A Birth Mother’s Perspective on Open Adoption
By Melinda Payne // Birth Mom
Growing up, when I heard about a baby being placed for adoption, I automatically pictured that baby’s birthmother as a drug addicted teen who didn’t want anything to do with them. I viewed adoption as a cop out, or a way to shirk your responsibilities. When I found myself pregnant at 16, I soon learned that all of the above stereotypes and assumptions could not be further from the truth. However, I still didn’t love the idea of having an open adoption. I would attend groups full of girls who had placed their babies and had these wonderful open adoptions, but to me it just seemed like something that would be too difficult.
Deciding to Place My Child and Hesitancy with Open Adoption
Parenting was my first choice. I was engaged, I had onesies, I read parenting books, and I dreamed about this energetic little babe growing inside of me. I loved her so much already, and I allowed myself to get excited about becoming a mother, amidst all the fear and chaos. Soon, that growing love I had for her helped me to realize that she deserved the best possible life. I had to humble myself enough to see that I couldn’t guarantee that for her at such a young age. I realized that and I didn’t think I could handle having my heart break for the rest of my life by having an open adoption. I knew that I’d want some type of communication and updates, but I felt like one of these full-on open adoption relationships would be too much.
When I saw Hayden and Cheyenne’s profile, I saw that they had already adopted a sweet little girl. They said in their letter that they had open contact with her birthmother where they sent letters and pictures each year on her birthday, and were looking for similar contact for future children. I remember thinking how perfect that seemed! When I met them I expressed the kind of contact I wished to have, and they were on board. Everything seemed like it would be fairly simple in terms of contact, and I was okay with that. That is, until Leilah was born.
Why Open Adoption Became the Perfect Fit for Me
When I saw that perfect, tiny, little baby girl, the love I already had for her multiplied a million times. I was instantly imagining what she was going to look like as she grew, what kind of person she would be, and what kind of life she would lead. I spoke to her for hours, held her close, kissed her cheeks and memorized her face. The love was completely overwhelming, and it took everything inside of me to place her into her mother’s arms. My heart shattered that day; I doubt it will ever be healed completely. I knew that a letter and pictures were just not going to do it for the rest of my life. I needed to be able to see this girl grow up, even if it was from the sidelines.
From the beginning I tried my best to express how I was feeling with Hayden and Cheyenne. I let them know that although I wasn’t expecting it, the more pictures and updates I received, the more my heart was able to heal. Those first months were extremely difficult on all of us, but eventually we found a pretty good groove. I couldn’t even comprehend a closed adoption or even semi closed adoption anymore, not with this precious baby.
Choosing Open Adoption and My Adoptive Family Again
Eight months after Leilah was born, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant for a second time. I knew right away that adoption was the choice I was going to be making and reached out to Hayden and Cheyenne who were more than willing to adopt from me once again. We had a discussion about openness shortly after finding out I was pregnant, and made the decision to throw all formalities out the window and play everything by ear from then on out.
There have been ups and downs, and changes in contact over the years. Needs and circumstances have changed, we’ve all lived in different states, and I’ve gotten married and had children. It’s not a “natural” relationship to have. It’s one that you have to work hard at navigating, and you NEED to communicate thoughts and feelings as much as possible. It’s a relationship filled with lots of emotion, love, and a common interest in doing what’s best for innocent children. We are nearly eight years out from beginning our open adoption, and though we’re still kind of playing it by ear, we have learned how beautiful it really is.
So What Does Open Adoption Mean to Me?
Open Adoption means that there’s a whole lot of love going around for a little child.
This child has the love from their parents, extended family and friends. They also have love from their birth parents, birth extended family and even more friends. These children are SO LOVED.
Open Adoption means that the child will never have to wonder where they came from.
Their birth family is right there, ready and willing to answer questions. They also have access to records– birth and medical records at any time, which is so important and extremely helpful.
Open Adoption means that there is less confusion about where everyone is at emotionally in the process.
You can communicate feelings and needs in person, over a text or phone call rather than going through an adoption agency every time, or never being able to express yourself at all.
Open Adoption means quicker healing.
I can’t speak for all birthmothers, but for me, seeing pictures and having visits has helped tremendously. The knowledge knowing that these kids are happy, safe, well taken care of and so loved is all I could ever ask for. I know I would most likely still be in a very broken place if I didn’t know how they were doing. Because I was able to move forward in a healthy way, I turned my life around quickly.
Open Adoption means more people to love.
Hayden and Cheyenne are some of my very best friends, my biggest supports, and my ultimate idols. I doubt I ever would have met them and their amazing family without this special relationship. I believe that Leilah and Greyson were meant to be in their family, and I have loved seeing the joy that their children bring to them. They are my family now, it’s as simple as that.
I love open adoption. I truly believe it has been the best and healthiest way to handle the adoption process for me. It’s not always easy, but it is so worth it for those children. I’m grateful every day that I made the choice I did for them and that we have the relationship we do. Instead of being anxious or worried about the future, I look forward to seeing where we all go.
I love our open adoption.