During the end of infertility, and the beginning of looking towards what my life would be like if my family was built through adoption, was when I started to scour the internet for other women in my position.
My cousin had been adopted. I had a few friends who were also adopted. I, however, didn’t know anyone my age going through what I was going through. None of my peers were building their families through adoption. I was missing the road map of what adoption looks like today and what open adoption is like for people actually living it. I wanted to know what women who had placed children were thinking. I was hungry for knowledge and connection. This experience was one of the first of many times when I looked around me and realized the importance of sharing your journey along with the importance of having a community that supports you and whose lives look a little bit like yours.
I have found countless role models in the adoption community. It took me some time to find the people who shared my beliefs, who had walked the road before me and lived to tell about it. I am now thrilled to share some of them with you and some of what they have taught me along the way.
My biggest fear at one point was I would always be an ‘adoptive mom’. Kristen’s family is built partly through adoption. That’s how I found her in the first place. When reading about her life, it tells me that adoption can be a part of your story. It is only a part. You are actually a mom whose children happen to have been adopted. Your children are simply your children. Adoption may have been how you all were brought together, but it doesn’t fully define your relationship.
You can google how to adopt a baby a million times and you will find some lists about steps to take. However, the literal moment you see that baby who will over time become yours is a tough image to find on the internet. I was perplexed about the whole ‘what is it going to be like walking into a hospital as a couple and leaving as a family of three’. Would I actually be a mom or just a caregiver? Would it be magical or more like a process? Would time stop and pause for the moment when I saw my son’s first breath? Or are all of the magic life-changing first moments only for biological parents? I really didn’t know. This is how I found Shelley. She allowed me to see the magic in adoption and the humanity in the process. I had kind of lost myself in the process; all of the paperwork, the stretching, the growing, the acceptance of things most parents never even think about. It was tough. When I watched via the internet as Shelley’s daughters joined their family, it was magic. Time stopping magic. It gave me hope that there would be simple magic for my family too.
Openness in adoption is pretty common these days, but what the heck does that even mean? We had attended all the classes. We were ready. But what the heck do you do in an open adoption? I understood and agreed to obviously tell the child they had been adopted. I was cool with sending pictures, setting up a calendar of updates and what not, but was it really going to be an obligation for the rest of my life? The answer is no. In a really great open adoption, you will actually have a relationship with your child’s birth family. The relationship has the potential to be fulfilling and healing for you as the adoptive parent. It is more than possible to have a beautiful relationship with the people who knew your child first. People actually do. Lindsey showed me this.
Finding role models in the adoption community has been so important to me.
Who are your adoption role models?