Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #33

Open Adoption Roundtable #33- What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?

What a great question! It's funny to think back to a year ago and how vastly different my thoughts were then compared to now.

A year ago we had not yet had our first post-adoption meeting with Gus's birth family. We saw his side of our family at his Baptism in May, and then that was it. We were able to head back to North Carolina in July and then we didn't go anywhere (except for Indiana for a surprise birthday party in September) for the rest of the year. When it finally came time to head back north, it was February and Gus was nine months old.

I had fears before our first post-adoption meeting. I was so nervous about having Gus's birth family judge me and think that I wasn't a good mom for him. I was afraid they'd look at us and think, "Why did we pick these two yahoos?" It didn't cross my mind that maybe they were as nervous, if not more, to see us.

My parents came with us to the first meeting with Gus's birth father and his family. I had not met H's sisters yet and I was still really cautious about seeing L again. In December as I was trying to organize our trip, she was less than helpful about helping me pick a day for them to see Gus. When she said she wanted to see him on a Thursday night (at 5pm) she was upset when I told her that we had 6:30 dinner plans and that Gus goes to bed at 7:30. She asked if they could have more time in the future and it set me off.

Looking back, I can totally see her point and why she was upset, but at the time I thought she was being irrational and being that I had a nasty taste still in my mouth from our dealings with her in May and June, I wasn't happy at all.

Our meeting went better than expected. Everyone was so happy to see Gus and it was the first time that I honestly felt like open adoption really could work with our situation. H wasn't super interested in seeing Gus, but his sisters were and I was excited for them to hold and play with their nephew. L was overjoyed with seeing him and I think it meant a lot for her to get some time to just be his grandma and enjoy his company.

The meeting with C and her family was easy-- they've always been very open with us and it was exciting to meet her dad T, and her brothers Z and N. While C's brothers weren't overly involved with Gus during their visit, C had a ball with him and so did her parents. It was fun for Steve and I to watch them have fun with Gus.

It was after this first meeting in February that I realized that open adoption is what you make it. As the adoptive mother, I have an obligation to make sure that Gus knows where he comes from, who loves him, and why he was placed into our family. He will always know his roots and I'm so thankful that his side of our family is as open and willing to work with us as we're willing to work with them. It takes both sides working together for open adoption to be successful.

When we went back to MI in April for his finalization, his birth mom and her mom went to court with us (along with my mom and dad). It was so special that they were there to help us celebrate the beginning of our family and for their support. We got to meet Gus's great-grandma Marge... and it was so amazing to take pictures of Gus with his birth mom, her mom, and her grandma. :-)

The last visit north was in August and it was the best one yet. We spent the day together at an island cottage and both sides were there together to celebrate Gus's birthday. We spent the day together, went to the park and his birth parents played with him, and then later had a birthday cake for Gus's 1st birthday. His birth mom held him on her lap while he blew out his candle and then he sat with her while he ate his cake. It was so special for everyone.

If you would have asked me a year ago, if I thought our relationship with his side of our family would be what it is, I would have said no. I didn't think it was possible... but I was also basing my opinions on the way L acted in May and June. She was upset and scared and lashed out and I'm just thankful that we were all able to get past that.

Our open adoption is always evolving and growing, and hopefully a year from now I can share even more wonderful stories about how great things are. I do know that I have vowed to keep them apart of our family as much as possible and I include them in things as if we all shared the same blood. It'll be their choice to remain active in our lives or not, but I pray we keep the momentum going and our relationship continues to grow and blossom!


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