The Lohse family first appeared in the April/May 1998 issue of Focus on Adoption magazine, where Annette told the story of adopting Mikayla. Today we catch up with them and hear about the following 18 years from three perspectives: adoptive mom Annette, adoptee Mikayla, and birth mom Lisa.
In part two, we hear Mikayla's perspective.
What’s your relationship like with your sister?
Jazmin and I have a normal sister relationship with ups and downs. We argue, and we fight, but at the end of the day we don’t stop loving each other. She was my protector while I was growing up and was always the one to threaten to kick a bully’s butt! She still always has my back, from the times I call her late at night while crying to the times when I call her early in the morning with the best news.
It’s truly a blessing to be able to have a sister that is also your best friend. I look up to her so much: she’s incredibly smart, she’s funny, she’s beautiful, she’s got a heart of gold, and she can cook up the world’s best meals. It’s hard to explain to new people when they ask me things like, “Is your sister your real sister or your, like, adopted sister?” Jazz is my sister, just like my mom and dad are my mom and dad. Those titles aren’t given to a person, they’re earned. So yes, my sister is my “real sister” always and forever.
What was it like to meet your birth mom?
The day I flew to see her for the first time was honestly so scary, but after being there for a few days it was like I had been there forever. We bonded instantly, and I got to know my brothers and other family members. I’d never had any male figure close to me, besides my dad, so it was pretty cool to suddenly have five brothers in my life. It was all so fast and so surreal. A piece of me that I’d missed for 18 years was finally found. I felt so much better.
The last time I flew out there I wasn’t nervous or scared. I knew what to expect. I knew they were all waiting excitedly with open arms to see me again and vice versa. Lisa and I talked a lot about why things had to happen the way they happened. I know that giving me up for adoption was one of the hardest struggles for her, but I’m forever grateful she did.
I’m way past the stage of being angry at her because I believe everything happens for a reason. She reminds me all the time how lucky I am to be adopted, because she knows she couldn’t provide me with the kind of life I have now. I love our relationship and I look forward to every visit.
What are you doing now?
I’m living on my own and working at a daycare right now. My daycare kids are like my own kids to me. I graduated in 2015 and I still have no idea what I really want to do with my life. I’m not too worried, though. I have my whole life to figure it out. I’m also expecting my own little one very soon! It scares me every day because I’m young, but I know with two great families I can get through any challenge.
When I’m not working I’m in the gym freeing my mind with weights. I’ve been powerlifting for 4 years, although if you were to look at me you would never imagine I’m a serious lifter. I’m on a break because this little human growing inside me is tiring me out, but I plan to get right back to the grind after he/she is born! My powerlifing team is like my third family.
Powerlifting is what helps me in my battles with depression and it was my way of dealing with the stress of racism. It was very hard growing up being the only black person in our small community.
What are your plans?
I can’t say where my life is headed but I know that my biggest goal now is to become an amazing mother, get back to school, and most of all be happy. With a happy positive mindset there’s nothing you can’t do.
I think in the future I may want to adopt children. There are so many orphaned kids in this world [who are] dying to have a mother in their life. How amazing would it be to give each and every kid a permanent home and family? Everyone deserves to have a family. I’ve met quite a few other adopted kids and of course each of our stories is different, but one thing I see is that they all happened for a reason and for a better life. There will be hardships whether you adopt a child or place a child for adoption, but I know that in the end it leads to something special.
Any other thoughts?
I always remember the saying from Lilo and Stitch: “Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten,” which is so true in our family. We support each other through good and bad and we never leave. My parents have been together for over 30 years. I love that, it gives me hope that with love any obstacles can be beat. I never take my family for granted.
I’m so blessed. Being adopted has taught me so much. I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything. My family is awesome and I love them!