The Thing I Love Most About Open Adoption

mineA few nights ago I realized my favorite part of open adoption. It is sharing my proudest moments with someone else that is equally proud! I just LOVE when my son does something new and I can share it with his birth mom. Sure I can say it to my family or post it on Facebook. It may even get a bunch of likes and comments. But other than his birth parents, no one is quite the same level of proud of him as we are. That is a very special bond.

My husband has been away on business for a few weeks.  He has luckily been given the ability to come home for the weekend to spend time with us (and because he teaches a Saturday class at a local college).  This weekend we tried basking in as much family time as possible.  Friday after we picked up Isaac from school, we went out to dinner and since the weather was perfect, we headed to the outlet mall to get the boys some new gym shoes.  When we returned home, the boys still wanted to be outside (Ezra loves being outside and is constantly running to the door saying “side”).  Joe and Isaac were tossing the football around and Ezra was just cruising around the driveway and the yard in his new Nike’s.  Of course, like any proud mom with an iPhone, I was snapping pictures.  Then I remembered that T, his birth mom, had asked if he was starting to run yet.  So when he was chasing the dog, dad and brother around the yard, I switched the camera to video mode and recorded a little one minute clip of him running around and “playing” football.  I couldn’t wait to send it to her!

Her response was pure joy!  “Look at him run.  I love it.  It almost looks like he’s been running and walking for years!”  I typed back “he’s a pro!” and her next message was when it hit me… she said “I’m so proud.”   It is those moments that I know that no matter how many likes a picture gets on Facebook or how many oohs and ahhs grandparents, friends or other family members give, no one else in the world shares the same love for him with me and Joe as his birth parents do.  They’ll never tire of seeing pictures that look exactly the same as the ones I took the day before.  They’ll never think I talk too much about him.  They’ll never think “Gosh this woman is obsessed with her baby.”.  They get it.  They are still his parents too, even if they aren’t parenting him.  They are proud of him.  They love him.  They take joy in his happiness.

So many people are still scared off by open adoption, simply because they don’t understand it.  Open adoption is not co-parenting or fearing that my status as “Mom” is at risk.  It is sharing the joy of a child that is loved by many.  Imagine depriving them that joy of knowing how he is doing, that would be a terrible heartache to be responsible for causing.  Being able to share with him their love, well that in itself is very special.  He will know he is precious, loved and cherished.

“He is mine in a way he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.”

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7 thoughts on “The Thing I Love Most About Open Adoption

  1. Hi Sarah,
    It’s good to hear that your Open Adoption is going so well. I can’t imagine the feelings that must fill you both to see your shared experiences throughout the growth of little Ezra. Have you run into difficulties with it?
    -Charles

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    • Hi Charles, thanks for the message! And thanks for retweeting a few of my resent posts, I noticed yesterday on Twitter. 🙂

      I think with any close relationship there are bound to be some difficulties. In this case, my emotional gratitude to her is overwhelming So the biggest difficulty for me so far has been that I feel I owe her EVERYTHING. Sometimes I have to step back and realize that she didn’t just give me this amazing gift, but I gave her the security of knowing that Ezra is being raised the way she wanted him to be. My giving nature wants to nurture her and give her the world. But I need to remember that giving Ezra the world instead is exactly what she wanted from me.

      I never feel like either of his birth parents or extended family overstep boundaries or interject too much. We have a very solid friendship and respect. I wish all open adoptions could be this smooth and easy to maintain.
      -Sarah

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  2. As a natural mother (birthmother is considered derogatory) who doesn’t get contact with my son I was touched when you said: ” Imagine depriving them that joy of knowing how he is doing, that would be a terrible heartache to be responsible for causing.” I have asked my AP (adoptive parents) many times to be a part of his life. I live in Washington State and they live in Michigan with their 5 adopted kids so I wouldn’t be able to visit (perhaps rarely) but I just want to hear his voice. I’ve asked for a video but no go. I get an email with a picture about once a year. Our son will be 12 this May just before Mother’s day and that’s always a hard time of year for me. Everything in me wants to celebrate him but I’m denied this. Hearing your story doesn’t make me sad but actually brings me joy. This is an example of adoption done right and that relieves some of my sorrow over the industries dark sides. We need more stories like this. Perhaps it will help other AP to let go of fear.

