It is convenient that our son’s birth family lives in New York state where I have close family members to visit. Before our very first contact with our birth family via phone we did not know of this connection but we learned about it during that initial phone call. Since I reside in California now, I was ecstatic to hear where they lived since it was a spitting distance from my extended family members whom I visit on occasion. I don’t know how much of an impact this was for the birth parents in finalizing their selection on who would parent their son but I’d imagine it must have had some impact if they were at all interested in visiting with him on occasion.
Since our son’s birth we have visited his birth parents in or near their home 4 times. I love those visits with his birth parents. Even though they are only a couple of hours long I feel the connection we are making with his biological family increases each time we stop by. If we continue with these visits, our son will not have to question who his biological parents are because he will know them. This is beyond wonderful for both him and us as his adopted parents.
I find it interesting how people respond to us when we tell them we meet with our son’s biological family. Most people, including some of my close family members and friends, are simply in awe by the whole thing. I believe they think the whole situation to be awkward and scary. “Isn’t is weird or uncomfortable?” they ask. Not in the least. Of course, I understand where people are coming from. There is a lot of fear and apprehension in our society about birth parents mainly centered around negative news stories telling how birth parents want their children back or they want to be more involved in the parenting process. Luckily, our birth parents, like many other birth parents out there, aren’t those scary stereotypes at all. They are real people who we now have a very strong connection to. In a way we’ve adopted our birth parents into our family – through our son. The simplest way to describe what it is like visiting with them is to imagine visiting extended family members, like cousins – ones you actually enjoy spending time with. They are after all our chosen family.
After our last visit with our birth parents my sister asked me a question that I don’t know the answer to. “How do you think they do emotionally after your visit?” she asked. Hearing her question made me cringe a bit since I’m assuming my sister expects it to be extremely difficult for them to see their biological child and watch him leave with other people. Perhaps that is my sister projecting how she might feel in a similar situation? I don’t know. I’ve never had a biological child of my own to know how that might feel; however, I’m not convinced that everyone in that situation might fall apart emotionally. In fact, part of me wonders if in some way it is a bit the opposite for some birth parents. They might be relieved to see their son doing well which might confirm their decision to give him up for adoption in the first place. Or perhaps it is bittersweet: they could be happy to see him smiling and content; and sad that they gave him up at the same time. Life is not all black and white after all.
I hope that us visiting doesn’t cause any significant pain to them as I’d be sad to think we caused them any anguish. My only aspiration is that our open adoption is unobstructed enough that they feel comfortable in telling us things that work or don’t work for them.