Our adoption journey started in 1998. We chose domestic adoption for a number of reasons, including wanting a newborn, and the possibility of openness with a birth family. We were prepared to wait, knowing we had no control over when, or even if, we would be chosen.
We did all the paperwork and education sessions, and by March 1999, our homestudy was ready. We jumped into the pool of waiting families and prepared to wait.
Three and a half months later, we got the call! Our baby was due in three weeks! We went full speed getting the nursery ready, and telling our friends and family that we were going to be parents really soon. Daniel arrived a week early. He loves to hear the story of how Daddy was up a ladder at work when he got the call about Daniel’s arrival.
We met Daniel when he was one day old, and he came home a few days later. That first day, I was expecting to be dealing with paperwork first. Instead, our social worker took us right to the nursery where a nurse placed a swaddled bundle in my arms and said, “Here’s your son.” As I have told Daniel many times, you can cry when you’re really happy, too. Unfortunately, we have had very little contact with Daniel’s birthmom, although we have met her once since he was born and have some great photos of them together. These photos are so important to us that we keep the negatives in our safety deposit box.
When Daniel was about a year and a half old, we decided to try to adopt again. We applied in January 2001, and once again prepared to wait. 2001 went by, and 2002, with no luck, so with the support of our Vancouver-based agency, we sent our homestudy to an additional agency.
By spring of 2003, we were starting to wonder if it would ever happen again for us. One day, I arrived home during the day to find Greg waiting for me. When I asked why he was home early, he said, “I came home to set up the crib.” The Vancouver agency had called to say we’d been chosen to adopt a three-day-old baby boy. We went to see the baby that Thursday, and met his birth parents the next day. They were so sweet, and clearly had worked really hard on the decision to make an adoption plan. We talked about visits and sending photos, and made arrangements to bring him home Sunday afternoon, to allow his birthparents one more visit with him. Sunday morning, the social worker called to say the birth parents were going to parent the baby themselves. We were devastated, of course, and the hardest part was telling Daniel that the baby he had snuggled wasn’t coming home after all.
The days went by, as they do, and a few weeks later, the Vancouver agency called again. We’d been chosen by another birthmom. We were pretty excited, but a little more fearful. We met with the birthmom and her family, and we all got along very well. The family was very supportive of her decision to make an adoption plan, and we had a number of successful visits with her during the balance of her pregnancy. As arranged, we saw the baby the day after the birth, then took the baby home the following day. The entire family walked out of the hospital together that day. The birth grandfather even put the baby seat in our car! The next evening, we got the call that the birthmom was reversing her decision, and the social worker arrived to take the baby girl away.
A call to openness
A month later, we got a call. We had been chosen again. Could we meet with the birthmom in a few days? I was incredibly excited, but really, really scared. From our first meeting, though, we were overwhelmed by Jen. She’s amazing. She was so sweet, open, and strong, and had clearly put endless thought and love into her decision. We were also really glad that she wanted openness. None of us realized then just what that would end up looking like for all of us.
David was born on a Wednesday, and we met him (along with Jen, her parents, and her younger brother) at the hospital on Thursday. It was a very emotional time for all of us. Jen’s mom was understandably pretty teary as we were all gathering to say goodbye. Daniel noticed this and said quietly to me, “Tell her not to cry, Mommy. We always give the baby back.”
A family that works
We’re extremely lucky to have an open relationship with Jen and her family. Our families spend a lot of time together, and it’s very easy and relaxed for everyone. It may not be typical, but it works!
A few years ago, Jen married a wonderful man who has two girls the same ages as our two boys, and all four kids were in the wedding party. Since then, they have added another baby girl to the family. Her second name is Ann, and it’s hard to describe what an honour that is for me.
The thought of an open adoption can be a bit scary, to say the least, but when the situation is right, it’s a wonderful relationship. We also have a warm connection with Jen’s mom and dad. The boys call them Nanny and Grampy. Both of us have lost our dads, and I never dreamed they would have a grandpa again.
We are incredibly lucky, and we know it. We have two amazing boys, and we have such respect for the decisions their birthmoms made.
I truly believe however your family is built, wherever and to whomever your children are born, your family will evolve the way it’s meant to. The adoption journey can be long, it can be tiring, it can be discouraging, and it can even have a couple of rollercoasters in the middle of it; but, as I say every time I talk about adoption, it's worth it!
How Openness Works for Our Family
- All adults involved in the adoption and in our family have taken the relationship one step at a time so that it has evolved naturally and comfortably.
- Our child's birth family respects our roles as parents.
- We speak of the birth family with respect and regard, and use positive, inclusive language when describing relationships.
- We honour, and are grateful for, the connection with the birth family.
- Openness has been in place since the first days, so it’s the only way the kids know our family.
- Our younger son’s birth family has always been inclusive of our other son, too.
Ann lives with her husband Greg, their sons Daniel and David, and border collie Jack, in the Metro Vancouver area. They run their own businesses, and are happiest when spending time with the boys, whose activities include music, karate, swimming, volunteering and soccer. They all enjoy family time at their vacation place in Washington State.