This is the twenty-third post of "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days," a series designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption.
This Crazy, Wonderful, Hectic, Loving Open Adoption
Written by M for Portrait of an Adoption
Nine years ago, I chose to place Katie for adoption, during a very complicated crisis in my life that involved my older two children also being placed into foster care. Since then, my older children have returned home, and I have been lucky enough to still be in Katie’s life.
Placing Katie was a very hard decision for me to make, but I’ve never regretted it. My therapist and I were talking the other day, and she told me the relationship I have with Carrie and Katie is rare, and it is a gift. By law, Carrie doesn’t have to let me have any contact with Katie. In the state of Missouri, there are no laws for birth parents once they terminate their parental rights. I have been very fortunate to be allowed in Katie’s life.
I remember the first few years were very difficult. It was heart wrenching to look at my “baby” and see her reach for another woman when she was tired, hungry, scared or just fussy. It slowly got easier, though, once I began counseling and really started dealing with my decision to place her. Even when my heart hurt, I knew in my head that it was the best decision for everyone involved.
Over the years, I have seen Katie grow into an intelligent, caring, sensitive, funny, amazing person, and though I take some credit for her awesomeness, most of the credit goes to the amazing people that are raising her. In addition to a stable family life, Katie has so many opportunities that I would never have been able to give her. She went swimming with the dolphins when she was 5!
Our annual visits get easier for me every year, and I think that ease comes from knowing my place with Katie and her knowing that I love her as much as I love E and D. When I saw Katie this past summer, she had changed so much. She had cut her hair shorter; she was wearing braces and she was almost as tall as Carrie.
Small gradual changes to Carrie, I’m sure, but to me, she looked so much older! She looked like a kid, or a tween, rather than the infant I remembered her to be. I just wanted to stare at her the entire time we got to visit. I always just want to stare at Katie. She’s so beautiful, and I just can’t get enough of her.
Placing her for adoption has given me and my kids more opportunities as well. I am going to start working with one of the local adoption agencies in my area as a consultant for prospective birth mothers. My daughter, E, is 16 now, and she talks to her friends about abstinence, and for those that do not chose abstinence, she talks with them about adoption.
So many people still consider adoption as a taboo subject, even in the 21st century, and I’m amazed how maturely and respectfully my 16-year-old can talk about adoption.
My son, D, is very proud of his “little sister” and misses her a lot. He really enjoys the role of big brother when it comes to Katie and loves knowing that she, in some way, idolizes him. He has told me many times that when Katie is old enough to have a boyfriend, he wants to meet him and make sure he is good enough for Katie.
I know an open adoption is not for everyone, but it works perfectly for my family. I would go absolutely insane if I didn’t know where Katie was or how she was doing. Even though she is Carrie’s child, Katie will always be a part of me as well. If she were to ever need anything, I would be there for her, just as I am for E and D, and I know in my heart that Carrie would allow me to help if needed.
As Katie gets older, I look forward to being more involved, but only if that’s what Katie wants. I cherish our annual visits, and once she gets older, I hope she continues to visit me, even if she is in college, or married. I hope to be there when she reaches all of her milestones.
I hope to be there if she starts a family of her own, and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without Carrie and Andrew supporting me and this crazy, wonderful, hectic, loving open adoption we have, and for that, I will be forever grateful to them.
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. If you have a story you would like to submit as a candidate for next year's series, please email it to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.