My son’s birth mother and I have a pretty great relationship. We don’t talk every day or always know exactly what’s going on in each other’s lives. But we do talk, we do text, and we do get together. We love each other, and it’s sincere, which is partially why it’s okay that we aren’t in contact everyday. I used to try to be sensitive to her and tried to remember to send a text after the doctor’s appointments with information, etc. But now? I don’t even think about it. I just do it. It’s natural to want to tell her. She’s just kind of on my mental list of People We Love to Send News To.
People seem to be continually in shock by how close we are. I get it. But since it’s been such a natural friendship, part of me is shocked when they are shocked. So how did we get to be here? Well, my parents instilled some pretty great life lessons that seem really appropriate for adoption too.
- Think of Others Before Yourself. We try not to be selfish, but sometimes we just are. But trust me, when we think of others first, we are happier. I tried to think of how Lindsey might feel, and that became an important part of our decision making. I know Lindsey often thought of us before herself. We both took time to think of each other, try to see things from each other’s point of view. It’s amazing what happens when others feel like you understand. . . or are at least trying to understand.
- Show Up. When big things come up, be there. Show up. Physically be there. Or Skype. Or call. We wanted our relationship with our son’s birth family to be more than just a relationship. We wanted to feel like family. So we had to act like family. We tried to create situations where they could show up at our house. They invited us over, and we showed up when we were invited. Our extended family has seen how we are with his birth family and have followed suit. When my sister-in-law got married, we were thrilled that Lindsey and her boyfriend came to the reception. Family. You show up for each other.
- Be Kind and Give the Benefit of the Doubt. Even when we are thinking of others first and are doing our best, the situation may not turn out in our favor. But as soon as sharp words are shared, a wall is built, whether we like it or not. That wall can be hard to break down. So it’s always better to be kind and give others the benefit of the doubt.
We started off doing these things, and our relationship has progressively gotten stronger and stronger with time. What if there has been tension between adoptive and birth families? Is it too late? I believe it’s never too late to do some good. Start simple. Start small. Start with these three suggestions, and you may see a relationship be healed or begin to grow.
What are some things that you have done to help create a loving open adoption?