November is National Adoption Awareness Month and 2012 is the year when Friends in Adoption celebrates it's 30th anniversary. We celebrate both events by bringing back great adoption stories from our newsletter, Journeys, to our blog. Enjoy!
What is "Real" Mommy?
An Adoption Story, by Lisa Flack
Today we visited my son John's birth family. His birth mom JoHanna just gave birth to her 3rd child 3 weeks ago. The experience of open adoption holds many emotions, ranging from the initial fear of the "unknown", to pure love and happiness. This is a real story about my son's beautiful open adoption.
Seven years ago, we were on the cover of the FIA Newsletter. Our story, unlike many at the time, was of a complete open adoption, in which we had meetings and phone calls before John was born, and we decided to continue with letters, pictures and possibly visits after his birth. None of us knew exactly where we were going...but it felt right. Our relationship has evolved over the past seven years into such a trusting and respectful open adoption, that it often has me in awe.
The key to our relationship lies in the deep respect we all have for one another. From the beginning, John's birth parents expressed that they did not want to "be in the way" of our ability to parent John. They were worried that their presence in our lives would be confusing for john and difficult for us. Likewise, we were worried about their well-being, realizing the terrible pain and grief they were feeling. It is because of the mutual caring respect we have grown so close and are truly a loving extended family. This at first surprised me — especially when I thought I would want more of a letter/picture type relationship. I adore John's birth family and I love getting together with them. John's reaction to our relationship is one of complete acceptance and normalcy. He looks forward to seeing his birth half-siblings and birth parents. At seven years old, he is just starting to understand how special this is.
We have seen JoHanna and her family numerous times over the years. We got together the first time after John's birth at the FIA Picnic when John had just turned one. We had a great time, but realized that the day went too fast, so we decided to see each other again that fall. We were all amazed that during the first year, we got closer and wanted to continue nurturing our relationship. We asked Dawn what to do since we were all so new at this and were not expecting our relationship to get closer. I remember Dawn telling us, "Let John tell you what he wants." I thought to myself, " How can I have my 15 month old tell me what he wants?" But her advice was so well taken, because by his interest and questions over the years, we have developed the bond we have now. He is so at ease with this relationship. We have always told him his adoption story from the beginning, even before he could really understand it. This approach has worked so well in making him know that he is such a special child, one whom not only his adoptive family adores, but also his birth family. He understands his adoption plan was made out of love and concern for him and he understands why he is with us.
This summer, out of the blue, John told me — "You know what Mom, you're not my real Mom." O.K. yes...l was expecting this during a moment of anger - not during an innocent conversation...and after I collected my thoughts...and my heart from my toes, I asked him what he meant. He said, "JoHanna's my real Mom because I was in her tummy." I said, “Yes, you were in her tummy. But what makes something real?" He asked what I meant by that and I referred to the Velveteen Rabbit story. I said, "What made the Velveteen Rabbit real?" John said "love" and then thought a moment and said, "Well you love me, and JoHanna loves me, so I guess that means that I have two have two real Moms!" I said, "You're absolutely right honey."
So as I reminisce of this beautiful day and my beautiful son, I thank God for his birth family and what joy they not only brought to my life...but also continue to bring to my life. We don't know where our journey will lead us...this is all an open book and we hope we are walking in the right direction with our love for our children. All we can do is keep on loving and trusting one another and hope that all of our children of adoption will be secure in the fact that they were and are wanted and loved children by all of us.