By: Chris Coyne
Most people do not know the true definition of open adoption. I had preconceived ideas of what open adoption was, but after having read a few books, experienced a failed adoption, gone through three adoption home studies, and achieved a successful birth and placement, the meaning is set in my mind.
In the traditional closed adoption system, adoptive parents are kept anonymous. All involved parties’ names and addresses are kept confidential. Very little information is given about birth parents and no information is passed about the adoptive parents. Children are raised not knowing much about their birth parents. They are raised in the dark. What they do not know their overactive imaginations fill in.
Most people think open adoption is about contact post-placement or after the adoption takes place. With an open adoption, adoptive parents know the birth parents’ identity. In CJ’s case we had the amazing opportunity to talk with his birthmother for a few months before his birth. When she moved to California we hung out and toured around Hollywood and went to the beach. We played an active role in CJ’s birth. I was his birthmother’s coach and Jon was holding her legs up when CJ came into this world. It was amazing.
We did not maintain much contact after CJ’s birthmother went back home and returned to her life. A huge bond was created in the time before his birth and at his birth; after, she expressed breast milk and hung out a few times before she headed home and we never spoke to her again. We set up a MySpace to post pics and share CJ’s progress but she does not post much and who knows if she looks at it.
We are moving closer and closer to the birth of our second child. Last weekend we flew out to Ohio together as a family to meet the mother of our little girl. We picked her up at her apartment after an hour and a half flight preceded by a two-hour wait at the airport and two hours in the car. We were pretty nervous about little CJ. He had been strapped into a car seat or an airplane seat all day, but he did really well. We were nervous wrecks, but he was awesome!
We made an appointment at a 3D-4D ultrasound place 30 mins from our birthmother’s place. Poor CJ. By the time we reached the ultrasound spa we thought he would be bouncing out of his skin but he was fine. He watched the large television screen and repeated “baby” but we know he did not get it. We all watched the screen and the image confirmed we are expecting a girl. We saw her little face and her arms and fingers and at one point it looked like she was giving us the finger.
We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and again CJ shocked us when he put on his perfect angel face. He smiled and talked to all of us like this was the best day he ever had. We knew we would be tempting fate if we did not go to a place where he could run and play and be CJ. We ended up in the craziest place in the world…A Super Walmart! It was packed and he loved it.
After a bit we were back in the car. We dropped our birthmother off at her place and I carried up her groceries and she showed off her small apartment. We all hugged and it was over ver before we knew it. We had been in this exact situation three times. The first time did not end well. The second ended with Cj birth and who knows what will happen with the third time? Nothing is settled until it is all done. We know what we have been through and where we are with this situation. This is a different girl, from a different town but we can not help comparing this to our past.
After a failed adoption, adoptive parents ask themselves repeatedly “what would I do differently?” I have never been able to answer that question. I know every request has to be answered. Our attorney should take care of most of this but Jon and I live on the east coast. Our birthmother is in the same time zone and it’s hard to have an attorney in pacific time zone. Sometimes it feels crazy that he starts his day when we are having lunch and getting ready for our afternoon naps! That is when the calls start from our birthmother that she needs this or that or she needs help navigating this or that or she needs someone to talk to about this or that. Sometimes the requests will not be taken care of unless I make a phone call.
Today we are nearing the end of our 29th week. We have around eleven short weeks to prepare for our new arrival. The big questions are still hanging over our heads. We know that everything we are going through will be worth the effort. We know that we have each other to love and support. We have our amazing family and extended family to help us along the way. What if she decides to parent? What if something goes wrong? What if? Eleven more weeks and we will know!