Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ty's First Dad

Open adoption has a spray of meaning, but for me, it's defined by my willingness to treat my kids' first parents with an open heart. This inevitably leads to discomfort, but at the same time, the circumstances that, years ago, were frightening, are now, every day, normal - and more importantly, beneficial.

Many of you contacted me in October, after reading/watching Rebekah's story , wondering about Ty's relationship with his birth dad. I haven't given him much air time in this place because, honestly, there isn't much to tell.

I've only met him once.

We took him and his wife to Applebees, days after Ty's birth, so that we could have a chance to get to know each other. The things I read online and in his file seemed softer after hearing his story, in person, but my insides squirmed for a long time every time we'd talk.

I had given him my cell phone number for contact (next time I will give Ben's), so it was up to me whether or not to answer the phone when it would ring. In the beginning he would call every month or so and alwasys started the conversation the same way. "How is MY son?"

Every time I answered, I swore I would never do it, again. He was arrogant and thoughtless and I, simply, didn't trust him.

But. I always answered.

I always answered because I never wanted to have to tell Ty, one day, that I was the reason he lost relationship with his dad. No way. I have enough stuff to be accountable for, I wasn't willing to take on his stuff, too.

As the years went on, time between contacts grew and my level of discomfort snuffed. Ty's dad is a broken man with a difficult past. His only other son is in prison for life and his story is textbook for generational dysfunction. I have a real heart for those....because God does.

Today, I look forward to his phone calls. I love telling him how smart, kind, and tender our boy is. I love filling his heart with hope that cycles can be broken.

In the beginning, I worried about the day that they'd want to talk, but it's yet to come. Neither has ever asked to speak to the other.

On the surface, we have always been wide open with the boys when it comes to their stories. We talk, openly (fairly often) about first families and life before our family, but Ben and I have always kept the discussion, general, until someone inquires further.

When Sweet Boy joined us, last year, it took dinner conversation to a deeper level, for sure, but because two of the three have unknown dads, our conversations tend to swirl around birth moms, foster parents and grandparents.

We do answer Ty's questions when they come; it's just not often. That might change in the future, but for now, he has a contented life without biological gap.

I no longer live concerned for the questions that surface or the hurts that individual stories might one day inflict. We've done our part in cultivating an environment that lives love and promotes dialogue.

The rest is in God's hands.

I could write pages about the benefit of fostering open adoption relationships. Each lovie has a unique story with a different path, but all of their beginnings are, equally, as significant. The poignancy in that truth is not lost on me.

LJ is the only member of our family that has a mostly hidden past, but I know who his mother is and watch her from a distance. I have written many unsent letters, waiting for God's "go". I depend on his wisdom every step of the way. This is, after all, his story...not ours.


  1. You and Ben are such great parents! Is Little Miss still with you? Prayers for your family.

    1. We still have Missy. We go back to court in a couple of weeks to see what the next steps are. There will, definitely, be more words to come. Right now, I'm just sitting on the emotions, and trying to sort them out.

  2. It's a shame that you kept the lines open and his biological dad doesn't ask to speak to Ty. Someday. Was wondering about lil miss as well... Is she with your family?

  3. Wow. Thank you for sharing! It's incredible to hear. Study's biggest concern with open adoption is much like many others... that it would feel less like our child and more like it could end at any time. We know that this isn't the case in reality, but it's his hesitation at the moment. Forgive me for asking, but have you ever experienced anything like that? I'm sure it wouldn't be easy to discuss even if you did, but I'm curious. We are still planning to adopt regardless, but tend to shy solely more towards closed adoptions.

    1. Ben and I have had countless conversations with couples considering adoption and the concerns you express are, completely, normal. And since our papas are our protectors, they tend to feel it the strongest!

      The second part of your question is easier to answer, so I'll speak to that first. Having an open adoption never made us feel like he wasn't a permanent member of our family. We, definitely, breathed a sigh of relief when Rebekah's window of time to change her mind had passed, but from that day forward we never worried of having to say goodbye.

      As for feeling less like your child, open adoption will stretch you beyond your comfort zone. I loved Rebekah like a sister by the time Ty was born and even though she called me mom, I felt like an imposter. The day we left the hospital, I wrote about how it felt like stealing someone's baby.

      Open adoption is not always easy or possible, but if given the opportunity, take it! It is a beautiful gift for everyone involved. I can tell you from experience, living with three five year olds with three very different stories, Tyrus has it the easiest. He is the most confident; the most adjusted. He's the only one with a complete story. His relationship with his mom and her family is one of the greatest treasures of our life.

      It's also just as important to note that most birth mothers need openness in adoption to find healing. I have seen the devastating affects of closed adoptions from the birth family perspective. It rips my heart and pushes me to advocate more. God's in the business of restoration; open adoption is a beautiful tool in the process.

      My advice is to take it slow and trust God's guidance. Don't hesitate if you want to reach out with more questions.

      I wrote a related post in my FAQ section about Ty calling Rebekah "mom". I think it's an important read for couples considering domestic adoption:

    2. I'm so sorry - I never got the reply notification!

      Thank you so much for responding to all of my questions. I'm sure I will have a ton! I did read your post on Ty calling her mom and I think it is absolutely beautiful. One thing I have noticed is this: over and over again throughout your blog you point out the fact that adoption isn't just about becoming parents yourself or growing a family of your own, but it's about everyone involved. You've said that again here - I really need to broaden my view and embrace this part of things. God's heart isn't just for me and the child that we bring home, it's for everyone even remotely involved in the story and I think that is just amazing - I don't know how I missed it up until reading your blog, but it is so obvious now and I love that you make it a point to show this side of things. Thank you so much!

  4. I always learn so much from you.

  5. Love this post and I love your new pictures that are up. 😊😊😊😊

  6. I have followed your blog and just have to finally say how much I admire you for keeping the contact with birth parents. I am sure your children will be grateful one day. Am so loving the new header photos