I haven't written about adoption in a long time. But I still follow so many blogs of people who have or are planning to adopt. I have such a passion for adoption and the way to support all three members of the "triad" (birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adoptee)
Most of you know we adopted our oldest, Colt, in 2008. We are technically in an open relationship with his birthmother, but we haven't heard from N in a long time. She has a daughter that is Owen's age, but we haven't met her or talked to N since she was born. Among several other things, I think this is probably the primary reason for the silence. Though I don't have any proof, I imagine having a new baby 14 months after placing Colt with us meant a rush of emotions. But we remain open and available when she is ready.
I've followed Heather and the Open Adoption Roundtable for a long time, written a few times when the prompts strike me. But, again, it has been a while. But today's prompt spoke to me. It said write about grandparents. That's all. Grandparents in open adoption.
Last week we met with several couples at our church to talk about how to support and minister to families looking to adopt. It was a refreshing conversation, and honestly we hadn't talked that much about adoption or pieces of our stories in a long time.
One of the things that came up was having people in our church family able to speak about different situations: international adoption, fostering, domestic, grandparents role in adoption, etc. Especially with interracial adoption, it seems that we need more and more grandparents speaking about their experience.
I know when we considered adoption, one of the things that weighed on our hearts was how would our parents react? How would they treat our child? We knew WE would be able to love a child that came to us through adoption, but would that be the case with our parents? Adoption was not just a decision for US, but one that truly involved our whole family. We're so close to our parents and sisters, we needed to be assured they would love this child as we would.
Of course, we had no problems. But as we considered what kind of situation we were open to (open vs. closed; race; exposure to drugs or alcohol; special needs; health issues; etc,) we prayerfully considered each scenario with our entire family on our minds. For us, the role of a grandparent was that important.
Today, one of my greatest joys is to see our boys interact and love on their grandparents and great-grandparents. They have unbridled joy and excitement when they talk to them, see them, or stay with them. Their grandparents don't hesitate to watch them, pitch in when they're sick, read to their classes at school, film Christmas programs, and rock them to sleep. They are an extension of my arms, of John's arms. They are a blessing like none other in our lives.
Same for great-grandparents. My grandmother will take my call every day to hear some silly little story about things one of them has said or done. Where others may half-listen or not share my amusement, she wants to hear everything. Every parent needs someone like that in their life - children are meant to be shared!
I'm so, so thankful for the support our parents showed us when we were choosing adoption. Just recently, Colt began asking about who came from who's belly. I knew that the adoption conversation would be just around the corner. While we've celebrated Gotcha Days, been to our agency's Christmas parties, and read books...he still isn't totally "getting it". We talked to each of our parents individually to let them know that he's talking about birth, and that we would start conversations about N. That they didn't need to be nervous or hesitent to mention her name. They all smiled and seemed fine with it...we're so grateful that they are.
Grandparents also played a huge role on N's side, as well. N was living with her grandmother while she was pregnant, and her grandmother had supported her throughout her pregnancy and decision to choose adoption. We heard about her Grandma from the very first phone call. And we had the outstanding privilege to meet her on several occasions.
We first met her the same time we met N: in the hospital. When we walked into the room that day, her Grandmother saw us and immediately told John "the baby looks just like you". And he does. But she broke the ice, helped make us comfortable. She stroked N's hair as she told us how great N had been during labor, how much pain she'd been in the night before. She talked our ear off about the family tree and how proud she was of N and her sister.
She accompanied N out of the hospital the next day. They came by our room, wheeling the little bed with a sleeping Colt on there. N had tears in her eyes, but she smiled. Her grandmother hugged me so tight and asked us both to take good care of him, that he was so loved. She hugged N's shoulders as they left and said "it's hard, but it's the right decision". She wasn't pushy, she wasn't insistent, she was so caring and supportive. I was so grateful that N had her in her life.
A few months later, we traveled to Grandma's house. We visited there in her living room for several hours, N snuggling on Colt and everyone listening to his happy squeals. Grandmother kept the conversation going, making it easier for us to fit in and for N to come out of her shell. It was a great day and we captured lots of pictures of her holding Colt.
Not long after that we received a call from our caseworker at the agency. N's grandma had passed away. She had several health problems and her time had come. I cried and cried after that call. I cried for N. I cried for Colt. I cried for us.
We've seen N one time since her grandma passed. Between her passing, the birth of a new baby, and a marriage I'm sure N is unsure of how to balance an open adoption relationship. Her grandmother was her rock, her support, her guidance. I KNOW she must miss her. We miss her, too. We miss all that she did for Colt, miss her love for him.
I'm so thankful Colt (and Owen) have always been surrounded by such amazing grandparents.