Friday, July 17, 2009

To Read or Not to Read

This is a picture of Rebekah sealing up her first written letter to Ty. I received it in the mail, today, but am unsure whether or not I should open it...

I knew Rebekah wanted to write letters. Part of our hospital gift to her was beautiful stationary, that I had to search far and wide for. [Doesn't anyone write letters anymore?]

I love the relationship we have with Rebekah and I know Tyrus is going to be so grateful when he gets older. There are no gaping holes or missing pieces to his story. I imagine having letters to read from his first mother will be incredibly special and be able to read her heart, in her own words, opposed to hearing them filtered through me.

Rebekah gave me permission to read the letters...which made me realize I had never given the idea any thought. As I finger the first envelope my heart is torn. It leans toward leaving them sealed. I can only put myself in Ty's shoes...If in the middle of deep conversation, my mother one day pulled a bundle of letters from a special box and told me they were written from my birth mother just for me...and that they had remained unopened over the years, I would be honored. I can't think of a more special gift...for any child...but especially an adoptee. To know that my mother had treasured them over the years and trusted me to open them first, would be such a privilege.

My only real reason for wanting to read them is curiosity, I guess...what is she is she saying it...what is she feeling (especially years down the road)...

It's not a matter of content. I'm not concerned with how she will tell Ty his story...or the details she'll include. I know she wants the absolute best for him and covers his life in prayer. I definitely feel no threat or need to "screen" the letters. I'm also not concerned with when I'll give them to Ty. God will lead us.

I know that either decision will still leave Tyrus that he has such a special gift. I just want to give him all the best...

I'm opening up the comments for your thoughts. What would you do? I know I have several adoptees would you feel?

I'll let you know what we decide.


  1. That's a tough one. I love the idea of your son seeing that you trusted his first Mother so much that you didn't read them.

  2. Personally, I'd leave them unopened. Especially given your trust in Rebekah.

    (That's from an adoptive mom's perspective.)

  3. although i can't say for sure because i'm not a parent, i'd lean more towards leaving them sealed.

    at first i thought, open them! but then... when you listed out your reasons... curiosity seems to pale in comparison to the reasons you gave for leaving them sealed. but that's just my opinion, that's just me. :-)

    praying for all 4 of you!

    - michelle

  4. Hi Rebekah!

    As an adoptee (I'm 30 years old and currently in reunion, it was a closed adoption) I would save the letters for sweet Ty. I would keep them closed and stored somewhere safe...until the moment comes when God will give you that nudge to hand them over to him. Perhaps, even, as a family (or unless he wants to do otherwise) you could open them one day, together.

    I would have been so touched, if my parents had letters from my bmom (I never had letters from my bmom) and left them closed, for me.

    From my point of view - but keeping in mind that my adoption was in 1978 and adoptions in that day were mostly closed with barely any info shared on either side - I guess I felt like I had no say in any of the choices that my bmom and my parents made for me. And while I'm grateful to have been adopted and I love my parents dearly...I often felt like I had no control. And, I still don't have much circumstances are still covered in secrecy. I would cherish anything that was really MINE. From my bmom, especially.

    I just think that...those letters from Ty's firstmom...are for him. They have his name on them. Y'know? I know you are curious - and so am I - to know what those letters say...but they are Ty's.

    Maybe as Ty gets could begin to open Rebekah's letters together?

    I just have to say how amazingly blessed Ty have you and Ben as his parents. And, to have his firstmom that loves him SO much...and I'm sure his birthfather does as just such a blessing. How amazing that he gets to have so many family members that just adore him.

    Your relationship with Ty's firstmom is just amazing...and as an adoptee, I doubt he will ever feel any of the things I do right now, because he has everyone around him to answer any questions that may come out of his mouth. There are no secrets. Only love and more love.

    What a blessing. For ALL of you.

  5. I think it would be weird to get a pack of letters addressed to me that were all opened. They are meant for him, and it will be even more special if you give him the opportunity to share them with you when the time comes, instead of making that choice for him.

  6. I'm not an adoptee but as you know I am an adoptive mom so I thought I'd chime in on this one too!

    Sue gave Grayden a letter just recently as well at our last visit with her and told us as well that we may read it. We already read it to him just like we plan to do frequently. Its just another way he will know from early on how much his first mom loves him. Like you said I was not worried about the content of it or the need to preapprove it, I fully trusted the words she wrote were honest and heartfelt but I did however want to read it to know her feelings better myself and get an even deeper understanding of her heart. And oh my it a tear jearker, just like I knew it would be!
    I picture him as he grows to run on my lap and say "Mommy! Tell me the story about my birthday again and read me my letter from Mommy Sue puh-lease!"
    Whatever you do will be just right for your family!

