Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Faces Of Open Adoption


After we endured seven miscarriages in our attempt to have a second child, we turned to adoption. At our first meeting with the adoption agency we learned that most U.S. adoptions these days are considered "open adoptions" which means, roughly, that the birthmother and the adoptive parents have met in person. The degree of openness can range from a one-time meeting to on-going contact, which is often agreed upon by the adoptive parents and the birthmother. To many people, "Open Adoption" sounds like a scary concept. To us, it sounded scary too.

We attended a seminar at the agency on Open Adoption. We listened to one family's story of how they met and bonded with their child's birthmother and how that relationship blossomed over time. After the seminar, I could picture myself in their shoes. Open Adoption didn't seem so scary anymore.

I made a twenty-four page scrapbook of our lives, to be shown to potential birthmothers at the adoption agency. And we waited. More than a year passed before we got a call from the agency. They said a girl had chosen us to be the parents of her unborn baby. Her name was Alexa and she wanted to meet us.

We met her at the adoption agency, and her Social Worker interviewed us with a list of questions that would help Alexa get to know us better and decide if she still wanted us to parent her child. We felt such an immediate connection to her during that meeting. After we left we got a call from her Social Worker. Alexa had felt a connection to us too.


During Alexa's last trimester we got together with her frequently. We enjoyed getting to know her better. She and I exchanged screennames and began to Instant Message and email each other. That is how we became really close. And it was no longer just about a baby. It was about Alexa too. And we became friends. And I started to love her.

I could no longer picture saying goodbye to her after the baby's birth. How could I get to know and love this person, who was giving us the greatest gift one person can give another... only to turn around and say, "Thank you. Have a nice life. I'll send you pictures."? We knew we wanted her to continue to be a part of our lives. For the baby. For her. For us.

With her due date around the corner, she invited us to attend the birth. Days before she was scheduled to be induced, I contracted Chicken Pox. Marshall had to attend the birth without me. He cut the cord, took video and pictures, and spent time with the baby on his first day of life. We picked the name, "Seamus" which Alexa really liked. While she had the option of picking her own name for him to go on his original birth certificate, she wrote the name we had chosen.

The next day Marshall stayed home so Alexa could have the entire day alone with Seamus. We returned to the hospital the day they were scheduled to be discharged. Due to my Chicken Pox, I was not allowed in the maternity ward. Rather than having the baby handed over to us in the parking lot of the hospital, we took Alexa with us and brought her home. We had lunch with her and spent a few hours with her at her house. We needed that time and I think she did too. I changed Seamus out of his hospital outfit, blanket and bracelet and gave those to Alexa.

When it was time to leave, Alexa walked us to our car and we strapped Seamus into his carseat. She and I held each other and cried. Leaving Alexa and driving away with Seamus was one of the hardest things we ever had to do. Still, it was nothing compared to what Alexa had to go through.

Three weeks later we got together with Alexa at the adoption agency. It was good to see her again, but if felt so formal seeing her at the adoption agency, in the presence of her Social Worker. Since that time, we've continued to get together with Alexa every few months at our home. She attended the final adoption hearing, so she could sit with us and be there for Seamus. She attended his baptism. We attended her graduation. We adopted once more and Alexa came to my baby shower.

The thing is, she is a part of our family now. She is related to our son, so she is related to us. We thank God for Alexa and how He chose to send us Seamus through her. We wouldn't have it any other way. Seamus will never have to wonder if Alexa loves him. He knows she does. And he loves her too. At age 4 and 1/2, he's just starting to realize that while we all love "Miss Alexa", he has an extra special bond with her. He knows he was born to her, just like his big brother was born to me.

Marshall created this video as a celebration of Alexa, of Seamus, and of our story. With Alexa's permission, I am sharing it with you.

These are the faces of Open Adoption.




50 comments:

  1. That's how I wanted to start Tday, a blubbering idiot. This was such a beautiful video and post. Alexa is a lucky girl to have found you two!!

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  2. Wow!! What a beautiful story! What a gift Alexa gave by choosing life for her sweet baby boy and how wonderful that she has become such an important part of your family! Thanks for sharing :)

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  3. What an amazing post, loved it... and the video... it made me cry, what a special relationship...

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. What a beautiful, beautiful story!

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  5. Incredible story... and I love the video. I'd have to say I initially thought of open adoptions as a scary thing... but now... its awesome that Alexa is a part of your lives.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the day with your sweet, sweet family!

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  6. Beautiful...her, you, all of it - Beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving to one of my favorite families. I am so thankful to know you guys. (:

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  7. What an awesome family! What you have done for you son is inspiring...if we could all be so selfless!

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  8. This is a precious, beautiful story. I need to go get a kleenex now...

    I hope your day is blessed and that your guacamole is the best ever... ;-)

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  9. Nothing like starting Thanksgiving with a little bit of a cry. Thank you for sharing the story of the two amazing women behind one special little boy. Happy Thanksgiving Julie and family!

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  10. Oh, I'm crying! How sweet and precious. You have a beautifully amazing family. I just feel the love!

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  11. You made me cry! I really can't say anything else. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your lucky, blessed children. :)

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  12. Oh that is so sweet and so powerful. What a wonderful and perfect post for Thanksgiving!

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  13. Aw man. YOu made me cry!

    Alexa, if you're reading this... you did a really good thing. I can only imagine how hard it must've been. But you made one family so very happy.

    I'm so touched by all of your stories interwoven.

