Our family came to be because of adoption. My husband was aware early in our relationship that I might not be able to have biological children related to childhood cancer. And early on he expressed his desire to one day have a family. Together we chose to have a family, deciding that biology alone does not create family. However, the reality of each child’s individual story is unique to them and needs to be discussed.
One of the more challenging aspects has been that our oldest daughter has an open adoption while our youngest daughter’s adoption is closed. We are often asked about this status and have never exactly known how to explain it. There have been moments of challenge and sadness in navigating how to be sincere and honest when discussing the similarities and differences.
Open adoptions are moral agreements between the two parties (birth mom and adoptive parents) to share some amount of contact such as pictures, letters, phone calls, social media, or contact. This is not a legal contract.
Our oldest daughter’s “first” mom requested an open adoption and the fact that we were open, too, was appealing to her. Our relationship with her and her family has been deeply rewarding. For the past 7 years we have stayed in contact through social media, texts, letters and have visited on multiple occasions. For a little more about our story check out my past post Love Platinum: A Glimpse into Our Open Adoption.
All roads lead to Her
After two failed adoptions, and one where the birth mom changed her mind at the hospital, we got an unexpected call at BBQ with friends. A baby was born an hour ago in Tulsa…were we interested? In a matter of 2 hours we were on our way to meet our daughter. Fate set the course and within 5 hours of birth she was in our arms, skin to skin, with her forever family. At that moment we were all in! In the following days we found out that birth mom did not desire contact at the hospital or after the adoption – this would be a closed adoption.
Tough Pill to Swallow
Call it a lack of preparation, fate, or being naïve, but after mentally committing to open adoption I never really considered not ever meeting our future birth mother at least once. I have grieved the loss of looking into my daughter’s mother’s eyes and offering her reassurance and sincerity in our intentions. For her to look into the kind eyes of my husband and know her child will be deeply loved, safe, and cherished. This was uncharted territory and with a newborn and 16-month-old at hand, I was overwhelmed with motherhood alone. This left me with little time to fully process the situation. With more difficult questions from my daughters I’ve truly began to acknowledge all the varying details and intricacies of our story.
Words of Advice for Adoptive Parents
Love and Commitment
Sounds cliché, but it starts with love and commitment. Committed to being there time and again, over and over, forever…not in an overprotective helicopter parenting way. But in that forever family way. Also, a healthy relationship with your teammate and bestie makes all the difference.
Each story is unique and different. This may seem obvious, but sometimes life’s not. Ask any parent who scratches their head when attempting to illicit their first-time child parenting strategies on their second kid. Stories and situations are unique, and it doesn’t make one better then the other, but they are different.
Honesty as a Cornerstone
Although these conversations can be difficult and hard, with questions that don’t have an answer, we choose honesty when we don’t know what to say. Our children’s adoptions are part of their story and certain facts will never change. We have attempted to constantly determining how to communicate the information with age appropriateness in mind. We want to speak openly, thoughtfully and honestly and sometimes that has lead to some tears, some seeds of grief, and, overall, many blessings.
My family is not traditional, but it doesn’t mean I love them any less or approach parenting with any less fear, apprehension, and determined love. Whether my children were biological or adopted, had an open or closed adoption, or chose to ask or not, I would still value honesty and commitment to one another as the cornerstone of our lives together.
As A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh, wrote “As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.”