5 Things You Can Learn from a Family with Open Adoption
Paula Kanani Weeks is excited to expand her blogging world as a guest blogger. As an open adoptive mother of two, she has 10 years of experience sharing her children with all seven families (bio and adoptive). Paula was a pediatric nurse, where she embraced her love of caring for children, while waiting for her own through the adoption journey with her very supportive husband. Aside from being a photographer, business owner and most importantly, a mother, she is excited to spread her arms wide open with the desire to help others love unconditionally where worlds colliding can create strong family bonds. Follow her journey on her blog and Instagram page: @paulakanani.
- Peace of Mind
There are many couples who fear the idea of birth parents being involved with their children’s lives after placement. What they don’t understand is the blessing openness can be for both children and biological families. In the early stages of our adoption journey, I will admit that my husband and I felt it would be beneficial for our birth mothers to sever all ties to their children and be able to move on independently. However, this always felt unsettling to me. Our adoption agency provided courses and support groups. The idea of open adoption, in its infancy, was something to consider. If your children remember the day you told them they were adopted, you waited too long. I believed this to be a key factor in how we should raise our children. Time and time again, we discuss with their biological families how they feel more peace with the placement by being a constant part of their lives. Knowing their children on very intimate levels, knowing their hobbies and quirky personalities and unique talents, allows them to still be a part of their lives. I hope my children will continue to grow in confidence of who they are.
- Finding Self
Children spend a lot of their adolescent and teenage years trying to find their place in the world: who they are, what’s their purpose, and what makes them. Story after story, I hear of how adoptees feel a sense of loss or emptiness when they are separated from their “first families,” Even my children who were adopted at birth, with me at the hospital by their side until placement, there is a very real separation from biological ties, that occurs. I have always been comforted by the understanding that my children were never alone in this process and had multiple families loving and doting on them from birth, through placement, and especially to present day. It has not been a question, yet, with my children of who they are and why they have certain qualities, thoughts or behaviors. They know who they are and where they came from aside from their nurtured knowledge of being children of God. In fact, my 10-year-old daughter has already been able to claim her place and feel a deep-rooted connection to her birth mother and family with their love of horses. My son’s laugh, that is prevalent in him, is his birth mother’s laugh. He laughs with purpose, representing that piece of them they share. They both share beautiful qualities with their birth fathers and even grandparents and aunts and uncles. But they appear to be confident in themselves, even as young children.
Respect is a big deal in our home. It is something we are constantly trying to teach our children. Respect for their elders, for teachers, for parents, for community, buildings, earth and so forth. It really doesn’t take much to think of another before acting on your own desires. Early on, we knew openness was the only way to move forward in adoption. Our adoptions have been domestic and therefore it is easier to facilitate openness. But just because we are able to be open and be close, does not mean we need to throw our manners out the door. When our daughter was 4 days old, we were excited to visit and share her with her “first family.” She had a check-up with the doctor and since we were still in the state of her birth, we thought we would give her birth mother a call and request a visit. Even with our son’s birth, family was concerned with emotions running high and need for space, while everyone processed open adoption. What if they don’t keep their word and we never see this baby again? A real fear that kept hearts protected by a wall. Just as with any relationship, it takes trust and time to develop and to grow. Ultimately, respect comes when you put other’s needs first and consider their thoughts and emotions before our own actions.
- Family = Presence
On our daughter’s third birthday, the same day of our son’s blessing, we were excited to share this day with many of our family. At least one person (although there were many) from all seven families attended the event. Both birth mothers and birth fathers were there with their significant others and children. This was seven years ago and the relationships in our families have only grown stronger and closer. I sat and held my 6-month-old baby boy, looked around the room, and realized how blessed my husband and I are to have so many people love our children. With open adoption, we are just adding to the already amazing family we have with all are our additional families. There is true power in the statement, “the more the merrier.”
- Power to Heal
Adoption. The word alone can make some wince with fear, possibly having experienced it in some way or knowing someone that has experienced it. There have been many made-for-TV movies portraying adoption and not always in a positive light. From both biological families and adoptive families, there is a real loss experienced. The loss of fertility and the ability to procreate in a family unit and the loss of a child when placement is the answer. No matter how you look at it, there is heartbreak, loss and feelings of deep pain. Open adoption, whether from birth, or many years later when adoptees are able to find their biological families, you will find a beautiful healing process unfold. Those wounds may never disappear, with scars always reminding us. Those scars are just battle wounds. Real healing is when we accept those wounds and own them. Openness in adoption builds confidence and peace from our experiences and allows honest healing.