Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Open Adoption ~It isn't always an easy road.

Many times we hear wonderful stories of open adoptions.   Openness that seems to flow without hiccups.   Today my friend Jessica Moon shares one of her adoption stories with us.   I asked her to be honest and tell it like it is and not sugar coat.  I love her story because she didn't give up.   Jessica and her daughter's Birth Mother faced the hard parts.   

When I first heard the words “open adoption” I thought whoa I don’t want to share my baby. I have dreamed of being a mother for so long why do I have to share now? That perspective soon changed. I started learning more about birth mothers and their journey. I remember sobbing as I was listening to the song by Michael McLean “From God’s Arms to my Arms to Yours”. My heart ached for these courageous and faithful women. I made a promise to myself that I would ALWAYS make sure my children knew how much their birth mother loves them.

When we were chosen by our daughter’s birth mother my heart was so full of gratitude. I couldn’t believe that someone was willing to entrust their child to us. It literally felt like a dream come true. After meeting we quickly became friends and got along great! At placement I felt like we were watching a young girl sacrifice something so huge and so heart breaking. She held her daughter so close to her and was sobbing uncontrollably. The spirit was so strong in the room. I felt at peace that this sweet little girl was meant to be in our family. She was going to be raised by us but loved by ALL of us. Just before she placed her in my arms I said “This isn’t good bye, this is a see you later.” She looked at me with such trust in her eyes. She gave her baby one last kiss then placed her in my arms. Everyone left the room and it was just our little family of three. Then I couldn't hold it together anymore. My heart hurt and I cried harder than I ever had in my life.

Every day for the first few months we talked online to our daughter’s birth mother. We sent pictures, e-mails and chatted for hours. Two weeks after placement we had our first visit in our home with her and her family. I would be lying if I told you it wasn’t difficult. Her birth mother was very emotional. Which made it difficult for us to see her that way, again. It felt like placement all over again. We know that she needed to see her daughter in our home to help her with her healing so we continued to have her over for a total of 20 visits that first year. There was one visit that was extremely emotional for all of us that still brings tears to my eyes. We had them over on Mother’s Day! What an honor it was and a gift for me to be able to tell her Thank you for making it possible for me to be a mother on that special day. We held each other and cried. That was a beautiful moment and visit that I will not forget.

As the months went on we started to have our challenges. There were a lot of things that played into the difficulties we had in our relationship. Some of the things were boundaries, lack of respect, and my struggle with my own infertility. We were trying to do everything we could to help her in her grieving process and the demands got out of control. We were not comfortable with some of the requests and we finally had to do something.  Our daughter’s birth mother at the time was very insecure and said some very hurtful things to me in regards to my infertility. It was very difficult to hear especially from my daughter’s birth mother. At this time she was having a hard time finding her place and figuring out what her role was in our family. She felt it was more of a co-parenting/foster care situation and not an adoption. I was very surprised that I had an extremely difficult time on our daughter’s second birthday. It hit me really hard that I will never have those nine months with her. I will never know what it’s like to carry her inside me. This little girl who I love with all my heart and my whole life revolved around first belonged to someone else. It was as if I hadn’t ever grieved this loss in my life. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that this same little girl was with her birth mother for nine months and she grew to love her little girl and then placed her with a family and entrusted her to us. She is sacrificing a lot more than I ever will with loss. Our relationship went on a rocky road for a few years. We all had to figure out our place and the healthiest way to continue to have an open adoption. We prayed about it and all of us felt that the visits needed to be cut back drastically. Also during this time our daughter’s birth mother started getting some counseling. It helped her to know what her role was in our life. She gained a new perspective and that helped our relationship immensely! We still have contact with her and send updates and pictures. We have a annual visit and that has been working for us for the past couple of years. Our daughter is now seven! She knows she is adopted. She knows her birth family. She knows that she is loved by us AND her birth family. She knows that she can ask us anything about her adoption or her birth family. No one is perfect. We are all in this together. I have never stopped loving our daughter’s birth mother and nor will I ever. She gave me our beautiful daughter and for that I am eternally grateful. 

We were blessed to be able to adopt our son who is five years old! We’ve had a open and very healthy relationship with his birth mother. It’s always been casual and felt comfortable. We love and adore her, her family, and his birth father. We are grateful for the challenges we went through with adoption, birth families, and openness. It has made us stronger, smarter, and more patient. We have enjoyed helping many families with their open adoptions.  We encourage openness for all involved in adoption. It has been a huge blessing in our lives! 

We are looking forward to adding another child and their birth family to our family!
We are currently approved and trying to adopt our third child!
We can’t wait!
You can see Steve and Jessica's profile here


Shanna Gwilliam said...

Thanks for sharing this... It is so needed!! Love it... And, I can't believe she is 7!! <3. -Shanna

Lisa said...

Yes, thank you! We have found our open adoption to be more challenging than we anticipated as well. The one thing that has saved us is that in the beginning our caseworker advised us that setting boundaries was not only OK but a good thing. Otherwise I think we could easily have been at 20 visits the first year, just like you. In our situation, it hasn't been the birthmom who's been wanting so much, but her mom. I have a personal theory that many of the open adoptions that are closed by adoptive parents are not because the adoptive parents are dishonest jerks who were just out to get a baby (though I know those situations do exist), but instead are because of 1) birth families not respecting boundaries and 2)adoptive parents not being able to set and enforce healthy boundaries from the beginning and then getting to the point where they just can't handle any more. I think there needs to be MUCH more education about this for both birth families and adoptive couples. Not only pre-placement education, but post-placement support for all parties from the agency. I think our open adoption will end up being fine, but I sure have experienced a lot of angst over it. I definitely feel guilty for wanting to set boundaries.