Why I Didn’t Close Down My Open Adoption With My Son’s Birthmother

This guest post is by Jennifer Dance, an adoptive mother.

babyIt had been five years into our struggle with infertility so my husband I were elated when we found out we had been chosen by an expectant parent for consideration as adoptive parents.

In preparation for our upcoming adoption we were required by our adoption agency to attend a birth mother panel.

We went into the panel feeling very uncomfortable with the term “open adoption.” We had already decided a closed adoption would be best for us but we left the panel two completely different people.

It was so eye-opening and heartwarming to hear the stories of these courageous and selfless birth mothers. They sacrificed so much in order to provide a better life for their children.

Birth mothers were no longer nameless faces.

They were real women who loved their children so much that they decided to place them for adoption. The topic of open adoption was back on the table as my husband and I reevaluated our new found feelings.

Not long after my husband and I decided we wanted an open adoption, our future son’s birth mother invited us to her next ultrasound. The tech said the baby boy was growing and healthy. We talked to her about her drug use as well and she assured us she had been sober since she discovered she was pregnant.

On our first meeting she was very open about her addiction to meth during the first trimester.

We left that day feeling happy and relieved. On December 31st, 2012 at 11:30 pm we received a phone call from our son’s birth mother’s brother stating she was having seizures and was being taken to the hospital for an emergency cesarean section. As my husband and I flew out of bed to pack the car and make the drive my feelings changed from fear, to apprehension, to happiness, and back to fear again.

384293_4037639347111_1533987809_nI was worried for the safety of our son’s birth mom and our precious baby boy who was coming three weeks early.

As we made the drive, the horrible realization of what must have happened hit me. It was New Year’s Eve. Why would she be having seizures on New Year’s Eve so close to midnight?

I tried to brush away my suspicions and give my son’s birth mother the benefit of the doubt but deep in my heart I knew what had happened. My fears were confirmed by my son’s birth mother’s sister.

She had been partying and she overdosed on methamphetamine. I was rushed to the NICU to meet our new baby boy who was born on New Year’s Day just nine minutes after midnight.

One look and I just started sobbing uncontrollably.

He was so tiny and fragile yet perfect in every way. I spent a few hours with him and went to see our son’s birth mother. She was very incoherent but she woke up for a brief second when I entered the room. She looked at me and very softly said “I am so sorry. I had no idea I would go into labor” before drifting back off to sleep.

As a new parent you are given tons of advice from friends and family alike. Our situation was no different. All our family agreed on one thing; after the adoption was finalized I should cut off contact with our son’s birth mother. It felt so dishonest to me. It felt like I was using her and it didn’t feel right.

It felt like everyone was asking me to punish her.

1545886_10201109911497672_425684851_nHow could I punish this woman who knew she could not overcome addiction and made the responsible decision to place her child for adoption? I resolved to not become that person.

Time went on and our son began to thrive. I eventually forgave our son’s birth mother. How could I be angry at someone who had given us this precious gift? How could I stay mad at someone who was selfless enough to make this sacrifice so my family could be complete?

We visited our son’s birth mother frequently. I knew I loved her because six months went by without a visit and I began to miss her terribly. She is a part of our family and we have an unbreakable bond.

People always ask me the same question: How can you possibly forgive her?

It is so easy. Imagine if a family member you love made a terrible mistake. It’s alright to feel angry but you still love them.

I love how much our little Jackson looks so much like his birth parents and I tell him that all the time. My caseworker once told me if you are not comfortable seeing your birth parents in your child, maybe you are not ready for adoption yet.

I have an open adoption because it is the best thing for our son.

1497563_10201109908097587_1228753282_nI want him to know where he came from so he can be comfortable with who he is and so he can get answers when he needs them. I get tired of defending our decision to have an open adoption to our family but I know they are just looking out for us.

In the end I wouldn’t change a thing. It gives Jackson’s birth parents a chance to see how truly loved he is and it gives Jackson a chance to know that he is loved by so many people.

Jennifer Dance lives with her husband, Matthew, and their son, Jackson, in Eagle Mountain, Utah. They are currently waiting to adopt their second child. She can be reached through Twitter.

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