I remember the first time I told my parents that I had been corresponding with our daughter’s birth grandma. They were baffled and frightened that she would somehow find her way from California to Illinois and snatch our daughter back. I lightly giggled because I know that this has been a fear of theirs since the beginning.
“Don’t tell the birth mom where you live. She will end up on your doorstep.”
“Don’t let E play outside. Someone will snatch her.”
This is not the way adoption is in today’s world. Just as the fact remains that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes all sides of the triad to raise a child from adoption. When I was able to talk to my parents about the benefits of having Nana B and Papa C in our lives, they immediately stepped down and were able to see things through our daughter’s eyes.
Questions are answered. Medical, familial, general. If I worry about her asthma, I just ask. If I wonder how her four same-aged cousins are doing, I ask. If I am concerned about her birth mom, we talk. Over the past five years, showing them that E is loved by her birth family has been priceless. Our daughter does not wonder who she looks like. She knows what her birth mom looked like as a child her same age. She does not wonder if they love her, she gets gifts on her birthday and Christmas. She does not question what her biological family looks like because she has a shutterfly book that Nana B made her for her first birthday with her entire family in it.
These are gifts I cannot give her. I can love her, raise her, empower her, educate her, give her wings to fly and a safe place to land; but I cannot give her the faces of her past. Her genetics. But by having an open relationship with her birth family, they can. They do.
So what do you do if your family is hesitant to accept your child’s birth family into your future? Talk to them. Show them examples of where open adoption works. Read articles. Reference books. Buy them and hand them out. Let them know that those are your wishes. Adoption is not a taboo topic to be hidden. It is a beautiful dance to be cherished and viewed by all. Talk to them often and openly. Share stories of your child’s birth family. Make them real, likable, and reachable. But most importantly, make sure your family knows that you are keeping the lines of communication open between your family and your child’s birth family because it’s the best thing for your child. One day you will have to look into those beautiful eyes and answer hard questions. If you are armed with not only the answers, but someone to go to when the time comes, your child will feel more secure and realize they are loved by all.
Open adoption does not take away from the adoptive family. It adds to the relationship with your child. It gives more than it takes. It is hard yet beautiful, for everyone. But mostly, it keeps adoption focused on the most important person. Your child.