As often is the case, our path to adoption kicked off when we realized the typical biological approach to getting pregnant just wasn’t going to happen for us. Matt had cancer in his 20’s, and the treatment left him sterile. Though he had stored away some sperm, our efforts at IUI were unsuccessful (AND stressful!). In many ways, there was relief in letting go of the getting-pregnant stresses and entering the adoption process.
With that said, the adoption process was certainly an adventure, filled with ups and downs as any good adventure is. It felt long, challenging, inspiring, connecting, and humbling. In the end, it strengthened our faith like nothing else. As challenging as it was at times, we would do it all again (and we did do it twice!).
As many adoptive couples start out, there is hesitation to have an open adoption because you have heard crazy stories or watched movies that made you think this person would try to reclaim their child. This had crossed our mind, but we quickly came to realize that open adoption is a much more generous process than any short movie or story could ever capture. Open adoption is just a more honest process for all involved. After better understanding the powerful truths and research behind open adoption, we wanted our adoption to be open knowing it was better for our child. But we just couldn’t fully imagine what that would look like.
On the day we met our first baby and his birth mother, we wanted to also embrace her and adopt her into our family. The love, respect, gratitude and humility we felt when meeting her and the son she was entrusting to us, allowing us to become parents…well, it broke open our hearts and made us firm believers in open adoption. In fact, we chose to do it again. As the days pass and we are able to talk more in depth with our two kids about adoption, we realize these kids aren’t just ours, but they are all of ours, birth parents included. We as adults are here to give love and guidance to all children, regardless of how they came to be in our lives. It is the truest definition of “it takes a village”. We adoptive parents are our children’s refuge and safety net but it takes many adults to be a part of a healthy child’s journey.
Despite our best efforts, it’s been a challenge to stay connected with Maria (name changed), the birth mother. After she gave birth to our first child, we stayed connected briefly, then lost touch, only to reconnect for some time when she gave birth to our second child. It offered another window of connection for which we are so grateful. We talk with our kids all the time about Maria and do everything we can to keep her as an emotional and spiritual connection in their lives. We want them to own and be proud of their adoption story. It’s full of power and grace.
What we have learned through this process, ultimately, is the power of surrender. Early on, we tried to exercise so much control over the process of having kids, and that consistently led us to stress and disappointment. In learning to choose surrender, to let go and let God, the result is always much richer and just feels right. It might still be hard, and it has been. But you just have a sense that these hardships are here for our own growth.
We couldn’t have done this without APO. They pretty instantly feel like and treat you like family, offering so much love, support and honesty. They taught us about the adoption process, helping us to learn all the ins and outs of open adoption. And, the eventual hospital experience with the birth mother is filled with so many emotions, but they held our hands and kept nudging us forward. To us, they are angels.
As a result of open adoption, we, including our kids, just have a bolder definition of the word “family.” Slaid, our oldest, was born about a week apart from another child, Judah, who was adopted into another APO family we became good friends with. Our families stay connected to this day, to the point where Slaid took a picture of Judah to kindergarten for a project on family, introducing him as his “brother-from-another-mother.” (For reference, Slaid is a short, fair-skinned Chicano, and Judah is a tall African American.) Naturally, there were questions from curious 5 and 6-year-old kindergarteners, so Slaid went on to proudly explain his adoption story to his class and teacher.
Adoption is a connecting experience, for all involved, building relationships that are life-changing. And those relationships open up a world of possibility for kids. After all, it does take a village.
— Matt and Stacey, adoptive parents