Open Adoption

I have recently been trying to grapple with my feelings on open adoption. I feel like I am a bit late in the game considering that adoption month was in November, but it’s just where I am at now.

You see, when I first announced that we would be adopting, I was not clear on who or how that actually happened.
The truth is that it happened so fast and we were trying hard to be sensitive to the situation, so we didn’t want to put too much information out there. I’ve struggled with talking about the details of our adoption from day one.

Adoption has changed our family in many of the same ways having any child will. But it has also changed it in ways that only people who have been through this experience before can understand. Our whole family has been changed.

Ruby joined our family through a kinship adoption. Those that are close to us and family members know the intimate specifics.
Because my blog is so open, I will try to navigate this chapter of our lives as gracefully as possible (and we all know how much grace I have on my own…lol) and as respectfully as I can in regards to all parties involved.

What I will say up front is this: We are incredibly blessed to have our family going through this with us. Often, I find it difficult to disclose 100% of what we are going through because we are walking this path without a road map. No one else in our families has a child with Down syndrome or any other intillectual disability. No one in our family has adopted the child of another family member.
It’s complicated. It’s isolating some times.
But we feel so lucky to have everyone’s support, advice and their earnest attempts to walk with us on this road.

Because Ruby’s adoption is a kinship adoption, it’s so much more complicated. Like an onion, there are many layers. Ruby is 5 months old now, and while we have known since she was 20 weeks gestationally that she would become our daughter, I don’t know that we truly understood what adoption would mean for our family.
Even once she came home, there was a dream-like state that we lived in as we navgiated life with two children and tried to learn all we could about our daughter.

Now that we have come up for air, we are having to be bold and face our insecurities and feelings about what adoption actually means.
We began to seek out advice and counseling services. I (attempted) to join an online support group (with terribly unspportive members! Come on people!!), and now I feel we are left standing at a fork in the road with no clear directions.
Open adoption (OA) is a relationship far different than traditional views on adoption. In fact, once I began to research adoption, I realized that I had already decided in my mind that adoption meant the birth parents would disappear and never be heard from again once their child is placed.
Harsh but true. And a view that is commonly accepted in most circles.
But we are related to Ruby’s birth mom…so she’s not going anywhere!

What will OA mean for our lives?
Right now, I’m honestly not sure. We want to do the very best we can for Ruby. I try hard to imagine if I were Ruby- what would I want? How would all of this make me feel?
If I don’t, then I begin to selfishly think about how I feel as her mother. It’s a scary thing to confront your true feelings.
I thought I was good at it after we had Eli. I thought I was honest with myself, but not when it came to adoption. If I’m being real, I worry about not being viewed at Ruby’s parents by others. I worry about being pitted against her birth mom later. I worry about Ruby resenting me for having an OA or for being adopted at all. I worry about her not seeing me at mommy. I worry about how others view the situation. I worry about boundaries. I worry about making the “right” parenting choices. I worry about being able to answer Ruby’s hard questions later. I worry about hurting our child.
Hard truths.
Makes this mama scared to her core.

I started to research and read books. Overwhelmingly, the evidence points to OA being the healthiest for the adopted child if it’s possible. Closed adoptions (CA), and adoptions in general, can create feelings of not being good enough, sadness, fearfulness that people you love will leave you, and trouble connecting with others. If the relationship is healthy, OA can benefit the adopted child by giving them a direct link to their biology. It can offer the adoptee the chance to ask direct questions and a better understanding of where they come from.
But it also opens the door wide for potential hurt. Which puts me right back at feeling insecure and worried.

Take a deep breath, Ashley! Let’s put this into perspective.
And here is where I’m at now: OA is new, raw and fresh. I don’t know where we will all land when this is all said and done, but I’m working on getting my heart in the right place.
I was reminded recently that my children are not mine! They are HIS.
God called us to adoption. God has built our family in so many amazing ways. He set Eli, Ruby and Wyatt aside- marked them for our family. We have leaned on him, his timing and his understanding through this whole “becoming a parent” process. Why wouldn’t we see our adoption the same way?
God set this entire situation up. He had these exact plans for our family and I praise him for that!

As our family grows and changes, we will continue to be challenged. There will be a natural ebb and flow- whether it’s OA, Ds or generally raising our children. To deny my feelings, especially early in this process, is silly. I can’t deal with them and manage how I will handle them if I ignore them.

Our kids have just been entrusted to us for a season by our all-knowing God, a God who is and does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Eph 3:20

We have a long way to go. Lots of growing yet to do. Lots of roles to sort out and boundaries to be put in place. But my heart feels at ease now that I have confronted myself. My prayer is that God will take center stage in our family and that my own opinions and insecurities and preconceived notions will be replaced with Gods will for all relationships in our lives.

Thank you to everyone who helps us navigate this road! Our family is better for it. 🙂

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4 Replies to “Open Adoption”

  1. Ashley….I’m not sure if you’re looking for responses or if you were just airing out your feelings and putting them in writing (an excellent way to deal with stress and problems). I’d like to share a couple of personal experiences with you because even though I never adopted, I have been married to two men who were both adopted…and I have a grandson who has been adopted in a sort-of “open” adoption. You have gifted Ruby by adopting her openly. Both of the men in my life have struggled deeply with bonding and caring for others. They’ve both dealt with feelings of abandonment…and they’ve both grown up to abandon others. They’ve both grown up without histories…no medical history…everything about them “unknown”. It has hurt me to see them hurt…and there’s just nothing I’ve been able to do for them. I also have a cousin who gave up a child for adoption…and was never able to have another child. She has hurt so much wishing she could have known her son. She knows she did the right thing for him…but she is still hurt. I also have a grandson who was taken from his mother (from a judge who let her keep a newborn born one week after they ended her parental rights). She has been a wonderful mother to her daughter…and gets to see her son for two hours (in the presence of his parents) every other month. She actually gave up her parental rights voluntarily because she was told if she didn’t that it would be a closed adoption and she’d never see her son again. The excellent part about the open adoption is that Luke WILL know his medical history…he WILL know his mother loved him and did what she thought was best for him. And he has the opportunity to be loved and raised by a couple who adore him and who are his parents.

    It doesn’t matter what other people think. Truth is what will matter. Ruby will look back and have an opportunity to know truth…and that’s just healthy. She will have medical history…and that’s better for her health. She will have the love of her parents and two brothers…and that’s healthy. And she will have the love of the woman who cared enough about her to not only give her life, but to give her life in a loving home.

    I think your fears and worries are all legitimate…but I also think you don’t want to rob joy from today by worrying about the “what ifs” of tomorrow. Abandon yourself to loving those sweet babies 100%…love covers over a multitude of sins. If anything “wrong” has happened here, God has a way of working things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. I love your candidness…and I really love your courage and willingness to go where no one has gone before. God is going to bless your home and your little family…and it’s going to be fun to sit on the sidelines and watch how He works His will in all of this.

    1. Gosh I mean, how do I respond? Thank you so much. I needed to hear that! It’s so easy to get caught up in my own head. Other perspectives are awesome and sometimes kick start a whole new thing for me.
      That was exactly what my soul needed. Thank you, friend. 🙂

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