A few years ago, I became more involved in our local adoption community. I wanted to let people understand the beauty of open adoption. I was asked to share our story in some meetings, and I took the opportunity to do it whenever I could. It was a wonderful experience, and I think I fell more in love with my little family every time I spoke.

However, I wasn’t sure I was truly expressing my heart fully. I decided it was okay that words were inadequate for this type of experience and just prayed that my heart would speak to those present—especially if my words lacked. I remember seeing tears and other positive reactions, so I felt confident that my message was getting across. Yet I still desired the right words to express it all.  

After one presentation, an older man approached me. He introduced himself and said he really enjoyed hearing our story. He then proceeded to tell me that he and his wife had adopted their three children over twenty years ago. They had one open adoption placement and had enjoyed a relationship with their son’s birth mother. His only regret was that they weren’t able to provide that for all their children. He told me that people often asked how he and his wife managed an open adoption—a real relationship with their son’s birth family. Isn’t it weird? Isn’t it uncomfortable?

The tender response he shared was perfect. This man—with weathered and wise lines on his face, a soft smile, and tears welling in his eyes as he gently expressed what he knew from experience—articulated the exact thoughts in my head and emotions in my heart.

It’s not weird at all. Is it weird that your cousin bought a basketball for your son? No. Or that his aunt enjoys talking with him? No. They’re family. Why would I want to deny my child more love in his life? Don’t I want him to be surrounded by as much love as he can have? The way we look at it, an open adoption ensures more love for my child and more love for us.

He had given me the words I was looking for the entire time, and I have since used his words to supply my own answers to those same questions because I get them all the time, too. When people decide to embark on an open adoption journey, they are opening the stage to allow some of the best relationships in their lives. Adoptive parents, child, birth mother, siblings, extended adoptive family, extended birth family—the more love we give, the more we receive.

I applaud this man and his wife. During the time of his son’s placement, it certainly wasn’t as common to have such an open adoption situation, but they sought it out. They realized that the more love they freely gave, the more would be returned. When it comes to any kind of relationship, yes even adoption, what goes around comes around. The benefit of maintaining a healthy relationship with their son’s birth mother was obvious.

They are certainly special people, but not unique. More and more families are experiencing the joy and ease of loving their children’s birth families. And you know what makes it so joyful and easy? These families find that the love they share is returned and that the tie that binds them is based on pure love.

Can you count how many people you love? Can you count how many people love you?

I have been surrounded by such goodness throughout my life—and yet there is most definitely always room for more. I want my children to learn to love and be loved. I want them to feel the joy of welcoming others into their lives with arms and hearts open. And I want them to experience what it’s like to receive that in return. Those lessons start in the home. And they start with family.

All family.