I've spent a lot of time thinking about how totally different Hugh's adoption was compared to Gus's adoption. There are so many differences (obviously, each adoption WILL be different) that it's striking and has made me seriously think about why they're so different. I think the biggest difference between the two is the communication level between ourselves and the expectant mother, whom became our birth mother. With C, we didn't have any time to talk to her. I mean, honestly, I guess we could have talked to her in the week that we had between our match and Gus's arrival. However, we didn't have any direct communication with her until we were sitting in her hospital room meeting her for the first time.
When I think back to Gus's adoption, I feel like I was so naive. We didn't know anything about adoption other than what our agency told us. Because we were new to the whole show, we didn't know what to expect. We had spent the weekend at a mandatory retreat, where we were introduced to a panel of individuals who were from both sides of adoption. We heard stories from couples (like us) who had waited for various amounts of time, and were matched through our agency and became a family through adoption. We heard from a few couples who were still with the agency and waiting. They had been waiting for over two years (didn't give us much hope). Then we were introduced to birth families. We met a grandmother who was the only person in contact with the adoptive family. We met a birth dad (the elusive birth dad we called him-- mainly because our agency reiterated that the majority of adoptions don't have a birth father present), and last but certainly not least, we met a birth mother. A real, live, in person birth mother. The first that we'd ever seen. She was 19, going to college, well-adjusted, and spoke eloquently about her decision to place her baby for adoption. She was funny, grounded, and defied all stereo-types of the drug-using birth mothers that were told about (we were told to consider pot usage and heroin usage minor in the scheme of things when it came to what drugs our expectant mother took while pregnant. It's cocaine, meth, and crack that we needed to watch out for!). Throughout our time with our agency, we were told (over and over again) that a certain protocol would take place when we got "the call" to head to the hospital. The first was that we were (under NO circumstances) to make sure we did not wear jeans to the hospital. It's simply not allowed!! We were not allowed to give the birth mother (who wasn't a birth mother yet because she had not signed anything) a gift of any sort. Flowers were okay, but only if both parties agreed. The agency would take care of the discussion of expectations. They'd find out for us, what the expectant mother wanted (as far as contact). They'd find out if she wanted us in the room with her (we were told not to expect this at all), if she was going to hold the baby or not (we were told that it's best if she DOES hold the baby so she has time to connect as she needed before saying goodbye). We were told they'd find out where the baby would go (would it stay in the room with her? Go to the nursery?). So when we got the call about C, none of those details had been discussed. In fact, we didn't even know if she wanted an open adoption or not. When we got to the hospital, I think the majority of my fear and anxiety came from the not knowing anything. We had never even talked to C on the phone, so we didn't know what to expect. Gus's whole adoption was a bit of a mess. I won't go back into detail about the two months in MI, but it was bad. Really bad. And I blame 99% of it on poor communication. We weren't sure what the heck was going on, and never had a firm grasp of anything. For two solid months, we lived daily with the fear that the whole adoption would fall apart. It was horrible and stressful and I vowed to not let it happen ever again. With Hugh's adoption, it's like a night and day difference. We are wiser. MUCH wiser. Ever since the first bit of communication with B, there's been nothing held back and we've been 100% honest. She has been honest with us as well. We didn't have an agency to rely on for the communication part, and I'm glad. We took care of it ourselves. We had several conversations that had phrases like, "I hope you don't get upset by this, but what do you think about.... or what were you planning on doing when it comes to..." Each step of the way, we talked. And talked. And talked. The day we chose to leave GA and head to NC, without a call for a baby, was a leap of faith. We had no reason not to trust in everything B had told us, and we wanted to be as close to her as possible, so when it WAS time, we'd be there. When she and I talked on the phone (before Bdub had arrived), it was like everything that I expected. She was easy to talk to, funny, and direct. I like that it was so easy to talk to her, since I HATE talking on the phone. On December 18th, when we left Carolina Beach to head to the hospital, it got real. We had a room number for her. We had a destination in sight and as we headed to the hospital, I found myself excited instead of afraid. I didn't know what to expect, but I wasn't afraid. I was eager to FINALLY meet B after five months with her. I couldn't wait to talk to her in person. And did we talk!! We spent HOURS talking and laughing. In fact, I don't know if I've ever enjoyed myself with a complete stranger more. But that's the thing... because of the communication she and I had (for MONTHS before Hugh's birth), she really wasn't a stranger. She was like a long-lost relative and it felt like coming home when meeting her. It's really amazing how lucky we are. Seriously. I'm amazed at the wonderful relationship we have with all of Gus's birth family. His birth parents, their siblings, his birth grandparents, their parents, and even cousins and aunts and uncles. It's really awesome to be part of it all and to know that we started off soooooo behind. We've worked to build the relationship that we have, and it's great. With B, we only have a relationship with her. Her sister has recently come into our lives and we're so eager to meet her and introduce her to Hugh. We know that it'll be a slow process with Hugh's birth family, but we're certain that with open and honest communication, we'll continue to expand his family and someday, he'll know many of them.
When it comes to open adoption, communication really is the key. It's the missing piece of the puzzle. It's so hard to get the communication started though. Fear and uncertainty get in the way. However, what do you have to lose? Too many people hold back on the important stuff because they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. They don't want to ask the wrong questions, and don't want to be intrusive. I get that. But I also think that open communication is the way to a successful relationship. For ANY relationship-- communication is SO important!! I'm thankful that B and I started out with wonderful communication and it's only gotten better. She and I know how lucky we are and we are thankful that we're both willing to be open and honest with each other. It makes me love her all the more.
My blog that's specifically about open adoption and how our family came to be complete.
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I'm Cathy and I'm a former elementary teacher turned SAHM. This blog has grown and evolved through the years to be my sounding board, then a place to share my thoughts, fears, and celebrations, and then where I post pictures and practice my photography skills. I blog about daily happenings. To read more about my family and how we're connected to open adoption, please follow our family blog: A Completed Family.