Adoption Math: When 4+4=7

When we first made the decision to adopt, open adoption was not my goal. Heck, even a semi-open adoption was kind of a scary idea at first but, the more I read, the more I was convinced that it would be a good idea. I liked the idea of my child’s birthmother having the opportunity to know that the child she brought into the world was ok. I liked the idea of keeping the lines of communication open in case my child had questions in the future.

But my family? Yeah. Not so much.

My mother, especially, was scared of the idea and thought that I was crazy for wanting it (especially when we were matched with T~ and she told me, unequivocally, that she wanted NO contact). She was afraid that it would be confusing. She wanted to know what would happen if T~ decided she wanted him back (answer: nothing). I’m sure that when I decided, around N’s first birthday, to completely open the adoption and go visit them, she thought I had lost my mind.

Yesterday, T~ and her family came to our house to visit for the day. It was long overdue–we haven’t seen each other in over a year and have been trying to plan the visit for months. As I prepared for the visit, I was reminded that even though my family now sees our open adoption differently than they used to, many people still view it as odd. I still notice the awkward pause when people first find out that we have visits with N’s birthmom. I chuckle inside at the comments about our “unique” situation. It doesn’t offend me. If I wasn’t living it, I would probably think it was kind of strange, too.

I told Sean the other day that adoption is the only place where four plus four can equal seven. Why? I have four children. T~ has four children. But we only have seven kids between us. I don’t know if I really comprehended that it would be this way before we adopted N~. But the reality is, even though I am his mom, he will still always be her child, too. Making the decision not to parent him doesn’t change the fact that she loves him. And her love for him doesn’t diminish mine, nor does mine diminish hers. He’s just loved that much more.

All this being said, it might surprise you that I’m against legally enforceable open adoption agreements. I honestly don’t think that open adoption is the best thing for everyone. This comes from having known several birthmothers in real life–some who would be great to be in an open adoption with, and some who wouldn’t (I’m not going into detail here–I’ll just say that I think that adoptive parents have every right to make choices that prevent their role of parent from being completely undermined). I really believe that a large part of why our relationship with T~ is so great is because it was allowed to grow in a completely organic way. We have never spent time together because there was a date on the calendar that needed to be checked off.  It has never been forced in any way. We’ve seen each other because we genuinely wanted to, and there is a lot to be said for that. Especially because I know that N~ can tell that we visit her because we want to.

Yesterday’s visit was great. The kids spent the whole day playing together. The adults chatted while we took care of the kids. My parents came over and we all had dinner together. We’ve reached a point where it is really comfortable to spend time together. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have done it enough times that none of us worry if this might be the last visit. We know we’ll see each other again. (Of course, I can still tell that it is hard for her when they leave, which is totally understandable.) My big surprise of the day was that N~ didn’t ask her any questions. He never once mentioned his knowledge of who she is in relation to him.

At this point, I see us as family. Not just two separate families with one child in common, but a whole group of people who are bound together. I am genuinely grateful to have T~ and her family in our lives.



The post below is a couple of pictures from our visit. As usual, if you want to see them, you can email me (or leave a comment with you email) for the password. If I can verify who you are (blogger I know, someone I’ve emailed with, someone I know in real life…), I will send you the password.



Filed under adoption, open adoption, Soap Box

7 responses to “Adoption Math: When 4+4=7

  1. M.

    I’d love to see pics of your family!

  2. One of the things that my husband and I have discussed being nervous about is how our family feels about open adoption. I really do think they are just nervous for us. Of course, at this point we are still waiting and don’t know the exact relationship we will end up having – we do have high hopes. I think as our family grows and they are exposed to our relationship more and more that it will help ease the feeling of nervousness (I think they’re biggest fear is that if she wants her baby back there will be a big emotional/legal battle like you see on tv). A lot of it are stereotypes, which I believed too before entering into the world of adoption.

  3. Hey Katie

    I’d love to see the pictures. I enjoy reading your blog. I find myself agreeing with many things you say. We’re moving to Colorado Spring next month and it will be nice to keep in touch and see how you all are doing. Is the password constant or do you have a different one for each post?

  4. Coco

    Hi MN. I hope it’s OK to comment here.

    I have a lot of ideas about this type of scenario. However, I try to make it a rule to give myself some time to think over my response.

    So I’d like to say, I agree with you on many points but I’d like to think it over and possibly come back to add more.


  5. Coco,

    It is always ok to comment here. I have read your blog some in the past, and you have always struck me as a reasonable person. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  6. Amyadoptee

    I agree with you that not all people should have open adoptions but if you go into one, I believe that it should be honored. I also believe that all information should be fully exchanged as well too. I don’t believe that an adoption agency should control the relationship. Just my opinion of course.

  7. Melinda,

    The stereotypes and scary headlines definitely had a lot to do with my family being nervous, too. That is part of why it is so important to work with an ethical adoption agency–those scary headlines are usually due to someone trying to take shortcuts or do something unethical. But, I know–it can be hard to convince people you love who don’t want to see you hurt of that!

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