Open Adoption (and my flip-side)

I have a weird relationship with adoption. I lived all my growing up years with my biological mother and biological older sister. Yet, only months into my infancy, my biological father went away. At the age of 11 months, my mother married my uncle, brother to my bio dad. He raised us girls as his own, and when I was around 10, he adopted us both. By that time, we had one younger brother and another on the way.

My parents clearly had an adversarial relationship with my bio dad, as I called him. This was back when parents did not speak openly of adult matters in front of children, so I did not know the nature of the issues. I did not know my bio dad was my father until the time our stepfather (Dad) adopted us.

About the time they told us about Mom’s divorce and the impending adoption, my bio dad called us on the phone. I now realize that it was probably a part of the agreement that he would be allowed to speak with us before the adoption. He spoke in what seemed to me an overly familiar way, coming out of the blue as it did. He mentioned some nickname he used to call me. He told me how he loved me. He told me that “letting me go” was the hardest thing he ever did.

Now an adoptivee parent myself, I can see that these are loving things for a birth parent to say, and I truly appreciate the love the birth families of our children have shown to them. But back then, it was confusing as heck. I barely knew this man, although his role in my family was that of an uncle. He lived 2000 miles away, and I only recall seeing him once during my childhood, though it may have been more often.

I mention all of this for one reason: This is why open adoption was created. To be fair, I was only “half” adopted, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be adopted and separated from both your biological parents. Our kids have known from the start that they have other mothers, other fathers, other families who love and cherish them. They know that early in their lives, someone made the hard decision to let someone else rear them. They never got that call out of the blue from a parent they did not know existed. And for that, I am so grateful.