Patti from It’s Just One Hat asked, “ You were asking for questions on what to write about, and these pictures made me wonder, how did your family handle your adoption? Are they cool with open adoption? You may have addressed this in prev posts, I just don't remember. I've never addressed it on my blog, maybe I'll answer my own question with my family!"
Well, I just emailed my family, so we’ll see how they respond. I thought I would ask them your question directly. Overall, our families were excited when we told them we were going to adopt. We really wanted to be parents. After dealing with infertility for a few years (and multiple procedures) we knew that adoption was going to be the way we would start our family. We even went to our first adoption meeting before doing our first IVF. We wanted to have as much information as possible so we could decide what to do. We didn’t think we would be able to try IVF more than once, but we actually were able to try it 2 more times after that. When it didn’t work the third time, we decided we needed to stop treatment. We knew we didn’t want to risk trying IVF again with my eggs or IVF with donor eggs/donor embryos – the odds just weren’t in our favor. I had a hard time dealing with the losses, as well. We stopped treatment and took a different path.
We really wanted to save up and put the money toward adoption. We researched, read books, went to meetings…you name it. We talked to our families about it, too. I can remember one family member worrying that maybe we should try IVF one more time. She just wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t have regrets about not trying with donor eggs/embryos. We didn’t have regrets about that at all. We felt relief when we decided to adopt – I found hope again.
We tried to keep our families informed along the way. We let them how involved the process is – from application to home study to waiting to being linked. It helped us, too, to be able to share when we made it to the next step in the process. Again – it was that sense of hope that we felt again. When we felt frustrated or worried, we were able to share it with our families as well. When we felt good about getting to the next step, we could celebrate that with them.
Mostly our families asked a lot of questions about adoption and open adoption throughout the process. They were very supportive of us and our decisions. As we read about and learned about open adoption, we educated our families about it as well. Our agency had required us to read Dear Birthmother and Adopting After Infertility. We passed those along to our family to read. We also bought Adoption is a Family Affair and passed that around as well. Some of our family members had a lot of questions about open adoption – how does it work? What’s involved? What’s expected? What will happen if…? We did our best to answer those questions. We did our best to explain what an open adoption could look like.
I guess through our conversations with family members, we sometimes remind them why we chose an open adoption and why Zoe’s birthmom wanted an open adoption. We wanted whatever would be in the best interest of our child and his/her birthparents. We want Zoe to know her birthmom and her family and how much love they have for her. Zoe will be able to talk to her and learn about her as she grows up. If she has questions (particularly questions that we don’t know the answers to) she can ask her birthmom and find out. She won’t have the “who was my birthmom/first mom” question in her mind; she’ll know the answer.
Here’s what my parents wrote:
When we first heard you and Steve were considering open adoption, we were a little apprehensive. It's somewhat scary to think about it at first, mainly because we didn't want you to be hurt any more in case something happened to change it all. The more you talked about it with us the more comfortable we felt. We figured if the two of you were comfortable doing it, we should be too, and we wanted to support you all the way. We're now able to better communicate to others what open adoption is and what we've all gone through.
We read all the literature you suggested and that helped in many ways. Reading other people's stories was a big help - knowing what happens through the process, etc. The most important thing is that Zoe came into your lives and ours, and she will have all the information she needs. Her birth family knows she's safe and loved, and can see her grow up.
Hearing about your emails, phone calls, and visits with Z and her family makes us feel very comfortable that Zoe was meant to be Your Daughter. We feel that your relationship with Z and her family will be a good, strong one; and Zoe will benefit from it too.
We love Zoe more and more each day - can't seem to get enough of her!
My sister, Tracy, said this:
When she heard about us adopting, she was, “happy…knowing the pain we went through with the IVF – she felt hopeful.” When she first heard that we were considering an open adoption, she said it was “kind of a scary thought…” She said that she “worried about it – you would hope it would be a good positive situation for everyone involved.” Now she thinks that it’s a “great opportunity for Zoe to get to know people who are a part of her family.”
My other sister, Janice, wrote:
How did I feel when I heard you were considering open adoption? I was fine with open adoption from the beginning. You both had always said it was an option to start your family, so it didn't come as a surprise or a shock. I knew you both would be fantastic parents and could handle the possible ups and downs of the process.
How did I feel through the process? The waiting was hard at times, but then when you were linked with Z., it was just elation on my end. I was so happy for all of us. I guess there was always that little nervous voice in the back of my head saying that things could change, but I just wanted to focus on the joy of the situation. And from what you had told us about Z., she seemed very sure of herself and her decision, so that really helped.
Do I feel differently now? Did I have any concerns? I don't really feel any differently about the process now. I think I would be having a hard time if the adoption wasn't open. I'd always be worrying about how to say things to Zoe and approach certain subjects, but there's no secrets to keep, so it's a lot easier for me.
How did I learn more about it? You had given us a few books to read, and I think they gave me more insight into the ins and outs of the process and what to expect. I also think I learned more from just talking with you and Steve about it. You were so willing to share the process with the family, and answer any questions that I might have, that I didn't have any real worries about it.
Edited a 2nd time to add:
Janice also wrote: I always knew that Wendy and Steve would be wonderful parents, so watching them go through the fertility treatments was so hard. When they decided to pursue adoption over another round of IVF, I think I was actually relieved. Watching my sister's heart break after each treatment didn't work was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through, so I guess I viewed the adoption process as a way to work past that grief and heartache toward happiness. I knew there would be ups and downs, and possibly a long waiting period, but adoption just seemed like the next logical avenue to follow. We (as a family) would just have to deal with the ups and downs as they came.
I definitely felt more comfortable with the adoption process because Wendy and Steve were so open about it. They were always willing to explain what was happening and what the next step was going to be. They had a few books for the family to read, and I think they helped me to understand all of the complex emotions surrounding adoption.
I have to say that I was happy that everyone agreed to keep the adoption open. I think that knowing about her birthparents will provide Zoe with a better sense of self when she's older. Friends of mine have asked me how I feel about the situation, and I always respond with "It just means there's more people in this world that love her." Through all of the reading and thinking, I realized how much love is involved with adoption, and I know that Zoe will know how much she is loved by everyone.
My question for everyone who is reading is: How do your families feel about adoption? Are they on board with your decision (to adopt or to place a child for adoption) and if not, how do/did you handle that or educate them?