Friday, March 27, 2009

Our Openness in Our Adoption

Everyday I wake up to the noises of Charlee, and everyday I hit my knees thanking my Heavenly Father for the Elle and Kolby and for the love they have for Charlee.   

A birthparent is different then any other relationship you have.  This is my perspective and experience with our birth parents, every situation is different and every situation changes.

When Karst and I first started contact with Elle and Kolby, it was weird because we knew so little about them, yet they knew so much more about us.  It is like any other relationship, we started slow, trying to get aquatinted.  We tried to make sure we were being ourselves, by being honest about everything.  You have those natural boundaries because it is someone you don't really know, but at the same time you are talking to each other about really personal things.   It was us opening up and letting them see who we were but us respecting there space and privacy and not needing every little detail. 

There is no way to express the deep love in our hearts for them, not just because they placed Charlee in our home, but because of who they are as people. Throughout this expirence we have come to genuinely love and care about them.   A lot of who Charlee is and will become is because of them and who they are, we embrace them for this.  Although she is only 4 months old, you see parts of who she will become, and I want to share that with them.  It isn't about raising Charlee to be like us, or to be like them, it is raising Charlee to be true to herself, this will be a part she needs to be true to as well.

This isn't something we "have" to do, it is something we want to do.  Initially when we talked about the openness of this adoption we did not set anything in stone.  Elle said, "I just want what is best for my baby girl, if it gets too hard on her or she is acting out because of the openness we can take a step back."  We agreed, we needed to look at what is best for Charlee, and we proceeded slowly.

We were so fortunate that they allowed us to be at the hospital when she was born, it opened our eyes to how many people loved Elle and Kolby and how much they cared about little Charlee. Both Elle and Kolby's parents were there, siblings, friends, aunts and uncles.   It was amazing to watch them be excited for the new member of their family, but hard to see they also grieved for the loss of the family member at the same time.  When they would find out who we were they almost always told us to take good care of her.  We knew we were taking a piece of their heart with her.

We always expressed to them that we are so grateful, that we knew this was hard and that we are going to have an open relationship so Elle and Kolby would always know how she was doing.  We offered that same opportunity to their parents.  We exchanged information and I have been sending them pictures, letters and emails.  We even set up a private blog that is updated weekly so if they need to know more they have the opportunity.

Placing Charlee was the right choice for them, it isn't the right choice for everyone facing a crisis pregnancy.  Even though they knew it was what needed to happen for Charlee, it wasn't easy.  At placement, we took lots of pictures, even though it was a painful thing, so Charlee could see the love they had for her,  she can look at their eyes and see that it wasn't an easy decision, and it was made out of love.  The pictures say so much more then we could.

Since placement we have had lots of opportunities to visit and see Elle and her family.  Because Elle's parents know Karst's parents there is a level of trust already there.  This is Jane (Elle's mom) and Jan (Karst's mom).  So we have seen them frequently.  

I know this has helped us deal with different parts of the adoption, I hope it has also helped them.  Jane and Lane (Elle's dad) have been so good to me and Karst, they have filled our freezer with meat more than once.  They have really shared a lot with us.  We feel it is important that we build these relationships and bonds now so as Charlee grows up they are already there.  She will know who they are and not have to wonder or imagine about them.

Kolby has came and visited Charlee since placement and we were invited to his mom Pat's house a few months ago.  We get emails from both of them.  That is what they are comfortable with so we are good with it.  It is great getting to know them better.  We look forward to building this relationship with them.

We love Kolby, and are so excited that as a birth father he has chosen to stay part of Charlee's life.  In Wyoming birth fathers have to sign at placement.We know this would not have happened without him.  We know it has been a hard thing for him to deal with, but we are really grateful for this opportunity to build a relationship with him for Charlee.

It is natural as Elle and Kolby move through the different phases of life that they might not have the need to be so open with us.  We do understand and expect this to happen.  But our openness will still be there, whenever they need it.  This really is about Charlee and what we feel as her parents will be the best for her, if we start seeing unhealthy or dangerous things from the birth families we will have to pull back a little.  But isn't that how it is in all families?

In someways it is kind of like when you get married and you have your in-laws that you get to know and they become a part of your life.  Charlee just came with her own in-laws, and in H2K land we LOVE in-laws so it is great.

People have asked me if it is hard to stay in contact, if we don't just want to close the door and keep Charlee all to ourselves, that maybe we don't have to do so much.  Again we don't do this because we feel obligated, we do this probably a lot for ourselves.

After dealing with infertility and the loss that goes with it for so long.  When you see others hurting and feeling a loss you want to reach out and comfort them. I remember feeling so alone, scared and sad, and I realized then that those were things I felt then because our home was empty but it was only for a little while.  Birth families feel alone, scared, a loss and sadness but their's isn't only a little while, their's will always be there, sometimes stronger than others but still there a little.  If there is anything we can do to help them deal with it we want to help.

It is important to us that as Charlee grows up that she is always respectful about her birthfamilies, that she loves them for who they are and she knows how much they love and care about her.  She will know where she came from.  Of course they aren't perfect, neither are we, but that is the thing about love, it works best when it isn't perfect.

Seeing Elle and Charlee together makes my heart sing.  The last few month Elle hasn't been working as much so we have taken that opportunity for lots of visits, but she is getting busier, so they won't be as frequent.  There is something so right about it, I need to cultivate that.


Anonymous said...

Wow, it is awesome to see so many people love such a beautiful little girl, thanks for sharing this part of her story.

Carlotta said...

This needs to be shared all over. Just perfectly put. I loved it. Thank you so much for sharing. All kids are special but Elisa and I always say there is something extra special about the kids that are adopted. They are awesome, they are beautiful in everyway. They radiate something unique. I love to hear of other open relationships it is so inpiring.

elka said...

thanks so much for sharing this! i'm mr. r's somehow distant cousin who is writing the research paper. i used several of your quotes, but did not use charlee's name. i hope that is ok. i hope that i can somehow capture the love of open adoption, but i highly doubt that! thanks again.

Kim said...

Elle and Kolby are so amazing. I am so thankful to them for making two of the most wonderful people, absolutely happy. What a remarkable thing to be a dream maker. Loves.