    Seamus is a gorgeous kid, and one very lucky boy.

    xoxoxo

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  14. Came here from I'm Being Held Hostage's blog.

    God bless you and your family.

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  15. I've cried my eyes out now. That is such a beautiful story. Have you seen the Mark Schultz video with the song called "Everything to Me" about his adoption story. It's really good. They showed it at our Northland mom's meeting a few weeks ago after a few of the moms shared their adoption stories and we all started bawling.

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  16. Oh Julie, I started to watch it this morning and wanted to wait until I could give it my full attention after reading through your words....

    It's just incredible, really and truly a blessing that you have Alexa in your lives. Seamus' life will be so complete having the knowledge and bond with his birth mom. And the gift it is to the rest of your family to know her and have her a part of your family is just beyond! What a wonderful tribute to open adoption and to your special family - thank you so much for sharing such a tender part of your life.

    xox Lor

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  17. I've never heard a personal story of someone who has been part of an open adoption. I'm so glad you shared. I've always been a little apprehensive about the idea, but feel like I could potentially do that in the future. How fortunate Seamus is to have both of his mommies in his life! Doubly blessed!

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  18. Oh, Julie...that video was so sweet! I am all weepy now! You sure do have A LOT to be thankful for today.

    ps: I love that version of that song! I'd never heard it before!

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  19. I have tears in my eyes :)

    What a Beautiful Thanksgiving entry.

    Alexa is one special, selfless young woman. You and Marshall are selfless in how you all are melded into a 'family'. It may not be a traditional family, but it's definitely a FAMILY.

    I have never seen Alexa before, even though I was around when you adopted Seamus, and this video tribute truly is a love story.

    Thanks for sharing this very personal part of all your lives.

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  20. that is a wonderful story--thanks for sharing it.

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  21. just beautiful. thank you for sharing.

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  22. Oh, Julie that is just beautiful.

    How blessed you are to have made such a connection with Alexa. And that you have each other.

    Thanks for such an incredible Thanksgiving post!

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  23. Such a beautiful and well written entry. Very touching. You are all so blessed to have found each other.

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  24. Alexa is so blessed! This is such and encouragement.

    The video was so special and captured something that words cannot.

    I am so thankful that your story has 2 happy endings! Seamus and Marlie!

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  25. I absolutely teared up watching that video. I admit that I didn't know much about adoption, open or otherwise, before reading your blog. Although I have always supported the idea, your story is such a testament to the possibility of bringing the birth mother into the family. Thank you for sharing!

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  26. How beautiful...the video and the whole experience. Thanks for helping me understand more about open adoption!

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  27. And sometimes good things happen to great people. What a touching story-thanks for sharing.

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  28. How lovely was this?!
    My oldest and I got to watch this together and talk about his first mommy.
    Thank you.

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  29. AWESOME, Julie! You know how much I value and respect birth mommies. This just blesses my heart! What a beautiful gift you all have given each other to maintain a loving family relationship... What a gift to Seamus most of all! It's wonderful.

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  30. What an amazing story! It sounds very scary, but also so healing, too. Wow! thanks for sharing!

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  31. that is beautiful!! thanks for sharing such a special story and video.

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  32. What a beautiful post. The video took my breath away. Thank you so much for sharing your journey so openly.

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  33. This was a thoroughly lovely and touching post. I enjoyed it so much. Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Beautiful - your love really shows through. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  35. That is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. What a blessing that you are ableable to share with Alexa. For Seamus to never have to worry about why his Mother gave him away is in itself a true blessing.
    Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

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  36. Wow. I was blown away-That was beautiful. Alexa is a very special woman. Your family is so blessed...

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  37. I always love reading about Seamus' birthmom and the bond you all share -- it is such an important one for the open/ domestic adoption community.

    The video floored me -- so beautiful and touching.

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  38. Wow! Thank you for sharing this post. We are in the middle of our adoption process right now (international). This blessed my heart.

    All for Jesus,
    Julie

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  39. This really touched me.

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  40. I'm an adoption caseworker and I saw your video while trying to find some positive videos about adoption on Youtube. Your family is beautiful and amazing. As someone who works with birthmoms every day, I can't tell you how much I admire your inclusion of Alexa in your lives. May God bless your whole family, including Alexa.

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  41. Thanks for your video! I totally agree - I just wish our daughter's Birth Mom lived closer! I could not imagine a closed adoption, and I know families who long for OA and the Birth Mom wants no contact....I'm hoping we can bring her out this summer to visit.

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  42. Wow...beautiful. You have such a beautiful story and family. What a blessing.

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  43. That just made me cry. Amazing. How blessed you both are. To have found each other. Beautiful story. Great video. And you said that your husband made that? Wow again. Sounds like you've got yourself a winner. ;)

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  44. Your story made me cry. I'm a bmom of a little boy who is nearly 8 and we also have an open adoption, very similar to yours. I only wish my son's amom was as thoughtful as you! Your son's bmom must feel so special!
    Bless your family! xx

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  45. Thank you for sharing your family album with us all. What a special relationship you have w/Alexa. You have a beautiful family (including he "extended" family). What a ideal situation. I'm sure it makes it easier for everyone.

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  46. I too am an adoptive mom. I can't imagine life without both our first moms in our lives! they mean the world to us and glad you have a close open adoption!

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  47. Hello,
    i just recently put my 2nd son into a very open adoption with an old friend...it was nice to know we are not the only people who wanted that type of bond and relationship between the two families...i was also wondering...on the video...what was the song...plz email me @ keep.fallin09@gmail.com

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