  7. I am a mother of four and a birth grandmother. In talking to many others who have been involved in various open adoption arangements, the thing I like the least is when adoptive parents "choose" when letters are opened, information presented, etc.
    It makes sense to me that you would open the letters and start a scrapbook that you could add the letters as they come. This way there isn't this huge "moment" of presenting the "letters"'s just ongoing openness and information.
    We know some families who "presented" their adopted children with letters from their birth mom at a time they felt best....and it was such an emotional, difficult time for everyone. It seems to me that the less we include "drama" for the adopted children the better. Ongoing open communication seems like a far better way to go.
    We have a wonderful open adoption with my birth grandson's parents. We are only 7 months into this but I believe that they would be very open to how our daughter would like for any letters to be presented.
    You are all doing a wondrful job of honoring the first mother of your precious son. From what I have read, you have such a teachable heart and truly want to do what is best. Keep seeking and learning and asking our Heavenly Father for wisdom (which he freely gives, we KNOW!) and your answers will come.
    We are on the same road.

  8. R- You know R's heart. You know they are going to be perfect and appropriate. In my thoughts - and heavens knows they may not be right - I think I would let Ty open them in HIS time. If you didn't trust R's intentions, I think this would be different. I think you should let this be between Ty and his first mom.
    Loving ALL of you!!

  9. This is an interesting issue. I am also an adoptive mother. Our little girl just turned 2 yrs old. Her birth mother does not write letters at this time (not sure if she ever will), but she requested that we write letters to her twice a year to keep her updated until our daughter is 18 yrs old. We also keep a blog for this purpose.

    On one hand, because the letters are addressed to Ty, it's realistic to think that he should be the one to read them first--but he won't be able to do that for a long time.

    On the other hand, I totally agree with Deb, the birth grandmother that commented earlier. It does seem awfully dramatic to pull the bundle of letters out as some point in time (when Ty can read and comprehend the content) and present them to him to read on his own.

    Open adoption by its very nature is all about full disclosure from day one until the very end. Putting the letters away until a later date, seems to move away from the pure intent of an open adoption.

    Reading the letters to Ty, as they are received is a natural thing to do--just as you read birthday cards addressed to children, sent by friends and family, as they arrive in the mail.

    Later, when Ty is able to read the letters on his own, then they can be given to him directly to read privately or out loud as they arrive in the mail. The idea of putting the earlier letters that are read to Ty in a scrapbook is awesome!

  10. I think you should read them to him, say, for a bedtime story when he's a bit older. I assume that he will know from before the time he can understand that he's adopted? (I'm adopted and always knew I was, so it's never been a big deal, its just the way things are)

    I second what Kate & Deb said. Make it an ordinary thing rather than a huge dramatic moment, and start young - younger the better. If you don't know any different, then it never has a chance to bother you, right?

    (little history: My bmom (open adoption in 1987) made me a huge pink frilly binder filled with her family tree, pictures (of her when she was growing up, her parents, my bfather, my birth, etc), info on my birthdad, and letters; letters to me explaining the situation of how I was conceived, how she reached the decision to give me away, info on my birthfather, the story of my birth, the dear birth-mom letter my family sent I said, it was huge, and I was allowed to read it whenever I wanted to. Some years I'd read it every month, and some years would go by without me reading it at all. Anyway. Now I'm just babbling...sorry.

  11. Oh heck girl! Now I am confused!! When I first saw the title to this post I was thinking OPEN IT!! But then when I read your reasons, I see your point! Which now leads me to what would I DO if I get so lucky to be in this position....WOW! Say a prayer and trust in HIM to give you guidance!
    Hugs, Jill

  12. I am adopted and I haven't searched for my birth family because I haven't felt the need. So I can't talk from that perspective. I do however right a "Dear ______" letter to my children on their birthdays. My oldest is 7 years old and my husband has never read them. Its not that he can't read them, or that I discourage him to read them...he is welcome to if he would like to. However I write them with raw emotion and I don't want to feel censored. Not that he would ever make me feel that way, but he feels it is something special and private that I do for my children, and he doesn't want to intrude. He respects my feelings and emotions, and I respect his trust and love. He loves the idea that I take the time to write the letters, and thinks its a special thing.

