We applied for adoption in January 2014, and at that time the concept of open adoption was both hard and foreign to me. Being adopted myself, I have a unique perspective that can both help and hinder me. My own adoption is closed. I've never had any emotional baggage or backlash from not knowing my birth family. Sure, I'm curious about them. I know a few facts about them, mainly their hobbies. My mom worked hard to expose me to many of those same hobbies from a young age in hopes that I'd feel close to them through those same activities. I've also always been taught that they loved me SO MUCH.and that knowledge has been enough. But maybe it wouldn't be enough for my baby.
Fine. If that's what my baby needed then that's what I would give them. But, I was NOT going to share MY baby! There would be boundaries! She was NOT the mom...I am! Holidays and milestones are mine! This was an adoption not a divorce and my baby would be MINE! I waited too long to not have a NORMAL motherhood. MINE, MINE, MINE!
The first birthday was something I thought about a lot. The birth parents would NO WAY be invited.
And if their parents thought they were coming they had another thing coming.
I wanted to feed her cake and open presents and didn't want them intruding on my moment.
How silly I was. I realize that I've lucked out. Not all birth parent/parent relationships are as healthy as ours. But how silly, how very silly, I was. I didn't want to share my baby. But I share everything. And willingly. The first person I text when I catch Avaya doing something on camera is Jade. As My husband and I stood there watching my baby eating her birthday cake, Jade was right beside me, in my arms. "Our girl is one," she said, "We did it. One year down." She isn't just mine. She's ours. And I couldn't be more okay with it.
So how did I get there? How did I get to a point where Jade, Nate, and their families were included in the family section of my spreadsheet?
Love. I always say that we dated potential birth parents. It didn't take long to fall in love with Nate and Jade. We built a strong relationship with them before they picked us. But since Avaya has been born, my relationship with Jade has been solidified ten-fold.
I like to say that we share a heart. Mine was broken and Jade broke her own and gave half to me. We share joy and pain and hope and love. She aches for our baby girl now, while I ached for her before. We flop places a lot. There's pain and worry and loss that we've each taken from each other. Truly two halves.
When someone makes that kind of sacrifice for you, you can't help but love them.
Second, trust, and respect. With each moment we spend together we build a relationship of trust. We have clear boundaries that both Nate and Jade are very respectful of. Since they've shown that respect, I worry less and less (or not at all) about those boundaries being crossed. We respect them by doing all we can to facilitate visits and send pictures and videos. We respect their presence in her life AND ours. As time goes on, trust is built, and they worry less about being cut out.
Adoption isn't "normal," but I'm a very normal mom. The only thing that isn't normal is that my baby has all of these extra people who have an immense amount of love for her! For that, we are truly, truly blessed.