What I Wish That I Knew Then That I Know Today

What I wish

As I am writing this, it is exactly 3 days after from Mother’s Day and a day away from my daughter’s birthday. Talk about a birth mother “double whammy”?! 

Corinne will be turning 4 years old this year. While it feels as if time has flown by, it also feels like there has been enough time to grieve and grow. As many birth parents know, the grief comes in waves. It can hit us even when we are most satisfied and fulfilled in our roles as birth mothers (and birth parents).

As an adoption professional working with adoptive families and birth parents, it's on my heart to share some tough questions that often cross my mind. How do you go about opening up an adoption that you yourself chose to have closed? As birth mothers, did you need some time after placement to get over some “humps” before feeling open and excited about having actual contact with your child? How does it make you feel when what you wanted at one time is now inaccessible because of a decision made in a very sensitive time in your life?

Well… that is where I am today. Struggling with my choice to “watch from afar.” I am now educating and guiding successful open adoptions as a professional, and then grieving over the loss of my own decision to choose what is commonly referred to as "semi-open."

I write this because I want it to ring a bell to birth mothers and expectant mothers as they are considering what type of contact agreement they want long-term with their child and the adoptive family. I write this because I hope to bring perspective to adoptive parents and expectant parents who may fear open adoptions or the idea of their child knowing their birth family.

I remind myself of all the initial reasons why I placed. I continue to love and respect my daughter's adoptive parents who I so carefully chose to raise my daughter, regardless of my desire to be in their lives.

One thing that I still know to this day is that I love Corinne more than anything on this earth and that my hopes remain the same for her — and that is to grow up to be a loving, confident, kind, and curious young lady. 

I want her to know who I am, and that the decision to place her was not to disown or not know her. I so want to know her. Looking back, it wasn’t until I could be out of the initial grief of placing that I could actually imagine myself in the role of a birth mother navigating open adoption. But what do you do when you have chosen to only have semi-openness with a family who does not want to disrupt the comfort of their agreement? It is heart-wrenching. Some will say “get more counseling,” or “do you just want this for your own sake?” While I want to be involved and have a stronger connection to my daughter and her parents, I want this more than ever for Corinne. Just like I wanted her to have everything she needed. Just like I loved her enough to entrust another family to raise her.

From what I am learning and from what adoption professionals and books and counselors will tell you is that you must consider each person’s comfort and emotions when opening up this door. And that, my friends, takes patience. 

No one said adoption was simple. It is beautiful, but it is also complicated and emotional for everyone. If we are committed to changing the perception of adoption, we must continue to educate and ease the anxiety around openness and birth parents. 

I never expect to be best friends with my daughter’s adoptive parents, but I do hope they welcome questions she may have about her birth family. Some may say her adoption is an event of the past, and it is. But it does not change who she is or what she could potentially know that could make her more complete than ever.

If I could offer an expectant mother one word of advice* when going through this process, it would be to try not to disconnect yourself from the child, the adoptive family, and from your opportunities to have a life with your child (*this is assuming it is in the best interest of the child). 

Today here is my hope and prayer as my adoption story continues to unfold...

“Dear Adoption Triad, We all make up this triangle, and we need each other. We all want the same thing — to be loved, to be heard, to be honored.” 

- Chelsea

This article was written by Chelsea Moore. To learn more about Chelsea's story, read here.

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