For the Love of Our Children
by Jill & Rob, who adopted their children in 1998 & 2000
I very clearly remember the day we met my son Jimmie’s birthmother for the first time. I have never been so nervous in my life. I was frightened by the thought of meeting birthparents and their families. How could we have anything in common?
Today I remember all the panic and nervousness of that period in our life with a smile on my face. Some relationships click right away and this was one of those relationships. Our relationship with Jimmie’s birthmother, Sondra, is extremely open. We chose his name together. We have met all of her family. Sondra’s brothers are Jimmie’s uncles and her parents are Jimmie’s grandparents. Sondra’s family came to Jimmie’s baptism and to our home after the service. Her family is our family.
As hard as it was to imagine an extremely open relationship in the beginning, today I can’t imagine it any other way. It brings me such joy to see Jimmie interact with Sondra. They have the same smile, the same walk, the same eyes, the same questioning gaze, and the same playful spirit. Adoptive parents think they will miss out on the pleasure of knowing whom their children “take after.” Open adoption relationships give you that pleasure back and so much more. I feel extremely privileged to have a close relationship with such an unselfish, courageous person as Jimmie’s birthmother.
I was so carried away with the excitement of this perfect relationship, I thought Jimmie’s birthfather would also welcome a very open relationship. We met his birthfather once before we took Jimmie home from The Cradle nursery. He came to our house to visit a few months later, but then we didn’t hear from him for awhile. A few months later when he called us, I invited him to Jimmie’s first birthday party. He took a bold step and came, but we could sense he was nervous around us. A year later, just after Jimmie’s 2nd birthday, his birthfather stopped by our house with a cake and a birthday gift. Jimmie’s birthfather was surprised to see how curly Jimmie’s hair is, just like his little sister’s and his one-year old niece’s. I love knowing this and being able to tell Jimmie who he looks like.
Eleven months ago we were fortunate enough to adopt another son, Nathan. Nathan’s situation was much different. His birthparents were high school seniors who did not tell their families, and made all the decisions on their own, including the decision to meet us and have no further contact. What will this mean for Nathan in the years to come? I don’t know. We have one picture of them. I know that Nathan has his birthfather’s dimples, his birthmother’s eyes, and his birthmother’s straight hair. I may never know anything about the similarities in their personalities. I know that they will always love Nathan, and that’s what I will share with Nathan when he asks.
Sondra was excited when we told her about Nathan, and Jimmie’s birth grandmother told all her friends that she was a Grandma again. Their thoughtfulness and love for Nathan overwhelms me. I am so pleased that they accept Nathan as a part of their family. Nathan will have the experience of being in a close relationship with a birth family; it just won’t be his own. One day in January, I came home from work and found two packages left in our doorway from Jimmie’s birthfather. I assumed they were Christmas gifts for Jimmie. I was surprised and overwhelmed to find out that one of the presents was for Nathan. I have been very concerned that Nathan would feel like an outsider when he gets older and Jimmie’s birthparents come to visit. I am so thankful that Jimmie’s birthparents don’t see it that way.
I have heard it said that birthparents choose adoption because they cannot be the parents today, that they know they will be someday. Just like me, they want the very best for their children. My children’s birthparents are strong, courageous, and unselfish people, with many different needs. There is no cookie cutter formula for open adoption relationships and no ideal situation. My children cannot have enough people in their lives that love them. I know love can be given in a lot of different ways. Jimmie’s birthfather and Nathan’s birthparents love from a distance, but that does not make their love any less important to our children.