Adop­tion has many ben­e­fits

Rais­ing Austin

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Con­tin­ued from

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

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