This guest post is by Angie Milks, an adoptive mother.
When we embarked on our adoption journey and started the paperwork, my husband and I knew that we definitely wanted an open adoption.
We felt it was the best way for our future kids to be proud of who they are and to eliminate any questions they might have about where they came from.
We didn’t want them to feel secrecy or shame surrounding their adoptions and we always wanted to be upfront with them about their stories.
We did not know how these open relationships would look or feel, just that we needed the birthparents to know that they were loved and respected and had a place in the lives of our children.
Fast forward 4 ½ years and two open adoptions later, and we wouldn’t change a thing.
We couldn’t have dreamed of all of the ways our lives would be enriched by our new extended family. Family: Because that is who they are and how we all treat each other.
Our daughter, who is 3 ½, has never met her birth parents, but we exchange pictures and emails on a regular basis. We regularly talk about them with our daughter and look at the pictures.
I love that our daughter has emails from her birth mom that she can read for herself later in life, saying how proud she is and how interested they are in her life.
She also has pictures to see what they look like, where she gets her beautiful hair from, and to have an image of who they are when we talk about them.
At this age, she’s too young to fully grasp a lot of what led her to us, but having all of these things will help her immensely when she tries to make heads or tails of it throughout her life.
Seven months ago, our son was born and that was a completely life changing experience.
His birth parents met with us, chose us, and wanted to foster a relationship, and we started doing that with them and their immediate families before our son was even born.
As his adoption was local, we learned we had tons of things in common: We went to the same church, same grocery store, had mutual friends.
We even lived just 2 miles from his birth mom! It truly feels like we were all meant to be together.
His amazing birth mother asked me to be in the delivery room to see him make his worldly debut. My husband gave him his first bottle.
We stayed in the hospital with him until they signed the papers five days later. These are cherished moments we never dreamed of having, as we could not get pregnant.
We continue to have an extremely open relationship with everyone and see them regularly. We just celebrated the holidays and had Christmas with each side of his birth family, where we exchanged gifts and started our own traditions with them.
All families were at my son’s baptism shortly after he was born. They often babysit for us, and have embraced our daughter as well.
Our daughter was able to fully understand the concept of “Tummy Mommy” because of our son’s birth mom’s presence in our lives.
Being able to share our kids with their birth families gives me a joy I can’t describe. I recently received a text from my son’s birth great-grandmother and it read, “Thank you for making our family’s year special instead of sorrowful.”
The foundations of our relationships are built on love and respect and appreciation for one another.
I feel it takes a village. They needed us and we needed them, and together we are raising these children that we all want the best for.
It’s hard for some to understand why we want these open relationships and I feel like a lot of questions and comments are based on ignorance and fear.
I always just answer that our lives are tremendously improved because of these relationships and that I’m a better mother for it.
There is so much love surrounding our children and it’s a beautiful thing!
Angie and her husband, Jim, live in Cleveland, Ohio and love laughing and playing with their kids, spending time with friends and family, and bragging about their open adoptions.
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