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Sierra Nichelle Shyanne Keech, 15, of Alaska was adopted at age eight with her sister Cassie. She is the daughter of Mike and Tammy Keech and sister of many siblings. Her clan is in the Raven Beaver.

Sierra’s story is similar to the thousands of children adopted every year in the U.S. She shares with us her advice to parents and children.

Sierra’s story in her own words

Adoption is something that is great for kids who really want a loving family. With adoption you know the family is forever and there’s no more abuse, no more hatred, none of that. Life is not always perfect, but I am happy and feel very safe now.

Advice for parents

Parents, kids will test you. Just know this doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It’s just confusing for us. We miss our birth family even though we know our new family is good for us. I have cried for my birth family, and instead of getting upset with me my mom said it’s okay to love both of them.

Give your kids the chance to talk about their birth families. It will be okay. We talk about our granddad a lot, about Native dance, and the button blanket he had. I wish we had that button blanket. It was really cool.

Be honest with your children. They will love you for it. Don’t make up stories. We know the truth, so tell us the truth. We are stronger than you think.

When we are mad and say stupid things, don’t take things personally. It really isn’t about you. I remember my first Christmas with my parents. I was awful. I wasn’t satisfied with anything even though it was better than anything I had ever had. I just missed my birth mom and my grandparents who passed away.

Also, don’t feel like you have to be the perfect parent or super parents. We all make mistakes. Believe me. We all make mistakes in our family, but we also forgive each other. Make lots of memories with your children. Camping, fishing, vacations. I love vacations. My mom and the girls visited our grandparents in Indiana this summer. We even got to see our older sisters. It was a lot of fun. We also just got back from Hawaii. Wow, was that ever fun! I loved everything about it. My parents let us chose to do sports, music, and other fun things.

Advice for kids

To kids, I say these are your real parents. They will be with you forever; they will help you with homework and dating problems. They will set boundaries and you will think they are mean and strict. It’s only because they love you. If they didn’t love you they wouldn’t set boundaries and have rules.

My adoptive family is my real family and always will be. They will always be there for me and I love them. I also love my birth family. If I could go back and change things, I wouldn’t. I would never change anything because I wouldn’t be who I am today.

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