Is adopting the second time easier or harder than adopting the first time? Is every adoption unique or are there lessons from one situation that you can learn and apply to the next one? Stacy and Guy are about to find out. The Newark, California adoptive parents from our Find A Family page are no strangers to adoption, and especially to the benefits of open adoption.
Stacy’s mother placed a baby in a closed adoption before eventually reconnecting with him. Although her mother felt it was the right choice for her, the uncertainty was difficult for her. The experience taught Stacy and Guy about the importance of letting children know who they are and where they come from.
To that end, since adopting their son, Jaxson, four years ago, they have maintained a very open relationship with his birthmother and members of his birth family. Recently I had a chance to ask Stacy and Guy about the experience of adopting a second time and how they navigate openness with Jaxson’s birth family.
1. What’s the biggest difference about adopting the second time around?
It is pretty much the same. My husband and I are ready to become parents again, and we are looking forward to having a new baby join our family. The need and the want are still there. Since we already have a child, the time does pass a little faster, but there is still something missing. We know that it will happen, but I have to be honest when I say I am not the most patient person. This journey has taught me to become more patient, and to live in the moment. We do not know what the future will hold, but we know that one day our family will grow and it will be well worth the wait.
2. Do you feel less or more pressure to find a match?
We probably feel more pressure to find a match this time around. We have another person involved in the process now, and it is hard to explain to a four-year-old why we have to wait for a baby to join our family. His cousin just became a big brother, so Jaxson is wishing he was too. We have explained to him that when the time is right he will become a big brother, and for now, he should just enjoy being the only child and all the attention he gets.
3. How easy a decision was it to adopt again?
It was very easy to make our decision to adopt again. My husband and I have always wanted to have at least two children. My husband grew up with two sisters, and although they had their moments, they were close as children, and still are. My siblings were much younger than me and grew up in another state, so I missed out on growing up with my brothers and sisters. Our experiences as children showed us that we wanted Jaxson to be able to grow up with siblings.
4. Some adoptive parents are scared to adopt a second time because they can’t imagine having a more perfect child than the one they already have. Was that ever part of your thought process?
Whether you have a biological child, or adopt, we all think that our children are perfect, and we can’t imagine loving any other person as much. However, once that second child joins your family, you find the room in your heart, and you love that child with everything you have. Each child is a miracle and a blessing, and we know that there is more than enough love to go around.
5. There’s also a belief that adopting a second time is harder because birthmothers want their babies to go to a childless family. What’s your take on that?
I think each birthmother has her expectations for the type of family she wants for her child.
Adoption is kind of like dating. You meet the other person and there has to be some kind of chemistry or connection. Jaxson’s birthmom said that my husband had kind eyes and I looked like a soccer mom, and that is what first drew her to us.
Maybe a birthmother had an older brother she was close to as a child, so she wants her baby to have that same experience. It could be that she wants her baby to be raised with parents who spend lots of time with family, and make that a priority. We hope that birthmothers look at us, and our son, and see that we are a happy family who enjoys spending time with one another, and know that there is more than enough love, time, and energy for another baby. We have tons of support from family and friends and everyone is excited for what the future holds.
6. How have you explained your decision to adopt to Jaxson, and what’s been his reaction?
Ever since Jaxson was 2, he has been asking for a baby brother or sister. Actually, he was asking for 4 siblings, but we convinced him that we should add to our family one at a time. He is looking forward to the day that he is a big brother. He likes to talk about what our life will be like when a baby arrives.
He says he will sing to the baby, teach the baby how to play with his baby toys, and push the baby in the swing. The other day he even asked me to start recording Elmo, so that when we add a baby to our family, he or she could watch it. He is good with our friends’ little ones, and his younger cousins, and we know he will be an amazing brother.
7. What about his birth family — what have you told them about your adoption plans and how have they reacted?
His birthmom wasn’t surprised when we told her. She knew we wanted to have more than one child. She respects our choices and knows that Jaxson is loved and doted on by our entire family, and that he will still be given lots of attention and love.
