For years, my husband and I were big proponents of openness in adoption. From the first attempt at adopting, we sought out situations where the birth family was interested in maintaining contact over the years, so that the child would have a sense of continuity, get their questions answered straight from the source, and we’d avoid “the search”.
When all doors to traditional adoption closed and we turned to embryo adoption, we carried the same mentality with us. We got to know a donor family who ended up choosing us for their embryos. We met several times, and we started to settle into having an “extended family” type relationship. Granted, the genetic mother’s and my personalities weren’t very compatible. Had it not been for the embryos, we probably never would have become friends. That’s not at all to say there was anything I didn’t like about her; I’m just an introvert, and not everyone knows what to do with me!
When our attempts at parenthood with these embryos failed, I had conflicting emotions. I was of course devastated that we were going back to the drawing board. Yet at the same time, I was grateful for the opportunity to reconsider openness for the next go-round. I learned something about myself through the experience of adopting and transferring those four embryos. I went through the naming-as-claiming process of first naming the sibling group, then each pair (we transferred them two at a time), and finally, after all was said and done, I gave them my favorite human names. I named them, so I claimed them. And yet, as it turned out, I was still very insecure about my role in their tiny, short-lived lives.
I blogged about my conflicting emotions because they were real, and I think it’s important to be honest with oneself as well as with others, if one is trying to help people making similar decisions down the road. What I didn’t anticipate was that our donors would read this blog, or that they would be hurt by what I wrote.
Of course, I never intended to hurt our donors, to whom we continue to be very grateful. Yet I couldn’t help the way I felt, either. Now, it’s a moot point. But it reaffirms for me that something I struggled so hard against for 5 years, namely lack of access to our adopted child’s genetic family, was actually the only arrangement that I would be comfortable with.
I am now ready to proceed again, this time through an anonymous situation, and I am confident in my abilities as a mother. I’m not concerned about trying to get the genetic family’s approval for the multitude of decisions that come with child rearing. I am free to give my best to my child.
Do I wish that things had turned out differently? Sure. I wish the reality of an open adoption would’ve turned out to be what I had expected, and that I had been a mother by now. I wish that I hadn’t hurt our donors’ feelings in the process of dealing with my own conflicting emotions. But in the larger scheme of things, I know that everything I’ve gone through in life has gotten me one step closer to my forever child. In that regard, I cannot regret even the heartaches.