Finalization is a very special and emotional day for a family built through adoption. It is an end and a beginning. I told myself that finalization was going to be just another step in the process of this very long journey. I was definitely wrong.
The time between birth and finalization is a complicated and unique time for families built through adoption. When we got home from the hospital, Chris and I were obsessed with this new little boy that we were going to raise. We loved him unconditionally; getting to feed him, take him to his check ups, and swaddling him just right. We love being parents.
The part that is different when you are building your family through open adoption is that simultaneously, you are adding more than a baby. I was overwhelmed by how many people my family grew by. During this time, I was in full on take care of everyone and everything mode. I was determined to make sure that Knox’s birth mother knew she was never going to be forgotten and that I was the very best mother ever chosen to be a mama through adoption in history. I was also planning the biggest and best Sip and See for all of our friends and family who supported us tirelessly and endured all of the waiting to meet our son. I was balancing all of my new relationships, party planning, and managing all of the business around finalization. I was ready for it to be done.
When the actual day came, I was nervous. We were going to be in a court room before a Judge to be judged. Being judged is intimidating. It is really intimidating when a person is going to tell you that the family you have worked so hard for is really a family. It is also a surreal moment having the Judge announce that you are in fact the very best parents for your child, that he is in the right place, and you are all a family. It’s hard to describe. I imagine the level of joy and relief is similar to when your baby is born to you. Stress and anxiety was lifted that I didn’t even know I was caring. We were a family. Not just any family, a real family.
Our Adoption Day anniversary is coming up. I don’t know if we are going to celebrate. I’m not really sure what you do on the day your family became legal. I became his mother way before finalization. We were meant to be a family just like any other. I would, however, like a cake 🙂
Do you celebrate Adoption Day? What do you do?
- Worth noting: The process for us in getting to finalization was clear, simple, and fast. This is not the case for many families.
I have never seen Kung Fu Panda. I have no experience with closed adoption. I do know what it feels like when people or T.V. uses inappropriate adoption language. This is an excerpt from the article posted to Adoption.com. Please read the entire thing. It is really eye opening. We typically talk about adoption language in the context of strangers in the grocery story or well meaning friends and family. This hits on the importance for all members of the adoption triad to learn and practice appropriate adoption language.
So, while watching Kung Fu Panda III recently, a couple of moments in the movie really hit me hard. When the two pandas realize they are father and son, there’s a tender moment between them. Almost immediately Po’s biological father runs to Mr. Ping (Po’s dad) and grabs him in a tight bear hug (no pun intended!) and says, “Thank you for taking care of him for me.” Sounds sweet, right? Yeah. The sentiment really is sweet. But for a parent to hear that (at least for this parent writing this article) it feels like an immediate demotion from parent to babysitter. I know that when those words were said to me there was only the purest intent. But the words still stung. I didn’t “take care” of my son. I parented him. That means I gave him my heart, my time, my resources, my love, my whole self. I would have given my life for him if that was required. No – I didn’t “take care of him” for someone else. I did it for him.
Here is another ‘Real’ tear jerker.
Open adoption is a type of adoption in which birth and adoptive families have some form of initial and/or ongoing contact. Contact may begin with a meeting between an expectant mother and potential adoptive parents. Sometimes, an expectant parent may choose the adoptive family based on such a meeting or other communication. After placement, birth mothers and/or fathers and members of their extended families may interact in various ways with the adoptive parents, as well as with the adopted child or youth.
Communication may happen through letters, emails, social media exchanges, telephone calls, or visits. While some families may exchange brief notes and photos, others may spend more time together and celebrate birthdays or holidays together. The type and frequency of contact will be decided by the people involved and can range from several times a month to every few years. Contact often changes as a child ages or as family members’ needs and wishes change.
Most domestic adoption these days have some degree of openness. (more information on types of adoption)
Michelle and her family are hoping to grow again through adoption. Below is her experience with open adoption.
Each relationship and each adoption is different.
Our adoption is open, but to this point we haven’t had much of a relationship with our son’s birth mother. Our son was an immediate placement and we met his mother briefly in the hospital room. In the hospital we riddled each other with questions and exchanged contact information. We had one lunch meeting before the adoption was finalized, but otherwise we have communicated through emailed updates. Her responses have been sporadic, which could be for any number of reasons. We don’t judge that or make assumptions. We have made sure to make it known that the door is always open for contact and communication.
It is not about me, my husband or even the wonderful mother who placed with us…. it is about our son and whatever is best for him. To me that is our job, to support and empower him to grow into the man he wants to be.
To learn more about Michelle and her family click here.