8. You seem to have a wonderful relationship with Jaxson’s birth family. What’s the secret?
We have a fabulous relationship with Jaxson’s birth family and we feel so blessed. We met Jaxson’s birthmom when she was about 5 months pregnant. The moment we met, we both felt a connection, and knew that there was a bond. She liked the fact that her daughter accepted us right away, and we fell in love with her too. Since she lived hours away, we talked on the phone a lot. We also visited a few times before the birth.
As the due date got closer, I went to stay with her so I could help with whatever she needed. We really bonded during this time and enjoyed getting pedicures, watching movies, and getting to spend lots of time talking. We let her know that we were not only looking forward to becoming parents, but we were also so thankful that we had created a strong bond with her and her daughter.
She was now family, and she mattered to us as much as the baby on the way did. As the years go by, we talk every few months, but text and send pictures more often. We see each other once a year and both of us look forward to the visits. She knows that we are there for her, and that we love her. It is important that both parties respect each other, and make a connection with each other separate from the baby.
9. In your profile, you’re very upfront about your open adoption connections — the fact that Stacy’s mother placed a baby for adoption, the photo of you and Jaxson’s birth family, and the one of you and your adoption support group. How easy was it to move to that level of openness and to include those elements in your profile?
My mother placed her child for adoption back when adoption was not as acceptable in society. She was sent away until the baby was born, and was lucky the nurse told her she had given birth to a boy. She did not know where her son was living, or anything about the family who raised him. Although she knew that the right choice had been made, the unknown was very difficult for her. When we finally reconnected with her son as an adult, we learned that he had been raised well, and had lived a good life. The relief we felt was immense.
He did say that the unknowns were hard for him too. Although he loved his family very much, he always wanted to know who he looked like, acted like, and if there was any family medical history that he should know about. Because of this, it was very easy for my husband and me to decide on an open adoption. We wanted our children to grow up knowing where they came from and that they were loved by so many people. We also wanted the birthparents to feel secure in the fact that their child was doing well, and to be able to ask them questions as our children grew.
When we joined the adoption support group during our first wait, we made instant connections with a few of the families. As luck would have it, we all ended up adopting around the same time, and we all had boys! We know that the connection as adoptive parents is important so we can be there for each other through this adoption journey. Although the kids are too little now, they will soon appreciate having other people in their lives with similar stories, and they will be able to support each other.
10. What’s has been the best part of having such an open adoption?
There are so many positives about having an open adoption. One of the most wonderful things is that since we know Jaxson’s birthmom and birthsister so well, we can see their qualities in Jaxson. We know he talks a lot, is stubborn, and confident, just like his birthmom. Some of the expressions he makes are identical to his birthsister. Another important thing is that we are able to explain Jaxson’s birth story to him.
Every night before bed we tell Jaxson his birth story. He knows that my tummy wasn’t working, and his birthmom was growing him in her belly. He knows that she was looking for a mommy and a daddy for him, and loved him very much. As he grows older, we will add to his story and we know he will have more questions. We are thankful we can ask his birthmom questions along the way, and that Jaxson can ask questions when he is older.
11. What advice do you have for other hopeful parents who want to embrace openness but are scared?
We are often scared about things we are unsure of, or don’t know much about. Adoption is a journey and it is ever changing, just like life. As Jaxson grows and time passes, the relationship we have with his birthfamily changes and evolves. However, no matter what is going on in both of our lives, we will always be a family.
It is important to know that the children we adopt had a first family. They will have questions and be curious about their other families. The more we know as adoptive parents, the more we can explain to our children, and help them feel confident and secure with who they are, and who they will become. The more people who love the child, the better.
What do you think of Stacy and Guy’s story? Was your second adoption easier or harder than your first one? What pointers do you have for others? Leave your comments in the section below.