    I think with Ty's birth trusted her to take care of him while pregnant, to follow through on her decision to place him for adoption and you are allowing her to be in his it would be silly not to trust what she writes to him. There is the chance that in the future something she writes could hurt his feelings or upset him...but if he is raised with love and trust and support, there is nothing she could say that could do lasting "damage." But even more importantly...why would she. She has given you the most amazing gift and shown herself to be a wonderful person.

    Perhaps, one day, when Ty is old enough, you can sit down with him and open the letters together. Then you can talk about them and deal with any emotions that come up as a result of them. But for now...I'd say plan to keep them sealed for him.

  13. At first, I thought that I'd tell you to keep them closed but then I started thinking about how overwhelming it would be to one day be handed a huge box of unopened letters that were filled with years of thoughts and feelings. Now that I have had a chance to think about it... I think that I would take each letter as they come and open them together as a family and read them to Ty. That way he will grow up always knowing how his firstmom felt and will know the trust between all of you. I think it would be really special to share that time with him. Maybe you could compile the letters as they come somehow (scrapbook, binder, or whatever) so that you can easily revisit previous letters throughout the years and Ty will ALWAYS have that part of his life at his fingertips and open for his knowledge since the beginning. Just my thoughts :) You and Ben are so so wonderful and I know you will make the best decision for your family :)

  14. As and adoptee in a CLOSED and SEALED adoption ( but still in a reunion!) I would say keep them closed. However, I think your situation with an open adoption is different. If everything is out in the open then I think its find if not good for you and TY to read them. This know how she is thinking/feeling and you would be able to tell TY before he was able to read the letters. Just another way to give info to him and show that you two have a good open and trusting relationship. I think with as open and honest as you both are with each other and families, I don't really see Ty growing up being upset cuz they had been opened.

  15. It seems like it makes sense to open them now and read them to him while he's not old enough to do it himself. Then, as he gets old enough, maybe he decides if he wants to open them on his own or continue the tradition of reading them together...

  16. I'd read them, but like you said it wouldn't be to screen them. Simply to know and feel the love of the birthmother.

    But I'm not in the position of an adoptive parent so perhaps if I was I'd answer differently?

  17. I too think it's kind of nice to leave them unopened! As he gets older you can begin to read them to him and place them somewhere safe so he can always go back to him. Whatever you decide I know Ty is going to be ever so grateful!! I know I cherish every photo I have of my daughter meeting her birthmom in Guatemala for the first time since she was born. I proudly display one of her first mom and keep the rest tucked in a special scrapbook!! HUGS!!

  18. I would leave them sealed. You said it yourself, what a precious gift for him to be able to open those letters that have been sealed for years. I know it would be hard not to open them, but I would just tell myself that at least maybe Ty would let me read them one day, after he's gone over them. I also don't know if I would want to read them right now, as I think some part of me would feel guilty that I have her baby, (although that's ridiculous since it was obviously chosen by both of you) but I would feel sad for her just the same, and reading her feelings, whether happy or sad, would be difficult. My main point is, they are letters for Ty, from his birth mother, and regardless of what they say, you are raising him, so whenever he reads them he will be ready for what they contain, and happy that you honored that special realationship between him and his birth mother. Boy, I sure can ramble, can't I??!

  19. If it was me, I'd leave them sealed. The curiosity would kill me too, but it seems the way you are parenting Ty, he will share them with you when he's ready to read them anyway.

  20. Deb wrote my thoughts...opening them with him as they come, reading them to him and then putting them in a scrapbook for him. That way, as he gets older, he will always have that special book and when a new letter comes, he can take over putting it in his book himself. You can always video tape yourself reading them to him now as they come and putting them in his book along with him and that way, he will know that even as an infant, you discussed his birth mom with him and that nothing was kept from him. I agree that keeping them and then "presenting" them to him one day may be more dramatic and stressful to him than it would be if the letters were just always there for him...out in the open and for him to look at/read whenever he wants to. Just my thoughts. I'm sure you'll make the right decision for your family. :)

  21. I found your blog through Rebekahs. Reading her story is so emotionaly for me. I can feel her pain through her words and yet I am so unbelievably happy for you. I can't imagine the heartache you have felt all those years only to have your heart healed by one precious woman also named Rebekah and her selfless act to give you your son. Your story is nothing short of amazing and I am now following you.

    I am not an adoptive mother (though it's something we've talked about for the future) but I think If I were in your situation I'd want to leave them unopened and just maybe when he's old enough to read them, he'll share them with you. I think he will feel special to know that you hadn't opened them and saved them just for him.

