The brutiful open adoption
Today’s post is a very personal one- but on a topic that I get questions on all the time. I get all kinds of reactions when I tell people that we have an open adoption with Gus’ birthparents. We get the “I could never do that”, the “ that’s so awesome”, and others look at us like we have 3 heads. I would love to share with you how we came to this place, and things we have learned from it.
I guess I should start by explaining the title. Brutiful is a word that is the combination of brutal and beautiful. This is actually what open adoption is. It is hard, yet so beautiful!
We have a semi-open adoption with Dex’s birth family. That means that in our situation they do not know what state we live in, or our last name, or even Dex’s name. We send photos and letters to the adoption agency, and Dex’s birth parents get them from the agency each year. This is what we were comfortable with for our first adoption. We were young and naive, and were so excited to be parents, that we were honestly afraid of an open adoption. Wouldn’t that be confusing for Dex? How do you explain that? Would it be weird? Thankfully, a semi-open adoption was what Dex’s birthparents wanted as well. So we continue to send photos and letters every year on his birthday, and they get to see his awesomeness as he grows.
When we prepared to start the process again, my views on open adoption had changed, but I still didn’t think it was something I could do. Let me tell you something about myself….I do not like change. I like knowing exactly what to expect, and exactly how things would go. There were too many unknowns for me with open adoption. But I did find myself thinking of Dex’s birthparents, and wishing for his sake that we had a relationship with them, and they could see his awesomeness through something other than photos. Nevertheless, we checked the semi-open adoption box as what we were comfortable with.
See, the Lord was changing my heart and my views on adoption over the first 5 years of Dex’s life. I learned it wasn’t just about me getting a baby, or getting to become a mom. Now, Dex’s birthparents gave us the best gift in the best kid ever. But I still was just so desperate to have a baby and become a mom that I didn’t want to have to “share” him with anyone. He was all mine- and Bryan’s of course. But as I learned, and grew, and read- I realized adoption is the not the least bit about me. It is about families who make a choice to give their child to another family to raise as their own. I realized that my thoughts need to be just as much on these hurting people as it was on what that sweet baby was going to look like. Little did I know that the Lord was preparing my heart for Gus.
I know that I wrote about how Gus came to be a Noel in another blog post, but I want to share how we settled on an open adoption.I remember like it was yesterday, presenting our family profile to Gus’ birthparents through their agency. It happened so quickly, and I remember emailing with the caseworker. She sent an email that said- would you guys be open to an open adoption? They love you guys and feel like you are the right people, but they want to have contact and see him grow up. It is crazy that my immediate thought was yes. Not just because I wanted this baby, and I had NO CLUE what it would look like- but because it felt right. I called Bryan to ask him, and he was an immediate yes as well. We stepped out in faith and were matched with Gus within the hour.
Fast forward 5 days, and we had just met our newest son. We left the NICU and walked into a hospital classroom with the hospital social worker, and 3 employees of the adoption agency. Gus’ birthdad walked in and it was the most emotionally charged room I have ever been in. We sat across the table and made small talk, and then he said- thank you for having an open adoption with us. We just want to see him grow and learn and see his little personality. We talked about what open adoption would look like for all of us, and then we talked about the name we had chosen for Gus, and we all decided that we wanted to keep Wesley- the name his birthparents had chosen as a middle name. It was the first square in our family quilt.
Now there are no set rules in an open adoption. You all work together on what it would look like and how it would happen in your family. We decided that we would send photos and updates once a month through email, and they would visit us and we would visit them at least once a year (but we have done it much more than that). We are actually visiting them this week! I get so excited to share updates and photos with them every month. And I say to Bryan all the time that I can’t wait for them to see this or that. Or we will say oh my, Gus looks just like him or her so often. We have met Gus’ biological extended family, sent gifts and they have sent the boys gifts (they treat Dex like he is their family as well)
And here is the thing- they are family. And not just in a Gus’ biological family way. In a real, we love them, we enjoy spending time with them kind of way. (This is usually when people start looking at me like I’m nuts) But they are. It is hardest thing to explain but we are blessed to have them as part of our family.
Open adoption has been such a gift for us. It is a hard, emotional, and beautiful journey, and we are so thankful we stepped out in faith and said yes, not only to our boy, but to his first family.
Our boy will grow up knowing that he is loved by so many and that makes my heart so full.