A Story of Reunion

It’s always interesting to me when a new family comes to us for assistance with adoption and we ask what they know about adoption, and what they want in an adoption. There are families who have heard all of the horror stories of birth families and there are families who have read every book on Open Adoption and want a full blown relationship with mom because that’s what’s best for child. End of the line is Family is Family, Birth, Adoptive, Step, By Marriage and like everything in life these relationships cannot be controlled. What may start out one way – ends up another.

We have four children by adoption, each with a different level of openness. This weekend we had a reunion after 21 yrs with our twins birth mom. I have been talking with her for over a year now on Facebook. She had a daughter that was 4 when the boys were placed with us that we reunited with a few years ago and this daughter has come and stayed at our home. I have been in contact with their birth father and he was ok with just that and nothing else. There are some paternal siblings that myself and the boys have been in virtual contact. Twenty one years ago next month we were chosen within a 48 hrs period to parent these boys. We knew nothing about them except that they had been born prematurely.  We didn’t care, we were presented and chosen and rented a van to go pick them up 3 hours away. We met with mom for the first time, saw the boys and went to a park to talk. We had lunch at Red Robin’s and drove home just a few hours later with the boys. They were 4 months old.

There was about 6 months to a year of contact after that. We helped her find stable housing, she got a new job. Her first child at the time was living between her and her ex husband. We received cards and letters from her. By two to three years the communication stopped. Phone numbers get disconnected, there are no forwarding addresses. Life happens. Fast forward to now, we met again at a park. We drove 3 hrs to meet with her, she was late and I was worried for my sons that she was not going to show. An hour and a half later than the time we arranged I was able to get in touch with her, drove to her apt and picked her up. This reunion for me was much different than our oldest sons birth mom. I don’t know if it has been life’s circumstances or age (maturity) or just personalities. I felt like we have known each other for years. I did not feel uncomfortable at all. She was very nervous, I could not tell this, it was what she shared with me.  The visit went well, one son did more talking than the other (the quiet one did not initially want to go, he decided at the last min) the one that did most of the talking is the son struggling with addiction, something his birth mother has struggled with for 23 years. She was able to share this with him. She was able to share why she decided on adoption, that it wasn’t an easy decision but it wasn’t hard either knowing that she wasn’t going to have any support from family members even though they told her she would. She was able to tell them that she did feel shame, but never regret and that when people ask family and debbieher how many children she had , she always said 3. She told them that she was happy for them, that they had a family who loves them, and most powerfully that if she hadn’t made the decision for adoption that she knows they would have ended up in the foster care system and she would never know what happened to them. They learned about their family medical history and they were able to ask her questions that they pondered with over the years..Reno point blank no holding back asked her “why did you drink while you were pregnant?”

I could see in their birth mom’s eyes that she was tired, I imagine I would have been exhausted too. She was afraid initially that the boys would be angry with her. They aren’t- not for choosing adoption. I’m not sure what the future brings, I’m not sure who will stay in contact with who. I do know that it was the right time for everyone. I do know that I love this woman for trusting me with her boys. I do know that I love my sons and feel grateful for the opportunity to raise them, and I do know that I am very proud of them for fighting to live that day that they were born even though it was 13 weeks too early.

 

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Do You Really Want to Adopt?

Today is one of my favorite little boys first birthdays..he is the son of one of my favorite families and one of my favorite birth moms. He is cute, bright, healthy and one of the luckiest boys on earth. He has so many people that love him. He is supposed to be here and one day I’m sure will share with us why.

