The anxiety that comes with having a baby introduces itself however anyone chooses to create their family, whether it’s a traditional birth or adoption.
My husband Douglas and I always knew in our hearts that we needed an open adoption. We needed it because we knew that the time would come where we would reveal to our three adopted children the origins of their beautiful little lives. That was very important to us.
In choosing to do so, I was able to see firsthand the longing and love each birth mother had for each of her babies. Each yearning and longing was so delicate and fragile. The pain in their eyes was so easily apparent as they hid it behind such a sorrowful smile.
Adoption, for me, is such a cold term. It detaches from emotion for whatever reason. But maybe that’s just me.
We were able to see how badly our children’s birth mothers wanted to have their babies, and Douglas and I were able to be with them through this period. As two gay dads, I cannot imagine what it must be like to offer such a gift to another, in such a time of uncontrollable anguish.
We also wanted each mother to have the opportunity to see with her own eyes just where her baby was going. We welcomed each of them into our home. We took them out to dinner and best of all – we got to know them. We were able to be their confidant for the short months while we were together on this unpredictable path.
It was absolutely beautiful.
Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Again, we are not in control. And after all, we wanted our birth mothers to each be in control of what they felt was right.
Everything that happens is meant to be, somehow or another. All we can do is learn from situations that don’t go in our favor. Life will find a way to bring your village together and I’m here to tell ya that it certainly takes a village to make it happen!
We were lucky enough to have a village around us like: our adoption agency, attorney and social worker for all 3 of our kids.
What is open adoption?
Recently, I had the chance to speak with our social worker, Suzy Loeb, and ask her some questions about open adoptions.
She began by explaining “open adoption” for those who are unfamiliar with the term. “Open adoption is when the adoptive parent(s) and the biological mother/parents meet and share the experience of pregnancy, delivery, and future contact together. This can mean going to doctor appointments together, sharing the pregnancy and birth process. It can include grocery runs, and spending some time together throughout the process.” But Suzie cautioned about getting too “enmeshed” with each other – the birth parent and prospective parents – as that can change dramatically upon delivery.
“I love it when [the adoptive parents] choose to be in the delivery room together as this helps the bio mom see that her baby will be cared for well. It helps the adoptive parents begin the bonding and attachment process instantly.”
I probed further. “But can adoption mean different things to different people?”
“There are varying levels of openness,” Suzy continued. “Sometimes it means they stay in touch regularly even after delivery, or maybe it’s just throughout the pregnancy. I never suggest continuing the complete open situation after placement, as the adoptive family needs to feel like a complete family. This means without the watchful eyes and input of the birth mom. However, the contact can and should continue as long as it benefits both sides. Often this includes, pictures, letters, progress in milestone that are shared through text/email/ or other social media. I suggest that people create a separate account just for this purpose. The openness is always initiated by the birth mother. ideally this would be monthly for six months, then either biannually or annually when requested by the birth mother.”
“What is the difference between and open and closed adoption?,” I asked her.
“Closed is when the birth mom has zero contact with the adoptive family. This rarely happens these days, but is always a choice. Again, the birth mom is in control of how much or how little contact she wants, and this needs to be respected.”
I have seen the purpose of open adoption, but did others know the importance?
“The optimal situation is for the birth mother to meet and feel supported by the adoptive family,” explained Suzy. “The adoptive family benefits in that they are then able to answer questions, or carry on values and traditions of the biological mother (should they choose), and it’s important for the child to know they are loved, and were chosen.”
But what if things change and the adoption needs to become closed, I asked Suzy.
“If the adoptive family feels there is a safety issue or other issue, this should be discussed with the agency or social worker. Sometimes, if the birth mom is using drugs or is mentally and or emotionally unstable and it would be a danger for her to be in contact with the adoptive family, they are able to discontinue contact. Luckily, it doesn’t happen often.”
Our three open adoptions absolutely changed not only our lives, but every single life involved in this process. Especially our the birth mothers.
I’m always here if any of y’all have questions.
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Feature image: BSA Photography