So, I haven’t written on here for a while, but it’s been for a good reason. G’s birth mom, A, and brother came to visit. Yes, you heard me right. (I will refer to her as A, for her privacy. Again, this is her story to truly tell. I also refer to our son by his initial G, for now) Anyway, when we were matched, we agreed to yearly visits with A., in addition to phone calls and letters. However, our relationship continues to evolve. On the scale of openness in adoption, I’d say our adoption is as open as it gets! Let me say that this has happened so very organically and it’s not for every adoption situation. However, we are happy with where things stand and enjoyed having A. and her son in our home and meeting our families. During conversations prior to our visit, I discussed my blog and new adventure. A. was completely supportive and even agreed to let me interview her. On the last day of our visit, while G was napping, we sat on the couch together with my husband, and opened up. Honestly, I had been thinking about what to ask her for a long time, what would be most helpful, what would I have wanted to know as an adoptive parent from a birth mom, etc. and didn’t write any of it down! Regardless, we talked, we cried, and we shared. This is another long but meaningful post. Here is our story in A’s own words: “I was going through a hard time and was trying to get my life together so I could raise G, who wasn’t G yet, but things didn’t work out that way and I believe God has a plan for everyone. I really think God made things hard, well I put myself in that situation, but God put me in that situation to help you guys have a family”.
Can we talk about how powerful that statement is? Can we talk about how often birth moms motives for adoption are misconstrued? These words demonstrate a view of the world outside oneself with one’s baby and another family in mind.
“When I decided to choose adoption, at first, I didn’t want it to be open or want any help. I just wanted to make sure G was going to go to a good home and be taken care of, loved and be treated like a real son would be treated. I chose you guys because you guys sounded so sweet, your pictures were nice, and you looked like a good family. I am family oriented, and that was a big thing.”
I remember her telling us in the past that in the profile she liked that I was a social worker, what my husband had written about me, and our Christmas traditions we had written about. There is no magic thing to put in a profile to be chosen, no certain hobby or travel photos, the most important pictures are real. For both of A. and us, it was this unexplainable connection from a few words and pictures. One that you really can’t explain.
“The adoption agency social worker talked to me about open adoption and helped me emotionally. After 3-4 weeks of getting everything together, she brought me profiles. The other families seemed nice but I didn’t really find that connection with any of the other families. I felt you guys were right, and there was a connection there. I called the agency social worker and told her I picked you! I wanted to call you guys the instant I chose you” We laughed, this is definitely her personality!
“We talked on the phone and met a few days before G was born. It was awesome you were willing to be at the hospital and cut the cord. This was something you could cherish, it was a really good experience.”
What would you say to the families whose profiles you viewed but didn’t pick?
“To not lose hope and there wasn’t necessarily a connection with them from my point of view. God has a plan for everyone and there was a reason I chose you guys, when I saw your pictures, I felt a connection with you. And the birth mother letter- I felt it was sincere and stood out from the others. I think that is important, you have to make the birth mother feel that she and the child are in your best interest”.
Let me say to those waiting to be chosen, waiting for the right birth mom family to match, hold on to hope. Hold on for that right connection, the one you can’t explain but you just know. Trust in the timing and the story that’s being written. You’ve got a birth mom and adoptive mom who speak from experience. Just like adoptive families have fears, birth mothers do too. We asked her what her biggest fears were, her answer brought us all to tears.
“Not being able to know who G would be or him not knowing about me or his brother. That was a big thing, I wanted them to have a relationship. You don’t just get brothers and sisters. Someone like me, in my predicament, other kids aren’t in the future right now. I wanted him to know he had a brother and they could build a good relationship”.
We talked about our first “meeting”, the initial phone call. My husband and I were nervous, I didn’t want to come across as awkward or say the wrong thing. what if she didn’t like us? What if something we said made her change her mind? I wanted to hear her side.
“I remember sitting with the social worker. We called, I was nervous, my hands were sweaty and I didn’t want to seem like a bad person to you. I know with my situation, I looked a little bad, but I was just…”
I stopped her, we never thought that.
“Even to this day, I feel like a really bad person”.
We love A. like family, and it hurts to hear her speak that way. In these moments, we need to understand why it’s so important to love, encourage, and support birth moms. We talked about the difficult emotions surrounding adoption.
“The depression afterwards was harsh. You guys made it easier by staying in contact and talking with me and keeping in touch. It was easier on me because I knew I could stay in touch. You guys helped me a lot and I’m really glad I didn’t go with a closed adoption because I don’t know what I’d be doing right now and with my life. Things would have been a lot harder and more chaotic”.
What was most helpful to you after you left the hospital? What would you want other adoptive parents to know?
“Be understanding. If you get too many phone calls or the birth mom is constantly checking up, especially at first, be understanding because we gave up a lot for you to have a family and our emotions are still crazy and out of whack. Being there for them and letting know everything is going to be OK. That was a big thing for me, to help through the depression after adoption and the postpartum depression. Be understanding, let them know the baby is OK, send pictures, be there for them like you would be for anyone else going through something major.”
That was important to me, caring for her, being there for her, especially in the hospital. We carefully chose our words and our actions.
“That was the right way to go about it, emotions are high, you guys were good about not pushing in front of my face.”
It was a balance between being excited, grateful, and afraid. We knew in the back of our minds that she could change hers. We’ve heard the stories, and our hearts were guarded.
“There wasn’t any thought of changing my mind because I kept thinking what if I was in your situation, I would have been heartbroken, your dream taken away from you on a whim. I kept telling myself that throughout the pregnancy and adoption process. He’s yours but he’s not yours. He’s mine but he’s not mine. I may be giving birth but he’s your son. That’s what I had to keep telling myself, when it came down to signing the papers, it helped, because I knew what I was getting myself into when I chose this and there was never any thought of changing my mind because I wouldn’t want anyone doing that to me. When I chose you guys, I knew that there was no going back after this.”
We didn’t assume anything in those moments, we didn’t take over, we were careful and were there for her in the hospital. But, seriously, I’m in continued awe of A’s strength and courage. She never wavered in decision, continually thinking about G and even us. I continued to feel so blessed by our relationship with A and the gift of parenthood she gave us. Open adoption can be complicated, emotional, and difficult; but there’s truly a beauty in the relationships, the honesty, and hope for the future.
If you or someone you know has questions about open adoption or anything adoption related, please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com.