On Open Adoption

This is a post I originally wrote on October 1, 2007

My friend Jen and I have really bonded this year as we’ve waited for our children to join our families at home. Even though our adoptions are going to take place on different continents, we have been through very similar experiences on this journey. So, when she did the Fab Four meme with an adoption twist, I wanted to think about what my own answers would be.

My answers are specifically about domestic open adoption. We have an open adoption with Max (meaning we’ve shared information both ways with his birth family and we have ongoing contact with them) and we will have openness in our upcoming adoption, as well.

Four things I thought about adoption when I was a child (these are the misconceptions I had)

  1. I thought babies were left at a doorstep in a basket, like in a Disney cartoon
  2. I thought adoptive parents didn’t “plan on” becoming parents, like in Diff’rent Strokes, Webster, and Punky Brewster
  3. I thought adopted kids who knew their biological parents would be confused about who their “real” moms and dads were
  4. I thought birth mothers would change their mind once they held their baby and then you’d have to go to court and fight it out and it would be all over the news

Four things I’ve learned since then

  1. It’s not good to base adoption on what you see on TV – and can you tell I watched a lot of it?
  2. I’ve come to believe that open adoption is a specific calling, especially when the birth family wishes to have some contact throughout the child’s life. I’m more than glad that we’ve experienced this kind of openness in adoption.
  3. Adoption isn’t like pregnancy, but it’s not second best to it at all. God has a way of giving you such beautiful moments that are very unique to becoming an adoptive mom. The loss will always be there for those who suffered through infertility, but there is such an overwhelming joy knowing that God’s hand directly brought you and your child together, no matter how many miles separated you at first.
  4. That you don’t have to be perfect parents to be chosen by a birth family. Each child is made by, known, and loved by God who has a special plan for him/her and it doesn’t matter if you own a house with a backyard in the suburbs, travel the world, can afford private school, or have put together an award-winning profile book to show.
  5. One more – I’ve learned that birth parent counseling by a trustworthy and experienced adoption agency or mentor is invaluable.

Four silly things people have said to me about adoption

  1. Do you think his mom is going to change her mind?
  2. Oh, I could never do that [meaning, place a baby for adoption]
  3. Watch it, now you’ll get pregnant and have your own child
  4. Where did you get him from? Russia?

Four things that are hard about adoption

  1. Waiting
  2. Paperwork
  3. Expense
  4. Heavy heart for the birth family; delayed sense of joy until we’re back home

Four ways my adopted children have surprised me

  1. I’m surprised about how often Max asks to hear his birth/adoption story
  2. I’m surprised when Max asks “why am I adopted” in line at the grocery store
  3. I’m surprised how perfectly we fit together as a family. I couldn’t even imagine our family to be any other way.

Four things I wish everyone knew about (open) adoption

  1. It’s easier (logistically) to adopt within your home state
  2. That birth moms aren’t giving you a gift of a child; they are giving their child a gift of a family
  3. That using the term “real” mother when talking about a birth mom doesn’t hurt my feelings; I understand what you mean but children might not. So thanks for being careful about this.
  4. That open adoption can mean so many different things. Read books and talk to other couples who are willing to share their personal experiences, but know that one open adoption may look completely different than another. Some families feel comfortable with visits. Others may choose to send photos and an update letter once a year. This is one reason why I feel strongly about birth parent counseling. There seem to be fewer surprises when a counselor is really listening.

Hey, that was good for me to do and has helped keep my mind in the right place as we wait for A. to go into labor. Due Date is only 4 weeks from today!  Ahhhhhhh! 🙂

*edited to add: A.’s baby was not meant to be ours, but the story continued and God had other plans in mind. Mini was born 4 1/2 months later and that same day we boarded a plane for Colorado. We were overjoyed!

I am thankful to be an adoptive mom!

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