‘Openness’ is not a concept I am terribly familiar with when it comes to adoption. As I have mentioned, my adoption was closed, meaning I knew no names or identifying information and other than some pictures and letters in the first year, there was no contact whatsoever. If you had asked my 17-year-old self, I would have told you that I was happy to “let them be” and I was. I always thought that my existence in her life would have been cumbersome and distracting to her progression and to mine and the best advice I had been given was to “move on” so that’s what I did. Trust and faith were all I had along with a few precious memories of my baby girl. I coped by knowing that we were both in good places and it felt better that way.
Since being reunited, my eyes have been opened to the emotional consequences of having had a closed adoption. Yes, we both have had good lives, there is no disputing it. What more could I have wanted but for her to be safe and happy with a family that loved her? I soon realized that the blank space of time between when my tiny baby left my arms in the hospital to when I met the young woman that I know today, cannot be filled. I see pictures of her and the memories that their family has created but as much as I want them to be, they are not my memories. Knowing her now has made me realize how much of her life I missed and that realization has been very difficult for me. Since I was not able to actually see her with her family and grasp what her life looked like over time, I was not able to grasp the fact that she is no longer mine. Even now, those words sting a little, but I have learned how to cope and look at what I have NOW and not what I missed. It’s a daily choice and I still hope and pray that she continues to want an open relationship with me as an adult. We are navigating what that looks like and figuring it out as we go. Openness is not always perfect, but the ability to grow and foster relationships over time is what this life is all about and I see it now as being particularly important in an adoption relationship.
On another note, I have created my own path to 'openness' by learning to openly share my story, thus this challenge. I love how it makes me feel and I love how others have responded to it.