what openness means to me (so far)

I wrote my last post in response to a recent conversation about adoption. I hung up the phone frustrated and just had to write, though I deleted the part where I vented said frustration since it wouldn’t do any good to publish it. I ended up going in a different direction which was far more civil though sterile (and long, sorry). Something was lost, I think, in my effort to avoid the controversy I would have been courting by publishing the original. Maybe some day I’ll feel more comfortable writing more about that particular situation. Maybe not.

For now, I just want to try to address the spirit of what was missing in that post.

What is openness to me?

Openness is embracing our child’s first family as our own. It’s extending our family to include those who loved our daughter before we ever met her. It’s expanding the very definition of family, not just in theory but in every day practice.

Openness is telling our daughter the story of how we came to be her parents. It’s never needing to choose the “right” time to tell her about adoption, because she will always know. It’s creating an environment where she should feel comfortable asking hard questions and sharing difficult feelings. It’s being honest and authentic, always.

Openness is being able to see where our daughter got her magnificent locks and luminous eyes. It’s seeing her face light up as she sits next to her kin while they gaze into a mirror admiring their likeness. It’s celebrating those similarities and their source.

Openness is knowing where our child inherited her unique artistic ability and uncanny memory. It’s listening to stories that tie our daughter to her ancestors, and re-telling those stories until they become her own.

Openness is genuinely extending a warm welcome into our lives, not an obligation we fulfill because a contract says so. It’s reaffirming that invitation when someone may need encouragement to participate. It’s keeping that door open for those who have not yet walked through it.

Openness is tremendous gratitude that our daughter can share significant milestones as well as ordinary events with family who love and adore her. It’s witnessing the love flowing to and from our little girl. It’s enjoying regular meals with her grandmother. It’s when her grandfather drops off a valentine on his way home from work. It’s always planning our next visit, hoping it comes sooner rather than later.

Openness is when our oldest daughter’s first family embraces our youngest daughter too. It’s knowing that family ties are built with dedication, commitment and love that extends beyond blood, woven into a rich tapestry displaying many stories, bold and beautiful, heartbreaking and marvelous.

And that is only the beginning…

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~ by luna on February 19, 2013.

10 Responses to “what openness means to me (so far)”

  1. Beautifully written. “bold and beautiful, heartbreaking and marvelous.” It seems like that sentence is the very essence of openness.

    I’m trying to guess on the conversation that prompted you to hang up the phone. I won’t go any further into my guess except to say that it must have had something to do with someone who doesn’t see the full benefit of openness. As a parent, I can’t imagine it any other way. Although I am not an adoptive parent at this moment, my goal for my son is that he is surrounded by love and feels a full sense of belonging, family and community. That is what we all want for our kids and openness seems to me the only way to that in an adoptive relationship. It doesn’t seem as if it would always be an easy process, but for your child, anything is worth it, right?

    I realize that not everyone is there, however. Perfectly intelligent people in my life open their mouth and say some amazingly ignorant things, but I have to remember that not everyone has lived in the ALI world as I have. Not everyone has adopted or strongly considered having adoption be a part of their lives. However, I feel because I have this understanding (thanks to bloggers like you!) I have a duty to educate and I do, often.

  2. I adore this post. It seems to me that you truly grasp the spirit of openness. May you radiate it to those around you.

    Have the OAB covered this in a roundtable? If not, we should.

  3. I would LOVE to to be able to pass this onto prospective adoptive families. So beautifully written. I have three children via open adoption and we adore our birth families. Thank you for writing.

  4. Wow! This is incredible. Everyone involved or interested in Open Adoption should read this. Wonderful Luna!

  5. I love this! You truly embrace open adoption…your daughter is so blessed!

  6. Beautifully written! Living an open/transparent adoption is truly a life changing process. Our (ours and birthmom) willingness to be open has enabled our child to ask those tough/raw/painful questions because she feels safe. More importantly Sophia has maintained a bond with the woman who gave her life and us the most rare and precious gift, life itself. We have struggled as our young mom has really walked a tough road, but it is truly worth it. I see the very best of Denise in my beautiful girl, how can I not love her? We believe firmly that our child is learning through our example. Promises kept, lives honored, and the journey continues.

  7. This really is a beautiful post. Wonderful!

  8. [...] parent Luna of Life From Here recently wrote a powerful post about what “openness” means to her. Someone suggested that it [...]

  9. Beautiful!! Loved this–Openness is when our oldest daughter’s first family embraces our youngest daughter too. It’s knowing that family ties are built with dedication, commitment and love that extends beyond blood, woven into a rich tapestry displaying many stories, bold and beautiful, heartbreaking and marvelous.

  10. Powerful stuff! Just read in the NYT that children who know their families’ stories are more resilient. I feel that openness in adoption is what makes children more resilient – they have full access to all their stories, from all strands of their various families. Would love to see you continue meditating on openness and touch on the uncomfortable parts of it.

    Its not always easy but always worth it. I resonate with your line about being honest and authentic – and about keeping promises. I can’t imagine living my life as a parent, knowing I blew off a promise to my daughter’s mother and disregarding where and from whom my daughter came from.

    I just spent two days with my daughter’s grandmother – celebrating her 60th birthday. It was a real pleasure to be able and willing to drive 3 hours and spend the night – our first night – at Grandma’s House! And we brought home a kitty that Grandma was allergic to – our daughter’s first pet comes with a great story – and a further connection to her family of origin.

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