12 Pictures of Open Adoption That Will Make Your Heart Sing

Our relationship with our daughter's birth mom has been a blessing for everyone involved.

Alan Atchison February 12, 2018

My wife Tara and I got the call on September 22, 2011 as we drove home from our match meeting with Chelsea, eight months pregnant and intending to make an adoption plan for her baby girl. “Chelsea wants to move forward with you both,” our social worker said, though it was her next words that truly floored us. “She told me the baby was bouncing and kicking during the meeting harder than ever before – she believes it’s a sign this is also what the baby wants.”

Eleven days later, we sat with Chelsea in the hospital as she cradled her sleeping one-day-old infant. We collaborated with her to name the baby Kaylin Beth. Overcome by joyful anguish, Tara and I fell in love with our new daughter, fully cognizant of the fact that our parenthood had arrived at the ultimate cost. As we left the hospital, none of us knew exactly what to expect or how the back-and-forth dynamics would play out. We’d agreed on an open adoption from the start, but this was new and frightening territory for all of us.

As it turned out, our relationship with Chelsea and her family quickly blossomed into a permanent bond of mutual love, respect, trust, and admiration—a relationship that has provided Kaylin love and support from all sides. Here are 12 highlights from our times together over the past six years.

The Beginning
1. The Beginning

A month after Chelsea charged us with the awesome and humbling responsibility of becoming her daughter’s mom and dad, Tara and I (along with our parents) spent a day at her home—the first post-placement step in the joining of our two families—as a wide-eyed baby Kaylin took it all in.

First Steps
2. First Steps

Kaylin began walking shortly after her first birthday, but was quite tentative at first. Here she is (clutching an empty soda bottle for some reason) having excitedly walked across the room to sit in her birth mother’s lap. My dog, whose paws are visible on the left, was not impressed.

Wrestling Buddy
3. Wrestling Buddy

As time went on, Kaylin realized Chelsea (a former gymnast) would make a great wrestling partner and frequently attempted sneak attacks. Apparently Chelsea was ready for this one and turned it into an airplane ride.

4. Twinsies

We love how Chelsea and Kaylin share extremely similar features. After this picture was taken, Chelsea’s mother turned it into an ornament, which quickly became Kaylin’s favorite—it’s the first one she hangs on the Christmas tree and she proudly displays it on her dresser the rest of the year.

A Lap for a Nap
5. A Lap for a Nap

By the time Kaylin was a toddler, she knew exactly who was who in her life and had developed a deep comfort level with Chelsea. On this day, our restaurant trip conflicted with Kaylin’s nap schedule, so she wasted no time in creating a makeshift pillow out of her birth mother’s legs.

Spa Treatment
6. Spa Treatment

Kaylin begins to zone out as she receives a foot massage from her grandfather, “Pappy” and a delicate face-tracing from her grandmother, “Mammy.”

Four Beautiful Generations
7. Four Beautiful Generations

Kaylin stands with the three inspirational women who came before her—three women who made the self-sacrificial decision to embrace Tara and I as family instead of viewing us with scorn or skepticism. Simply put, they mean everything to us. From L to R: Kaylin’s grandmother, Robin (aka Mammy); her great-grandmother, Bobbie (aka Grumma); and her birth mother, Chelsea. (Sadly, we lost Grumma in early 2016, but we’re so thankful we all got the chance to know and love her for four years.)

Going for a Ride
9. Going for a Ride

Kaylin affectionately gazes up at Chelsea as they prepare to take a train ride on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ.

Ready, Set, HUG
10. Ready, Set, HUG

Kaylin shares an intimate moment with one of her favorite people in the whole world.

Chelsea’s Wedding
11. Chelsea’s Wedding

An excited and well-practiced four-year-old Kaylin performs the Flower Girl duties at her birth mother’s wedding with pinpoint precision. Pretty sure she was also trying to steal the show.

Paying it Forward
12. Paying it Forward

A group shot (including Chelsea’s husband, Ben on the far right) right after we’d all spoken on a panel discussion about our open adoption relationship in front of a room full of prospective adoptive parents.

Zoo Trip
13. Zoo Trip

Kaylin got her face painted and was able to spend the day with some of her favorite people (including her new baby sister, Julia, who Tara and I adopted in 2016) at one of her favorite places—the Philadelphia Zoo!

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Alan Atchison

 Alan Atchison is a Senior Publications Editor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also earned a Masters of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing. In addition to his day job, he writes fiction and is currently pursuing publication. He is a strong advocate for open adoption and is an outgoing introvert, which means he'll be the life of the party if necessary, but would rather be home with a book. He lives in Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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