When we first learned that we were chosen to adopt our youngest child, and her birth family’s desire to have an openness agreement, we knew that we were going into new territory. Our two older children were an adoption order (letters and pictures 4 times a year) and a closed adoption, making an agreement something we had no experience with.
Like any other person who first learns of a new concept, I took to Google for advice… bad idea. Horror stories of failed relationships, strained adoptions and other horror stories began to appear on my screen. What was I getting myself into?
Despite my initial hesitation… I had to re-think who would benefit from this, and in the end, realized that we all would. Just like her birth parents took a leap of faith, we decided to as well… so onto the ever changing and evolving relationship of an option adoption.
We first all agreed upon monthly emails, picture sharing and updates. However, when we received a call from our daughter’s birth father at 5:30am on May 25, 2015 saying that his wife was in labour, email and pictures just didn’t seem enough. They decided that they did not want to see her, hold her, or know her gender at birth. She was literally delivered, and whisked away to us. The next day upon their discharge, they met with us (without our daughter), to make sure that she was healthy, confirm her gender, and the name we chose for her. They gave us a gift for her, and just like that, we began our relationship.
Within the first few weeks of our daughter’s birth, we started by sending several text messages with pictures. Questions about her health, well-being and sleeping/eating habits became a weekly norm. We would call or send messages as she reached new milestones, doctor visits and important updates.
2 years in, and we are still navigating what our relationship looks like. Her first family is still not comfortable yet with meeting her, however, we are always in constant contact. Dinners out, baseball games, lunch and nails are things that have become a new norm for us. We’ve learned who each other are outside of parenting and truly consider them to be extended family. Meeting their 3 other children, seeing where she gets her chubby cheeks and red hair has been such a blessing to us; something that we can never really provide to our older two.
To say there were not awkward moments, or times where we feel like we should be sharing more or less information, wouldn’t be sharing the truth about open adoption. We share in some parenting difference, and at times re-negotiate what our openness will look like. It isn’t always easy, nor is it always hard. But at the end of the day, our relationship, or partnership, isn’t about us. Despite the hiccups we may have, my personal feelings or our family dynamics, this remains about our child, and by our, I mean both sets of her parents.
As you begin your open adoption journey, speaking to people who have been there will become a huge support. Nothing is set in stone, and just know, that the more open and honest you are with yourself, the easier the process will be. Wishing you all strength as you continue to navigate this ever-changing connection!