An Open And Honest Conversation About Open Adoption On Our Social Networks

open-conversation-open-adoptionStacy Coleman and I have never met. But the other day I discovered that we share something in common.

As part of a special series we’re running every day this month on our Facebook page, I sent out a tweet asking our followers how their perception of open adoption has changed over the years.

Within minutes, Stacy tweeted back:

I was THAT Adoptive Mom who said ‘get our baby & run!’ I’ve recently launched #ThreeStrands to Serve BirthMoms! Complete 180.”

Boy, do I ever know about that “Complete 180.” I’ve made one, too.

If Stacy was “THAT adoptive mom,” I was THAT adoptive dad.

I laugh about it now, but I wasn’t laughing back then. Truth is, at the beginning of our open adoption journey, I was scared stiff.

I had heard the stories. You know, THOSE stories, how birthmothers were selfish and heartless — teenagers who “gave away” their babies and then showed up on your doorstep years later demanding them back.

My wife and I had just gone through years of heartbreak trying to build our family. The last thing I was about to do was bring a birthmother into our lives and put ourselves through more of it.

And so, like Stacy, I had a plan: 

Get the baby and get away.

But then we connected online with the woman who would become our son’s birthmother and suddenly everything changed.

Instead of a young, irresponsible, uncaring teenager, the person we got to know over the next few weeks was a kind, compassionate, university-educated mother whose biggest desire was to provide her son with the life she couldn’t give him.

In no time at all, the caricature I had heard and read about morphed into something quite different: a real person with real emotions. She could have been anyone’s daughter, aunt, friend or neighbor. In fact, under different circumstances, she could have been our friend or neighbor.

The connection between us was as real as it was immediate.

Even in my wildest dreams — and I had many of those in the early days of our family-building — I could never have imagined how deep and strong the connection with our child’s birthmother would become.

Since then I’ve come to realize that while books and movies can give you a glimpse of open adoption, if you really want to understand what it is or what it means, the best way to do that is to live it.

Or to speak to others who are living it or trying to live it.

Which brings me back to the Facebook series we’re running this month in honor of Adoption Month, called “30 Questions, 30 Days”.

Building on a tradition we started six years ago on our sister site’s Facebook page, we’re asking a different question every day about one topic:

How has open adoption has touched your life?

There was a time, not too long ago, when you were expected to go through the process on your own and if you had a problem you had no choice but to suffer in silence.

Nowadays, thanks to sites like Facebook, finding, connecting, and in the case of Stacy and me, opening yourself up and sharing a laugh  with like-minded people about open adoption, is just a click away.

Our Facebook series is only a few days old, but already we’ve gotten some great responses. Here’s a small sampling:

Nicci Cameron Lovell: As a birthmom, I thought open adoption would make me sad and only remind me of the pain. I’m happy to report that almost 12 years later our adoption is more open than I ever would have imagined possible! We have visits approximately once a year, text email and are friends on social media. It is healing a reassuring to see how my decision to place has blessed her life, and I hope seeing me in a good place shows her how much I do love her.

Kathy Ramirez: I originally thought that our daughter would receive an occasional email and photo. I never realized that our grand-daughter’s adopting parents would be her most important support.

Cliff Schlosser Loretto: When my husband and I first decided to pursue adoption we thought there was no way that we wanted to have an open adoption. It was a very scary thought to have contact with our child’s birth family. However, after attending a weekend of orientation with our amazing agency, Friends in Adoption, our views completely changed.

I hope you’ll join in. Birthmothers and hopeful adoptive parents in particular have said they’ve found it helpful — a chance to share, learn and vent.

Of course, not every open adoption story is as as positive as these are, nor is open adoption strictly a black-and-white issue. There’s lots of grey and lots of room for all kinds of stories and experiences.

I’ll be collecting the highlights and posting them here at the end of the month, as I did the month we first launched our blog. Judging by the results so far, there are sure to be plenty of great insights — and a few surprises, too.

Who knows, maybe you, too, will do a “Complete 180.”

How have you used Facebook and other social media in your open adoption journey? What has helped you to talk openly and honestly about open adoption? Share your comments in the section below.