OAR #35: The influence of, relationships with, and experiences of grandparents in open adoptions
I feel so fortunate that we have such an open adoption with Gus's side of our family. Gus and I were both born in Michigan, and our sides to our family live there (with the exception of my older brother... he lives in Arizona).
Steve's side lives in Indiana and Ohio. When we travel north for vacation, we are able to see all three sides of our family, and it's always been a high priority for us to make sure that anyone who wants to see Gus, gets to see him.
Because we live in the South, we don't see any of our family on a regular basis. We do see Steve's dad and Sue Ann more frequently, but it's because his dad is retired and doesn't have to worry about taking off work. Even with that, we only see them every couple of months or so. It's not what I'd call frequent.
We wanted an open adoption because we wanted to make sure that ALL members of the biological family have the ability to be part of Gus's life. We wanted to make sure that his birth parents were involved, but their parents, their siblings, and other family members are equally important to us.
Gus has his Gram and Pap (my parents), his Grandpa and Grandma Walker (Steve's dad and step-mom), and then Grammy and Grampy (birth mom's parents), Grandma and Grandpa S. (birth father's parents), and even has a great-grandma Marge (his birth mom's grandma)!! We're so lucky that not only does he have all these people who love him, but they are ACTIVE in his life!
Gus's great-grandma Marge sends him cards, gifts, books, and posts on his Facebook wall. She has been extremely supportive from the very start. We had just come home from the hospital with Gus (he was maybe two days old), and his Great Grandma Marge sent us THE NICEST email welcoming us into her life, telling us that she supported us completely, and she wanted us to know that if we needed anything, to just let her know. It was the more amazing way to start off our journey with open adoption.
Gus's Grampy sends me texts numerous times a week asking about Gus. If I send out a group text with pictures of Gus, he ALWAYS replies. ALWAYS. He reads Gus's blog and subscribes to our family website. He asks about Gus, sends me pictures of Gus's birth mom when she was just a baby and young girl, and has sent pictures of himself from when he was young. He is very open with us and REALLY cares about Gus. It's incredible.
Gus's Grammy also sends emails to Gus (I created an account just for family to send him emails-- he'll get to have them when he's older). She sends cards, gifts, and always replies to texts and pictures posted on Facebook. She also follows his blog and subscribes to our family website. I know that she loves him deeply and always looks forward to seeing him when we head north.
On his birth father's side, his aunts (birth father's sisters) are VERY involved, and so his his Grandma S. His Grandpa S. doesn't have my cell and I don't have his, so we don't share pics and texts with him... and he's not on Facebook. That being said, I'm sure his wife shares info with him. They are all very supportive and LOVE seeing pictures, texts, and Facebook updates.
I think because we lived with my mom and dad for a month when Gus was just a baby, my parents have a special attachment to Gus. They absolutely adore him and think he's so amazing. I'm also their only daughter, so seeing me as a mom, after knowing all the pain we went through with infertility, has an added specialness to our situation. They have always been, and continue to be, very supportive.
Steve's dad and Sue Ann are also amazing. Gus is their first grandson and they LOVE to spoil him. Seriously. We love seeing them with him and we know how much joy he brings to their lives.
I try to send pictures of Gus to all sides of our family at least once a week. I don't always hear back from anyone (other than Grampy), but I still put them out there. Until someone tells me to stop, I figure it's the least I can do.
I honestly think that because we're in a different state, all three sides of our family know that they see Gus equally. No one sees him more than anyone else, and all have an equal importance in our family. I think this helps everyone. If we lived closer and cut one side off, I could see how it'd be really upsetting, but since we don't, everyone celebrates all opportunities to see Gus.
We are so very fortunate to have the open adoption that we have. I believe it was all mapped out by God and has come together exactly as He wanted. We are just hoping that when it's time to adopt baby Walker #2, we can find a situation just as amazing as our first.