My Unique Situation
My situation is rather unique. I had my son for six months before choosing adoption and placing him with his parents. I had a very rough six months and when I finally got honest with myself about my situation, it was apparent that adoption was the best option for my son and I. My son deserved to have things that I wasn’t able to provide, and I felt strongly that I wanted him to have two parents in the household. I wanted him to have opportunities and his own home with a healthy family.
The adoption agency that I choose set me up with four profiles, and I soon as I saw the smiles of the couple I choose, I just felt in my heart as if they were always meant to be his parents. My adoption agent set up a meeting the next day and it was amazing. I didn’t know my son’s parents before placing him up for adoption. I had offers from friends and family members to take him, but it was crucial to me that he have his own life separate from myself and his birth family. I wanted adoption to mean more love for my son, not more drama. If I had chosen a family member to take my son, I knew that it would have created chaos within his life as there is just too much dysfunction in my family.
From the start, I was open with my son’s parents about wanting the adoption to be open, and while the openness agreement is not legally binding, I knew it needed to be respected for the sake of my son. I was also transparent about wanting to slowly transition from a custodial parent to more of a birth parent role. Therefore, I had frequent contact with my son that lessened over the first two years of placement. I saw him every couple of months until I was comfortable not seeing my son as frequently. My son’s parents also communicated a need with me around the same time that they really needed more space.
It was very difficult for me to transition from being a custodial parent to a birth parent. I had breastfed my son for the six months that I had him and our bond was incredibly strong. Of course, he now has a phenomenal bond with his parents and I am a much more mature and healthy woman. While the transition was difficult, our ability to adapt, change and grow is stunning regardless of what we go through as human beings.
My openness agreement includes pictures and updates every six months, and I speak with my son on holidays. In reality, we keep to the openness agreement as much as we are able to, but sometimes other needs arise. For example, some holidays are rough for me, as they can be with anyone, and I may need to postpone a phone call because I want to protect my son. When those events occur, my son’s parents absolutely understand and we usually wait a few days to a week for a quick phone call. There are also situations in which I find myself really missing my son, and I just need to hear his voice. When I’m really finding it difficult to have peace within my spirit regarding this, I let my son’s parents know and they schedule a phone call. This happens less and less frequently these days, as my adoption went through six years ago and it is much easier now.
Healing is for Everyone
Healing goes all ways. For a birth mother, healing is about transition from a role as a parent to the role of a birth parent. For adoptive parents, I’m sure there are struggles with bonding with the child, balancing becoming new parents, and learning how to navigate the relationship with a birth parent. I don’t think adoption is the easy choice. There are milestones for everyone to overcome. Most importantly though is the well-being of the child.
Everything I do and everything my son’s parents do in our relationship is ultimately to benefit our son. That beautiful boy deserves the best he can have and love beyond words. Of course, I am biased in this statement. The truth is, I believe that every child deserves the best and that it is up to parents to make sure they are providing everything in their power to sow into the spirit, heart, and life of a child.
I focus on healing and trying to achieve balance within the realm of being a birth mother. My son’s parents want me to have contact with our son as well. They also navigate the waters and sometimes we all tread lightly as we grow and learn about the needs of one another.
This brings me to the reason my open adoption works so smoothly: My son’s parents and I respect one another.
It’s all about respect.
- Respecting boundaries.
- About four years ago, my son’s parents communicated a need to start working on more of a transition with me into less contact. We had been having frequent contact via phone and email, and they were starting to feel overwhelmed. Upon first hearing this, I was incredibly upset. I felt like they were trying to take something away from me. After some time went by, and I reflected upon their request, I realized that it was perfectly reasonable. Ultimately, they had to set a boundary regarding their own needs so that they could be better parents. Parenting doesn’t mean sacrificing your own well-being at the expense of a child’s life, but learning your own limits and taking care of yourself so that you can give that child everything that you are able to. My son’s parents needed to take care of themselves, and they were asking me to respect that.
- Respecting their ways of parenting.
- I have what I would consider a fairy tale adoption. I agree with the way that my son is being parented for as much as I am privy to know about. They teach him good manners, help him to perform well in school, practice discipline, and love him immensely. Most importantly, he is being raised with faith. Yet, when I signed over my right to be a custodial parent, I also signed over my right to act as a custodial parent. Even if my son’s parents make decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with, it is not my place to try and correct them. Respecting the decision I made means respecting how they choose to parent. As long as my son is being taken care of and his needs are provided for, the rest is their business, not mine.
- Respecting my needs.
- As I stated earlier, there are times outside of holidays when I just need to hear my son’s voice, or send him a gift package, or touch base with his mother. When these times arise, and I am sure that I can handle it, I communicate that need. Every time, and it is not often, that this has happened my son’s parents have respected the request.
- Respecting communication.
- The way that I communicate with my son’s parents is email, phone, and text message. Sometimes they only text me short messages and other times my son’s mother will send me an email. This goes both ways. The way that communication is handled is dependent upon the open adoption arrangement and the relationships that have been built. While our relationship is always changing and growing, we respect the way that we communicate with each other. Not only that, but we make sure that we keep the lines of communication open. Whether one of us needs more space or less space, this must be communicated and then it must be respected.
- Respecting the openness agreement.
- The bond that keeps our relationship growing is the openness agreement. No matter what I am going through in my life, or how busy they might be as well, my son’s parents always send me pictures and updates every six months. This way, even when life happens and gets crazy, we all can have peace of mind that there is communication.
- Respecting each individual.
- The most important form of respect in open adoption, in my opinion, is just having a general respect for people. My son’s parents are not saints and neither am I. We all make mistakes, we all learn as we develop and mature, and people have a tendency to change over time. As long as there is respect for the individuals involved in an open adoption, then it will make everything flow in a wonderful way.
We All Play a Role
My role is to be a birth mother. I am here for my son and his parents if they ever need anything. In the meantime, I live my life and walk a path of healing. My son’s role is to just enjoy his childhood and he has parents who love him and guide him every step of the way. We are all people navigating our way through this thing called life. As long as we treat each other with respect, my open adoption remains strong and beautiful.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.