This guest post is by Tennille, an adoptive mother.
For as long as I can remember I have desired to be a mom.
Although it was difficult, I am thankful for our long struggle with infertility because it led us to our son!
Through sharing our open adoption journey I’ve seen friends go from struggling through infertility to adopting, birth families who have no relationship with the adoptive family to building a friendship.
When there is a desire in your heart, there is a way.
Here’s a little bit about our story and how we went from infertility to open adoption:
When we came to the end of our journey to conceive, we were heartbroken at the thought of not having a child.
We knew we were meant to be someone’s parents so we turned to adoption.
Inspired by our pastor, we opened up to our friends and family about our dream for a private open adoption.
Only a handful of family and friends knew of our struggle with infertility so it was hard to share our struggles.
We wrote a letter to our family and friends about our desire to start a family and then emailed it, posted it on Facebook, and asked everyone to pass it along.
Our dream was given a little life a few months later when I received a message from my cousin.
A friend of a friend was trying find a home for her baby due in a few months and the birth mom read our letter and wanted to know if we were interested.
Shocked, overjoyed, excited and ecstatic, I raced home to share the news with my husband.
I was given her email address and had a few family members and friends email her telling her about us.
I sent an introduction letter to her and asked if she would like to meet with us.
Within a few weeks we flew to meet Kelli.
We met in a restaurant and there were chills, laughs and tears while we visited.
Before we said goodbye she presented us with ultrasound photos and said she would really like us to be her baby’s parents.
There were hugs and tears.
Wow! We were expecting!
We could see the love she had for our baby.
The decision to place her child for adoption was not an easy one and she chose us.
We had two months to get our home study, hire attorneys, prepare for a baby and get to know Kelli. It was surreal!
Going into adoption I knew that I wanted it to be open. It was important to me that our child would always know their birth story and who and where they came from.
Kelli didn’t want an open adoption. She actually asked for a closed one, fearing it would be too painful for her to know details about her child.
I encouraged her that if that was what she wanted we could do that.
I would rather have an open adoption but we didn’t have to make a decision that would be forever before he even arrived.
Adoption after infertility can really enable us to have compassion for our child’s birth mom.
Although it’s different we also know the pain of longing for our child and having empty arms.
I used the pain I had experienced to relate to Kelli and to be mindful of what she was going through and would be going through.
We made an effort to be there for Kelli as much as possible before our baby boy arrived: attending doctors appointments going out for lunch, grabbing a coffee, going shopping, checking in on her, etc.
A few weeks before our son arrived I teamed up with our mutual friend, Kelli’s aunts, and one of her sisters to throw her a Blessing Shower.
This was a special time to celebrate Kelli and gave me the opportunity to meet grandparents, friends and family.
I took the time to go through Kelli’s family photos with Kelli, her mom and a sister and made an album for our son.
I really wanted to know her especially if she decided on a closed adoption and I wanted Kelli to know who we were and to feel comfortable and confident with us.
When our son was born and Kelli asked if she could be involved in his life we said of course!
We created a private Facebook page and Kelli added those who she wanted to share in our son’s life.
We post updates, videos, messages, etc.
This will be so great for our little guy as he grows up. He will always be able to see and know he is loved and cared for by his birth family.
That being said, being mindful of the things we post on our personal pages (especially when friends on Facebook) is important.
I admit that there are some milestones that I share with Kelli so she can be the one who shares them.
When we travel to our son’s birth state we reach out to Kelli and make arrangements for visits.
We make an effort to remember Kelli on holidays and birthdays. We do something special and meaningful for her.
Not all of our son’s birth family show a desire to have a relationship while others ask to video chat and want to be more involved.
Since his birth we have met with our son’s paternal side of the family and had a few visits (including a visit in our home state when they were in town for a sporting event).
We held his first birthday in his birth state and shared it with both birth and adoptive family and friends.
We have learned to set boundaries for visits and limit the number of people who come. Too many people can be scary to a little one!
It’s hard because we live out of state and when we are visiting we’re often in town visiting my family as well.
We figure out a date and time for a visit where Kelli will bring or invite a specific number of visitors to the location of my choosing (usually a family member’s house).
I do try to set up a separate time that Kelli can come when she won’t have to share her time with him.
I continue to reach out especially if I hear that Kelli (or others) are having a hard time.
I try to send a message or photo and ask if they want to video chat. Texting and messaging are typically ongoing (with Kelli at least).
We typically exchange a few messages each week.
I don’t want anyone to feel pressured into being involved in our son’s life but I also want them to know the doors for communication are open.
For birth family members who are seeking a relationship with your child’s adoptive family my suggestion is simple: First, don’t make anyone the bad guy.
I have heard some people talking badly about adoptive families and some talking bad about birth families.
The common word there is family. They are all family so reach out and let them know you’re supportive of them.
Make an effort to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Ask about their child and let them know you really see them as a family.
Making those little efforts will open the doors for a relationship with them.
Open adoption doesn’t have to mean that you’ve lost a family member.
Open adoption means you’ve extended your family.
It means your child has more people to love them.
I had a dream when we first learned we were expecting; we were at our son’s graduation and members of his birth family were sitting with us.
That will be wonderful!
Tennille lives with her husband, son and two whippets in Las Vegas. They love the desert and enjoy many outdoor adventures. Active in their community through their church and mom’s group, they are passionate about sharing their story of building their family through adoption and are proud of the open relationship they have with their son’s birthmom and family.
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