In honor of Mother’s Day and Birth Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about our open adoption. Open Adoptions have a lot of stigmas and questions around them, and so I think it is important to address some of the questions that we get asked daily.
Now, I know you all are wondering where Tyce gets his good looks! One of the most common questions we get asked is if we have an open adoption. Then, it is followed by the question, “Isn’t that hard?” or some comment about why the person talking could never do something like that. Pamela, Tyce’s birth mom, gave me permission to share some pictures of our journey, and so I thought this would be the perfect space to give some insight on why an open adoption is perfect for us!
A lot of this is really personal to me and my family, but I feel it is important to share in order to understand why open adoption is an amazing possibility! I would also never share any of this, unless I had permission from Tyce’s birth family.I want to make sure it’s clear I am not sharing this on a whim.
When Matt and I decided to adopt, we discussed and agreed that an open adoption was really important for us. On the surface it seems really daunting, but it really isn’t. I personally Love it! I actually hate that we are in Utah and Pamela and Jibon are in Arkansas. And I look forward to visiting them in the future.
Some of the immediate blessings of an open adoption are:
- I get to text Pamela whenever I need, to ask her questions pertaining to Tyce’s health, personality, growth patterns ect.
- I get to learn more about Tyce’s heritage.
- And one of the biggest ones is we are able to extend our family, not just by one, but by many! (I went to start counting, but the number just kept going up! and so I gave up)
Because of the fast moving pace of our adoption, we weren’t able to meet or talk to Pamela or Jibon (his birth parents) before Tyce joined the world. I had created a little profile on my family, that was only two pages long and on a Word document, which was all the information they had on us.
Tyce was born several weeks early and so he was immediately flown to Little Rock to the children’s hospital there. As a result, Pamela and Jibon never got a chance to really meet him.
Me, my dad and Taelynn flew to Kansas City to meet my Aunt Dana and then we drove to a cute little city in Arkansas to pick up Pamela and Jibon and then continue onto Little Rock, so we could all “meet” him together.
I’ll be honest, I was completely terrified. I was so scared that they would look at me and see me with another baby and completely change their minds. I didn’t know how I was supposed to approach them. Do I give them a hug? Shake their hand? My mind was going a mile a minute. BUT, when Pamela opened the door and I had a wave of love come over me. I quickly learned, they were as nervous as me.
We loaded up in the car and drove the last three hours to Little Rock, where Tyce was. (He was the lucky one and got to ride in a helicopter.)
Let’s get real for a second, it takes a strong woman to give birth and then jump in the car, with no sleep, and drive 3 hours! I was in awe the entire time. I was torn between wanting to ask a million questions, but then also letting Pamela and Jibon sleep. (SORRY I’M A TALKER, PAMELA! You probably thought I was a crazy person!)
When we got to the hospital, it got really complicated because the staff at the front desk had a hard time comprehending that an adoptive mom and a birth mom were there together. Eventually, we got ahold of the social worker from the hospital and we started making some progress to see our sweet baby.
After who knows how long, we were invited into the NICU to see Tyce. Pamela had me go first. It was the kindest gesture from her! She still had some paperwork to fill out and she didn’t want me to wait. But, I thought it was important to let her hold him first and change his first diaper. It sounds silly, but that was her right. Tyce was hers first.
I have engrained in my memory the sweet way she looked at him. Only a mother can look at their child in that way. It was full of love and caring. Make no mistake about it, she loves Tyce. That is one stigma I want to throw out the window. A birth mother is still a mother filled with love.
We were quite the sight for all the nurses and staff. We were in an open area where the NICU beds are all in a row, so basically everyone could see us trying to figure out our new roles. There is a lot of emotions at this time. It was hard to figure out a way to make time slow down so we could all delve into this moment, while still trying to figure out the complications of paperwork. I don’t have much more that I want to share on this experience.
At some point during this time, I asked Pamela if I had her approval to breastfeed Tyce. It was really important to me that she gave me her blessing. The most reassuring thing was when she gave me a big smile and said, “yes.”
Eventually, we parted for the day so that everyone could get some rest. Pamela and Jibon went with my aunt and dad back to a hotel to sleep.
Matt flew in early the next morning. I was so beyond grateful he would have a chance to meet Pamela and Jibon. My dad had to be back in Kansas City to catch his returning flight that day, so we didn’t have much time.
BUT, we will have a reunion in person one day.
OPEN ADOPTION STIGMAS
Open adoption is a lot more common now than it used to be, and I LOVE THAT! The term “open adoption” is different for every situation, but basically it means you have open contact. For some it means sending picture a few times a year, where for others, it means frequent get togethers. That is something you decide between families. ***Keep in mind every situation is different!***
For us, we have a pretty open adoption. Obviously, there is a distance barrier, but we text often with pictures and life events. We also are beyond lucky to have a great relationship with two of Tyce’s biological siblings that were also adopted, but I want to respect their privacy so I won’t go into much more than that.
One of the big questions I get asked is if I feel “threatened” as a mom. I can honestly say, I have never once felt threatened. Pamela makes me feel so confident in my ability to parent Tyce because of the way she treats me. I have never felt like it was a competition for Tyce’s love. Yes, he is still a baby, but I don’t see that changing. We both have different roles in Tyce’s life and both roles are extremely important.
I remember one moment, as I was preparing to get a picture of something Tyce was doing, I mentioned that I was trying to get the picture for Pamela. The person I was with gave me a weird look and asked me “why?” The truth is, I get excited to share things with her. How many people can say that they have someone that is just as excited to see your child’s accomplishments as you? I can send Pamela endless pictures and videos and stories without her getting annoyed about my “bragging.” (No, grandmas don’t count.)
I understand why the natural tendency is to feel jealous or threatened. Before going through this experience, I would have thought that is how I would feel. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. I think what helped me the most was putting myself in her shoes.
Again, I can only speak of my experience.
I also get asked if having an open adoption will confuse Tyce in the future. I actually believe it will do the opposite. I’m not trying to hide Tyce’s story from him. I want him to know his heritage and where he came from. It is part of his identity.
What a joy that he will never have to question where he is from and who he is. He now can see that he has a huge army of people surrounding him that love him. My favorite part is, the openness doesn’t just include Tyce, but all of us! One of Tyce’s biological brothers, adoptive mom (that’s complicated to explain) recently told me how her daughter was so excited that I also had a daughter because she has always wanted a sister, and now she has some. We are all connected because of Pamela and Jibon and these precious children.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, PAMELA!!!
Feel free to message me if you have more questions about how open adoption works, or just adoption questions in general. I will answer them the best I can.