Last weekend my son turned thirty-three.* (He's grown a fair bit since this photo was taken!) We marked the day with the usual festivities including ice cream cake, candles to blow out, voices raised in off-key song. Sounds pretty typical but it was far from routine. Around the table sat his wife, his young son, his sister and her husband and myself and... his birth mother, her mom, and her sister. All the people he loved most in the world were there. Adoption had brought us together. Love gathered us as one to celebrate and be a part of his life. He was visibly moved by the fact that we were all present.
We, the members of both his birth family and his adoptive family joined to be his FAMILY and together we love our son. This love for him motivates us to welcome and value one another. We do not ask him to choose which family is "real." Nor do we demand loyalty to one and not the other. He needs us all. He values us all. Because of that truth, we all value one another.
His adoption which occurred in the 1980s was originally "closed" until he reached nineteen. Because my son is an adult, admittedly, this is easier. Fewer fears undermine our commitment to being "open." Even at the time that his mom first reached out to him, his Dad and I recognized how important these relationships were to our son, to his happiness and to his mental as well as physical health. As parents who loved our son deeply, we grabbed the opportunity to embrace this healing reconnection with his birth mother. We have never regretted it. Over the years we have built a comfortable, welcoming relationship and we all have benefitted.
Here are a few questions to consider regarding your own family. (I encourage you to read Lori Holden's landmark book, The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole. If you want to know more about this wonderful book, we have reviewed it in the Suggested Reading List tab on this website.)
How might your family benefit from more openness?
Who will benefit the most?
What fears come up and how do you resolve them?
What boundaries might serve you?
How can you lay the groundwork for the relationships to evolve over time?
How will you prepare your child?
*[ctt template="7" link="f1eJO" via="yes" ][ctt template="7" link="a880t" via="yes" ]Birthdays can trigger adoptees. Many (most?) adoptees find the day fraught with ambiguity. Birthdays have an undeniable connection to their first mother. Thus, evokes both the joy of celebrating another year paired with the awareness of their lost first family. This dueling set of emotions can make this day challenging for adoptees whatever their age[/ctt].[/ctt]