Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Go find your birth mom."

On the way into work, today, my morning radio station had an adoptee call in for "therapy" advice. It's usually about that time, in the show, I switch channels (I have small tolerance for insignificant banter), but I stopped short, as soon as I heard the word adoption. The girl was in her early thirties and wanted to look for her birth mom, but was afraid of hurting her adoptive mom's feelings. She felt caught because she loves her family, has had a wonderful life, and her brother (also adopted) has no desire to meet his birth mom, yet she has this longing to know her biology. Several times over the last few years she'd brought it up to her family, but was always met with cringed smiles and strained answers. Part of her family's hesitation comes from the birth mother's history (what they know of it) - drugs, jail, countless men, etc. The girl was calling to ask what the listeners thought - should she ignore her adoptive family's hesitation and pursue her birth mom or, like her brother, should she just lay it to rest and be content in her present life?

If you're like me, this stirs numerous thoughts.

If I didn't have a strict, no-talking-on-the-phone-with-Ty-in-the-car rule, I would have called in and said, "Go. Go find your birth mom. Your adoptive mom will work it out."

Although this situation is totally unlike ours, I can empathize with the adoptive mom. She is probably experiencing a rainbow of emotion from pride to fear and her protective mama bear heart wants to cover her daughter from further hurt, if it doesn't work out. I get that. I think there would also be an element of - Am I not good enough?

I also feel for the daughter. I try to put myself in other people's shoes, often. It gives me an appreciation for perspective. If I was adopted, it wouldn't matter how great and full my life was, I would still be curious about my beginnings. I understand why adoptees desire reconnection.

As soon as I got into work, I ran to my computer and emailed my thoughts to the radio host. I'm not sure if they read my opinion on air or not, but I try to campaign and cheerlead open adoption as much as I can. When I hear stories like the one above, my heart bleeds for all involved. Nothing about adoption is perfect, but the same holds true for parenting biological children. Adoption is complicated; life is complicated. I'm not saying our way is the best way or that open adoption is always the answer, but it sure is the best for Tyrus...and I know it can be for others, too.

I am so thankful. SO THANKFUL. That God has given us the opportunity to live out open adoption, first-hand. I'm thankful that Ty will not have pieces of his story missing or have to fantasize about what was. I'm thankful that my heart is forever bonded to Rebekah and that we both prefer the other mother, above ourselves. I'm thankful that I'm able to talk freely and openly with Rebekah without ever questioning my words. I'm thankful for Ben and his partnership - that our hearts our in agreement when it comes to Ty and his birth family and our family. I'm thankful that everyone in our life has embraced open-adoptin and recognizes God's mighty hand in little Ty's life.

We are not perfection. But God is.

When I look at Rebekah, I see the Father. I see the same unconditional love he had for his son. Rebekah made great sacrifices, for Ty...and Tyrus will always know. He'll never wonder. Rebekah is a familiar face and name in our home and will always be a standing presence in Ty's life.

This week, Rebekah and I were talking about some things on my heart and from the conversation, Rebekah reminded me that even if she never gets to talk to Ty, she will be satisfied in our relationship, knowing that I am caring for her son in the best way I know - and he's happy. I, of course, immediately responded with, "Talk to him? Are you kidding me? As soon as he says his first word, you better believe we'll be calling to show it off!"

Here's the thing about our open-adoption. My heart is wide-open to Rebekah. I don't call her because I'm being nice. I don't involve her in Ty's life because I know it's best for Ty. I embrace her because I love her! She is my family and my heart and I want to share our life with her.

I am so thankful that Ty will never have to be the adoptee calling into a superfluous radio station asking for therapy.


  1. You are right, he won't. He will be following in his Mother's footsteps as an advocate. I'm sure of it. :)

  2. as always, well said :)

    that is the exact reason I am so thankful to have an open adoption as well. that any many others!

  3. You have such a healthy and wonderful perspective on open adoption. I love when you said you don't call Rebekah out of obligation. . . it's because you truly care. I think that's wonderful

  4. I really believe you that you do not call Rebekah out of obligation. You have soul searched so deep to reach the openess that you have for her. I admire you.

  5. i understand that adoptee's feelings as well as a non-adoptee can.

    the thing about me is, i found out sometimes in middle school (or around there) that i'm part of the Kennedy family. sure, i'd heard the names: Teddy, Jack, Caroline, Maria. but i knew kids with those names, they didn't stand out to me. then i found it they were THAT Teddy, THAT Jack, THAT Caroline, THAT Maria. to me, they were my cousins.

    but now i wonder. i'm lucky in that i can go online and find out a lot. i was also blessed to personally know Cousin Teddy before he died just recently. although my father's family (the Kennedy side) is from New England & Massachusetts in particular, i only go up there about once a year. the rest of my time is spent with my Mom & her side of the family here in D.C. - but because Teddy was in politics, he was here a lot, so that's how i was able to spend time with him.

    now that he's gone, i wish i'd asked more questions. sure, i could still get answers, but as you can imagine, it's kinda hard to get through to some of my cousins. so although i can go online and find out a lot, i can't find out what they do on Christmas morning. i can't find out who was the joker, who was the one you go to for support, any of the kind of stuff that makes a family a family. and although i've got my Mom's family history, my biological father is half of me. so his family is half of mine. and i feel those pieces missing... i felt them before i knew they were THAT family, but i guess i'm almost jealous because so many people know so much about them, yet i know relatively little.

