It’s an odd feeling, to be able to watch your child grow but only through the perspective of somebody else. I knew when I placed my son six years ago that I would see him through the eyes of his parents, but I also knew that meant I would be seeing him in a fantastic light.
While there are different “pros” and “cons” to adoption, one “con” for me has always been that I’ve missed the moments. I’ve missed Christmases, some birthdays, his first day of school. I don’t even know his friends’ names. On top of the big things, I didn’t realize how painful it would be to miss the little things. I am blessed; my adoption is about as open as they come. Even when they were living across the country, I received too many photos and updates to count. But there are a few photos, or moments, I wish I had of him.
1 – Maternity Pictures. I was having a stressful time in my life when I was pregnant. But one thing I regret is not appreciating the pregnancy enough. Growing a human being is spectacular. To have the ability to create life is something that seems so common that I think we forget how amazing it is, especially when it’s the cause of stress. However, I wish I had documented it a little bit better. I have two pictures of my pregnancy with him and I will never get another chance to see how I was back then.
2 – His “Firsts.” His first steps, his first messy meal, his first playdate, or first time down the slide. The firsts are the most painful to miss. Perhaps adoption will be easier when he’s older and I miss his first date—or perhaps I’ll be reminded of what it was like the first year of his life.
3 – Me With Him. Above all else, I love pictures of us together. Those moments mean the world to me and seeing them in print is irreplaceable. I love looking at the pictures I have and remembering how I felt in that moment. It brings back the memories of the day and the time we spent together. For a moment, I can just feel happiness. Any stress, any fears, anything besides joy is stripped away and I can look at us together and know that the adoption has worked out more beautifully than I could have imagined.
I can’t speak for every birth mother. Some receive only a select few pictures a year, so I have been lucky that my son’s life has been so well documented and shared with me. Some of my favorites include things like holidays, birthdays, a trip to the dentist, becoming a big brother, wearing a cute new hat from Aunt Jane, family pictures, etc. These are things I have received and I have loved. I just love to see him growing, living, happy and healthy. I love to see him.
With technology we have the option to send a quick picture via text while we’re out on a walk or at the park or playing in the family room, and it can be crucial to some birth mothers’ healing process to receive pictures of these simple moments. It can help solidify the decision to place.
I would like to extend a challenge to all adoptive parents involved in open adoptions: Send a random picture today.
Even if it’s just your child taking a nap, doing his/her homework, making a funny face. Anything. It could make your child’s birth mother’s day. Birth mothers, thank the adoptive parents for the level of openness they allow. People love to be appreciated, so we should let them know we appreciate what a great job they’re doing as parents to the child we placed with them.