After my husband and I sat through open adoption training for our agency, we were a little overwhelmed. Honestly, we were quite negative about the whole deal. The panel, filled with adoptive families; discussed how close they were with their birth families, how the two families (birth and adoptive) spent weekends together actually enjoying each others’ company, and how their birth moms even BABYSAT their adopted child (!!!). If you are like I was, you may be a little bit stunned right now. We understood and wanted our future child’s birth family to know about their little one, but more along the lines of pictures, emails, and a handful of short visits, but quality time together? That just didn’t seem normal…or comfortable…or enjoyable.
However, when we met Baby #4’s birth parents in our home before his birth, our thoughts maybe started to change a little. Conversation between us was rather easy, and although my husband and I didn’t fully understand at the time why they would want to place their baby for adoption, we felt that their motives were sincere and trustworthy. There were also MANY similarities shared between our two families; from our food and political beliefs to our laundry detergent and hobbies, our families definitely shared more connections than differences.
I can’t say that Baby #4’s birth has really changed our relationship with them, either. Initially, I thought that we may become more protective of our baby and want to limit his time with his birth family, but that has just not been the case. Fast forward this entire past year and you will find that we have gotten to know our birth family quite well. We’ve celebrated birthdays with Baby #4’s birth brothers, and have met some of their extended family. Our kids act more like cousins than they do fairly recent acquaintances. Baby #4’s birth mother and I occasionally talk on the phone and by text; they have been kept abreast of all of Baby #4’s health difficulties.
Looking back, I wish I could’ve seen what our relationship may have looked like after a year. You see, for most of the first half-year, my husband and I were focused on Baby #4 and the changes within our home. We were filled with mixed emotions, and although we thankfully celebrated Baby #4’s arrival; we were also saddened, and grieved for him the loss of his birth family. As I look back at pictures from those early months at home, I can’t help but be overcome when I think about the enormity of Baby #4’s placement with our family. Jody Landers said it perfectly when she stated, “A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that priviledge are not lost on me”.
Until recently, though, we were blinded by our own new situation and change; our thoughts didn’t comprehend the struggle our birth family must have went through when deciding to place Baby #4 with us. For them to have known in their hearts that their baby belonged with another family must have been heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the difficulty and sheer selflessness that a birth family must go through to find a family suitable enough for their baby…and then be expected to find one good enough just by looking through various family profile books. It is humbling to think that Baby #4’s birth family felt a first connection with our family solely by looking through our family’s book. Trusting our family with one of life’s most treasured gifts is an honor like none we have ever received.
I no longer think about why our birth family could not keep Baby #4; nobody, myself included, really needs to know or understand their decision. I do not doubt the love that Baby #4’s birth family has for him. I’ve seen the looks his birth mother gives him when we are all together, and I can feel the love that both birth parents have for our little guy. I know the decision made to place him with us was probably one of the hardest ever. I can even feel the love and appreciation that they have for us, which is probably similar to the feeling we have for them. We love them. Unconditionally. Like family. They willingly gave us our fourth baby; a life that will be completely different from that of any other. One that will mold and form over time encompassing characteristics now resembling both families. Knowing that Baby #4 will have knowledge and connection with his birth family fills my heart and gives me peace.
It is amazing to think that just a little over a year ago; we knew nothing of our future birth family. While we waited to be matched to a child, the ‘birth family’ was more like an idea than a relationship, and something we did not feel would come naturally. As our families continue to build lifelong bonds and relationships, we extol the important role our birth family plays in Baby #4’s life, and are thankful for their willingness to participate.
Adoption isn’t about the perfect situation…the perfect birth family…the perfect adoptive family…the perfect baby. Adoption is about two families coming together to support a life that is entrusted to them at different times. It isn’t perfect, and it isn’t always happy, and frankly, it can be a little complex. But it is worth it. Baby #4 is worth it. All children are worth that risk. ❤