“A Life I Love”: Open letters to my family during National Adoption Awareness Month


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Alissa Camplin (center) with her parents Norman (left) and Cris (right) (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

Alissa Camplin, Arts and Entertainment Editor

I like to believe that I lead a fairly normal lifestyle.
I go to school full time to get a degree that I may not get a well-paying job for. I spend my Tuesday nights at Loco Mex for tacos and margaritas. I have an incredible dog named Liberty that I am obsessed with. I also am loved and supported by my family wholeheartedly and their light is guidance for most things I do.
The only difference? At the start of my life, my family had the chance to choose me. I am adopted, and both of my birth parents are dead.

My “story” is sad, but– in turn– my life is so, so, so happy.

To my birth mother:

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Alissa’s birth mother, Elva (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

I’m sorry for the time I spent angry at you. For the times I assumed I was too much weight on your life, amidst your other decisions of drugs and alcohol. You never asked for me to be born. But to be fair, I didn’t ask for it either. I didn’t ask for my hair color to closely model yours or for our smiles to be the same. I didn’t ask to carry around the weight of wondering what I did wrong so much that my own mother couldn’t find the drive to keep me.

I also didn’t ask how you felt. How your heart must have ached to hug me for the last time before going home to an empty life and an empty house. I’ve learned that you couldn’t rationalize anything outside of your need for the next “fix.” You did what you had to, so for that, I say thank you.

Thank you for allowing me to have a second chance.
A life I would be proud of.
A life I love.
I think about you in the small moments of my life more than anything. During my morning coffee, I wonder how you liked yours and try to find a connection.

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Alissa as a baby with her birth mother, Elva (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

Were you like me and a “tons of sugar and creamer” kind of person, or did you prefer the dark and bitter taste of t

he real deal? Are these telling of our personalities? Did you like to dance? I love to dance. I’ll find myself jazzing around in my kitchen while James Taylor plays and think for a moment that you’re twirling beside me. Are we alike? Did you like to read and did you like to cook? Did sweet gestures make you tear up? What was your favorite color? Mine is glitter. Would you find my sense of humor funny? Do I make you proud? This is the question that I will forever come back to.
I live my life on the daily hoping that I do.


To my adoptive father:
There isn’t a moment in my life I remember you being anything less than a superhero. Acts of service isn’t your love language, but you knew it was mine. I will never forget mornings where I woke up to random breakfasts of toast and jelly or days you would leave me an extra dollar with my lunch for a dessert. You are the sweetest soul I have ever met, Dad.

I am in awe of the things that you do for me and the family you lead. You work tirelessly to ensure I have everything I need to live comfortably and happily. Remember the time I had to call you because my car had died in the Sonic parking lot and I didn’t have pants on? You came from Gadsden at 10 o’clock at night when you had to be up for work the next morning to change my battery and to take me to my apartment to grab shorts. I’ll never forget the look of disapproval on your face or the laugh that came soon after. Or the two hours and three trips to WalMart it took for us to figure out how to change the battery.

You were my first best friend and I have never been more proud of a title than I am to be your daughter. Thank you for teaching me to be fearless in my pursuit of what I want.

I owe everything I am to you.

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Alissa Camplin (center) with her parents, Norman and Cris at Southside High School’s Senior Night in 2013 (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

To my adoptive mother:
I’m sorry for the years I spent in my room, angry you didn’t tell me sooner that I was adopted. I’m sorry I fought you every step of the way when all you wanted to do was know I was safe. I was, and thanks to you, I am. I am safe in my choice to live my life confidently and independently, a trait that I learned from you. I am safe in who I am entirely because you always allowed me to be and accepted nothing less. I am safe because you love me fiercely enough that your voice could cause the trees outside to shake, but gently enough to lead me home for a date at Chili’s and a shopping trip to Birmingham.

Thank you for taking care of my baby body when I couldn’t breathe on my own or when I would have another withdrawal episode. Thank you for letting me sleep on your chest until way past acceptable. Thank you for never telling me no when I wanted to dance. Or play softball. Or swim. Or take karate. Thank you for allowing me to grow up in an environment when I could be anything I wanted to be, even if that meant a ballerina MLB’er that swam to first base and got her black belt on the way there. “The world is your oyster” is what you tell me constantly, but you gave above and beyond to ensure I had the whole sea.

Thank you for saving me when I didn’t know I needed it.

Adoption saves lives. It saved mine.


If you are interested in adoption please visit one of the following links: adoptionnetwork.com





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