Originally printed in the AFTH Summer 2010 Newsletter
I wanted to let you know I had a nice time at the picnic. I was happy to see Cole and that he is doing well. The family was really nice. Also, I was happy I got to talk to some other birth moms before I left the picnic. It was nice I got their stories. I just thought I was the only one and it helped to know I wasn’t. Thank you for the experience to get to know other moms like myself and have a better understanding of what I did for this family.
When asked what open adoption means, one adoptive mother shares what it means to her:
Open adoption allowed us to be a family and it has changed our lives completely. I hardly remember what it was like before Zoe came along! Reunions with Sarah (and Zoe’s birthdad, Chris) are very important. We encourage Zoe to be in contact with Sarah often, and we send her pictures via Facebook very frequently (every few days). Zoe will ask to call Sarah sometimes – like one day when she came home from school with a question about her eye and hair color, we just picked-up the phone and asked Sarah! She also likes to send text messages to Sarah. She loves to have open access to her birthparents that way. She really looks forward to seeing Sarah – usually 2 or 3 times a year. Most recently, Sarah took her creek stomping at a local park. It was an easy, inexpensive thing for them to do together and they both had a blast!
Sarah seems a little nervous about seeing Zoe sometimes. Zoe is not nervous at all about seeing Sarah, and she just thinks of her as her birthmom, as if everyone has a birthmom that is different from their “real” mom, too. She absolutely LOVES Sarah, though she has a hard time explaining how she loves Sarah. She says that she loves Sarah differently than she loves me, but she can’t really explain how its different. We talk about Sarah and Chris at home all the time – there is no secret and no hesitation to talk about them. Zoe likes to share things with them as much as possible.
When Chris comes to see her, she climbs all over him. He usually brings her a small gift back when he goes on business trips, and those gifts are very special to Zoe. Pretty much any gift from Sarah or Chris is very special to her! When Sarah visits, I try to give them some space. I want for Zoe to be able to talk with Sarah openly and ask anything she wants without worrying about it hurting my feelings. Zoe loves to show Sarah her room and her toys and ask her to read books so we are so glad we can do visits in our home or at a park.
I’ve known Sarah since she was 8 years old, so now that Zoe is almost 7, I’m seeing many similarities between them. Sometimes when Zoe reads, she has the EXACT same look on her face as Sarah did when she was little. I took a picture to send to Sarah so she could see how much Zoe looked like her in that moment. Zoe and Sarah also both love cats (can that be genetic?) and that’s a really cool thing for them to have in common.
Adoption to Zoe is just normal – there is no other way to describe it. She went through a short period when she thought everyone was adopted, and now she understands that is not the case. She talks about her experience and her birthparents openly and regularly. She has pictures of Sarah hanging in her room and we have pictures of the two of them together hanging in our living room.
Sarah always thanks us for taking care of Zoe. It’s really funny to us, because while she thinks we’re doing her this huge, life-long favor of raising the child she couldn’t care for, we see it so differently. She trusted us with the most precious thing in her life and allowed us to be parents. She thinks she can never repay us for what we do, but we know for certain that we can never repay her for what she’s done for us.