birthmother

Living Openness in Adoption: How Relocation Changes Everything.

The embrace 5.6.2018

The embrace 5.6.2018

When we finally decided we were going to move I went on a mission to ensure our son got to spend time with those that matter to him most. We knew that saying goodbye to his friends, family and even teachers would be hard, but how do you prepare your child to say goodbye to his parent of origin?

Adoption is real. It’s hard and it’s beautiful. If you think about it adopted kids have been saying goodbye to loved ones since before they could remember. At least for our little man it was like this from the moment he caught his first breath.

Experts Say...

copyright April Dinwoodie (website)

copyright April Dinwoodie (website)

This month I had the honor of hearing April Dinwoodie, adult adoptee and advocate, speak to a room of adoption professionals about the need for openness in adoption. April encouraged that adoption is a human rights issue and not a one-time transaction. She described adoption as a life long journey. April boldly shared that children are not commodities. This phrasing brought it all home for me. I remember thinking " He's not just our family."

April noted that best practice recommendations support children’s basic human right to connect with and have information about their biological roots. This is why we have been so intentional to ensure that our son have information about his family of origin. However, having information was not enough he needed connection as well. This is where adoptive parents can put their love in action. If it is safe, I am a firm believer that connection with biological family is critical to adopted children. 

As we stride into the next chapter for our family, it means saying goodbye to loved ones. When you have an adopted child it may mean saying goodbye to a biological parent they barely know. It may be awkward but so necessary. So we planned and last Sunday he spent time with her. The woman who carried him, has his same eyes. 

He hugged her tight and held her hand. He asked me to take pictures. We took lots of them. He got to play with his baby cousin and met his uncle and aunt for the very first time. At that moment we realized the magnitude of this moment. His two families sharing a moment with him.

This visit was different from all the rest because for the first time he met his extended family. It was magical. He played and laughed with them, gave hugs and even asked to visit again before we take off to our new life and home.

 

Family is our center of gravity
— April Dinwoodie

I have discussed with him that moving away doesn’t make her any less his family. People often ask us how we do it? How are we ok with having him spend time with her as if love or the concept of family is confined to just us. We like to think of it, as there is enough love for all of us. Our conversation with her is about a promise we made to her over 12 years ago. It was a promise to give him a full, happy life and how this move is part of that promise.

We are family 5.6.18

We are family 5.6.18

Changes in Communication

This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new way to stay in contact. How will we modify our communication? We have decided to set up a private Facebook page for both families to connect and exchange photos. In addition, we will be intentional about visiting often. I hope our little man learns that in his life he will sometimes have to say goodbye to people he loves deeply, but although those goodbyes will be painful, it doesn’t mean those relationships aren’t worth the pain.

Adoptive parents we owe it to our children to find ways to honor their parents and families of origin. Connection is a way to honor their relationships.

Adoption: A glimpse into the day our son was born

Like many adoption stories, ours begins with loss. After many trips to the fertility specialist and a major loss in March of 2005 it was evident that starting a family in the traditional sense was not going to be a viable option for us. Losing a pregnancy is a hard ambiguous loss. 

Do you want to be pregnant or be a mom?

Sitting in my bitterness I reached out to my mom. I remember in the middle of having a heartbreaking conversation with her she asked me the following. “Do you want to be pregnant or do you want to be a mom, because they are not the same thing?” Can you imagine how wild it was to hear those words from my own mother when I was in the middle of my career as an adoption social worker? If I’m being honest, adoption was always in my heart. 

Meeting our son’s birth mom was scary and exciting. Would she like us? Would she turn and run? The moment we met her we were all in. She was beautiful, caring, and committed to her decision. As time went on we became friends. Can you imagine that?

In the months leading up to his birth, we spent a great deal of time together. I accompanied her to medical appointments, developed a delivery plan, and discussed what interactions would look like after he was born. I felt so honored when she introduced the idea that I be in the delivery room with her. What sticks out the most was her desire to give our son (hers and mine) the life she never had.

In hindsight, I can say that we grew to love her before we even met him. Loving her was something I could not have anticipated and yet it was easy. You see, how could I not love the woman that gave me my son? Without her life and love I would not be a mother and the magnitude of her sacrifice is not lost on me.

One warm November morning she called early. Her water broke and contractions were strong. She wanted us to meet her at the hospital! My heart stopped. Everything moved very quickly after that. I remember getting in the car and thinking when we come back home we will be parents.

If I’m being honest, there was a fear that set in as well. What if after she met him she would decide not to place him with us? That’s when I remember God gently reminding me that he was in control no matter the outcome. In faith I stepped out.

We arrived and spent an hour staring at one another fueled with fear and anticipation. This is when I am reminded that adoption, in all its beauty, is not a natural process. Every adoption experience is different and I was standing in the middle of ours.

  • Our Moses Moment 

We sat with her, held her hand during the hard contractions and I quietly prayed for her and our son. After about 2 hours and her contractions settling down she encouraged us to go get some food in the cafeteria. We were sitting down to eat when the call came in. It was her nurse, “Get here now or you’ll miss it.”

I ran into the room and witnessed the moment my son entered this world. What an amazing, breathtaking moment God gave me.  He was perfect. He looked just like her. He was loved and I cut the cord.  Scripture tells the story of Moses an adopted child. The name Moses comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to pull out/draw out.” This was our Moses moment.

Daddy gives him his first bottle. 

Daddy gives him his first bottle. 

Was I the first to hold our handsome child? No. It was his Daddy. He was the first to hold and feed this new person that would come to change our lives forever. I believe becoming His father changed Heath forever. When evening set in Heath went home to get the house ready for our guy before he came back. That gave his two mom’s time alone.

He slept a while we talked about him. 

He slept a while we talked about him. 

Together,  in my room with him we both laughed, cried, and shared stories of our childhood. I tried to remember every detail of her story so that I could share it with him as he grew. This time together is forever etched in my soul.

When the time came to go home, she left first. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to walk away. I went to say goodbye, embrace her, and thank her for her sacrifice and love. We both knew this would not be the last time we would see each other for we are forever tied together.

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