Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Addie's Birthparents

So, I realize I left out a lot of detail about Addie's birthparents when I finally got around to posting her adoption story, but after the events of this past weekend I feel that I need to share more about them and how/why we have now switched to an open adoption (something I said I never wanted).

At our agency the adoptive parents typically meet with the birthmother prior to being matched which occurs prior to the baby's birth. Addie's birthmother ended up delivering earlier than expected so our "match" process happened kind of backwards. When the email came out that Addie was available all we knew about the birthparents was that they were a young couple (19 & 20), had been dating for approximately 2 years, the birthmother (A) had taken a year off from college to work and save money, and the birthfather (J) was working as a waiter and going to community college. They both lived at home with their parents, who didn't know that A was pregnant (what?? don't you think you would notice that???). To their credit A only gained 20 lbs during the entire pregnancy and didn't know herself that she was pregnant until she was already 25 weeks (again, I find that hard to believe...but I have heard that it happens). At this point in their lives they just weren't prepared emotionally or financially to parent a child. I admire them for recognizing that they weren't and for making a birth plan for their child. A & J had selected us from all the profiles that they had reviewed and the night that the adoption counselor called us to tell us we had been chosen, Hunter got to talk to J. They had a great conversation and hit it off right away. After the placement it was decided that we would have a belated "match" meeting with A & J and that we would take Addie with us. At the time of the match meeting, Addie had been home with us for 2 weeks. The day of the meeting I was so nervous I literally thought I was going to be sick. I really wanted them to like us. We met at a restaurant and from the time they walked up I just wanted to grab them both and smother them with hugs and kisses to tell them how thankful I was for the gift that they gave us. The meeting went great and the conversation really flowed. We ended up have a lot of things in common - hobbies, values, tastes in music, etc. They were just the cutest couple, but I have to say they seemed more immature than I remember being at their age - although now I can chalk that up to nerves. I offered to let them hold Addie and it just about ripped my heart out to hand her over to them. My heart was breaking for them, I can't imagine ever giving my child away. I know that our circumstances are very different and we have wanted a baby for so long. We did get them a little gift - a weekend away at a beach close by and we got A a necklace with an opal charm on it (October's birthstone). I mean what do you get for someone who has given you the gift of a life?? At the end of the meeting I was an emotional wreck, but A held it together very well. I was so glad that we met them and knew that I will be able to tell Addie all about them some day.

In November our adoption agency hosts a potluck/holiday gathering for all the past placed adoptive parents and current waiting parents. It was a lot of fun and we got to have Addie's first picture taken with Santa.

The main point of this is to tell you (sorry, I tend to get long-winded...I think it comes from Hunter) that we saw our adoption counselor there who had a letter for us from A & J. It was so very sweet and talked about how after meeting us that they knew they had picked the right parents for Addie. They also included A's ultrasound pictures. I still can't believe how incredibly thoughtful that was of them.

Our initial arrangement with them was a semi-open adoption which meant that Hunter and I would send letters and pictures on an agreed upon schedule through the agency so that A & J could have them if they chose. I was never very comfortable with the thought on a fully open adoption, I don't know why...maybe it is the selfishness in me that wanted Addie all to ourselves, maybe I was scared that if Addie knew her birthparents that that would somehow change her relationship with us...I really don't know.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of A & J and what a wonderful gift they give us, but beyond that I wonder how they are doing, has A gone back to school, how is she coping with the whole situation, has her relationship with J suffered at all or are they still as in love as ever? Part of me really wanted to keep in touch with them and wanted Addie to know how much A & J really love her and what they did so that she could have a better life.

Early in January our adoption counselor called to tell me that she had been talking with A and that she had requested another visit with us and Addie. She still didn't feel like she had closure. My immediate thought was, no - Addie is ours, no one can take her from us. But once that initial thought passed and I verified that legally even if she did change her mind, there is nothing that can be done at this point - I was excited at the thought of seeing them again. That brings us to this past weekend and our second meeting with J & A. I wasn't nervous at all, I was really excited. I got Addie all dressed up, she had to look her best! As soon as we saw them it was like running into old friends. I gave them both a big hug and the conversation just flowed from there. We talked a lot about Addie, but we also talked a lot about our lives. They asked us a lot of questions about what we were like when we were their age and we in turn asked them about what their plans are and what they want out of life. They held Addie and called us "Mommy and Daddy" - I felt very weird and comforted by that all at the same time. They also brought us the sweetest gift, a framed and matted picture of Addie right after she was born in the hospital. There were several tears shed by both A and I at this visit. We talked about how we want to communicate in the future and decided that we did want an open adoption after all. I don't really know what all that means right now, but they do have our email address and a telephone number where they can call and check on Addie and we can keep up with how they are doing. As far as more visits, I guess we will just play that one by ear. Addie will truly know how much we both love her and care for her and I think that through our love for Addie we have a deep respect and love for A & J as well. I am so thankful that God has brought them back into our lives and really couldn't ask for a better situation. I hope that if they do get married one day that they invite us to the wedding. They will always hold a special place in our hearts.


Elizabeth said...

Amazing post! It's great to read how your feelings about the type of adoption you want have changed. Because I always think ahead to the next step, adoption is on my mind quite a bit, and it's very helpful and reassuring to follow your journey.

Joanne said...

Hi Angi,

Your daughter is beautiful. I think it's great that you get along with the birthparents. Please don't agree to more openness until some time has passed. Your thoughts may change later on and then you'll be locked into something that you didn't want to be. Take it slow and just enjoy your daughter. Not wanting a fully opened adoption has nothing to do with selfish reasons.

Lyn said...

My hubby and i are in the process of adoption and i've always been afraid of an open adoption...but you're like a poster child for it and your story sheds a lot of honest light on the subject from a mom's perspective! i know it's still early in Addie's life and things can change but still nice to see how well it can work!

soapchick said...

Congratulations, she is beautiful!

hope548 said...

Thank you for sharing all of this. You have a beautiful little girl. My husband and I have been talking lately about how much openess we're comfortable with. I feel like if it is the right match, I'd be ok with more than the agency minimum, but my husband thinks right now he'd only like to do the minimum. I hope that if our situation turns out at all like yours, that he will be open to more. I just want everyone involved to be ok with it all and get the most closure possible. I guess you don't know what you're willing to do until it happens.

Nice to meet you!

Heather.PNR said...

I think it's wonderful that your relationship is opening in such an organic way. Open adoption makes me step outside my comfort zone sometimes (which it sounds like you're experiencing too), but it has been so rewarding for our family.

Your daughter is beautiful. :)