An Open Adoption Success Story, By Any Other Name

IMG_0539Meet Rebekah, Tyrus’s mother. Not Rebekah, Tyrus’s other mother.

Confused?

Don’t be.

Rebekah is Tyrus’s birthmother.

He has another mother, also named Rebekah. She’s his adoptive mother.

Kinda cool, don’t you think?

Rebekah thinks so. She was raising four children when she placed Tyrus for adoption with the other Rebekah and her husband, Ben, just over four years ago. As she wrote at the time, “I don’t think that this means that I am a horrible person…but I think it means that I know my limits.”

She says the moment she clicked on their blog, she knew right away that they were the right adoptive family for Tyrus. Reading Rebekah and Ben’s adoption profile only confirmed her hunch: “Everything about them was perfect.”

Today, their relationship is still strong. Despite being separated by a handful of states — Rebekah lives in Colorado, the other Rebekah in Michigan — they are as close as can be, keeping in touch through phone calls, photos, videos and visits. They’ve even created a series of videos together where they talk about their relationship and answers questions about open adoption.

Recently, I had a chance to ask Rebekah, the birthmother, about her relationship to Rebekah, the adoptive mother, and her family, including, of course, the little man at the center of it all, Tyrus.

1. First of all, what’s with the names?!

That questions makes me smile. I believe that it was God that put that little detail together. Who could have done that? Its rare enough that we spell our names the Biblical way, but then to put us together in this circumstance is pretty cool if you ask me.

2. When you were looking for parents for Tyrus, did you see that as a sign of some sort?

Yes!!! I thought it was just to much of a coincidence not to matter. Call me silly…that’s how I saw it. Who wouldn’t????

IMG_10223. What were you looking for in adoptive parents for Tyrus–what were some of the things at the top of your list?

I remember not really knowing what I wanted in parents for my son. There were so many profiles, each one with pictures of two people standing in front of their beautiful home wearing smiles. Each profile looked the same to me….saying the same thing…nothing special. I knew that first and foremost I wanted them to be Christian and secondly, I wanted there to be a possibility of my son NOT being an only child. I knew that when I found the right couple I would know and the pages and the pictures would jump out to me like 3D on a chalk board. I was so right.

4. What was it about Rebekah and Ben that initially clicked with you?

This may sound very superficial but I’m going to type it anyway. They were just such beautiful people…and yes I’m talking about the outward appearance. Rebekah’s smile was infectious, and Ben’s eyes were filled with kindness and I could tell (I don’t know how) that the beauty that I saw outwardly was the same beauty that they held inwardly. Again I was so right. As I began to read their profile and scan through the pictures I realized that they were the ones who would parent my son. There was no question and my decision was made.

5. You’ve said that what helped you with your decision was the way that they focused on you during the pregnancy. What were some of the things they did that made you feel like the adoption wasnt just about the baby?

I remember my first conversation with Rebekah. It was over the phone because we lived so far away. I could tell she was nervous but she remained very focused on me and what I was saying. We talked many times over the next few weeks until one day they asked if they could come and visit. WOW!! The baby wasnt even born yet and they wanted to come visit. Of course I said yes. They flew out and knocked on my door. I can’t imagine the feelings they were having. I lived in a very “slummy” apartment building. It was all I could afford.

During my pregnancy I tried to stay pretty well focused on the idea that Tyrus was not going to be my baby to raise. It was easy since I had four others that I cared for every day with no breaks. It gave me very little time to think about actually handing my baby over.

When the day came and the baby was born I still felt okay about the whole thing. There were so many people there. I hardly had time to think about what was yet to come. The clock ticked and the papers were signed and it was actually time to hand him over…permanently. I knew I was making the right decision but for the first time I started thinking…Did I spend enough time with him? Am I going to be okay with this later? As the clock ticked I started to get anxiety over the whole thing. I’m thankful I had so many loving people around me to wipe my tears and hug my neck.

IMG_1016

Tyrus and the two Rebekahs.

7. How did you initiate contact after you went your separate ways — who contacted who, how, and how long did you wait before you got together and talked?

We didn’t wait to talk after they left. Rebekah always involved me in everything. She sent me tons of videos and pictures. It became a happy thing for me to see pictures and videos. I loved seeing the joy of motherhood on Rebekah’s face.

8. The relationship you have today with the other Rebekah is the envy of most birthmothers and adoptive mothers. What’s the secret?

