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.