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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Mixed Emotions of our Open Adoption

Today we were lucky to get a visit from Tracey and Grandma Kay to celebrate Ben's birthday (a little late). I'm always surprised at how much emotional energy goes into these get-togethers. Not in a bad way, of course. It's just that it's impossible to see them without having a flood of memories come racing back. Memories that hold so many mixed emotions. On most days I just enjoy the joy and wholeness I feel with Ben in our family. But, our open adoption reminds me of the sorrow and the sacrifice that produced my joy.

There are no words to describe how humbling it is to be the recipient of love in the form of a baby. That is a kind of love and sacrifice that leaves me speechless.

When we first jumped into adoption, there were a lot of unknowns. Like, the obvious, who would choose us and why would they choose us, and who was the baby that would come into our lives. But, one of the big ones was how would we navigate the unknown territory of an open adoption after placement. I remember initially being terrified at the idea of it. And, though I hate to admit it, it made me feel shamefully possessive. But, the more I heard others' stories and the benefits of open adoption, I knew there had to be more to it.

What I wasn't prepared for was how much our open adoption would open my heart in new ways. On most days, I forget that Ben was adopted. Not in the sense that I forget the way he came to us, but I don't look at him and think, "oh, he's adopted, so he'll be treated differently" or whatever. I just think, "he's my son and I love him the same as I love Hugh and Lucy." But, when we meet up with his birth family, I'm reminded all over again of his adoption. I'm reminded of the emptiness of my infertility, that was in large part healed the first time I held Ben in my arms. I'm reminded of the sorrow that likely came to Tracey because of her selfless choice. I know adoption wasn't her first choice, but there were circumstances out of her control that guided her to seek adoption, all because she loved her son so much she wanted to give him something she wasn't able to at the time.

Processing this full range of emotion is draining, but I'm grateful for the reminder of how much my heart can feel. I've come to realize it is a gift to feel so much, to be reminded of the sorrows that have been healed and the joys that have filled the empty cavity carved by pain. The greatest gift I can give to Ben is making sure he knows his roots and the incredible love that motivated Tracey to place him in our family. There aren't words to express that to him. We teach him that by showing him and letting his birth mother show him when we come together. Our open adoption is truly all about love.