Friday, February 25, 2011

Open Adoption Feelings

Gus and his birth father's entire family

Gus and his birth mother's entire family (and two friends)

Okay... Gus is down for his morning/afternoon nap and I have a few minutes to actually collect my thoughts and write about my experience this last week.

As most of you know, we went back home to MI for the week last Wednesday to see my side of our family. While home, I thought it'd be a great chance for Gus's birth family to see him. When he was born, his birth mom and her mom were the only two who were at the hospital for her. Her dad and two brothers did not come, so we didn't meet them. His birth father came to the hospital to meet him, but we didn't get to see him there. We ended up meeting Gus's birth father and his mother, father, and grandma at a diner one day when Gus was about two days old. 

When we got Gus baptized, (May 22nd), his birth mom came with her mom, and then his birth father came with his mom and middle sister. That's all that we got to meet, and the drama at the baptism was too much for me to deal with and we didn't even talk to anyone after the sacrament. They left and there was some drama with his birth father's side, and it got ugly.

Anyway... I sent his birth father's mother (L) and birth mother's mother (P) messages on Facebook to let them know that we were going to be coming to MI and to let them know that we'd be able to visit with them if they wanted to see Gus. I wasn't sure if they were ready to see him yet, as they weren't expecting a visit until May/June.

Both were super excited about the opportunity to see him and we made the arrangements to meet. L decided to do Thursday at 5:30 and then got a little upset that they'd only have an hour with him. I got frustrated because I didn't want to revert back to drama with her. After talking to my cousin, I was able to calm down and Steve and I decided that the next visit will be 100% on our terms.

Anyway, we met them at Jungle Java and I was so nervous. I wasn't as nervous as the day we arrived at the hospital and I stepped out of the Edge, but I was feeling ill and thought I was going to be sick. I had to keep reminding myself that if things didn't go well, we don't owe them anything and can walk away at any time.

Fortunately, that wasn't an issue at all. L came up to me and gave me a big hug and was really excited to see us and Gus. He was in a great mood (he had napped on the way over and felt rested), and he was very happy to be held and meet his two aunts for the first time.

My mom and dad came with us and I'm so glad they were there to experience the moment with us. There's something to be said about open adoption and when it works, it's amazing. Prior to the visit, my mom had said, "You don't have to see them every time you come to MI... it'll confuse him as to who his family is." After the visit, I think she got it.

And I got it. There were times when Gus was crawling around and while he was happy to meet his birth father's family, he came to me and Steve and knew who his parents were. He's nine-months and wasn't confused. I think as long as we keep an open dialog with him he'll always be able to talk to his birth family and to us and ask anything that he's wondering. I want him to know how much everyone loves him.

So we left the visit with the birth father's family on a high. The one visit I was most apprehensious of, turned out to be amazing. His aunts were so in love with him, and L was over the moon smitten with him. They loved on him and were able to satisfy the need/desire to see him. It was incredible.

Then on Saturday we had lunch with Gus's birth mom's aunt (Sharon) and her kids and my cousin. They're the reason we have Gus and it was great to see them. They're such great people and have welcomed us into their lives and treat us like we're an extension of their family. Sharon and Mike offered to host Gus's birthday celebration at their cottage in May and I think that's what we're going to do. It'll be so wonderful.

Then Sunday we met with Gus's birth mom and her family. I don't know why I was nervous about it, but I was. Maybe because I am female and know if I had birthed a baby and placed it for adoption, when the time came to see him/her again, it'd be so difficult. However, his birth mom C didn't seem to be upset or anything. 

It almost felt like she was just another teenager with no connection to him, there to play with him. I didn't see any maternal hold on him (which was good for me), and she just seemed to enjoy being in his presence. Again, while playing, he would come to me or Steve to be held, and it was so great and reassuring to know that he loves us.

Unless you've been through an open adoption you probably can't understand what it felt like to watch him with his birth mom and her family. It was almost fake to me. Does that make sense? I know I didn't birth him, but that TINY detail is insignificant day-to-day and he IS my son. So, meeting the woman who did birth him, was like she was just another person. And at the same time, she is the most incredible, amazing person too. She gave life to this beautiful little man, and I am indebted to her forever because of that.

That night, I told Steve that I don't know if I can/want to adopt again. The raw emotion of the ordeal came through and I just felt like I don't want to share my child with another woman. I don't want to have to share his love, or share him and always have to deal with the fact that for the rest of his life... he's adopted. 

Of course, it was a fleeting moment and I'm back on track with wanting another child and if adoption is how it happens, then we will do that. But, it's so hard to be in the infertile boat. 

So maybe we can't get pregnant because we are among the few who actually can handle adoption. Maybe we are able to come to terms with things and be willing to extend our family a little farther by including a birth mom and her family and a birth father and his family. They certainly have extended their arms and have embraced us, and for that I am so very grateful.

So it's a work in progress. I don't think it's perfect, but it was wonderful to get the first meeting out of the way and let the doors stay open for follow-up and future visits. I don't think Gus will ever be confused about who his parents are, and will view his birth family as most view their own extended family members. They're related, but not people that he sees daily. They're important, and he'll care about them and they care about him, but his family consists of me and Steve, our parents, and our siblings and their families.

In May/June when we go back north, we'll experience the joy of meeting his birth mom's extended family including her aunts, uncles, cousins, and her grandmother. We'll also meet his birth father's extended family. This time it'll be one gathering and they'll all have to share their time with him. Steve and I will sit back and relax while both sides of Gus's birth family celebrate the first year of his life.
H and Gus on May 11th, 2010
H and Gus on February 17th, 2011

C and Gus on May 11th, 2010

C and Gus on February 20th, 2011

I can't wait.



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