The other day I saw something circling on Facebook. It was a post of a girl who had been adopted, and now as a young adult, she was using Facebook to try to find her biological parents. She shared how she knows none of her medical background because she has no link to her biological parents through the closed adoption her parents chose for her. My heart broke for her, as I thought about our baby girl in the future growing into an adult, and having all those natural questions that I know will come with her adoption, though in our situation we have chosen an open adoption and my hope is that through it, she will never be left in angst wanting to know more about her genetics. I said a prayer for the girl in the Facebook post and prayed that God would fill her heart with peace as she journeyed on to find the missing link in her life.
Before I continue, please know, with what I’m about to share of our experience with open adoption, this is in no way a bash on closed adoptions. I know every adoption situation, open or closed, is different and complex and delicate. This is simply my perspective of why I’m glad my hubby and I chose to pursue an open adoption for our baby girl on the way, and I also know, even with this choice, we have a closer bond than the norm with our own birth parents who chose us. Their story and love behind their choice to place a baby for adoption is their own story to tell, but this is Stephen and I’s story from our own perspective (and we were given permission by the birth parents to share this blog and photo below publicly).
We’re only 20 weeks into our own journey with adoption and our birth mom, Kassie’s, pregnancy, and I have to admit, it took me a while to get to a place of understanding the open adoption route when we first began researching adoption options. And I’m so glad we chose this route because getting to know our birth parents and their family has become the most unexpected beautiful part of our journey. I was recently sharing with a close adopted friend’s mom about getting to know Kassie and her family in the process, and my friend’s mom was so stunned to hear we actually had a relationship with our birth mom. “I had no information or any kind of ties to our birth mom 35 years ago,” my mom’s friend said. “It sure has changed a lot since my day.” And I was almost as stunned back, because, at this point in our journey, I can’t imagine not having a relationship with this beautiful brave soul carrying our child, and the loving friendship that has developed with Kassie through all of this. I’m not trying to say one way is better than the other, but for us, it has become the perfect way in this unique story God is writing in all of our lives.
But when we first were considering our agency knowing they only did open adoptions, I carried around those natural fears and questions. “Does that mean I’ll be sharing my child? Won’t that confuse the child to know both moms? Is it good or bad for the child to know possible biological siblings?” But ultimately, I knew this entire journey was a faith journey, and I needed to let my faith trump my fears. I knew God would reveal the light for each step I took on this journey He was calling me to.
Then… that first Facetime happened with our birth parents when they were considering choosing us to parent their child. Then our first dinner after we were chosen. Then my first car ride to the doctor’s appointment with Kassie. Then the first heartbeat. Then the first ultrasound. Then the gender reveal. Then the holidays celebrating together. And appointment by appointment, meal after meal together, and car ride after car ride, those fears slowly melted away and our hearts began to merge with our birth parents. I began to see, it’s not about “sharing” a child, it’s about merging a new kind of family.
There’s this unexplainable bond that Kassie and I share as the birth mom and adoptive mom. It’s this mutual love for the same child, and for each other, in what we are each able to provide in love for the child. I naturally, behind the scenes, started calling her my Baby Momma, to then find out, she was calling me that as well. So now that’s pretty much how we address each text message to each other. I love getting to know Kassie and what makes her “her”, so that as Baby Girl gets older, I can know what traits she will get from her by nature, vs what traits she will get from me by nurture. I love that I will get to tell Baby Girl how her birth mom and I share a love of all things pink and cheetah, and big glam earrings and cute winter boots. I love that I will get to tell her that she’s so much like her biological sister or brother in this and that because I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know them through this journey, and every ounce of me hopes Baby Girl will grow up to be just as precious and cuddly as her big sister. Because it’s not just her birth mom that has my heart, Baby Girl’s sister does too, so much that I’m naming her middle name after her big sister.
And Stephen has developed a fun friendship with the birth dad. They discovered they were pretty much brothers from another mother when they realized they were both counting down the minutes until Star Wars premiered. They’ve been tight ever since and even went and saw the movie together on opening night. And on Christmas Eve, their whole family joined us at our church to all come together celebrating the reason for the season, our precious Baby Jesus being brought into the world and the gift He was sent as to this world. Something about this year, I suddenly understood even more the magnificence of that miracle.
Prior to being chosen by our birth parents, as I first started considering whether we should pursue open or closed adoption, I thought about what I would want if I was in our child’s shoes and had found out I was adopted. Would I want to know where I came from, or would I be content with only knowing the parents who raised me, as my adopted friend above is at peace at in her life. My friend once told me that if anything, she wanted to write her birth mom a thank you letter for the choice she made to place her for adoption, because she loved the life she grew up with in the family that God chose for her. But when my friend went to go to the mailbox to mail the letter, she stopped, and realized, she didn’t need to send the letter. She loved the parents that raised her, and for her that was enough. Before we got matched, as I thought about the future of our child learning about their adoption, I knew, even if our child was at peace at not needing to know their biological parents as my friend chose, I didn’t want to take that choice away from them. If they wanted to ask questions and know their heritage or biological medical history (as a child of two parents with cancer, I place high value on the openness of this information), I wanted that to be their choice to pursue it or not, not our choice for them. Not just legally when they were 18, but at whatever point. If during their growing up, that it would one day help them to be more confident in learning who they were as genetically theirs and adopted ours, to save them from the angst of the unknown, then why hold back that gift from them?
And now, being chosen by our birth parents, through this open adoption, there will be visits and photos exchanged often, and our child will pretty much always know they are adopted, which I like that there will be no shock value in her future or hidden secrets. It will just be her normal. I’ve been thinking as this journey has progressed and my friendship with Kassie has blossomed, how much more blessed will our baby girl be to know not one mom who loves her with all their heart and soul, but two moms, both in unique and different ways? While some not as familiar with the concept might confuse open adoption as a shared custody, what it IS instead, as with any adoption, is a shared love of one woman who carried a child under her heart, and another woman who carried the child in her heart. And for us, together, those two random hearts across the city from each other found their way into each other’s lives to promise to both love sacrificially this God created child… to first give life to this baby girl and place her into open arms that promise to then give the best life possible to this doubly loved child. Two mothers, one child, three hearts knitted together by a promise of love.
When I chose who I wanted to spend my Christmas birthday with this year, I chose our birth family. Just two years ago, my heart spilled out tears in disappointment of another birthday God had not yet answered my prayer to become a mother. And last year, I spilled out tears just two days before my birthday as it belated hit me that our fertility treatment the month before didn’t work. Now this year’s birthday, my heart was so full of joy because of Kassie’s courage to also choose an open adoption. There is never any way possible to tell her thank you in words for choosing life for Baby Girl and choosing me of everyone in the world to love and raise her, but I know with each hug I give Kassie, and each hug she gives me, always so tight and lingering, we feel the same gratitude for each other through those hugs that we can’t quite possibly ever express in words. It’s an unspoken gratefulness for each other, and for our loving Heavenly Father that brought us together through His son and our daughter.
Here’s a photo of Kassie and her precious 4-year-old daughter and I celebrating my Christmas birthday at my all time favorite glam candy shop, Sweet Pete’s! I love that all us FOUR girls are in one photo (though you can hardly see Baby Girl’s growing bump!) holding hands together on this journey. That wasn’t planned for the pose, but looking at the photo afterward, it didn’t surprise me how naturally beautiful our hands came together that night.