  6. Well said! We have a semi open adoption with our birthmom with the prayer that it will become more open over the years! You are a great mommy!

  7. I take so much pride in my heritage (I'm french ukranian canadian!!) and a lot of our holiday traditions rest on who we are and where we came from. I think it would be a shame to hide that from any child, regardless of the reasons. If that woman wanted to find her birth mom, she should, she just also needs to be prepared that she may not like what she finds, as is sometimes the case with adoption. I should hope that her family would let her follow her heart, and be there for her if she ended up hurt. Isn't that what families are for?

  8. I think it's great that Ty and so many others won't have to feel that torn feeling of if I look then I will make them feel uncomfortable.

  9. Open adoption is a wonderful thing. We feel so lucky that we, too, have such an amazing relationship with Zoe's birthmom. Zoe will always know who she is and where she came from.

  10. What a sweet post! Ty is soooo blessed to have you for his mama!

  11. I love reading about your emotions and openess with Rebekah. It helps when I feel a little nervous about talking to our birthmom. Our situations are so different, and at times I find myself thinking about how lucky you are and praying that someday we will have that same connection.

    I know that with time and God, we will have a relationship that He has ordained and grown. But that involves patience and I have oh so little of that when it comes to this type of thing.

    Ty is amazingly beautiful - and you are right - everytime I look at his pictures, I am constantly drawn to his eyes. So rich and deep.

  12. I'm torn on this. We have a semi-open adoption, in that, our son's birthmother chose our profile and we send updates, but we don't have visits and no personal contact. We've never met her. I do wonder how he will feel when he is old enough to understand, but for now, this feels okay.

    I talked to a man in his 30s who was adopted and he has no questions about his birth family. He said if he were to ever meet his birth mother, he would simply say "thank you."

    Moving forward, I really don't want an open adoption for our next child...I would hate for my son to feel that his birth mother didn't want to/couldn't be involved in his life, but baby #2's birth mother is involved. How would that make my son feel?

    Just some thoughts from the other side! I love reading your story!!

  13. I hope you guys have an awesome Christmas too. I know it will be the best one yet!!!!!

  14. All you have to do is watch "Find my Family" on ABC televsion on Monday nights at 9pm to understand that the unknown of where a person comes from can haunt them EVERY day of their lives, even if they have the BEST adoptive parents in the whole world! Praise be for open adoption (I will also say that it is not the answer for every situation, but I'm grateful for it in our family)

  15. Rebekah,

    Great reflection capturing the delicate nature of adoption and the desire to find one's beginning. To help those who were closed adoptions, I started a nationwide mutual consent adoption reunion registry.

    I know there are many who would be interested in reading your post so I'm sharing it with my website visitors in our articles section: http://www.findmyfamily.org/articles.

    Kind Regards and Merry Christmas,

    Search Angel Judy

  16. I love it. We're so passionate about open adoption; I wish I could campaign or lobby or somethign to get the word out there. I was thrilled to find that adoption special on CBS tonight. People need to know how wonderful little guys like Ty and Josiah have been, and for them to know their birthmothers from birth will be a real blessing down the road.

  17. Great blog! I am a birthmom and I love the thought of my Son being able to know who I am from the very beginning because I have an open adoption with his parents. It's great. The only sad part to the whole this is my Son's birthfather was out of the picture and didn't want to be in it...so I don't know how Ashden is going to feel about that when he grows up. But I am a huge fan of open adoption and I think it is best for everyone involved. I just love your outlook on open adoption and I'm glad that you love your son's birthmom because she is a part of your family.

  18. A to Z,
    i'd think twice about choosing a closed adoption simply because your son's is semi-open. of course you should consider him... i don't mean to imply that you shouldn't! i'm simply saying that you will be your second child's mother, too, and open adoption is usually the best thing for the child and produces much better results in most cases. if closed adoption really is the best thing for your family, i'm not trying to challenge that. i'm simply trying to point out that your second child shouldn't suffer simply to protect your first.

  19. Every once in a while, we question ourselves with just how open our open adoption is. We are in uncharted waters and wonder if we are explaining too much to our daughter at too early an age. My parents have never thrilled with our decision to have an open adoption and so I get lots of lectures about it. But when I watched that "Find My Family" show, I felt renewed in our decision to keep our adoption open. It's not always been easy, but at least my daughter won't grow up with lots of unanswered questions. I know open adoption is not a cure-all. She will still have questions, hurt and feel like part of her is missing...'cause it is. I just hope we can minimize as much as that as possible.