Our daughter came to us through open adoption and, while we know many more people today choose an open adoption vs a closed one, I thought it may be helpful to others just getting started to share why we thought this was the best route for our family.
Before we made any decisions, we consulted with our attorney to learn just how an open adoption worked, including insight on our birth mom's legal rights.
We knew that an open adoption would allow us to remain truthful and candid with our daughter about her origins, and that we would even be able to give her the opportunity to meet her birthparents once she became old enough and if she so desired.
Another important piece to consider: open adoption seems to be how most adoptions are arranged in the U.S. today. So an open adoption also meant that we'd likely be placed with a birthmother faster than if we opted for a closed adoption.
Once we were matched with our daughter's birthparents, we were able to sit down with them and the attorney to discuss some of the issues involved in open adoption:
First, we were able to confirm that AlliMae's birth parents were in complete agreement with us about the value of an open adoption. As you can imagine, this made us feel so excited about the journey we were about to undertake!
Interestingly, we found out that our birthmother was an adoptee herself. She's from Guatemala, but has no idea where her birth family is or how to even find them. We learned that this continues to be a very emotional topic for her, and she wanted to make sure that the baby she was giving birth to would not have to deal with the many unknowns about her bio family that she herself had to learn to live with.
Erik (left) and Douglas with Alli Mae. Photo credit: BSAphotography
Next, we had to agree on the terms of our open adoption.
We knew that we wanted a few visits in the first year for them to see the baby's growth in person. Throughout that first year we would also send updates thru text messages. After the first year the personal visits would end and instead we would continue to send them updates two or three times a year. In our minds, we already planned to be in touch each year during summer, around her birthday and again at Christmas time, important milestones that would make for a perfect time to provide these updates.
Douglas and I hoped our regular communications would ease any emotional pain our birthparents were already experiencing, or would no doubt experience in the years ahead. They acknowledged this plan was very suitable for them with smiles and tears in their eyes, which then brought tears to our eyes. It was a very tender moment for all of us and their interest in being kept updated on their birth daughter's life was clearly understood and appreciated by us.
During Alli Mae's first year we kept to all our promises and even provided a few additional personal visits that we were happy to accommodate. Some visits were with birthmother and her family, and others were with birthfather and his family. As you can imagine, these visits were emotional for us all.
Our first visit with the birthmother was an especially emotional experience. She was obviously sad and upset at the end of the visit, handing me a letter for me to read to Alli Mae one day. I could not fathom the pain she felt saying goodbye to the baby girl she gave birth to. All I could do was hug her tight and kiss her cheek, hopefully easing her suffering some by letting her know how grateful we were.
Both families brought Alli Mae gifts at different points through the first year, from clothes to jewelry to stuffed animals. At first, I always got sad looking at these gifts, but I soon came to realize that I needed to see the beauty in these gifts, and not the pain. Each stuffed animal Alli Mae received was a symbol of her birth family's love, which would always be with her, just as the love of her two fathers would always be with her.
We all developed a friendship through this. As we were sitting on our living room floor, the birthmother handed us a beautifully decorated photo album that was so thoughtfully crafted by her. Every page had pictures of both of the birthparents and their families with all of their likes and interests, hobbies, where they like to travel and details about their lives.
And then, on the last page there was a beautiful picture of Douglas and me. It was taken on the happiest day of our lives, the one we brought our beautiful baby girl home. It meant so much to me that she included us in this book. It made me cry then just as Im crying now.
The unlikely friendships that we made through this process and the love and appreciation we have for everyone involved is a beautiful feeling. I could not imagine our adoption any other way. I think about the birth families often and wish each member happiness and light every day of their lives. We will always be incredibly grateful to them for giving us our beautiful daughter and for the incredibly loving way in which our open adoption unfolded.
Feature photo credit: BSAphotography
I would love for you to follow our family's journey on Instagram @nolapapa