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Minot adoptee grateful for birth mother’s choice

Submitted Photo As an infant, Virginia Braaten was placed by her birth mother, left, with her adoptive mother, right, nearly 30 years ago.

Virginia Braaten of Minot describes adoptive mothers as “heart” moms because the child didn’t come from the womb but from the heart. It is the birth mother who is able to fulfill that desire of the heart, she added.

Braaten, 29, was five days old when she was placed with her adoptive family. Born in South Dakota, she lived on a farm and in Indiana, where her father studied for the ministry before moving the family, which included her older sister, to North Dakota.

Although she felt fully part of her adoptive family, Braaten said she grew up knowing she was adopted.

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m glad that my parents told me early on,” she said. “My parents always told me I had a birth mom even if I didn’t really know what that meant.”

Her relationship with her birth mother as a child was through birthday cards, letters and small gifts.

“One time in particular – I was probably five or so – I wore a new shirt that I got from my birth mom to church and somebody commented on the cute shirt I had,” she said. “I just remember being so proud of it because I had a birth mom and my friends didn’t.”

The adoption paperwork provided that Braaten’s birth mother would be invited to her high school graduation. Braaten also met her birth mother’s two children, who were a number of years older than she.

Braaten said it was almost overwhelming to finally meet her birth mother in person. She said she appreciates that opportunity, and a couple of years ago, a close bond also was formed when her birth mother’s two sisters came from Minnesota to meet her and her family. Braaten connected with her birth father when she reached out on Facebook the year after meeting her birth mother. He and his wife have five children as well.

Her experiences have made her an advocate for adoption.

I think it’s beautiful,” she said.

“There is a stigma out there about adoption, that you don’t really love your baby so you just give them away,” she added. “You placed your child for adoption; you do not give them away. You never give them away because they’re always in your heart.”

Her birth mother had many people tell her to consider abortion but she refused.

“I’m pro-life and I’m very pro-adoption and very grateful for my birth mother,” Braaten said. “Even though our lives are very different from each other, I could never be more grateful for a single person than I am for her for choosing life for me.”

Series will continue on Saturday.

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