Friday, April 12, 2013

What Open Adoption Means For Us

On a fairly regular basis I'm asked whether or not we talk to Abraham's birthmom (K - again this is just how I refer to her online, she has a real full name that we use when we talk about her in our home).  Sometimes I'm asked if I ever talk to his mom and I have to stop myself from saying like, "well, I try not to talk myself, at least in public."  I don't think people would appreciate my humor, or snark.

I also get asked what it's like to be in an open adoption.  And while I will happily tell of our experience, I don't really think you can get any idea of what open adoption is like from just one family's perspective.  Just as every relationship between two humans is different, so is every relationship between adoptive and birth parents.

But I will say that it truly is a relationship.  It's not like a legal or business agreement (for us) where we agree to contact on certain days or times and send x number of pictures and a letter x times a year.  Relationship doesn't work that way.

Per our open adoption communication agreement (a form K filled out specifying how much contact she wanted), the first 6 months we sent her pictures once a month and will send her more on Abraham's first birthday.  That's been the only formal part of our communication though.

In real life it looks like it would for some with a close friend of family member who lived several states away that you wanted to keep in touch with.  She sends me texts.  I send her texts.  Sometimes its a few times a week, sometimes several weeks pass and we don't hear from one another.  She will ask for a picture or video, I will take one and text it to her.

Most often times our chats (almost exclusively via text message) are just about what Abraham is up to.  How he's doing, any new milestones he's hit, and funny new things he's up to.  She will also ask how the girls are doing or what our family has been doing.  I like to hear about her and her kids are doing, how work is going for her, and what's happening in her world.  I keep all the pictures she sends me of her and her kids for Abraham to have some day if he wants them.  But also, I keep them so that he sees that we value K in our home and see her as an important piece of his life.

It's to the point now, that if I get a really funny picture of Abraham, Evelyn will ask me if I'm going to send it to Miss K.  She's starting to wrap her mind around who K is and what she plays in our lives.  I've even had to walk her through some questions when she asked me one day where the mommy is that she grew in.  For the record, this wasn't asked in any distress.  She just came up to me one day and asked me out of the blue and seemed just as content with the answer that she grew in my tummy than she seemed with the idea that she had grown in someone else's.

I will add though, that the conversations aren't always easy with K.  There is some inherent awkwardness (although it has lessened with time) based simply on the fact that our son is also her son, though not in the same way.  Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself even though I know I don't really have to.  Sometimes I chose not to share things that I might share with others because it makes things complicated (for instance all the medical scares and such we've been through with him).

In the end though I am thankful for the relationship.  I'm glad that when Abraham does something new and exciting or I have an adorable picture of him, I can share it with someone who will be just about as excited about it as I am.  Someone that shares a deep love for my son and is thrilled to see him growing and thriving.  I don't feel like I share the role of mothering with K, but I do share in loving him.  And that's good for all involved.


  1. This made me cry. I was just about to begin writing a post about what open adoption means in our family & for Matt, John John &'s beautiful...but for all others in my family, it's scary & complicated & totally unwelcome. I am struggling with this in my heart & you wrote quite beautifully that you don't share in mothering but you share in loving & that is SO true. This post is the encouragement I needed to know that we are doing what is right in our realtionship with T. Squeeze baby Abraham for me =)

  2. Beautiful post and beautiful conclusion! " I don't feel like I share the role of mothering with K, but I do share in loving him. And that's good for all involved." I love that line. Thank you for sharing!

  3. This is one of my greatest joys, too: "...I can share it with someone who will be just about as excited about it as I am."

    Beautifully said, Elizabeth.