02/09/2015 11:19 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Adult adoption: B.C. woman shares journey of being adopted twice

As British Columbians celebrate what it means to be a family on Family Day, one woman is sharing her story of choosing to be adopted twice — once when she was five years old, and again when she was an adult.

When Bianca Bujan's biological mother was no longer able to take care of her, she was given a choice to either live with an aunt, or with a woman who had been helping to look after her. Bujan picked the woman.

"I was so young, I don't have much memory of actually making the decision," she told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff. "I think I just knew in my heart that she was the woman meant to be my mom."

Bujan's adoptive parents divorced shortly after, and several years later, her adopted mother began a relationship with another man. While Bujan's relationship with her adoptive father dwindled, she became closer with this man. He eventually married Bujan's adoptive mother, but it wasn't enough for Bujan to have this man as her step-father — she wanted him to be her legal father.

"I actually bought him a clock that I had engraved, 'It's time you become my father,' and gave that to him as a gift," she recalled.

Legal hurdles

But the adoption process wasn't as simple as Bujan had expected. By the time she decided to make things legal, she was 19 years old and considered an adult. In order for her step father to legally adopt her, the law required Bujan gain permission from either her biological father or from a spouse — neither of which she was able to provide.

Bujan and her soon-to-be father ended up presenting their case in front of a B.C. Supreme Court judge, who, to their surprise, granted their request swiftly and even offered to expedite the paperwork.

For Bujan, the judge's compassion made all the difference.  

"Having it on paper and made legal and taking on [my adoptive father's] name were important to me," she said. "I wanted to have his last name on my university degree. I wanted to have his last name as my maiden name when I get married."