read Amber's Story
Amber was in the foster care system for 13 years and was adopted when she was 16 by her forever family. Unfortunately, she has been with so many different foster families, that she cannot even count them on two hands.
Amber’s birth mom had her when she was 19 years old and her birth father left the picture right away. Shortly after Amber, her birth mom got pregnant again which made it hard for her to take care of two children alone. As a result, she gave Amber to her father whom at the time had a court order prohibiting any children in his house. However, she recalls her grandfather as being a fair man and taking her on bike rides and reading the dictionary to her at nighttime. This would allow her to have a great vocabulary at such a young age. Amber also had a younger sister who was in a foster home with her. Unfortunately, that family decided to adopt her sister, but not Amber. Although it was saddening, she was happy that her little sister did not have to go from house to house in foster care. The family chose her little sister over Amber because they wanted a baby and did not want an older child. Sadly, that is the case quite often and many of the foster children know that once they hit around 8 years old, the will most likely not get adopted. Another sibling of Amber’s is her “Brousin” this is because her birth father had a baby with her birth mom’s sister. This then created the life of her “brousin” whom she does not know personally, but he is in the Foster Care System now at 16 years old.
Amber’s birth mom chose life and she is forever grateful. She is not upset with her birth mom for putting her up for adoption, but instead she felt sorry for her. Her birth mom was misguided and had a bad relationship with her own parents and there was no way Amber could blame her for not being able to take of her and all her siblings. When Amber was in foster care, she was able to have contact with her birth mom and they had monthly meetings together. The main purpose of foster care is to heal the mother and child so that in the end, they can be reunified, but unfortunately for Amber, her mom did not get to that stage and they had to cut off ties. Unfortunately, this past year her birth mom passed away from a hereditary cancer. When her birth mom had cancer, her adoptive mom/”real” mom urged her to visit her birth mom in the hospital and go to her funeral. Amber did visit her in the hospital and that gave her the closure she had needed and ended up not attending the funeral.
Every time Amber was informed that she would be going to another house, she was hurt because she had yearned to get adopted. Since she had been in and out of houses so often, she developed a mentality where she thought she would never get adopted and would just get passed on from house to house. She said by the age of 8 she was getting kind of sick and tired of just being passed around and was aware that the likeliness of being adopted after the age of 8 was very unlikely. Although she was not adopted by these families, she became very close with a few of them and still has contact with them to this day. In fact, one of her families was so close to her she has a “heart sister.” This basically means that they were together for so long that they consider each other as sisters even though they are not actually. Amber was a part of that family for three whole years and still considers them family. Another person who holds a special place in her heart is her former case worker. She was with Amber since she first entered the foster care system and worked with her until Amber was 8 years old. The two of them became close and the really neat thing is that her case worker said she would not retire until she was adopted. Then, once Amber was adopted, she retired a week after. It truly is the special people like her who make everything so much sweeter and better. To this day, Amber also considers her as family and visits her often too.
Sadly for Amber, her experience in the foster care system was so traumatic, she has remembered every single detail from her life. However, now she wants to use her experiences and continue to pursue her criminal justice degree at Northampton Community College and become a cop, lawyer, juvenile helper, or wherever her life takes her. In the end, she wants to help older foster kids get adopted or provide them with the necessary tools to succeed in life once they are emancipated (age out) from the system.
Now, Amber is living a happy life with her forever Mom, Dad, and dog Maisie. Right now she is the first woman to go to college from her birth family. If it weren’t for foster care, she would never of had the opportunities she has no or be the amazing person she is now. There were many forks in the road, but in the end, it straightened out and she found a forever home.