When my wife and I began trying to start a family, we didn’t know what it would look like. As a same-sex couple, it definitely wasn’t going to happen naturally. After we matched with an expectant mom who was seeking a family to adopt her child, the agency asked us to talk about openness and contact: how many visits, pictures, etc. would we share over the years. While we talked about that, we also shared our vision of what adoption could mean for us: we wanted to create a family together.
Those first visits were definitely awkward, but they were also intentional. Even though we were strangers, we were committed, very early on, to building a family together. So while every open adoption is unique and the amount of contact may vary, for us open adoption is a relationship rather than just letters or pictures or visits. That relationship is family.
For my family, open adoption is:
- A sacred covenant between adults for the love of a child and in her best interest.
- An intentional commitment to create an extended family.
- An opportunity for adoptive parents to provide their child with a lifelong connection to the family that made her.
- An opportunity for birth parents to remain an integral part of their child’s life as she grows up.
- A growing and changing relationship between family members.
Sometimes people ask (or imply, because they are too “polite” to ask outright): So…uh…isn’t this co-parenting?
No. We are our daughter’s parents. After our daughter was born, we signed a sacred covenant in front of witnesses, kind of like what you do in a marriage. We pledged to honor our daughter’s tummy mommy and grandparents, and they pledged to honor us.
People also wonder if our daughter will be “confused” about her family. Since my wife and best friend are both adoptees, I can confidently say that kids who are adopted know who raised them. Parents are those people who are there everyday to care for and nurture a child. But we strongly believe that children need to grow up knowing the family that gave them life.
I can’t see the future, so I don’t know how our daughter will reflect back on how we raised her. What I do know is that, as an adopted person, my daughter has two families, a biological family and an adoptive family, joined into one in love of her. I am so grateful that we have been able to come together and build a relationship that provides continuity, identity and support for the daughter we have in common.