Guest Blogger: Abigail Hogan
Adoptive Mom, Wife, Partner on the Battlefield
You never know what someone’s story looks like, or the chapter they are in.
At around 4:35 pm on November 7th, the contractions started getting stronger. A nurse came in, examined Mama W, and said “Baby is coming!” Four pushes and fifteen minutes later, K had entered the world.
Mama W and I sat sobbing, holding each other. I was in awe of this woman,who had so selflessly gone through so much pain yet was so peaceful and content in that moment.
She spent a majority of the rest of the day focused on baby boy and on us. She kept checking on us, reassuring us, and telling us how wonderful we were – people she had just met in person three weeks earlier.
It felt so silly that she would be complementing and reassuring us – this woman, who had just accomplished one of life’s greatest and hardest miracles. Shouldn’t we have been more concerned about her?
When my husband and I first discussed open adoption and the idea of the baby’s birth family, specifically birth mom, I felt this pressure from the world to be cautious and territorial. We were led towards acting in whatever way encouraged self-preservation. Common opinion told us to expect the worst from these strangers who would be trusting us with their most precious being.
Yet somehow, those fears never really washed over us. When it came to the moment of actually checking “open” on our adoption paperwork, we were shocked at how easily and how quickly the peace came.
I even tried talking myself out of it. I told my husband over and over again that my gut answer must be too naive. Too simple. Whenever we let people know we wanted an adoption situation that was open, we were met with so much concern and question. What was I missing? Why wasn’t I afraid?
People were worried we weren’t taking all of the very important things into consideration [“things”, mind you, that we had spent hours discussing]. They were worried that it would be painful. That we could be taken advantage of. That our role as parents would be diminished.
We understood where they were coming from. We knew they loved us and wanted to protect us. We had heard many of the same stories about open adoptions that ended in heartbreak. But we felt very strongly that we had to give it all we could.
So in the days and weeks and months that followed, we had many open and honest discussions with friends and family.
While no one was discouraging, we continued to hear concerns about us being willing to be so open, so willing to step out from behind our safety walls.
It’s like others saw us going into battle without any of our armor, ready to go hug the enemy. But that was the problem. These expectant moms were viewed as such.
We were supposed to be enemies, forced to be linked together only through a little baby. And as soon as the baby was born, we should be able to run away and hide in our armor once again.
But none of that made sense to me, and I couldn’t shake my discomfort.
While everyone else was so focused on our risk, I couldn’t stop thinking about her risk. These women – who first chose life for their child and then to make an adoption plan – are being asked to place an even larger amount of trust into complete strangers. They are choosing someone else to raise their most beloved treasure.
We weren’t going to war. We weren’t enemies, standing on opposing side. We all wanted what was best for the child. We were playing on the same team – in this case, Team K.
After being asked to be in the room for the birth and seeing the strength and love Mama W poured out, I realized that I could never be territorial. I couldn’t claim this child as mine and mine only. I couldn’t erase her pain, her tears, or her love from his story.
Of course, I still had questions. Could we really love this baby wholeheartedly if we didn’t love the woman who was giving him life the same way? Can we love fully if we still have our armor behind our back just in case?
But there was no going back.
This child was hers. And mine. Ours.
Only together – as one team – could we provide our baby boy with the unconditional love he deserves.
Unconditional love wasn’t the only reason we felt called towards an open adoption. There was another realization that we had to come to, as well. All of the love in our hearts for this baby could not answer all of the questions he would have growing up.
We wouldn’t be able to tell him what side of the family he gets his dark curly hair from We wouldn’t be able to tell him stories about his brothers and how he takes after them. We wouldn’t be able to tell him if a hobby he chooses or skill he grow into runs in his family.
And most importantly, we would never be able to fully communicate to him why his birth mama chose an adoption plan. We knew deep in our hearts that all of these questions and so many more left unanswered would leave holes in his life, that, try as we might, we would never be able to fill.
But she can.
She can talk to him about his birth family. She can tell him about his curly black hair and brown eyes. She can connect stories about his skills at painting, or football, or chess. She can tell him all about his brothers as babies, children, teenagers.
She can tell him how much she loved him, and still does. And I am eternally grateful for that.
At the end of the day, this baby boy has so many people who love him, who want to watch him grow and learn. So many people who want to be a part of his life, to fulfill his needs and show him unconditional love.
And together, I believe we will all be able to supply him with the tools he needs in life. Tools that we couldn’t supply alone.
They’re moments I will give my life to, but I can’t explain the weight that is lifted when I think about the other people I get to do it with.
I have always been told by other parents that they could never “share” their kids. But who are we to shut more love out of our child’s life? We have people who are wanting to impact his life with love and joy, why would we deprive him of that? My mama heart is so happy every time I see the love his birth mama has for him, and I know hers feels the same way.
I think I’ve learned more about throughout the adoption process than I have in the rest of my entire life. More about myself, more about my husband, and more about how others should be treated.
I’ve learned that the majority of the time when the Holy Spirit is telling you to move, the world will try to quiet it out with reasoning fear and worry.
Don’t listen. Anchor in to the Spirit’s voice and move.
There are no guidelines to what an open adoption should look like. There are sticky spots to navigation through – like communication, names, interaction, parenting decisions, etc. That’s what makes open adoption so terrifying at first. But when you realize that you are all playing on the same team, and love unconditionally, it becomes one of the most beautiful relationships you could ever have.