Sunday, March 3, 2013

What does openness mean to me?

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them. 
For us, the definition of open adoption is fluid.  And by that I mean, we learn more everyday about why we love it so much.  It's kind of like when your child is born--you know you love them.

And then, when your child is six months old the degree of love you feel for them is staggering. You never knew it'd be possible to feel this way about someone who has so completely altered your life in ways that include sleep deprivation and mountains of laundry.  

A year roles around and the love for your baby takes your breath away.  It's hard to remember a time when you didn't love them. 

At two years there is almost no one other than this amazing little person you're raising that you'd rather spend time with.  

Three years old and you love them so much that even when they've given you hell all day long you can't wait for them to wake up in the morning (anytime after 6:30 a.m.) and crawl into your bed with you and do it all over again. 

And as their fourth birthday approaches the love has compounded so exponentially that you start to panic that you haven't soaked enough of your child in, you might have wasted some precious moment of their first four years that you'll never get back, and the weight of raising this fantastic human is so heavy, and such an honor.  

The love.  It takes over in this all consuming way that is so good.  So good that you can't believe you ever questioned if kids were what you wanted.  So good that no matter how lofty your career aspirations were before kids you can't imagine anything more important than your baby.  Because they will forever be your baby.  So good that even on hard days, excruciatingly hard and uncomfortable and soul stretching days, you wouldn't take anything back because you know you are a better person because of your child.  So good that when you think ahead to eight years old and twelve years old and seventeen years old and twenty five years old you get teary because you so desperately want to stop the passage of time from inevitably slipping through your fingers.   

Your love for your child is fluid.  Not in an ebb and flow kind of way.  In a growing so huge it re-defines who you are in the greatest way kind of way. 

And that's what openness in adoption has become for me.  I had no idea how crucial it would be, how much I'd need it, for me, for my daughter, when we first met her expectant parents. I knew as soon as we met them, that my hard resolve against an open adoption began to melt.  And every time we saw them before our daughter was born it melted some more until there was nothing left of it.  In it's place was instead, a hardened resolve to have an open adoption--the kind of open adoption that I used to think was irresponsible and confusing and just too much.  

And that feeling, that need, has only grown in the first four years of my daughters life.  

When Georgia tells me she loves Tarah, I love open adoption more. 
When Georgia begs to go swimming at Tarah's house, I love open adoption more. 
When I see Georgia so comfortable at Tarah's house that she walks right over to the popcorn maker and helps herself, I love open adoption more. 
When Georgia tells me that she has hair the color of honey, just like Tarah's, I really love open adoption more. 
When Georgia astounds me everyday with her seemingly endless supply of energy and zest for life, I love open adoption more because I know she's inherited that from her amazing birth grandma--a woman with more passion for life than most I know.  
When I miss Georgia's birth family if it's been a month or two since we've seen them, I love open adoption even more......because it's then that I know, adoption isn't just incredible because of the gift of our daughter, but because of the gift of the families that she started with--who I now think of as family.  

And as Georgia gets older and continues to process her adoption in different ways, I know that openness will mean a life-line for us, and for her.  It will mean she can ask questions and get concrete answers.  She can express feelings that we'll all hear and be able to respond to.  It will mean that the truth about where she came from and who she is will never be a mystery to her.  

We went swimming today at Tarah's house.  Georgia is usually terrified of water.  Even though we go swimming there every time we're over, she's still terrified.  But today, she was a different girl in the water.  She ventured out on her own.  She believed us when we all told her she could touch the bottom of the shallow side of the pool and tried it, and was so excited.  She didn't really want anyone holding onto her after that.  She wanted to be a big girl on her own.  And in that moment I loved openness again, because all that confidence that she got to stop screaming in the water and trust us and see what she could do? She got it from all of us.  Because we all love her.  And I love that we get to do it together.

I don't think I'll ever get to the period in my definition of what openness means to me.  It will be the biggest and best run-on sentence of my life.   


  1. It’s great what you have, and I’m so glad that you cherish it. When I first started reading your blog, I was inspired and encouraged by how you spoke of openness. But now we have Rae, our most wonderful five and a half week (already!) old daughter. And now reading about how amazing and beneficial openness is makes me sad. Because we don’t have it. What were we to do, say no to the situation? No way! I can’t even breath when I think of it, of not having her. She is so, so special. But I am sad, mostly for her. At our first post-placement visit, we talked to our counselor about it. We asked for advice on how we might share a less than perfect story with Rae. Our counselor stopped us and said we first need to get over the idea that there is a perfect story. There’s just a story. Rae’s story. So, I’m trying to start there. I’m trying to let go of what I thought it would be, hoped it would be.

  2. Your counselor is right. There's just a story. This one happens to be Georgia's. Rae's is Rae's. And I know that if we do adoption again there will be another story that we're a part of and it will look different than Georgia's--maybe a lot different, maybe a little--we just have no control over that. I think the only thing we can do is make the most of what we do have control over or what it seems like we have control over. I have so many friends who don't have open relationships with their child's birthparents for a variety of reasons and it doesn't diminish how amazing their children's stories are. There are parts of Georgia's story that will be hard to explain to her too--it's not all roses and sunshine--it's just that so often in a public space you have to choose wisely what you write and I have to think about my daughter, when she becomes a reader and is really cognizant of this space and what's been written here.

    I'm so happy for you Beth! I think about you so often and am so honored to know you and so thankful that you contacted me! I love knowing your story too and everyday I'm just so in awe of how obviously God works in adoptions.

  3. Beautiful, Maggie! I share the same thoughts! What a beautiful story!

  4. this is really beautiful! I especially love the last sentence.


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