Within our adoption chat groups, a lot of families inquire about what an “open adoption” looks like. I think it is REALLY important for people who are looking or desiring this to consider a lot of different possibilities. Mainly… the possibility that ANYTHING will be possible. More families and birthmoms are advocating for open adoption than ever before. The idea that adoption should be kept quiet or a secret is being challenged each day when making the decision to adopt or place for adoption.
Again, when we were in our first round of adoption, this is an area Mike and I were not on the same page about. He felt that it would be confusing or challenging for him to cater to the needs of our child while also allowing a birth parent to have a relationship with them. I could see many sides to this. There would certainly be no secret that our twins were not biological. Race is something we were prepared to take on but as we pushed ourselves further it became obvious that we needed to support our birthmom in hopes of sharing with our twins that THIS is what love looks like and THIS is how you treat people.
So, here we are. OPEN adoption. What that has really meant for us is far from a text book definition. It has meant that we are fully…and completely… open to what may or sadly may not happen. We may get calls, we may get letters, we may be asked to call, we may be asked to send letters. One day we may meet, we may never meet. You know how you have that friend who might randomly reach out and initiate a conversation and then suddenly it seems like their phone was sucked up into the Bermuda triangle? That is open adoption.
Not knowing when your phone might ring, not having expectations of that other person, protecting your family and child from hurt, all while keeping the bleak thin line of communication open the best way you know.
Updates may come few and far between. Loving someone enough to be there in support of them when they do call or reach out, with no expectations or no agenda. It may be just in that moment you are open to hear their needs or offer a familiar voice/text. Loving someone enough to support them without enabling or becoming a doormat. That is a fine line for me. I’ve been a doormat on a couple occasions. Adoption is one of the most unique experience I have ever been through in my entire life. Our journey now, looks nothing at all like it did the first time, even with the same woman. My giving and compassionate heart is being stretched and at the same time my boundaries are being tested.
The feelings we had of being chosen have not surfaced again. In this state, we have been called to choose. And now, every time the phone rings I have to make a choice. Be prepared for whatever is on the other line. The need. The want. The grief. The despair. The complete unknown. So, that is what an open adoption looks like. It feels a lot like when you leave your 3 year old in a room and for a while… all you hear is silence. The minute you take a look back into that room… your eyes are wide and although you were somewhat prepared for anything, the reality is there is a lot of mess you weren’t really ready for.