I met his birth mom when she was 5 months pregnant. She was in jail, had been for a month or so and would be for another month. I remember talking with her… sassy, honest and I immediately liked her. It doesn’t matter what the charges were, but I think they were drug related. D had a history of many years of drug use (addiction). She has a daughter who was being raised by another relative but she still had contact with. By the time I met D she had some sobriety under her belt and knew why she needed to do an adoption plan with this baby. I never know for sure how an adoption plan will turn out. I can only use my assessment skills and the “calling” that I feel I have been given. In the end, I am not God. But with D I always felt strongly that she would place. She said it all when she told me ” I don’t know how to love myself right now..how can I possibly care for another human being” She also did not want to risk making the same mistakes she felt she had made with her daughter. Now that she was sober, she wanted to regain some of her trust and respect. She wanted to provide this son with a family who straight out of the box could provide for him unconditionally.
D was open to all types of families, which we thought would make it easy to find for her. What the next few weeks brought though were frustration and made D feel like maybe she wasn’t supposed to follow through with an adoption plan. I think it’s important at this time to disclose the fact that D is a Caucasian woman under 40, we also knew that the father although not involved was also Caucasian. She had a history of methamphetamine use during the first few months of pregnancy but had been testing clean since month 3. Her expenses were low and the adoption costs over all were within budget for most families waiting to adopt.
We initially found a “traditional” couple, no children..who were provided with all of the information about D and her prenatal history. We provided them with our contract and the attorney who would be representing D contract. No surprises, she choose them and that weekend we received communication from them that they had taken the attorneys contract to someone else and felt there were “red flags” in it, could we take D away from that attorney and do the adoption without them? When we responded NO, that D had chosen that attorney, it would be unethical to do such a thing, they posted on a National Adoption Magazine website that the situation may be a scam, that they had matched with this mom and that we would not do anything to help them. Of note on this too is that we had not been contracted by them, we had presented them upfront with no fees involved and that to manipulate a client away from someone they have trusted to help them with one of the most important decisions in a lifetime, would be immoral, unethical and just downright deceitful..was not something we wanted to be part of. That conversation was a good indicator to me that this was not the right family for D or her baby. By the way, there are no “RED FLAGS” in this attorneys contract, and we have done many many successful adoptions with them.
The second family we were to match with D were a same sex male couple who had adopted before. We had matched them with two moms previously who decided to parent, so I can understand some hesitation on their part. Again D chose them and was ready to move forward in the adoption plan..when they decided to withdraw. Their reason….they felt it was too expensive given that she had a drug history. No comment from me….. ok some comment, babies are not priced in adoption. Adoption professional collect fees for services provided – period.
The third couple again was a same sex couple no children both female. All information was provided up front with no application fees, couple was presented and chosen, there was a phone call and then the family decided to back out..it just didn’t feel right to them.
After putting D through the disappointment of choosing three families and having each one of them back out, I turned to a family I knew had wanted to adopt. They were living in a state that I knew as a facilitator I could not work with BUT I also knew how important it was for D to find a family for her son, she had worked so hard on her sobriety and loved this little boy, I had grown to love her. I approached this family and told them about the situation. I knew this family held adoption in their hearts and would want this baby boy, regardless. We talked…I referred them to D’s attorney and they matched. We stepped away as a professional and remained only as a friend.
I watched this family learn to love each other and anticipate the arrival of a brand new life. Last year today he was born. We cried, we cried and we cried. He is beautiful..no flaws.
D has continued to be in recovery since she decided in jail she was going to reclaim her life. This is a completely Open Adoption and D and the adoptive family talk regularly and share pictures on facebook.
Three families backed out on this adoption plan…I know that one year later two of them still have not adopted. We see this daily, people passing on situations because of one thing or another. So I question, are you adopting because you want a family? Because you want to raise children?
Adoption is not about shopping for the best situation, there is no best situation..even those of you who are waiting for the college student who just wants to get on with her life. Because adoption is always a risk, we never know if the placement is going to be successful. We never know if mom is going to go to her appointments, if she will follow through with drug testing, if she is telling us the truth about anything or everything. Adoption is a risk, just like IVF is a risk. You don’t get back the medical fees if it doesn’t work. Adoption is not the same as surrogacy, we can’t make a mom do something, her pregnancy is not for you..adoption is about being gifted a child for whom you get to love and take responsibility for raising, for guiding through life..
Happy Birthday J..we are so grateful you found YOUR family and we are so grateful that we were allowed to be part of it!