Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #5

How has open adoption changed you? In what ways are you different because the presence of open adoption in your life?
It's amazing to think of how different my life is today, than how it was before adoption. I have always wanted to adopt, but I never really had to think about it until we faced multiple years without being able to conceive. When I thought about adoption before, I know that I didn't really understand how complex it is, and how life-altering it can be. I'd imagine that most people think about adoption as something "easy" and you just find an agency and start the process.
I didn't know that there were magazines about adoption, and I didn't know there were SO MANY children's books about adoption. I guess until you're in this world, you really don't know how big it is, and that it even really exists.

One thing about being an adoptive mom that has changed me is that when people find out that my son is adopted, they get this particular look on their faces, and usually say something like, "Ohhh... that's so sweet..." or "Wow... what's the deal with his birth mom?" Now, I'm a pretty open book (as you can tell by my blog), but sometimes I just want to school people and tell them how insensitive and nosey they're being.
I have a friend who knows that we adopted Gus... and she only knows because she had been asking me about breastfeeding and if I was currently doing it (I am aware that adoptive moms CAN breastfeed adopted children- but it's not something that I felt comfortable doing and I can promise that Gus's birth family would have been totally turned off by the idea of me breastfeeding him-- anyway)... so I said that I didn't breastfeed (my usual response to this question). Then she asked if I tried and if I had considered an attachment specialist (something like that)... and I said no. Then she proceeded to ask me about my labor.

Now... usually I can get through a conversation about breastfeeding because not everyone does it and when someone asks, if you say you didn't do it, it's not obvious that you didn't birth your child.
So, then she asked me about how my labor was. Being a smart-ass I said, "It was the best labor... didn't hurt at all." She said, "How long were you in labor for?" I said, "It was about 12 or 13 hours..." meaning the 12+ hour drive from NC to MI... I consider that my labor with Gus ;)   But then she asked who was in the room with me, and I said just Steve and then she asked something about my contractions and the gig was up. I have no clue about contractions and dialation and being effaced (something like that), and I said, "Yeah, Gus is actually adopted." And then I got the face and the classic response. Jokingly, she said, "Yeah, I guess you did have the best labor didn't you?!"

Now, this same friend (whom I love dearly and think she's a great person), when introducing me to others, always says, "Cathy adopted her little boy in May..." or something along the likes. I feel like I should say something to her about this, because it's not something that needs to be announced to the world, but I'm torn.

Does it matter that people know that he's adopted? Not really. I feel like he IS my son and was put on this Earth for me to parent. But... it's like a constant slap reminder that he wasn't born from me, and will always be shared with someone else (his birth mother). 

Open adoption has created this world for me and I'm okay with it. When it gets to the nitty-gritty, my son is the luckiest little baby because not only does he have a mom and dad who are over-the-moon in love with him, he has my parents, my husband's parents and they love their sweet little grandson like no other, and then my brothers and their families love him as well. So he has all these people that love him... AND then he's got a birth mom, her mom and dad who think about him daily, love his blog, love his pictures and videos, and are so supportive of our adoption. His birth mom's aunt, her husband and children (Gus's cousins), and his birth mom's grandma (his great-grandma)... and they all love him. They send gifts and tell us how much they can't wait to see him when we head north again.
Then he has a birth father who loves him, his birth father's mom and dad can't get enough pictures, videos, and can't wait to see him again... and then his birth father's two sisters love their little nephew that they never had a chance to meet, but talk about all the time!

How can all of this be negative or a bad thing? I think that when someone becomes a parent they have to stop thinking about themselves and start to think about their child/children. When Gus came into our lives eight-months ago, I knew that I wanted an open adoption and wanted as many people to love him as possible. 

I was ready to share him with others. I can share him with my family, and can share him with Steve's family, why wouldn't I want to share him with his birth family? 

It's not always easy to be an adoptive mom, and I do wish at times that Gus had come from me and I had birthed him. But there's a connection between us that didn't take me birthing him to form. I am his mama and he is my little man and adding a million people to his life will never change that. I read a quote somewhere on another blogger's site that said, "If a mother can love multiple children, why can't a child love multiple mothers?" I try to remember that each time I think about Gus growing up with knowing his birth family and how it'll feel as his mom.



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