    Some people might think there are other reasons why my AP don’t have contact with me but I don’t see a reason for it. I’m a college graduate with a bachelors in Sociology from the University of Washington who regularly volunteers at my church. I’m the only female on the worship team so I typically serve every week. I am certified to help with children and have passed background checks and I’ve never done a crime.The father was a fireman in the big brother program of the boys and girls club that was 10 years older than me at the time I conceived (at 19) and wanted me to have an abortion. He filled out all the medical paperwork and that was the last we heard from him. He doesn’t even know if he had a boy or girl.

    When the AP met me I was living in a home sponsored by a church ministry for girls in unplanned pregnancies. We had to attend church every week and devotions every morning. There was a curfew and even male family had to be approved to visit otherwise there were no men allowed at the home. I work full time and have been promoted every year for the past 3 years. I’m a leader on my team and frequently responsible for handling difficult situations. I lead an adoption support group for years after moving out from the home and living on my own. The AP are a senior pastor of a church and a retired RN who is now a full time stay at home mom. We share the same faith and have never argued. I’ve always been respectful and have never made demands. In fact two years into the adoption I told them they didn’t have to feel obligated to send me pictures but to send them whenever they were sending them to other family (Christmas, etc). I’ve never wanted to be a burden. I’ve made requests but when they were denied I was respectful and wrote an email back stating I understood. They told me they are not giving him my letters but putting them in a box that he can access when he’s ready. I disagree with this method because I don’t think adoptees will volunteer their desire to know more about their adoption if they think it would cause rejection in any way from their family. I am in the school of thought that adoptive parents who bring up the subject and make it safe to talk about help the adoptee in having a fulfilling life without worrying about how it could be perceived.

    Thank you for sharing your story. To know your child is a gift that many natural/first mothers are denied. I wish all AP were like you.

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    • Ariel,
      Your story brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine why in the world they would ever deny you the joy of sharing the milestones and well being of the child you created and entrusted with them! I too believe that when adoptive parents treat their children like adoption is taboo and keep their story from them, it gives them a great deal of pain. I mean, they love their parents, but they LONG for the knowledge of their first family. And if the topic is kept quiet or in a box for them for when they are older, they may feel that they will hurt their adoptive parent’s feelings for asking for more information. That is so wrong to ever put a child in that situation. My son having knowledge of his first family is NOT a threat to me. It is a gift to him… a right of his and who he is. I am angry with your child’s adoptive parents and I wish I had a way to tell them so!

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  3. We have been blessed to have two open adoptions as well. When questions concerning birthparents come up, it’s wonderful to share with my kids about their heritage and the memories I have of spending time with their birthparents. These are memories I will always hold dear and pray I can accurately share with my little ones. With open adoptions there is freedom for both parties to communicate and share in the joys and hardships of life. We hope to always be a part of the birth family’s life! Praying, remembering and

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  4. It is nice to hear of open adoption working. We had hoped that open adoption with extended birth family would work but it has been a nightmare (and then some). Some birth family members interpret openness is “shared custody” and become demanding and manipulative. Openness is often portrayed as wonderful in pre-adoption classes and they don’t talk about the horror stories that really do happen. Glad it has worked for you.

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    • Hi H! Thanks for writing! I agree, I think the classes need to not just teach the benefits of open adoption, but also how to deal with situations like yours. Open adoption education should be provided to both sets of parents so there is an understanding and the foundation is set before the child is placed. I hope that one day your child’s birth family can accept the terms of open adoption and no longer look at it like co-parenting or long term child care. That’s an uncomfortable situation and not helpful or healthy for anyone involved. Best of luck to you!

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