I've been thinking about adoption a lot lately. It seems to come up all around me. And for the LONGEST time (since my birthday, I think) I've been putting off the impression that I should share some of my feelings on adoption and how much open adoption has been a blessing to me.
Part of what I've been wanting to say is not so good, and has nothing to do with wholesome impressions to share fuzzy feelings. And that is the really bad feelings I get when faced with others in similar situations. To be perfectly honest, I get terribly judgey of young pregnant girls who decide to parent their babies. It is RARELY a good situation for anyone involved, and I can rarely look at it as anything but a selfish decision. I know how it feels to be pregnant. I know how you can't help but think of the cute cuddly baby who will love you and be loved and be the most precious thing in your life. I know how hard it is to think of giving that up forever! So I can't think of any good excuse to subject and innocent child to your unresolved baggage, and barely out of high school (or not even out of high school) education, career, and financial stability. It just makes me so mad when I see these young people barely making it by themselves, even living in their parents' houses still, talking about how cute and fun it's going to be to have a little baby and dress him in his cute little clothes and play house with an ACTUAL PERSON'S LIFE.
Yes, I get over emotional about it. And I'm sure I will offend people with my vent. And I'm sorry. Kind of. But not really. Call it one of my pet-peeves. People are allowed to be irrational about pet peeves, right?
Anyway. On the more fuzzy-feeling side...
While we were vacationing at Tahoe, there was a rumor that my grandma-in-law was going to ask family to share a spiritual experience in a sort of family testimony meeting. That never happened. But it did get me thinking about the most spiritual experience of my life, which was (surprise!) placing Isabelle for adoption (you didn't see that coming, did you?).
I have never felt my Heavenly Father's direct touch in my life so much as when he was guiding me to her family. I've said it over and over, and I will say it again: I clearly know that he was guiding my steps- and her family's- quite directly so that she ended up in the right place. There were so many small and large coincidences involved in her adoption; so many times when, if the timing were just slightly off, she would have ended up somewhere else entirely. So many clear spiritual promptings that led us to each other, at just the right time, so that this particular child would be with that particular family. What an amazing testimony of the importance of families. When I met them, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Something that had been conspicuously absent through the whole ordeal of pregnancy and coming to terms with the idea of "giving up" my baby. She clearly belonged with them, and it was clearly the right thing for everyone, and it made an almost impossible prospect feel right and good. Still painful; I don't think that can be avoided, for anyone in that situation, but much easier to heal from.
We have an open adoption, obviously, and people have questioned whether that is really the best thing. I absolutely think it is, for us. I know it can be hard, especially for adoptive parents! I can't imagine not having some feeling of "No, this is MY baby!" Or feeling just a tiny bit resentful at having to "share." But for my part, having an open adoption has helped me let go like nothing else could. Seeing her happy and well, and reinforcing that feeling that she is where she belongs, keeps me from holding on to the idea that she is "my baby," or second-guessing my decision. I feel like if I had cut off contact just after seeing her and holding her when she WAS still my baby and little and sweet and innocent... or even just after she was born, if I had decided to never see her or hold her, I wouldn't be able to erase the memories of being pregnant and feeling her grow and move inside me. If I had decided to cut off contact at that point, how could I possibly move past it? It's not something you can ever forget, so instead I would be left cut off at the emotional state of being a new mom, and then... nothing. Now, I've had the chance to grow with her, to slowly let her go, to come to see her as Wendy and Tyler's cute little girl whom I love with the unconditional love of a parent. Open adoption is an amazing, healing thing.
As an interesting side-note, I've done several adoption forums with other birth moms. At one in particular, the coordinator expressed frustration to me about getting a variety of birth moms for the panel- she says that those with closed adoptions rarely, if ever, agree to rehash it. She had one who did agree, but backed out at the last minute, saying "That's not a part of my life I want to remember." How sad to be left with nothing but the pain of the experience. I love my adoption, I love Isabelle, and I love her family. And I love talking about it, and remembering what a wonderful, amazing, spritual experience the whole thing was. I can't call it a mistake. It was a few poor choices that led to an amazing opportunity for growth, and the chance to see Heavenly Father work miracles to bring eternal families together.