When Open Adoption Works

On Thursday, my 10-year-old K competed in her first swim meet.  I wasn’t there.  I was home with my two younger daughters, and my husband was with our big girl at the meet.  All I wanted was for my daughter to have a positive experience in the pool.  She had been running a fever for the previous five days, and this was her first day back to health.  I thought she might be too wiped out to do much more than finish a length of the pool.

To my delight, she had a really successful evening, and my husband gleefully sent me texts with pictures of her holding blue and red ribbons.  I was home and wanted to share the happy news with someone.  The first person that came to mind was M, my daughter’s birthmom.

M and I keep in touch.  We send each other sporadic texts, but sometimes weeks or months pass without us talking or texting.  Since we are friends on Facebook, I know M sees regular pictures and updates about K.  That is one of the reasons I try to stay active on Facebook – it is a way for M to be a part of K’s life.  During the years before I was on Facebook, I made a big effort to mail copies of photos to M on a regular basis, but now that isn’t as necessary.

Anyway, as I l stood in my kitchen on Thursday evening, I thought, I want M to share in this.  So I sent her a text and a pic.  She responded immediately, and the two of us oohed and ahhed back and forth about how happy we were for K.  It was the type of maternal pride that only a mother can know.  Which usually means only one person can experience it.  But in our case, I knew another mother who would get just as much pleasure from K’s swimming as I do.

Sometimes, when K is doing something cute or funny (or even when she is being annoying!), I think about how I want to share it with M, but it is not often that I follow through.  I get busy or distracted by the pace of life, and the thought passes without M ever knowing she was present in my mind.

But on Thursday night, I stopped.  I realized that communicating with M does not always have to be a big deal or a long, serious conversation.  Sometimes open adoption is as simple as sending a quick text and finding a moment for two moms to share, before we return to our separate lives.

When open adoption works, it is very affirming.  It is an acknowledgement of each person, particularly of the adoptee and the birthparent.  It is a chance for an adoptive parent to say, I see you.  I know your importance.  You are here and present.

On Sunday, K swam again in the swim meet (it was a 4-day long affair).  This time, I was there and my husband was with the younger girls.  When K won the backstroke, my first text was to M.  Adoption is complicated and often messy, but there are some simple moments.  Find them and let them in.

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