Joyce & Fred’s Story
JOYCE & FRED
“So, what does Open Adoption mean to you?” When we first started learning about Open Adoption, we thought we understood what it meant. Little did we know that we had many preconceived ideas and stereotypes of birth parents and adoptive parents. Looking back, we realize that there were some fears of the unknown, including fears around what the birth family might want or expect. Would we be able to build a relationship with birth parents and still raise a child in the best way we thought possible? Would it obligate us in ways that we weren’t comfortable, impose on us things that were not true to who we were? Many of these fears dissipated as we learned more about Open Adoption. Through seminars, various social workers, reading material, the work of Beginnings and getting to know our daughter’s birth mother, we learned how beautiful and natural the open relationship can be.
Open Adoption respects all parties involved: the child, the birth parents, their family as well as the adoptive family. Open Adoption promotes honesty; there are no secrets or hidden agendas. Honesty and commitment are paramount given that Open Adoption is a process of building trust. This trust bond allows for wishes and dreams to be shared by all, for the benefit of the child involved. It also allows for input on the part of the birth parents, getting to know interests, personalities and values and helps ensure the best possible match. Open Adoption involves opening yourself to a new relationship.
Though, as in any relationship, one is vulnerable to hurt and rejection, Open Adoption can be a new beginning to a positive and life-long family bond.
One thing we became conscious of when going through the Open Adoption journey is the fact that it is easy for both adoptive as well as birth parents to oversell themselves. For Open Adoption to be successful, adoptive parents just need to be who they are. They need to share their wishes for building their family, their comfort level around family histories and how they would like to develop birth family relationships. In the process of matching, adoptive individuals/couples need to stay true to their values and wishes so that, in the end, the best possible match is realized.
This is where we found Beginnings’ guidance to be of great help. We learned early on we hadn’t represented ourselves well. We thought we were sharing much about ourselves, but it was a lot of vague generalities. How can birth parents really understand a couple just by knowing their occupation and hobbies? Beginnings is aware of what birth parents want to know and encouraged us to highlight our uniqueness. We found that telling a personal story where we had a decision to make and how we dealt with it told more about us. Beginnings staff are very practical in terms of their knowledge of adoption.
As we grew in our understanding of Open Adoption, we felt the support and prayers of their team. The staff protected us when necessary, helped us to hold back, slow down and think things over so that we felt assured we had made the right decisions for us and our new child. The belief that every life is a gift from God and that He has a plan for each little person was evident throughout the adoption process.
Like any other relationship, Open Adoption takes work. Probably more so because it takes place in very tender circumstances. Open Adoption is not a guarantee of a placement or a relationship. Rather, it is a commitment to work towards a placement in God’s time in and in accordance with His will.
Our daughter is now 8 months old and Open Adoption has been a beautiful way to expand our family. Abigail has Grandmas and Grandpas, Pakes and Beppes, and Omas and Opas. We are able to talk and share photos with Abigail’s birth mom via the internet. When Abigail was baptized it was so amazing to have her birth mom, grandma and great grandma present. We never knew what joys we would experience seeing our little girl develop and watching her personality evolve. Through Open Adoption we are able to share these things with Abigail’s birth mom and know how much it means to her. Open Adoption has truly been a blessing to all our families.
Joyce & Fred