Our open adoption

Family photo, October 2013
Family photo, October 2013

My husband and I adopted our son through an open adoption in 2011. ‘Open adoption’ means different things to different people, for us it means we’ve formally agreed to send pictures to his birthparents at least once a year; our son’s birthparents send gifts to him at Christmas and on his birthday; and we’ve exchanged contact information with the birthparents so we know where they live and how to reach them if need be. Although it isn’t in our formal agreement, we have chosen to have more contact with our son’s birthparents. Over the last several years we’ve seen his birthparents face-to-face about six times. Other additional contact we have is solely with the birthmother who has expressed reciprocal interest in sharing more communication. This contact occurs mostly through email about a handful of times throughout the year, through Facebook which gives us more of an everyday glimpse into the birthmother’s life, and occasionally through text messaging.

The amount of communication we have with our birthparents worked very well for me initially. Over time though, I found our limited communication gave only selective glimpses into the lives and thoughts of our son’s birthparents, particularly our birthmother whom I was primarily in contact with, and after a couple of years I began to feel uncomfortable because I realized it was unclear to me what our birthmother thought about placing her child with us for an adoption. At times, some emails from her would leave me wondering whether or not she was at peace with the adoption.

So in early 2013, after receiving a particularly disheartening email from our son’s birthmother, I wrote to her proposing that we begin writing columns back and forth to each other about various experiences that have come up for us about our adoption. It was a bit of a risk proposing such a thing because part of me was aware that I might not like what was revealed to me in her articles, plus I wondered if I would be comfortable sharing with her certain aspects that came up for me. I forged ahead anyway figuring it was better to be open with her than not, and she agreed to write the columns with me. So in addition to our other regular contact, for the past three years our son’s birthmother and I have openly shared about a dozen articles each revealing personal and sometimes difficult experiences that have come up for us regarding various aspects of our open adoption.

I can not express how much some of these columns have meant to me. Because of both of our willingness to open up and share even more, we gained a better understanding of each other over the last few years. My feelings of unease about how our birthmother feels about our adoption is now not an issue anymore through what she’s revealed to me in her columns. How lucky I am to have this rare access inside a birthmother’s inner thoughts!

We both wrote these columns for each other but at the same time intended them to eventually have a larger audience. I believe not sharing these articles would be a disservice to other adoptive families out there who aren’t fortunate enough to have the same level of communication that we do. It is for this reason I’ve started my blog. I’ve asked our son’s birthmother for permission to share her articles publicly along with me and she has graciously agreed. My hope is that other adoptive families and birth families might benefit from these articles. It is with these good intentions in mind that I welcome you to read our columns.

Note: Names of our son’s birthparents, of our son, and of other key members of our son’s adoption story have been changed or omitted throughout this site to protect their privacy.

Karen’s columns | Birthmother columns