In the world of open adoption, there is an ebb and a flow. And just like any relationship, there are complications. As the adoptive parent in the triad that includes August and his birthmother, though, I have experienced a metamorphosis that has been as powerful as any other aspect of this amazing journey.
It has always been my contention that open adoption, when it is a positive force in a child’s life, is the absolute best gift adoptive parents can give. To grow up knowing your birth family, to know (not merely be told) that your birthmother made an adoption plan because of the deep, abiding love she has for you is an opportunity unparalleled. And, of course, the more people who want to step up and love your child is nothing any parent could ever deny.
Parents, though, have a habit of being protective, to want to shield their children from anything that could not only harm them but cause them even a moment’s angst. Whether that’s right, wrong, or something else depends upon so much; but in an open adoption, it is not surprising for an adoptive parent to continually assess and reassess: Is this relationship in my child’s best interest?
Yesterday August was supposed to spend time with his birthmother. She was not able to come. August and I waited patiently for her at the appointed spot at the appointed time (and for 40 minutes after). August had a gift to give her and her new baby. He was looking forward to running up and giving “her the hugest hug ever.” He was disappointed when she didn’t come.
As I drove home, I listened to him come up with reasons why she might not have come–as only a three-year-old can. He rationalized: “Maybe she was dusting,” then, “Maybe it was too cold outside.” In any other situation, I would have been compelled to comment: People don’t miss important appointments because they’re cleaning. The cold didn’t keep us away.
But I stopped myself . . . in the nick of time. And I realized that this is HIS relationship with his birthmother. It is not my place to judge, to comment. My only jobs are to drive him until he’s old enough to drive himself, to answer any questions he asks, and–most importantly–to listen. It will unfold as it will and needs no help or hindrance from me.
Putting my sons’ needs before my own is nothing new. Turning off my steady stream of commentary is. I’ve always known there is power in saying “no.” I am now learning the dignity that resides in silence.