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Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and that November 2st is National Adoption Day? Open adoption is a lot like marriage, and we’ve much to celebrate!
Both of our daughters are adopted. When we submitted our first adoption application, on July 30, 2008, we knew that we wanted to keep the door open for our child(ren) to have a relationship with her natural parents. We didn’t know that we’d receive a call just 16 days later, and learn that a family member was expecting and wanted to make an adoption plan or that we’d be asked to consider adopting the baby. Our decision to pursue open adoption became even more important. When we were asked by a family member to consider adopting our youngest daughter, we knew we wanted to keep it open again.
Our committment to keep the door open for our children to have a relationship with their natural parents has not been easy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s put us through the wringer.
Our youngest daughter was born on April 12, 2013. The hospital where she was born graciously provided me a room and I stayed with her. We’d met her natural father before she was born, and he said he agreed with the adoption plan. I invited him to the hospital to meet her after she was born. We spent Mother’s Day with his Mom and Grandma. We’d taken her to see his family for Christmas on December 26, 2013. He hugged me and thanked me for loving her as my own. He shook my husband’s hand and thanked him.
We learned, from our attorney, on February 14, 2014 that he had filed for custody and was trying to prevent us from finalizing the adoption.
We spent the next 44 days feeling like our heart was being ripped from our chest repeatedly. We cried countless tears. We went to court multiple times. We had to tell our older two children that we might lose their sister.
On March 30, 2014, just 13 days before her first birthday, his legal rights were terminated and we were allowed to finalize our adoption.
When he reached out to us a few months later to ask if he could see her, we had a tough decision to make. The fact that his legal right to make parenting decisions was terminated did not negate the fact that he loves her. Our hearts were hurt, but it wasn’t about us. It’s about her. So, we took her to see him.
It’s been 601 days since the judge granted us the right to be the family we had been for the first 352 days of her life. We continue to occasionally take her to see him. I still don’t go anywhere without a copy of her adoption papers.
I said it four years ago, and I believe it all the more today. Open adoption is a lot like marriage… it is a lifetime commitment. You’ve no idea what it will look like when you enter it. You have to learn to navigate the relationship, with all it’s twists and turns, as you go along.
At times, you’ll be silent when you should be pouring your heart out. Other times the words will pour forth, when you should be silent.
At times you will be misunderstood. Other times, you will misunderstand.
At times, reality will be far more brutal than you’d imagined it could be. Other times, it will be far more beautiful than anything you could have dreamed.
At times, your heart will ache with fear. Other times, your heart will burst with joy.
We continue to maintain a degree of openness that surprises many. In August, we took our youngest to see her natural father for his birthday. Just two weeks ago, our oldest daughter’s natural father got married. Our entire family went to the wedding, and she was able to see her natural father and two of her natural sisters.
Open adoption isn’t always comfortable. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always neat.
It is one of the most emotionally exhausting, and emotionally rewarding, commitments we’ve ever made.
And as long as it remains healthy for our girls, we’ll continue to make the effort. Because it’s worth it. They are worth it.
Celebrate National Adoption Day with more mommy’s on Simalac’s Facebook Page!
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