  22. This is a great topic for discussion. As a mom-in-waiting who hopes for an open adoption, I think i have to take the middle of the road stance that others here have shared.

    First I think it is important for your own emotional well-being that you set the letters aside while Ty is small and while you are both adjusting to your new lives. You need to settle into your mommy role. I wouldn't recommend you open them now out of curiosity.

    I agree with others who feel that rather than presenting a package of letters for Ty to read on his own, all at once, it might be more appropriate, given the openness and trust you do have with Rebekah, that you begin to read them together when he is older, but not until he is of an age when he is asking more questions, and when you are sure he can comprehend what's in the letters.
    Not sure what that age is but I'm thinking 3 or 4?

    I think it makes sense that by introducing the letters at a younger age, they will become such a natural part of his life, and such a healthy thing for his growth and emotional development as he becomes his own person.

    Maybe ask Rebekah if she is comfortable if you start out this way, and see how she feels?

    I just worry that if you wait until he is old enough to read on his own at a certain comprehension level, it could lead to emotional issues, trouble sleeping, worry, and confusion???

    Again, I am NO expert. I also love the suggestion that you read them together as bedtime stories.

  23. I agree with Deb, I think you would want to advoid such a HUGE here is information you NEVER had. IT sounds emotional, when given Ty's awesome adoption situation, it doesn't have to be. I think the idea of starting a scrap book is an great idea. If Ty is the type of kid that loves reading the letters this book can be in his room (when he is older) for him to lok at whenever. OR, if he is the type of kid that isn't that intreasted (my brother is 12, adopted and really isn't that focused on it-yet)then you could keep the scrap book adding to it whenever and sharing it as he grows. Also, my brother has done lots of school reports (things like "all about me" "family trees" etc) and his adoption has 'come up', it is no big deal and he take it as just another part of him...but it would've been cool to have letters from his mom...but you wouldn't really want the drama of opening all letters for a first grade project, know what I mean.
    But above ALL, you are Ty's Mom. It is okay to be a part of everything in his life, it is your job. Given the openess of the situation I think Ty will always be so comfortable with his adoption. Good luck!

  24. I'd pray about it really hard, this is an interesting situation. My heart immediately leans toward leaving them sealed so Ty can share those intimate thoughts from Rebekah on his own someday. But at the same time, this adoption is so different from most and you share a special and unique bond with his birth mother, so I can see why you might chose to share her words with him.
    So hard to know what's ultimately the best decision here, but, praise God, it is so amazing that you have this option to begin with. What a blessing.

  25. Personally, I would read them first. "K" is very young and my job is to protect Samuel and I want to make sure that what she does say doesn't hurt him. Just my opinion.

  26. I think that its a very personal choice. I think that with the way I can see you raising Ty it will never be a question of trust. I think that Ty will understand either way. I think it might be good for you to read them once and put them away. What a special blessed gift you have been given!! Pray about it. I know that GOD will give you an answer...and you will know what it is that he is telling you. Prayers from ohio! Mollie

  27. We adopted from China and so the fact that our daughter is adopted is a little hard to conceal:-) However, we still have talked about her adoption story from day one, even before she could really understand. Adoption comes up in our everyday life and it's never a huge deal. I think I would use the letters as another growing and teaching tool along the road of life. Plus, I think it would be wonderful for him to hear over and over and over, in her own words, how much his birthmom loves him instead of making it all one huge emotional moment.
    You are blessed that you have that gift to give him.
    As an adoptive mom with no link to my daughter's birthmom I can only say I would love to have tangible proof, as you do, to show my daughter every day how much she was loved.

  28. i would want to read them so bad!!!! but I wouldn't :)

  29. Leave them sealed. It is between her and him. You don't feel the need to censor. Unlike others, if you want to know what she said, why can't you ask her? You two have an uncommon adoption and an uncommon bond between two mothers. One isn't less a mother as the other. I found that out when my daughter graduated from college. I hugged her adoptive mother when I left and we both cried tears of joy, but really, it was tears of gratitude.

  30. You continue to amaze me, I would have opened them without a thought that's just me, but now you have given the idea of the box of unopened letters and without a doubt I think that would be a beautiful gift from both of you to Ty. You really are wonderful!

  31. I don't think that either way is wrong, especially since there's no bad blood between you and Rebekah. It would be neat for him to open then and read them, but I think having them opened won't ruin the content of it. Just do what feels right to you. :-)

  32. I'd say the letters were written to Ty and it should be him that opens them...not you. Have you thought about asking the birthdad to write letters so that Ty doesnt feel a piece of the puzzle is missing. Even if he would write a few letters about why he chose adoption for him. You are a wonderful Mommy to consider Ty's feelings. As Dr. Laura would say what would the purpose be of you opening the letters...they are to Ty from his first Mommy.

