We have been blessed with three beautiful children; they were all placed with us through domestic adoption. We are very fortunate that each of our children have a birth family that desires and makes an effort to stay in their lives. Having been a part of these relationships for nearly seven years now has really changed my perspective of open adoption. I will be honest, when we started the domestic adoption process seven years ago I was very nervous about open adoption. I did not understand how it would work, or if it would be best for my ability to protect “my” child, my emotions, and me as a mommy. Despite my fears and reservations, my husband and I decided to read a lot of research on open adoption vs closed, how it affects the child and the families on all sides of the triad. We came to the conclusion that it would in fact be best for our child and we decided to move forward in an open adoption program. Sitting here seven years and three adoptions later I am so glad we did. I am not going to sugar coat anything, every relationship in our lives takes effort and an emotional toll on our lives. It is not always easy to move forward in any relationship and especially in one so emotionally charged as adoption. Open adoption is not always easy for my husband and I, and it is not always easy for our children’s birth families, but I have seen over and over again how much these relationships mean to my children… here is what I have learned:
• our kids will always know they are loved by their birth family
• our kids will know and be proud of their heritage
• our kids know they were not abandoned or unwanted, this is confirmed over each email, phone call and visit.
• I love to see the smile on my kids face when they get to hug their birth sisters, or be held by their birth families
• I am thankful that I have never felt threatened by these relationships
• I love that my kids know where they got their beautiful brown eyes, and they can see someone who, as my son said… “looks just like me mommy”
• we have access not only to our kids medical records, but to any other genetic questions that may come up as they grow.
• When my children say they miss their birth mom or birth family, this has nothing to do with me or their relationship with me, its simply not about me; I can just listen and love on them through their loss.
• my kids never have to fantasize about their birth families, or spend countless hours wondering what they look like and where they are now. They will never have to search for them or miss out on years of relationship.
• my kids birth families are amazing, they have accepted and love all my kids not just their own birth child.
• my kids birth parents do not want to parent them when we visit, they want to spend time with them and know they are happy, healthy and safe. They want confirmation that they made the right decision.
• my kids birth parents do not expect us to be perfect parents, they just want their kids to grow up loved, safe and provided for. They are more excited about the time we spend with our kids rather than what we buy for them.
• I do not and cannot expect my children’s birth parents to be perfect, I can love them for who they are at and allow my kids to do the same.
• my kids are loved by lots and lots of people!
These are just a few things I have learned; there are so many more I could list. I have come to realize that like all relationships, these ones take time. The longer we walk together, the more we build trust and the more I can see the love that we all have for these cherished kids. Visits are never “easy” I always walk away from them emotionally exhausted; and I weep for the loss my kids birth families still have. I know every day I get to wake up and hug, hold and love on my kids is a day they do not… and that is heart breaking. I am so grateful that they trusted us (as complete strangers) to parent their children. I know the visits are very difficult for them as well, but they manage to put their feelings of sadness aside and make the day joyful and fun for their kids whom they only get to see a few times a year. That is love.