When we adopted for the first time we decided upon an open adoption. We had no idea to what degree we wanted the adoption open. Would it be a letter and a picture per year? Would it be a visit every five years? We just didn’t know. In the same light, neither did our first son’s birth mother. At his birth, we decided to just go with the flow. This turned out to be a very beautiful choice. A few years later when we decided to adopt from foster care we decided to remain committed to open adoption.
When we were chosen to adopt our first son we met his birth mother shortly after being chosen. It was a great moment, but I noticed very quickly that she was embarrassed to share her story and to tell us the details of our son’s beginning in this world. As we were talking, I tried to reassure her and let her know that we did not judge her. Throughout our relationship it has been important to ensure that she knows that we respect her, her choices, and her fears. The same now goes for our subsequent birth mothers. They are all unique people with equally unique needs, but respect is paramount for our relationship. We have a special and respectful relationship with each of them.
Just like anyone else, we find a lot of times that our birth mothers just want to be heard. Understood. I think it’s human nature to feel that someone truly hears you, cares for you, and listens. I have uttered the phrase “I don’t know” so many times, because I just don’t have an answer. There have been many times during this process that I do feel like we have parallel paths. Different reasons for being there, but the circumstances are similar. I can understand where they might have been, due to the circumstances of their own lives. Listening. It is powerful.
We are fortunate to live near two of our children’s birth mothers. There have been many times when I have gone to see them after a particularly trying time. Several times I have asked what they need. It’s often met with, “a hug”. The power of human touch—gentle, calm, understanding—heals the soul so often. So there I stand, hugging, hoping they can find the power to heal in that one touch.
While my children’s birth mothers make choices that I wouldn’t make, live lifestyles completely different than our choosing, it has been easy to be accepting. We have learned that we may never understand, but we can accept.
Just like adding children to our family, in adding birth parents, love takes time. But it does come. We have come to care deeply and try to show them love in small ways. It means a lot to all of us to be able to have the love between us. It will only build and strengthen with time. But it’s there, and it’s so very important.