Thursday, April 07, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #25

The prompt for this OAR is: Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?

This is such a complex question for me. I will answer both questions separately.

1) Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Yes. Absolutely. It's all well and good to do open adoption when you don't have to actually face reality. Us living in NC and Gus's birth family living in MI has made it a little easy to not have to really deal with the complexities of open adoption. We of course send packages, pictures, and I upload videos and pictures to his FB page and they get to see images and videos of him daily. It's no different from my family (also in MI) and Steve's family (in Indiana). They don't see him either.

However, when we went to MI in February for a mini-vacation, I decided to ask his birth family if they wanted to get together. My intentions were all good, and I knew that Gus had only met his birth mom and her mom (not her dad or two brothers), and had only met his birth father, his parents, and one of his three sisters. So I knew they'd all probably love to see him.

However, it was stressful and I was so nervous about the first meeting. The "it's too much" came from being overwhelmed with stress and fear. It was a passing moment, but it was there and it was real. After meeting with his birth father's family, that night, I told Steve that it was all too much for me to handle. I hated that I had to share my son with them. I hated that I couldn't get pregnant and have a baby with my own DNA and I hated that we were in the situation where I was feeling fear, anxiety, and sadness.

Like I said, it was a short-lived moment, but thankfully, Steve was so caring and honest with me. He told me that he doesn't hate any of it, and it's right where we're supposed to be. We're in this open adoption for so many reasons, and we can't focus on what we don't have, and we need to be in the moment and love being Gus's parents, and celebrate the relationship that we do have with his birth family.

I can't say it enough how lucky we are. We have two sets of families between him and I, and two sets of families for Gus and together all four love him more than the world. They all come together for him and we're so lucky. My mom has FB friended Gus's birth father's sisters, and his birth mom's mom and grandma. My heart is so happy to know that all of this is for one sweet amazing little man, that I get to call my son.

2) Have you ever wanted to walk away?
ONCE and only once. When we were trapped in MI and Steve had gone back to NC and I was in the hotel with Gus (at three weeks old) and we were still waiting for his birth father's mother to complete the paperwork... we had a moment of fear. She was saying that they had family that would take him and she would help H raise him. She was going to fight for her rights as a grandparent.
The paperwork for us to leave the state with him had not been filed yet. The paperwork for them to terminate their rights as parents had not been filed yet. Our 30 day waiting period, while technically on day 21+, still had not been filed... and we were exhausted and just wanted to go home.

I asked Steve if there was a chance that H could talk C into changing her mind, and them taking Gus back. He called P and told her our fears and said that if there was one iota of a chance, we were out.

I said I couldn't keep investing myself into this little baby, and loving him, bonding with him, and caring for him, only to have him taken away from me. I just didn't have it in me anymore to deal with the drama that continued to unfold.

God had a plan for us... and that night, after Steve called P and told her what we were feeling, she called him and said that they had gone to their attorney that night, and H showed up with his dad (unexpected) and his dad signed everything. His dad went against his mom,... who was fighting as hard as she could to hold everything up. With that call, we cried and celebrated and realized that she wasn't going to be able to hold us up anymore than she already had.

We wanted an open adoption. We were scared when his birth mom wasn't sure if she wanted an open adoption... and thankfully it was a short little moment and then she said she wanted an open adoption. I couldn't even picture my life without Gus's birth family in the picture. 

I know that the drama that we experienced is not normal. It's not normal to have to spend two MONTHS in the state that you're adopting in because of complications. Add to it the incorrect information about his birth father being a REGISTERED member of two Native American tribes, and our attorney having to track down tribal leaders from two separate tribes to find out if in fact, he was registered... (he wasn't)... I know it's not usually as complicated as ours was.

So yes, we have wanted to walk away, but only at the very beginning when things were so raw and emotional. Since having some time and distance, it's been nothing but incredible. His birth father's mother emailed me back in December and apologized for her part in holding us up. She explained that she didn't know about Gus until two days after he was born and already in our custody. She panicked and didn't know what to do, so she took it out on us. I have forgiven her, and I trust her. She's so thankful that we are as open with them as we are, and that she will get to be apart of his life forever.

How could we ever walk away now? We owe it to Gus to keep him connected to his birth family. We owe it to him to be able to see them, know them, and grow up with them in his life. They're just as important to him as my family is and Steve's family is. Each one of them deserves to know him, and he deserves to know them. What kind of parent would I be if I ever denied him that right. 
I think Open Adoption is hard. It's not easy to share your child with other people. But that's the selfish approach, which is easy to indulge. Instead, I have to think of it as it really is. A whole bunch of people loving my kid. And there's nothing wrong with that.


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