thoughts plus one

As we approach the first anniversary of Baby J’s birth, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what our lives were like this time last year.

It was exciting and filled with anticipation. A baby was soon to be born. We didn’t know for sure if we were about to become parents or not. Though we had been asked five months earlier, we knew anything could happen. Everything could change. Everything would change, somehow.

I am so grateful for the time we shared before the birth in which we got to know K so much better. During that time, we were able to build a relationship based on trust and honesty. We learned to communicate with each other. We genuinely enjoyed each others’ company and found an ease and comfort together.  We shared some wonderful experiences and stories.

All of this helped form a strong foundation for our adoption today.

I know there are some who are strongly against pre-birth matching out of concern that it can be coercive or result in some form of expectation or pressure, whether overt or subtle.

No expectant mother considering placement should feel an obligation to anyone aside from herself and her child. She should feel free to walk away from even the most careful adoption plan and not feel guilty, should she decide to parent after birth. No prospective adoptive parent should feel entitled to another family’s baby unless and until that baby becomes his/her child.

Because we “matched” with K when she was just 17 weeks pregnant, we were very mindful of the risk of manipulation and made every effort to be extremely careful to avoid even the most subtle influence. We didn’t want K to feel like she owed us anything, no matter how long we knew her before birth. We didn’t want K to feel guilty if she changed her mind and decided to parent, even after the baby was born. We repeatedly conveyed to K that we would be happy with whatever she decided, because if she wanted to parent, then that would be in the baby’s best interest too.

We accepted a certain level of risk — emotional and financial — because we decided we didn’t want to be ruled by fear. We decided to open to the possibility of love and grew to love both K and her baby, well before we knew whether her baby would become our child too. We began to see how we could consider each other family. Sure, it was a risk. But we always want the best for the people we love. And that made it easier to put ourselves aside.

We were wholly committed to an ethical, honest and fully open adoption. We did everything we could to ensure that K would feel supported but not influenced in any way. We found a professional counselor outside our agency who specialized in open adoption and support for expectant mothers and birth parents. We moved slowly and waited to discuss details about birth and placement until more than four months after K asked us to parent. We wanted K to have the time and space to reconsider instead of feeling attached or committed in any way. We strongly encouraged independent counseling. We urged K to take time alone with the baby and provided a chance to revisit her decision again after birth. K was advised that, if she still wanted to place after birth, she would not sign anything until she was fully recovered in mind and body. In fact, K didn’t sign her relinquishment of parental rights until three weeks after Baby J was born. (That last fact freaked a lot of people out, considering that Baby J came home with us on day two, but we were okay with it.)

K has said that getting to know us so well before giving birth helped ease her mind and gave her confidence in her decision. Seeing us in our home and out in the world enabled K to picture what life for her baby might be like. We built a trust and formed a bond that will serve as a strong foundation throughout our adoption. Of course this would not make separation any easier. Nothing could do that. But K said she felt “relieved,” believing she had chosen the “right” parents for her child and the right situation for her. That relief freed up her energy and allowed K to continue her pregnancy without the stress that had drained her for weeks before.

At some points throughout our journey, especially before we met K, I wondered about a last minute placement and found myself thinking that might be easier — i.e., no time to plan or get too attached, no time to get emotionally invested. But that’s not how it works.

Looking back nearly a year later, I am so grateful for the opportunity we had to begin building the relationship at the root of our open adoption before there was even a Baby J.

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~ by luna on May 27, 2010.

14 Responses to “thoughts plus one”

  1. When you get around to writing your book, I’ll order on e of the first advanced copies. You write about adoption so beautifully.

  2. All of this just warms my heart…thinking of all of you during this special time!

  3. You have really changed my mind (opening my eyes) when it comes to open adoption situations. And I thank you for this, as well as K.

  4. we are putting ourselves out there right now, and we are happy now, which relaly helps, we have our child and we will be happy even if we don’t adopt again. Still putting yourselves out there to attaching and possibly losing is hard.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. As we begin to seriously consider this route to family-building, you are a wonderful guide. I agree with Kymberli that you have a great book in you.

  6. You and your journey are seriously an inspiration. If I ever did make the decision to adopt I truly hope that I can deal with it all as gracefully and beautiful as you and your family have.

  7. I really envy the relationship you have with K. She seems so down to earth and wise beyond her years. Your story really serves as an example of a constructive open adoption. It has helped me understand truly what it is all about.

  8. You have auch a wonderful heart, Luna. Every post from you is a treasure. Sign me up for that book too. ; )

  9. What a great post. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. I just read a comment thread the other day about mothers being coerced into placing their children. It was comment after comment from birthmothers about how unethical domestic infant adoption could be… and to be honest I started to feel guilty and doubtful about our decision to adopt domestically. But reading this article has eased my mind. I pray that our expectant mother (whoever she may be) will have the freedom to make the choice with out feeling “forced” to place. I know I’ll come across just as many negative stories as positive but thank goodness I found yours. I really needed the encouragement that things can work out… if we truly have our child’s best interest at heart!

  12. […] child-centered adoption social worker, she counseled both expectant and prospective parents about ethical open adoption and provided extensive support before, during and after potential placement. She did […]

  13. […] Thoughts Plus One (May). Reflecting on life just before our daughter was born, before she was ours, one year later, […]

  14. […] a couple of signs. Her first birthday was an amazing day, as was the whole weekend. We remembered our time with Kaye before Baby Jaye was born, grateful for the chance to build a strong foundation for our future […]

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