Sunday, January 9, 2011

Our Open Adoption

I've been promising to write about this for awhile, but honestly, I have struggled with the words. I haven't written a great deal about our adoption, but most of you have probably figured out by now that we have an open relationship with Jackson's birthparents. For us, openness means that we have shared all identifying information. We know their last names, they know ours. Same with addresses, phone numbers, family history, etc. There aren't secrets, we don't withhold information. This works for us, and we do it because we hope it is what is best for Jackson.

That said, the idea of a fully open adoption was very scary to Jason at first, and to Jackson's birthfather, A. Both of them say they didn't want this kind of relationship when they first considered adoption. However, when A and T (bmom) read our profile, and when Jason learned more about A and T, both of them became much more comfortable and open to the idea. We all felt connected to each other. And I think we still do. It started with letters between me and T, and then a phone call between us and A (when we told him we were pregnant), and then a meeting with all four of us and our social worker. After that, Jackson was born, and we have brought him to visit them twice since then. Honestly, we would probably have brought him more often if the situation didn't mean we had to travel 4 hours one way and visit in a prison environment.

The meetings hold a lot of emotions for all of us. Being this open is by no means easy. We see the pain on T's face as we walk away and she ducks into the bathroom to no doubt cry alone, and we feel the pain A is experiencing when he can't even show up for a visit. I read in T's letters about her last moments with Jackson and my heart literally breaks...but not just for her. For Jackson, too.

And that is why we continue to navigate this unique relationship...Jackson. He lost something huge the day our social worker picked him up from the hospital. He experienced an incredible loss much earlier in his life than any of us deserves. I can't change that. I will never be able to fill that hole completely for him. What I can do is give him the opportunity to know his first mom and his first dad, to hear from their mouths how much they love him. I can tell him all day long, but he needs to hear it from them. He needs to hear that he is, and always has been, perfect in their eyes. That he did nothing wrong for them to choose adoption for him. He needs to see how his cheeks come from A and his eyes from T. While we love him more than life itself, he will never be able to see himself in our faces. And while we know how much his birthparents love him, it will mean so much more to him to hear it from them. One day, he will choose what kind of relationship he wants with them. Until then, all we can do is give him opportunity. All four of us have talked about this, and we all agree he will have all the control when he is old enough. Our gift to him now is to keep that door open, so he can walk through it, or not, when he is ready.

There have been hard moments. I have watched T hold and cuddle Jackson, and I have felt jealousy over the natural bond they will always have. I have stood by while T's "friend" called T Jackson's mom right in front of me. My heart skipped a beat. I wanted to grab him from T and run the other way. As the weeks have passed since then, I have been reminded that I am not and never will be Jackson's only mom. He has a birthmom. I am his mom now. And what an honor that is. But I am denying him a huge part of who he is if I don't also acknowledge that I wasn't his first mom. He had an intense and biological connection to T for those 9 months she carried him so lovingly in her womb, and as his mom now, I feel it is my job to honor that connection. I know this is a hard concept for some. It's hard for me. But, I believe it is my son's reality. And because it is his reality, it has to be our family's reality, no matter how hard it may be for all of us.

Now that this is written, I feel like the words aren't enough. This whole situation is so difficult to put into words. How do you describe the intense love you have for your child and his birthparents? The pain you feel in your heart knowing you will never fill the entire mom role for your child? The grief that takes over your entire body when you imagine the last moments your son had with his first mom, his first goodbye at only 2 days old? The joy you feel in knowing you were chosen to be this child's mom by such special people? Like I said, there are no words.


  1. Wow! I'm in tears as I read this. What an amazing beautiful! I don't begin to know how hard this relationship least not yet...but I hope to someday soon. I know even though you know it's what is best, it's a hard road to navigate. It sounds like you are doing a great job...and you are keeping Jackson as the center of it all. What he needs is the most important. I hope I can do the same thing when it's my time.

  2. Thank you for your post. It is beautifully written. Adoption is amazing, isn't it?

  3. Its interesting that I saw this post tonight because just earlier today I ordered some adoption info online. I was looking at the difference btween open and closed adoptions. And I kept thinking how hard it must be to have an open adoption, for both sets of parents :) But its seems like your love for Jackson and whats best for him comes first...and he is one lucky boy :)

  4. This is incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your son is so blessed.

  5. You are giving your child such an amazing opportunity to have so many people who love him. It must be terribly hard for all 4 adults in the situation, but it is wonderful for Jackson. What a beautiful post!

  6. Your post brought up so many emotions I often push behind...I have a realtionship with Faith's bmom for Faith...but sometimes I don't want to. I don't want to acknowledge that I will always be Mom #2 , I will never be able to fill that hole and that curiousity that Faith will have wondering about her bmom...It scares me more than anyone knows to be that there will always be that one thing I can never give my daughter...

    I can imagine how hard that was to hear someone call his bmom " Mom" because birthmom and "mom" are two different meanings...

    A friend once shared a quote with me from a book that said

    " Was it the act of giving birth that made you a mother? Did you lose that label when you relinquished a child?If people were measured by their deeds, on the one hand, I had a woman who had chosen to place me up for adoption;on the other, I had a woman who'd sat up with me at night when I was sick as a child, wh'd cried with me over boyfriends, who'd clapped fiercely at my law school graduation. Which acts made you more of a mother?

    Both, I realized. Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life."

    And this has helped me so much. While Jackson will always have a certain bond with his bmom that you can never have YOU also share a bond with him that she can never have. You bear witness to life...You cradle him when his tummy aches and love him when he has a boo and you will be there when he "graduates" kindergarden, rides a bike and enters high school...

    I think you are doing a fabulous job because you are selflessly doing what is best for Jackson and there is no greater gift a mother could give their child than pure selflessness...



  7. Well said Faith! Danny and I were just dicussing this last night, and now I read your post this morning. There are so many questions and scenarios that run through our heads with our open adoption as well. We will just have to take it one day at a time and do the best we can.

  8. I love this post, as well. There are so many emotions that go hand-in-hand with being adoptive parents, ones you can never totally be prepared for. On those days that I let my head go to the thoughts of not being the first - or the only - mother to my daughter, it just plain hurts. But I truly admire you for standing strong and wanting to make the open relationship work. We don't have that kind of relationship with our daughter's birthparents and while it does make some things easier, it also leaves others more unknown. I hope in my heart that one day I can be there to reintroduce my baby to the woman who chose us, and that she can feel the love that I'm sure will overflow, but until then, all I can do is be the best mother to her that I can be and love her with my whole heart.. which is exactly what I know you are doing with Jackson.

  9. Thanks for sharing not just the good, but also the hard parts of adoption.
    Jackson is very lucky to have a mom who can put her feelings aside to benefit him.
    And you and Jason are lucky he came into your lives.

  10. Wow, Faith. What am AMAZING post. This really helps me to understand what an open adoption is all about. The love that Jackson has in his life is absolutely amazing... he is one lucky little guy! You are a very strong person. I don't know if I would be able to do the "open" adoption route as I would be too "jealous" as you described you felt when T's friend referred to T as "Jackson's mom"... You are an amazing woman, mom and friend and Jackson is very blessed to have you as his mom!!! Thanks again for sharing!