The secret is respect. I respect her as Tyrus’ mother and she respects me as his birth mother. We both have our places and we both accept them and are grateful. I personally am so grateful for the opportunity to still be part of Rebekah’s and Ben’s family. The other day Rebekah told me that she loves me like a sister. That made me feel so loved.

9. Did you always want this much openness or did it just evolve naturally over time?

 I always wanted this much openness. However, I always prepared my heart for the possibility that Rebekah and Ben would not want to be so open. I knew that I had picked the right parents for my son and I so I told myself that I had to trust that they would raise him in a happy loving home whether I was able to watch it happen or not. I left it all in God’s hands.

10. You describe your visits with Tyrus as a “joy and a reflief.” As he gets older and becomes more expressive and inquisitive, do you think it will be harder or easier to spend time with him?

As Tyrus gets older he just gets smarter and more inquisitive. He is very curious about where he came from and who I am. I welcome any questions he may have at any time. I think its very healthy for him to want to know things about his life. Im so so happy that Rebekah and Ben just let him learn at his own pace.

11. You mention that placing him for adoption would have been more difficult if he had been your first child. How so?

My first child and my fifth child were equally important to me. The difference would be that I had experienced all the “firsts.” I knew what it meant to bring a child home. I knew how hard it was to stay up all night nursing and spend all day chasing when they became mobile. I never mind doing those things but I knew that with four others I was responsible for that it would be very difficult for me to keep up. So the difference giving up my first versus giving up my fifth was that I was very aware of what it took to raise a child and I was very relieved that I was going to be able to pass on that responsibility to someone else.

12. His placement, you’ve said, was tough on your oldest daughter. How has she and your other children adjusted to it?

My oldest daughter was the most aware of the situation. She was very angry at me for giving her brother away (as she would say it.) I would have to be honest and say that she still holds some bitterness towards me for my decision. My prayer would be that she would some day understand why I made the choice.

13. How have you explained, or plan to explain, to Tyrus that you parented four children but weren’t able to parent him?

I struggle with this question often. How is it that I was able to keep four and gave up the fifth? It doesn’t seem fair and it doesn’t seem to make sense even to me often times, how in the world do you explain it to a child? I hope that some day (when he is older) I can sit down and tell him that giving him up for adoption did not mean that he had a lesser place in my family. It simply meant that I knew what I could and couldn’t handle and I didn’t want him to suffer from the things I “couldnt handle.” It only seemed fair that he have parents that could give him ALL the love and ALL the attention he deserved. Someday I will figure out how to put that into words for him.

14. Tyrus refers to you both as “mom.” I’m guessing that labels — birthmother, first mother etc. — aren’t hugely popular in your households?

Rebekah and Ben don’t tell Tyrus what to call me. He refers to Rebekah as “mom” ALL the time, and I’m pretty certain he calls me “Rebekah” most of the time but you will hear him refer to me as his “other mom.” I’m sure as time goes on it will change again. I’m glad that he has freedom to sort it all out in his little head. It’s very healthy to me.

15. You and Rebekah both blog about your adoption experiences. Has anything in her blog ever surprised you, and vice versa?

Nothing has ever surprised me. She went into motherhood with such grace and it was actually exciting to watch her experience all the “firsts” of being a mom.

16. Do you ever worry about saying something that might upset her — or Tyrus down the road?

You know I really don’t worry about that at all.

17. Tyrus now has a brother. How has that changed the dynamics of his or Rebekah’s relationship with you?

It has not changed anything in our relationship. Rebekah and I talk less now but that’s because we are both so busy and also mostly because I get so preoccupied with my crazy life that I don’t put myself out there. I am hoping that my life becomes more steady and I can communicate more. Regardles,s I know she is there and i’ts so comforting that we can always start where we left off.

18. Some birthmothers worry about overstepping the boundaries with the adoptive parents and having them shut down their relationship. Has that ever been a concern for you?

Yes. I worried about that constantly even before he was born. I didn’t want to push them away. Eventually I learned that I couldn’t push them away. They wanted me to be involved and I felt very welcomed.

19. After the placement you said that you wanted to call and see  Rebekah more often. Is there anything about your relationship today that you would want to change?

When I set out to find parents for my son I knew that I didnt want them to be local. In my mind I thought that it would be to painful to see them all the time and I wanted to escape the sadness. Now I regret that decision and I wish they were closer. I would LOVE to share more time with them.

What do you think of Rebekah’s story? What do you think of her relationship with Tyrus, Rebekah and the rest of their family? Leave your comments in the space below.

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