Adoption has many benefits
the other and wondering how we were measuring up to expectations. Navigating the waters of an open adoption, in which the birth family remains involved in the child’s life, can seem like a treacherous journey at times.
On the other hand, it is a journey that is worth the effort, as research shows that open adoption is best for all members of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee). Birth parents report less grief, regret or worry; adoptees benefit from having access to biological relatives, medical information and the history of their biological family; and adoptive parents report greater satisfaction with the adoption process when there is openness with birth families.
We adopted our daughter through a semiopen adoption, where we met her birth family but do not have continued contact, which was the birth family’s choice. People often express curiosity about them, especially when they look at my child and notice interesting features, like her unique curly hair. Some questions come gently, and others sting (“What’s she mixed with?” or “Why did her real mom give her up?”). Other people have told me that our situation seems ideal, that we got the child without the relatives (“baggage”) that sometimes come along in the adoption process.
I don’t agree. I cannot think of a day that has passed in almost three years when I haven’t thought about my daughter’s birth family, specifically her birth mom. I feel a strong bond with this woman who carried my child into the world, and I have been surprised by the grief I feel that she is not in our lives. When Bell does something amazing or new, I find myself wanting to call and tell her, “Look what we did together! Look at this amazing child.” She and I are not in competition for Bell’s love. We just have different jobs.
Do I wish I could have had both jobs, the carrying her and the caring for her? Sure. I didn’t anticipate the jealousy I have felt over those nine months Bell spent in the womb of another mother. I wish I could have spent them with her, feeling her move around in my belly, letting her mop of hair give me acid reflux and being the one to push her into the morning light. But if it had been me, she wouldn’t be who she is, which is absolutely perfect in my eyes.
The thing I have realized after being an adop- tive mom for almost three years is that regardless of how much you know the baby is yours, you also know that she has another mom and dad, too. And it is not a bad thing. Because these other parents gave her life, and I have felt grateful for them every single day I have had with my child. An adoptive family is different than a biological family, no matter how much uninformed people try to make it the same. My child doesn’t have two parents; she has four, and I want her to know about all of them because it is part of her story. It is true what they say — the birth parents come to live in your home, too, but the thing that has surprised me is that I don’t mind it