When my husband and I learned we’d been matched with a birth family, we knew it would be an open adoption – that we’d meet our daughter’s birth family and that we’d continue to have contact with them after her birth. And while I accepted the concept of open adoption, secretly I imagined that as soon as she was in my arms, I’d take our baby and run, crying out “She’s mine now!” I never could have imagined the way things would actually turn out.
Our newborn daughter, though tiny, was instantly a mighty force, like gravity bringing us and holding us all together. Birth family and adoptive family bonded for a lifetime. And as we connected, I felt an unacknowledged fear begin to subside. My initial urge to flee had come from the fear that with an open adoption, our birth mother might think our daughter was still her daughter or that I could never really feel like her mom if her birth family was always in the background. That I ever felt that way seems so strange to me now.
I came to see very quickly that there is more than enough room for all of us to love our daughter. And when I say “our” daughter I mean that she belongs to all of us: all of her birth family, all of her adoptive family. When I thought about all the love my daughter would be receiving, I just couldn’t stay frightened or feel threatened. From the moment I held my daughter, I became her mom, and she will always be her birth mom’s daughter, too. We both have very important places in her life.
As I’ve said before, every adoption story is unique. I know not all adoptive families are as lucky as we have been. Our experience has been amazing. It could not have been so wonderful though, had I not learned an important lesson: that a great open adoption has to begin with an open heart.
What has been your experience with open adoption?