Open Adoption is Challenging

And I’m so glad we did it.

I often see an awkward twitch in people's smiles when my family's open relationship with our son's birth mom comes up. It's as if their minds immediately start racing with objections and questions spilling over each other like a messy load of laundry in need of washing and sorting. I teeter between leaving everything unanswered (do I really need to explain our family to anyone?) and filling them in completely on why I think open adoption, when available, is so important.

It totally makes sense—when everyone has heard a story about the horrible adoption-gone-wrong experience of their sister’s college roommate's dog walker's best friend—that people feel concerned. They're worried about us exposing not only ourselves but also our adopted child and our biological children to a "birth mom.” I find it crazy, in a world where people are either super-concerned about a woman's right to choose or the unborn's right to life, that a woman who has made the choice to give birth and have her child adopted by another family is expected to just swallow, pack up her hospital bags, and move on.

A little over a year into this relationship, I can’t say that our open adoption has been tidy, easy to understand, or ready to swallow in bite-size pieces. But, then again, no adoption of any kind is like that (nor is the rest of life). All adoptions involve tricky dynamics and tragic circumstances. It feels worth some serious navigating to help my son find his permanent place in this world.

It seems to me that giving our son the truth about where he came from, even though parts of it will be hard to sort through, will allow him the chance to work through it and to have his heart be in touch with his own story. I’m confident that along the way we will need a hefty dose of wisdom and advice from those who have gone before us.

But probably more than any of the above, I want my son’s birth mother to be honored and respected and loved by our family both for bringing him into this world and as a person of value in her own right. There are many things I know about her and her journey with our boy that are hard for me to process. There’s only so much that I’ll know and be able to understand. But my love for her as a fellow mother of the same precious son, as a fellow woman who has experienced her own pain and tragedy, and as a fellow child of God is a deep, profound love. And it teaches me about grace—something I desperately need myself. I hope that sharing this love with our son, regardless of the obstacles both small and ferocious that we will surely face, will show him who he is and how valuable and precious his life is to all of us.

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