  33. (Obviously) I read the other Rebekah's page. Man, were the two of you paired together by God or what! I am so amazed at the relationship that you have, the love that both of you have for Ty, and how you are both so respectful and conscious of the other's feelings and role. I am totally impressed with how you are willing to share Ty with her, instead of wanting to break that tie in fear that it may affect you. I don't think I would have that kind of grace or courage. Abounding blessings to ALL of you!

  34. Trust the your heart and do what you feel is the best for your little already know xx

  35. I am an first my head said leave them closed. They are for Ty. But then I read and I love the idea of you opening them WITH him and reading them to him until he's old enough to read them himself. It will be nice for him to know as he's growing up that there is someone else in this world that loves him as much as you and Ben do. I know you will tell him that, but for him to see it for himself, so he knows 100%.

  36. I would leave them unopened too. I think your reasons are beautiful, and they sound so right.


  37. hi ~ after much deliberation on your topic, i guess i would have to agree with Deb and anonymous ~ read them to him as they come until he is old enough to read them for himself so that he is hearing her words as he grows up and is not handed a hundred letters all at once at some point in his life. that, to me, may feel overwhelming and may make the situation more of a "situation" rather than his reality.
    good topic ~ we are all learning together and what may be right for one person is not necessarily right for another. it's good to get different perspectives and then evaluate what your own feelings are and go with that. :)
    good luck!

  38. I think you need to follow your heart. You truly can ask everyone what there opinions are and that is great for peace of mind but don't let anyone sway your decision either way. I think you know in your heart what you are going to do and if you follow your heart you can't go wrong. Your not wrong either way you decide to do this. I think everyone supports you either way. This is a hard thing but in your heart of hearts you know what you will do and I would say your heart has lead you this far.

  39. I would save them for him.

    But I would also write a letter to him from you telling him your thoughts and dreams. Written the same time as his birth Mom's letters.

    I don't know how I found your blog but I love coming here because it is so full of Joy.

    I am so happy that you got your sweet baby.

  40. I would read them to the baby as they come... Even now, when he's so young, and then save them on his life book... I think, in the long run, it will make the whole thing more natural and less dramatic...

    Praying for you!



  41. Do not open them. I think that they are something that your son should have the choice to share them with you or not. If he choses not to then you should not regret your decision. If it was me and they had been opened then I would be mad especially if you have had no problem with the adoption. You are looking at lots of years away before he reads them so just remember that you can not go back in time to change what you chose to do.

  42. I would like to say that I would leave them sealed, but I am incredibly nosey and we also don't have the same amazing connection/closeness with your daughter's birthmom that you have so I would be curious what she has to say. Either way, I would be so, SO grateful if my daughter's firstmom would send her a note or birthday card. I agree that stationary is nearly impossible to find! I alternate between typing and writing letters to our daughter's first family and that stationary is so darned hard to get my hands on. Walmart usually has one style and Dollar Stores/Dollar Trees usually have several types. Sometimes greeting card stores like Factory Card Outlet have it, too.

  43. I have to agree with Deb and many of the other posters - they need to be read to him before he'll actually be able to do so himself, that way it's not so overwhelming. I like the idea of putting them in a scrapbook and reading them aloud to him as he gets a little older - I think that would be really special. :)

  44. Even though you have been given permission to open them I think that you should leave them unopened. They are not addressed to you.

  45. This is a tough one!! I personally, would probably read them, then read them to Ty.
    I wish my birth mom could have witten me letters when I was young.
    The whole closed adoption thing that was-as far as I know- the only option in the 1960's left me with alot of unanswered questions until I was 35 years old. I don't think I would have resented my mom for reading my letters before I was unable to read them myself.

  46. I'm a birthmom, my first son is 11. We see each other, and so we are able to talk about everything. Will Ty be able to have visits with Rebekah?

    I really agree with Deb. Open them with him, and have his story be a part of his everyday life. Ty will follow your lead: the more normal and comfortable you make it, the better he'll feel about it as well. Knowing Rebekah's love, in her own words, will become more ingrained in him if they are part of his everyday life, more than if it is an "event" at some later date. Does that make any sense?

    The days those letters come will be so special, and provide such an awesome opportunity to help Ty process. Adoption is a Journey.


  47. I don't know what advice to give, just to say go with your heart and I know that God will lead you to the right decision!