Friday, September 2, 2011

Grow Your Family Series: An Open Adoption

Today's post is from a very dear friend of mine, Amber, who blogs over at Bumber's Bumblings.  It was by sheer fortune and the grace of God and she and I bumped into one another this past year, and we have been fast friends ever since.  After hearing her beautiful adoption story, I knew I wanted to include it in this series.

And if you are really interested in adoption, I would highly recommend you read her birth momma's story (near the bottom of the post - but be prepared.  Kleenex are definitely necessary) for an emotional account of what an open adoption actually feels like.

Adoption is something that has always been close to my heart. 

It is something I grew up surrounded by.

I have an Aunt that adopted from China twice and has two amazing little guys. 

Then, when I was in high school, I met one of my best friends who had been adopted through a domestic closed adoption. 

Before we were married, my husband, Nate, and I had discussed that we would be open to adoption if we weren't able to have biological children.  I think everyone has discussions like that, never thinking that it could actually happen to them.  But for us, HAPPEN it did!

After the shocking diagnosis of infertility wore off, I was completely ready to head towards adoption.  Probably about a year before Nate - he needed a little more time to process things. 

All the invasive medical tests and procedures were NOT for me. I was a basket-case and would like to forget that time in my life.  Looking back now, I realize it was a necessary part of the process, but BLAHHH---NO FUN!

Finally, though, Nate came around and we were ready to start looking into adoption.  Initially, we were pretty overwhelmed. 

I love when people say, "Why don't you just adopt?"  Like it's that easily accomplished. 

And initially, I leaned toward international adoption -  naturally, since my aunt and uncle had just chosen that path. Not to mention, I was pretty terrified of domestic adoption as a whole and thought it would be easier to avoid. That's when a  very wise friend challenged me to just try to open my mind to the possibility of domestic infant adoption and not to blow it off so quickly. 

Early on, Nate and I went to an adoption seminar with the agency we eventually chose.  During the seminar three different adoption programs were highlighted: Domestic Infant, Foster to Adopt, and International. 

Despite the fact that it was very informative seminar, I felt even more overwhelmed at our options than before. 

In contrast, Nate said he felt a pull towards the Domestic Infant program almost immediately.  FABULOUS--One of the two of us had a clue about something, but then he has always felt a pull towards local endeavors and missions.  This would make sense to him.  His thinking was, why not help someone right here in our area that needs parents and a home? 

(Obviously, not knocking anyone that has chosen a different path, this is just where his leading took us.)

We started the process and wow it just became more and more overwhelming.  The paperwork was a nightmare, and since we did not want to become bogged down with the paperwork for an eternity, we basically spent the entire summer working on the paperwork.  We didn't go anywhere and do anything - just paperwork!  We wanted it behind us!

By the end of the summer we had finished all three "home visits".  For the record, the title "home visit" is very deceiving, because not until the last visit did they come to our home.  (Funny story about that.  We thought the first visit was at our house, so we worked our butts off on having the house and yard beautiful and spotless.  I called our social worker to confirm the visit the next day, only to have her tell me that we were meeting her at the office for the first visit.  Then we had to keep our house looking nice for the next month!)

But back on topic....

As part of our homestudy process, we had to read books, books, books  and more books.   The general theme throughout all these books goes back to open adoption.  Open adoption is a topic that is surreal, fearful, and scary if you are not educated on the matter, and sometimes even if you are educated on the matter!  We started to understand the emotional and psychological positives for both the adopted child and the birth parent (b-mom in particular).  But even though, we were beginning to understand the textbook reasons, it was hard conceptualize that personally.

It wasn't until we sat through another {very informative} all day seminar with our agency that we finally started to understand it a little more.  We saw videos of birthmoms speaking and even saw a "triad" (adoptive mom, birth mom, and adopted adult son).  The triad forum was amazing and left us tearful and excited about the possibilities.  We left that session saying to each other, if our adoption slightly resembles that kind of unity and partnership and LOVE, we will be so blessed.

If only we knew what was in store for our family only four short months later...

I had this "deal" with God that if his will was not for me to be a biological mother, then I had a few requests for him in our adoption situation:
-I wanted a birth mom to choose us very late in her pregnancy.  I didn't want to have to endure the excruciating waiting process for months on end. 
-I also secretly wanted a boy (I don't know why, okay). 
-I also thought it would be cool if the baby would be born around the end of March or April of 2009, so that I could have three months paid maternity leave (had to be at my new job for one year).

Of course these were all negotiable (ha ha), but that was what I was asking for.
When we received the call that we were tentatively chosen by an expectant {I use expectant since she had not placed him for adoption yet} mother, she was just a few short weeks from her due date!  (Now if that isn't late in the pregnancy?)  She was actually due at the end of March with a boy, but gave birth three weeks early. 

Meaning we received the call just 2 weeks before the baby boy was born!

And when we met with her and her family for the first time, it was just five days prior to B's birth! 
You can read all about that meeting from B's birth mom's perspective here. The whole meeting was pretty amazing.  I won't elaborate on all the details, since she does a pretty good job of it, but I will share with you a little bit about our conversation relative to the openness of the adoption:

After we spent quite a while with her and her fam and totally fell in love with all of them {but especially her}, we broached the subject of openness.  Before the meeting, we received paperwork with her openness requests, and all she had requested was for pictures and updates throughout the first year and a visit around his first birthday.  But during our conversation, my husband asked, with tears in his eyes, "aren't you going to want to see him more than that?".  Her response was that she wanted any openness to be gauged by us, that this was the life that she was choosing for him and she didn't want to do anything to confuse or complicate his life.  Nate then said something like "I think we are going to want you in our lives, it's going to be important for him to know you and know the amazing sacrifice that you made to give him life and a future..." 

You can imagine what a bunch of blubbering fools we all were after that, especially me. 

We finally GOT this whole open adoption thing.  And we wanted it for our lives. 

We didn't know exactly what it would look like after this, but we opened that door.

B & Birth Mom in the Hospital

We started off by emailing back and forth about once a week. Our emails became pages long as we continued to get to know each other throughout the next few months.  We were itching for her to see B and see how beautiful and amazing he was, even though we sent lots of pics and videos!  And of course, she was itching to see us, but didn't want to be presumptuous. 

6 Months

We finally had our first post-placement meeting when B was three months old.  We were supposed to meet at her parents house for a Memorial Day lunch and we ended up staying there for almost twelve hours.  They were just family after that.  We exchanged cell numbers and started texting often and having more visits.  Two and half years later, and they are still just part of our family.  They attend some family events with us and we attend their family events when we are able.  There are no expectations or obligations, just a mutual love and respect for each of our places in B's life.

2 Year Birthday Party

There are common questions that we all receive, and I'd be happy to try to answer those if you want to ask them.

There are always going to be difficulties and loss in adoption on both sides, but I never fear my place as B's mommy.  That boy is a momma's boy.
Birth Mom's Graduation Day

I may not be his birth mommy, but without her, I would not be a mommy.  And for that opportunity, I owe her everything.  It is with great joy that I can tell you that B loves her dearly, as do we!


Anonymous said...


Have I told you lately how proud I am of you? You make me smile, you make me you tell your family story. You make me proud to know you. I admire you for your love for others and the child rearing you are doing with B.

I love you.


Anonymous said...

I never get tired or bored of hearing and reading about your bring tears to my eyes and joy to my heart every time! :)

Rachel V.