By Bethany, OA&FS Birthmother. As a birthmother, my life has gone through several milestones and changes since my daughter Claire’s open adoption in 2009. Open adoption is a wonderful alternative to closed adoption and foster care. It’s also very beneficial for those who are already parenting and don’t have the means to parent another child. Being part of the open adoption process has given me more direction in figuring out what my goals in life are. I have been better able to understand myself, my feelings, my thoughts, and my life because of it. It has given me more strength then I knew I had.
My son is now back in my home. He is considered disabled and his removal and temporary placement in foster care when I was pregnant, were a large part of why I chose open adoption for my daughter. Now, his school and medications have been stabilized and I have full custody of my son again. Another important change in our life has been that I returned to school. I finished a computer literacy certification last month and will finish my associate’s degree in June. I am planning on earning a Child and Family Studies degree, then going on to earn a master’s in Social Work or Counseling. Additionally, after two years of seeking work after being laid off, I was able to find a part-time job again.
After the adoption, my relationship with my family changed slowly over time. I have been able to talk to my father again after nearly a year of not talking because he was upset with my choice to place. My eldest sister was upset with me for a while too, because she had hoped she would raise my daughter. A year after the adoption, I met my present partner, who understands my feelings regarding my daughter’s adoption, supports me in my choice and supports my relationship growth with Claire and her family. My partner is great and supports me in my open adoption, my son’s life, my education and my work.
Now, I have started to help other birthparents in understanding their feelings about their adoptions. In spite of all these changes, my relationship with Claire and her family hasn’t shifted much. We still share four visits throughout the year like we agreed to, and we were even able to work out an extra visit when my mother came to town from Canada. I talk with Claire’s mom on Facebook, phone calls or texts: :). If anything, my coursework has given me a better understanding of my feelings regarding my open adoption, how my son is dealing with it, and how my daughter may later feel about her adoption and placement.
Claire has grown into “The World of Toddler” now! She has an independent personality like many of the ladies in my family, myself included. She is not scared of my son or I, but I don’t think she is sure of who we are yet. She is sure when we see her that we will love her up and give her gifts! She does not like to be held too much, but she will let me hold her unless she is sleepy. At those times, only mommy will do. When he was younger, my son Sam was always quite sad by our visits when it was time to leave, and didn’t understand exactly why Claire couldn’t come home with us. Now that he’s older, he is more content with her placement. Likewise, I don’t think that Claire understands that Sam is her brother quite yet, but she plays with him when we have visits and he protects her as any brother would. I think she would be okay on her own without his protection: she is feisty!
I know Claire’s parents, Brenda and Kent, are as respectful of my life as I am of theirs. We have all grown together in our relationship. Regardless of the changes they’ve gone through in their life, nothing has interfered with our openness. In addition to Claire, they have a son and they are in an open adoption with their son’s birthparents, too. I know that he was able to share a first visit in a long time with his birthmom recently. This was great for him, though I think he may have some wonders in his head about my relationship with Claire and his relationship with his birthmother. Brenda and Kent have never hidden anything from Claire or her brother. So far, my overall open adoption experience has gone quite well. What I wanted for my children has come true, and my wishes for Claire and Sam have been fulfilled. I am positive my open adoption relationship with Claire will grow fantastically over time. I’m sure that I will be there for the important times in her life, and hopeful that as she grows her bond with her brother Sam will grow as well. Claire will always know who we are and have her questions answered truthfully. She has wonderful parents who are open and loving. For those who embrace all parts of it, open adoption can be the greatest experience in one’s life.