Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Open

A blog I follow, Portrait of an Adoption, is doing a 30 day series of guest posts in honor of national adoption month. It's a great series and I recommend checking it out. Yesterday's post, Real Life, Not the TV Version, was especially meaningful to me. It was written by an adult adoptee who connected with her birth mother several years ago and has had a relationship with her since then that has helped her to fully understand who she is.

The reason it is meaningful to me is because it verifies our decision to go with a semi-open adoption, so that our daughter can have contact with her birth family if she chooses to do so in her own time. Before we entered the world of adoption I had several of the same questions that strangers and even close family and friends continue to ask me now. I often get asked if I feel threatened by the potential for Bean's family to be involved in our lives some day. Do they have any rights? Won't it be confusing for Bean to have two mothers? Am I scared that her birth mother will try to be too involved?

I can't deny asking these same questions and thinking about them often, especially before we learned about the realities of adoption.

Even now, even with knowing way more about adoption, the thought of Bean calling anyone other than me mommy brings tears to my eyes immediately. Maybe I'm not strong enough, but no matter what I learn about reality versus fiction in adoption, this thought will always make me teary-eyed.  That's why the latest post is so meaningful for me. It reminds me that this is an irrational fear. It's not based on reality and I need to let it go. I am her mommy, I always will be.

Mommy is the one who wakes up with you at night, eases your fears about monsters, rocks with you for hours when you have a bad day, makes sure you have a balanced meal every single meal of every single day, and frets over the details of how to transition from the crib to the bed. As Bean grows up with us, I continue to grow and learn what being a mommy is all about. Her birth mother gave me the gift of being a mommy. She will be Bean's birth mother forever, I will be her mommy. I have to have faith that my daughter will know that. Hearing this from an adoptee is incredibly reassuring.

Do I worry about it being confusing for Bean? Yes. Even though she knows she is adopted and knows her birth parent's names and has a picture of them on her wall, I know that some day it will confuse her in so many ways regardless of what we do. She'll probably go through a period where she questions her existence, questions why she was adopted and not kept by her biological parents. We'll do our best to help her understand and come to terms with her story - she'll question it and it will confuse her.

But as this guest post says, and confirms for me again, people need to know where they come from and it doesn't mean they question who their mommy is. There's a strong biological pull that can't be denied. As she says, there are people connected to adopted children other than their adoptive families. The need to find the truth in one's self is critical for most people. Not all people - I know some adult adoptees who don't feel the need to know. But most do, and once they do they feel whole and right, and often develop healthy relationships with their birth families. I am happy that we have a semi-open adoption with Bean's birth family. For as confusing as it may be for her some day, she'll have answers to her past. She'll be able to more easily find out her truths, to know where her personality comes from. As the author says, to understand fully who she is.

Am I scared her birth mother will try to be too involved? No, not at all. She's shown incredible grace in leaving us to be a family. I am not worried about that. In countless adoption stories I hear that birth mothers only want the best for their children. They don't want to intrude, it's usually the other way around where the adopted child or adoptive parents ask for more involvement. And it is often too difficult and emotionally painful for birth mothers to be overly involved. I'm not worried about that at all. In my mind, Bean's birth family is part of our extended family now and forever.

Do they have any rights? Legally, no. But emotionally and physically, yes they do in my mind. I may be Bean's mommy and fret over every single little detail of her life. But her birth mother and father worry about her every day too, probably more than I will ever know. They are the people who my daughter is biologically connected to. They may not have legal rights to her, but they have a connection to her and that's stronger than legal ties.

Just writing this is emotional for me, as I'm sure it was and is for the authors of all the guest posts on the Portrait of an Adoption series. My daughter is a strong person. She'll want to know everything. I'm pretty sure that in 30 years from now she'll be writing one of these blog posts. The thought of it all still makes my stomach hurt a little, but the more I talk about it and read about it, the more I have faith that it's all in her best interest. Being educated on reality versus fiction in adoption is really important for everyone involved in it. Check out the Portraits series and follow them on FB if you can. For my daughter's sake.

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