Recently we had the opportunity to meet up with one of our son’s biological relatives other than his birth parents while they were vacationing in California. It was an interesting experience road tripping to meet the maternal birth family and being a part of their family for the day. I noticed some family dynamics at play as our son’s birthmother, Lizzie, her brother, David, their significant others and her step-mother interacted with each other throughout the afternoon – as I would watching any family. It was interesting for me to see how different siblings and family members can be from each other, yet so similar at the same time. I am reminded of me and my own siblings where each of us, even though related, are very much our own persons.
I got to see little bits of our son in Lizzie’s brother, David – particularly his mellow attitude and seemingly good sense of humor. Although it’s impossible to know who he gets that from (Lizzie, John – the birthfather, or elsewhere). Mostly, it was just nice to meet another blood relative of our son and nice to see that he was so good natured.
I’m guessing we might have taken Lizzie’s brother by surprise with how we chose to address him, which was “Uncle David.” We had never really asked what he wanted to be called. It just sort of seemed to be the appropriate way to address him and introduce him to our son. We wanted our 3-year-old to know that David wasn’t just anybody, he was his Uncle. Before we even left on the trip (we took a 5 hour road trip to Southern California to see them) we starting prepping our son for who we were going to see. So Uncle David it was from the get go. And his long standing girlfriend quickly became “Almost Aunt Annie.”
Overall, I’d say our four hours together in California was a fabulous time, short and sweet and a wonderful opportunity. Anytime we get to meet up with his biological family is an occasion for us all – plus we got to explore a city where we had never been before.
Our friends and our families were curious to know how our meeting went as it isn’t everyday that you hear of adoptive parents driving four hours to meet up with the biological parents. I’m certain they wondered if there was any unease at the situation. I can honestly say I haven’t yet felt any unease with meeting up with our son’s birth parents. In the end I think everyone is happy to see our boy happy. Roles that we all play seem very clear. No bounds have been overstepped. Perhaps we are very lucky with our relationship with our birth parents, or, it could be the result of being open and honest about our feelings along the way so there haven’t been any big surprises. I realize that each adoption is different and I can speak only from my own adoption experience; however, I don’t believe that having a relationship like ours has to be so unique so long as both parties continue to engage with each other and are honest with their wants and needs along the way.
Another one of my adoptive parent friends said, after hearing how our meeting went, that having loving and caring birth parents and biological family in the picture is really awesome since it simply means more people to love your child. I am reminded of the African proverb made so popular by Hillary Clinton, “It takes a village to raise a child.” How very true with a child of an open adoption but it absolutely rings true for any child. The more people to love a child and watch out for them the better that child will be in the long run. Perhaps taking this proverb to heart is the key to a successful open adoption and a successful raising of any child. I know that we are blessed to have the birth family that we do and I am not afraid to let his biological family members get to know him and love him.