I love being able to share with others the story of Little Piñata's open adoption. I think that open adoption can be a scary term for people considering adopting as it sometime implies "co-parenting." However, that is definitely not the case! Open adoption just means that there is information shared between adoptive and biological parents. This can start as small as just knowing each others' names. Some people only communicate through their adoption agency. But, others may be in regular communication through email, texts, phone calls or even visits. Every adoption is as unique as each individual child. None look exactly the same and they change so much over the years!
The last time I shared about the openness we had with Little Piñata's birthparents, I shared how our relationship started off. It was definitely a nerve wracking time for me because I was just beginning my journey as a mother and felt like I was overwhelmed enough with learning how to be a mom, let alone adding additional family members into our lives! But, I decided to continue day by day in faith that we were doing what was best for Little P. The summer after he was born I continued to email both of his birthparents every week or so how we was doing. Of course at that point we were taking (what seemed like) hundreds of photos a day, so there were lots of pictures and cute memories to share. I told them how he got to meet all of our family members and how everyone fell in love with him the moment they saw him. I continued to share with them what a true blessing he was to us each and every day.
We were so blessed that Little P's birthmother was even able to attend his baptism service in August of that year. After deciding that she was likely more nervous than we would be, we asked her to sit with us in the front of the church and had her come along with us to the celebration afterward. These are such sweet memories for us! She brought him gifts and loved on him, but handed him over whenever he started crying, saying, "It looks like he needs his parents now!" From the get-go she has never stopped showing amazing love for our sweet boy, yet has always completely acknowledged us as his parents and the ones that are raising him. I can't even believe the emotional maturity and strength that this takes every day, and is a continuing reminder to me of what an amazing woman she is!
In December 2012 we decided to plan our own little Christmas get-together with her and were actually quite nervous when we discovered that Little Piñata's birthfather would be coming along too! We had never met him before (except through email) and it brought up a lot of questions for us again. What if we don't get along? What if he doesn't like how we're parenting? The list could go on and on. But, we knew that WE were Little P's parents and that nothing could change that. So, although nervous, we went into the celebration with high hopes and open hearts. And we couldn't have been more pleased. Not only did we instantly connect with LP's birthmother the day we met her, but LP's birthfather was so endearing, kind, and even jolly, that we loved him right away too! We shared stories about all the cute things Little Piñata was doing and asked them questions about how life was going for them. We found little similarities that Little P has with both of his biological parents, and it made us smile to know that we will be able to share those things with him as he grows up. We still have the picture of the 5 of us from that night framed and in Little P's bedroom, so that we can remind him of these two wonderful people that love him and share such a big connection to him. I love that we can point to that picture and tell him about how "he grew in her tummy and that she is his birthmother who loves him very much." Of course Little P has no idea what we're saying, but as he grows it will become a regular part of his vocabulary and he will be able to piece together what it all means as he learns and matures.
And now, more than a year later, we continue to have an open relationship with both of his birthparents. We email and send photos regularly and we even got together again this year at Christmas! We discovered that Little P has his birthfather's smile and were reminded that a lot of his tender heart comes from his birthmother. I know that these relationships will grow and change with time. No relationship ever stays the same as years pass. And as Little Piñata gets older he will likely have more of a say in how often he sees them and what the relationship will look like. But, for now we are so grateful for the communication and connection we have.
Are there days that this relationship seems strange and complicated to me? Of course! But, we will forever be connected to them through Little P and we want to be sure that no matter how our relationship with them changes over time, that we are making our decisions based on what is best for our son. I'm so grateful for the gift of open adoption that many are unable to have (for various reasons). And I hope that in our next adoption we will have the same kind of connection with our future child's birthparents. But, even if we do not, we will have learned so much from our experiences so far and have our hearts both challenged and expanded in ways we never would have expected! We're so grateful that Little Piñata is loved by so many people. We hope and pray that as he grows he will admire and love his birthparents just as much as we do, and will appreciate the connection he has had with them all along the way.