Do you feel threatened at all? Do you wish YOU shared your daughter’s traits? Sure, it can seem so simple, but it isn’t really is it?
The question about being a mom to a child who has other parents made me stop and think. What was it that made it possible to invite my children’s other parents into our lives, with open arms? Why DID I embrace open adoption so fully? And how?
Early in our adoption process, about the time we worked on our first adoption profile, I made the conscious decision to not only accept but LOVE our story, warts and all. And looking back, I can see that every great spiritual lesson I’d learned previously helped me prepare to embrace open adoption.
A mentor once told me that being grown up means seeing things the way they are instead of how you wish they were. Once I became a parent, I had a conscious choice to make each day, each moment. I could lament the fact that I did not give birth to my children and that my DNA and my husband’s did not swim in their veins. OR I could be ecstatic that my children were who they were. In other words, I could see my life in a way that made me sad and frustrated, or I could see my life in a way that made me fulfilled and happy.
It’s only when I’m NOT conscious that I choose the former. When I’m making the choice with full awareness, it’s sensible and easy to choose the latter.
This doesn’t mean that I wear rose-colored glasses or that I never let myself think about what isn’t. Instead, adoption — for both me and for my children — is about becoming whole, about the freedom to wonder, explore, question, and ultimately accept. I DO examine the feelings I have when I notice Tessa has a set of toes that look nothing like mine, or when Reed demonstrates an athletic talent that clearly didn’t come from me. I DO consider what parenting them might be like if we shared common ancestry. Would I understand her learning styles better? His coping mechanisms?
But I don’t get stuck in these thoughts. I think them, feel them, release them. If the aphorism, That which we resist persists, commonly attributed to Carl Jung, is true, then I NEED to be able to think a scary thought or feel a scary emotion in order to release it. Otherwise the scary thought or emotion has and builds power. Power over me.
I neutralize the scariness when I am able to allow the thoughts to move through me and not get stuck in me. And what’s more? I show my children that “icky” thoughts and feelings don’t have to be scary. In fact, they can be illuminating and, eventually, liberating.
Luna mused on this embracing, as well, even before her daughter was born:
Now, after getting to know K and her amazingly supportive mom and brother, we can see how our family could so naturally be extended in an open adoption. This baby will be born to an outstanding young woman, with a fantastically loving grandmother and sweet uncle. If we should become this baby’s parents, it would feel only natural to want these people in our child’s life for the love and connection that only they can provide. We will be able to give our child so much, but that heritage is the one thing we can not provide; we can only work to ensure that it is accessible.
For us, it is about abundance. We feel no need to restrict the love that may flow to and from this child. Quite the opposite — we believe that the more people to love the child, the better.
I realize it [open adoption] is not necessarily intuitive, unless you can truly view it from the child’s perspective. I think to really open one’s self to openness, adoptive families first need to overcome their own fears and insecurities and challenge their own assumptions. Is there reluctance to enter into an open relationship due to concern that the child won’t know who his/her “real” parents are, or will “reject” the adoptive parents for the birth parents? Is there fear that it will feel like “sharing,” or that the birth family will try to “interfere” or “reclaim” the child? Is it just “inconvenient” to maintain another relationship? Is there a lack of trust?
Every spiritual avenue I’ve steeped myself in teaches that at each moment you can live from love or from fear. Love is rooted in abundance and is unlimited, originating from our true, divine nature. Fear comes from separation and from our false self, our ego. Our small, scared, limited ego.
In some ways, “Just embrace!” is so much easier than “Just adopt!” After all, there is no paperwork, no white-gloved social worker, no proving myself to an external authority, no power outside me deciding the outcome.
And for that same reason, “Just embrace” is so much more difficult than “Just adopt.” For only I can do it. No one will tell me if I am doing it well. It’s all me, all the time, just trying to stay aware of my motives and fears, and consciously choosing love and embrace wholeness at every turn.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.