Ben and I are standing in a crowded, curtain clad room, just days, after little Tyrus was born. We're still living in a haze, frustrated that we had to wait over an hour because the county office doesn't believe he's our son-we have no paperwork to prove it (termination hasn't happened, yet), and strangely wondering why Michael Jackson's death paralells that of a god.
The under-age attending nurse collects Ty's bloodwork for the state, slaps on some bandaids, looks directly at me and asks, "So this adoption thing was pretty easy for you...?"
I stifle a laugh, sneak a peak at Ben, and answer with a definite, "No. No, it wasn't."
Most of the world is blind to adoption. I wish it was a national hot topic...that the country would care as much for these babies and foster children, as it does for conflicting politics, world war, and controversies over healthcare.
All I can do is my part.
I can share my experiences, honestly, and hope it helps change mindsets. That our story will inspire others to adopt...even those that think it's not for them.
I've been wanting to write about open adoption, specifically, for weeks, but am just now finding the time. Openness is definitely curving toward the trend, in the world of adoption, but can still be a very scary topic for those considering it. I assume those reading have read most of our story and know the closeness Rebekah and I have with one another. My casual approach to our relationship may have readers believe that choosing to engage in "open" adoption was an easy choice for us....but it wasn't.
Open adoption is scary. And we didn't commit right away. Before we were matched with Rebekah we had closed our minds to open adoption. We just didn't see how it could be beneficial...or comfortable. Even when Rebekah requested an open adoption, when she chose us, we walked very tentatively...praying that God would lead us.
It didn't take long until I considered Rebekah friend...we were always ten steps ahead of the agency and they had a hard time keeping up with our openness. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and information....neither of us really considered any topic "off limits," and talked about everything under the sun.
Before Ty (as in all the days with Rebekah leading up to the birth), I would have told you that open adoption is perfection...that everyone should do it, and that it's a beautiful gift to give your one day son or daughter...
Today, I would say...open adoption is difficult-but rewarding, everyone should do it-if given the opportunity, and I'm so thankful that I'm able to gift my relationship with Rebekah to Ty.
Nothing about this process is easy...and that includes open relationships. It's almost like a tug-of-war game. There is nothing better than being able to give your son a full history lesson on his heritage, to have hundreds of family tokens...from pictures to letters to gifts...to be able to re-tell his birth day and the tears that were shed by all...to have been been there, in the room, at all...or to read him the last email sent by his birth-grandma so he can hear the love in her heart. Yet...a very big YET. There is nothing more difficult than knowing the pain you've caused in another woman's heart.
The day after we came "home" from the hospital, Rebekah and I sobbed together on the phone. Her telling me how hard her day was...me trying to convey the gratitude in my heart. We were both a mess. The minute I hung up I realized how much easier a closed adoption would be. Sure, Rebekah would still have pain....but then I wouldn't have had to hear it. Maybe I could have moved on with my life quicker....maybe Ty would have felt like my son sooner.
Those are selfish thoughts for sure, but I felt them. When Rebekah wept in the room next door, as she signed her termination paperwork, I felt every tear...When Rebekah blogged about her heartache days after, I read every word...When we were out together and someone asked how she was, I saw the pain that veiled her eyes. Her experience did not escape me.
The openness of adoption is hard.
A day doesn't go by that I don't think about her, even two months later. Although the emotions have settled, it's still hard for me. I can't believe that Rebekah gave me the boy I call son. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that I love her. I want the best for her. And I wish that she could have the joy of knowing and seeing Tyrus every day.
Like all adoption emotions, I was ill prepared.
It's almost fitting for it to be difficult. If Rebekah had to make a selfless decision to give me her son...than I should have to be selfless in giving her a relationship. Even if it was hard for me to see her pain.
Now that we've walked through the most painful days and life has settled in...I really wish Rebekah and her whole family lived close...I do. I miss them terribly and want them to share all of Ty's moments with us, not just through pictures and videos...Rebekah and I try to talk weekly, but it's never enough.
The openness of adoption pulls you in deep.
Do you want to know what the coolest thing about it is???
Someone else on the planet (other than your spouse) cares as much for your son/daughter as you do. I know grandmas...and aunties...and friends care. But it's not the same. Rebekah was just as excited as I was when Ty's bottom lashes grew...and was equally pained when I told her of Ty's first shots...Just like me, she watches and re-watches the nonsense-he's hardly-doing-anything videos I make, because she loves him as much as I do. Do you know how special that is? We giggle over his quirks, agree that he's the most beautiful baby alive, and dream about the things to come...together.
Rebekah is the only person on earth who will ever experience a mother's love for Ty with me. The ability to share such an incredible gift is remarkable. It makes my heart explode. As great as all of that is for me, the true winner of our open adoption, is little Tyrus Lee...
He doesn't know it yet, but he won the baby lottery. He has two worlds of people that would give their lives for him. Two mommies that are committed to cheering him on for life. And two parents who will never take his life for granted...who thank God for him every day...who will do everything possible to keep both worlds functioning as one...one big, loving family.