Saturday, April 23, 2011

Open Adoption

After we finished our home study, we attended as many waiting family meetings as possible.  We really looked forward to them.  The meetings helped us learn more about adoption-related topics.  It was really great that our agency offered them.  We have always said that some of our favorite classes were the ones where birth parents and adoptive parents spoke about their experiences.  When we left the classes, we felt something we hadn’t felt in a long time…hope. 

We went to one of those meetings and the speakers were the birth mom and the adoptive parents of a little baby girl.  They brought their daughter, M, with them.  They told us how they did their home study and waited to be chosen by birth parents.  Six months later they were chosen and a short time after that, they brought their daughter home.  They have an open adoption with their daughter’s birth mom.

We were really interested to hear more about what an open adoption was like.  We had read about it and talked about it with our caseworker, and we were excited to hear more from people who were involved in an open adoption.  We felt that an open adoption was what we wanted our child to have with his/her birth parents, but we wanted to know more about it, too.

M’s birth mom talked about why she chose the couple to be her daughter’s adoptive parents.  She held M through most of the workshop.  You could really see how happy the three of them were with their relationship with each other.  They shared with all of us what the experience had been like – the harder parts and the wonderful parts. 

Any nervousness we felt at that time about an open adoption really eased at that meeting.  As we drove home, we talked about how we felt – We really felt that an open adoption was what we wanted to consider.  We also talked about how amazing it was that this couple was chosen after only 6 months of waiting (We had been told it could be up to 2 years or more.)  Plus they were able to have such a wonderful relationship with their child’s birth mom.  It was all so positive.

The thing with adoption is that it involves so many people and so many lives.   It involves so many relationships.   Not only the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents, but the grandparents, the birth grandparents, the siblings, the aunts and uncles, the birth aunts and uncles, etc.  And to have it all come together in such a positive way…well, that’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?  And for a child to have SO many people to love and care for him/her…that’s the best thing I can imagine.

I was really reminded of that quite a few times over the past week or so.  We went to another meeting at our agency this past Wednesday.  The topic was “Talking to Your Children About Adoption,” and the speaker was Cindy Champnella (Author of The Waiting Child).  She touched on a lot of areas related to the topic.  We discussed how it is important to share your child’s story with him her from the time that they are babies.  That way they will always know their story and their background.  Champnella said that it is important to share information with the child about his/her background but to do it at developmentally appropriate times.  She also talked about how children’s books about adoption are a great tool to start a dialogue with your child. 

I had just read Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis to Zoe a few nights before and I did just that – I read the story and talked with her about the night we found out that she was on the way.  I read the story with quite a few tears in my eyes because it was such a happy and exciting time for us, and I can only imagine what a difficult time it was for her birth mom. 

Champnella talked about how she wished that her daughters had an open adoption with their birth moms.  She wished that they had access to them to be able to ask them questions or just to talk.  That really reminded us of how lucky we are to have the relationship that we have with Zoe’s birth mom and her family.  They spent Sunday afternoon with us at our home, and we are so happy that they got to see how much Zoe has grown since Christmas (the last time they had visited.)  We were able to learn a lot about similarities between Zoe and her birth mom…things that Zoe does now and her birth mom did when she was a toddler, too.  Everyone played with her, and she had so much fun with them. 

I know she doesn’t understand who they are yet, but she will.  She understands more and more.  Yesterday she was pointing to pictures of everyone who was here, and I was naming them for her.   We’re so happy that she has this connection to her birth family.  And especially that she’ll know how much they love her.

Very good friends of ours, J and B,  have talked with us about what it’s like to have an open adoption.  They are in the early stages of adoption right now.  Someday (hopefully someday soon!) they are going to be wonderful parents.  My friend, B, said that she has a picture of Zoe on her mantel, and that her husband, J, referred to Zoe as “our little hope.”  I love that…I love that our situation, our relationship with Zoe’s birth mom, our adoption…can bring hope to another adoptive couple. 

It just all goes back to that feeling we had when we left those waiting family meetings…that having a family was a definite possibility for us and having an open adoption was the best choice for us.  And that having a little hope can make all the difference in the world when you are going through it all.

Zoe  18 Months April 020