OK…I’m being a little dramatic here…but honestly? My understanding of the world of adoption would be nothing like it is now, if not for blogs. My worldview and opinions would be mere shadows of what they have been refined to in the two years. My husband and I first began exploring domestic adoption in October of 2010. We had no context of it, no understanding, and no experience. One of our friends had an open adoption with a birth mother in Texas, and the idea of it was intriguing to me, but not something that I thought I could ever do. When we began our home study, our mindset was, “Sure, we will tolerate a semi-open adoption because everyone is telling us its ‘good for the kid.'” That’s as far as my little mind would stretch.
Through the course of our application and home study, we had to read several books on adoption: transracial adoption, post-adoption, and open adoption. I remember when one book came in the mail, the first one to come–I tore open the package, so excited to get started. Ugh!! This book was clearly from the 1980’s; I judged it by its cover, like you’re not supposed to do… I began reading nonetheless, and my disappointment deepened. This book was not giving me a picture of open adoption–it was a step-by-step guide to an open adoption, but seemed totally irrelevant to my life. I felt dissatisfied.
I had always been hesitant of the online community as a whole. Through our infertility, I lurked on some message boards but never commented. I remember the early days of blogging, with Xanga and LiveJournal. It had seemed another world where people wrote about teenage angst and nothing I wanted to be a part of.
Desperately though, early in our adoption process, I googled Open Adoption…this led me to a blogroll, and the first blog I clicked by chance was Production, Not Reproduction. I was like an addict…I read the past entries, oldest to newest, over the next couple of days…I then went through the list of blogs, and began picking out other ones to read. I was in tears for days–the hubby didn’t know what was wrong with me!
I began to read him snippets, show him entries. He joked with me at night, “Are you going to hang out with me or your blogs tonight?” Still, it influenced both of us. At first, I read adoptive family blogs only. I could not bring myself to read the birth parent blogs, not yet. Finally one weekend, months into our journey, I read the first one. Written by a birth mother in an extremely open adoption, my heart was moved to sobbing, choking tears. THIS was the piece that was missing from the boring old book. Seeing both sides of the mirror, hearing both voices–the honesty all around…I was captivated. This was what we needed for our son or daughter. This was God’s grace in action.
When it came time to develop our service plan for the agency, we found ourselves marking “Will Consider” on basically every category related to openness in the relationship. We weren’t at the stage yet where we marked “Yes” unequivocally in every box, but it was a step. I began blogging myself in March 2011 and found an online community of support that I desperately needed. The emails I have received from women going through infertility or considering open adoption have warmed my heart and confirmed that there is a reason God put us on this path.
Our son, E, was placed with us on Halloween of 2011. His birth mother was the first expectant mother we were told about, the day we finished our home study. We met and were officially matched six weeks later. She wanted a very open relationship, and we tested the waters. From our first meeting, I felt an ease and a comfort. We exchanged full names and towns, and we ended up visiting her at her house during the first month of his life. We eased into our open adoption, nonetheless, connecting through a private blog and communicating through the agency for the first four months of E’s life. It never felt quite right, from our side, to have that intermediary, though I can see how for some situations it would be a beneficial thing. Last month, my husband and I asked her social worker if she would be comfortable dropping them as an intermediary and just being fully open with us. She agreed, and we are so excited at where our path is going….as I write this, we are getting ready for our fourth visit, which will be E’s baptism and the party following it at my parent’s house. I am sure there will be bumps, and awkward comments, and family members who don’t quite handle it just right. But it’s our life, and E’s story, and we accept and LOVE every part of him, including his first family.
Would I have my son if not for open adoption blogs? I know that God is bigger and more powerful than all our worldliness, but I can tell you that our viewpoint and our mindset were radically changed by what we found in the online community….we are so grateful for that. I encourage those still exploring to keep doing so…read it all, even the ugly, even the hard stuff. Consider it all, consider what it can look like to let your heart be changed for the better. Use it as preparation, because open adoption is not always easy or pretty. Cherish it, because I have yet to find a more supportive group than the adoption community. Be a lifelong learner, because while the signing of papers might seem like the ending, it’s just the beginning.
About the author:
Meg McKivigan is proud adoptive mom to E, a one-year old boy, and lives with her husband in a rural suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She works in the field of Early Childhood Education, and writes for fun. She blogs about adoption, parenting, and other musings at www.godwillfillthisnest.com.