Molly’s favorite song is Over the Rainbow. I know. It’s almost too perfect, our Kansas girl sings it like a champ and with reckless abandon. When Molly does particularly adorable or funny things, like most moms, I text it to grandmas and aunts/uncles so they can give the appropriate amount of heart emojis and LOL’s. Sometimes, unlike a lot of other moms, I also text the video or picture to Molly’s birthmom.
It’s not something I inwardly debate, it’s automatic. 5 years ago that would’ve seemed odd to me, and it may seem odd to you-in fact, it prompted me to write this piece. Because, when people know or understand that Molly was adopted, 9 times out of 10, the question they ask is, “Do you still talk to her mom?”. (PS-I am her mom). But I get it-it’s the one thing people want to wrap their heads around. People are most curious about the relationship I have or don’t have with Molly’s birthmom.
Open adoptions have become the most common adoption type over the last 20 years. But the concept makes the water murky for people outside of adoption stories. Just the term “open” adoption brings with it misconceptions and interpretations that are unfamiliar. Sometimes people associate notions of co-parenting or temporary parenting to open adoptions, neither of which are true.
The simplest definition of open adoption is an adoption where the birthmom and adoptive parents have access to some personal identification about each other. In the beginning, that personal information is typically first names and home state. From there, every open adoption becomes a plan-one that is defined by the birthparents, the adoptive parents and the child. Some decide on no contact. Some decide on no contact until the child reaches out. Some decide annual letters and pictures via an agency is appropriate. Others decide annual or semi-annual visits work best for their situation. The degree to which more personal information about each other is revealed is totally up to the two families involved.
What open adoptions are not:
- Co-parenting-we are Molly’s mom and dad. No decisions about our raising of her are made outside of the two of us.
- Temporary-no open adoption is temporary. Temporary parenting situations are in the fostering category
- Mandated-no agency mandates that an adoption be open or stay open. Ultimately, the adoptive parents and birthparents make that plan-but even then, adoptive parents have the choice to follow through with that plan based on circumstance.
- Weird-open adoptions are not weird or strange. It may seem different outside of your own circumstance, but open adoptions can be very normal and healthy for the child
So, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you why I send Molly’s birthmom pictures and videos and handprint art. It’s because she loves Molly. I know that other than me and Darrin, there is one person who wants to see that video more than anyone else. And it’s her. We have decided together over Molly’s almost 3 years how our connection would look. She is graceful in her approach and never crosses boundaries. We take it slowly and know it may take different shapes as Molly grows.
I don’t know how other open adoptions look. In my circle of adoption friends, none of our open adoptions look the same. What I know is that we navigate our relationships with birthmoms differently based on circumstance and what works best for us. Adoption family dynamics are different for each family just like traditional family dynamics-we’re all figuring it out on the regular.
So, yes. I talk to her. It’s what works for our family. It’s safe and sweet and right for us. It lays a foundation for honesty and openness in the answers we’ll have for Molly’s questions one day. Its the right choice for us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t complex-there are insecurities on all sides. But at the center of this lifelong connection is sweet Molly. So by doing it, the core of my motherhood is nourished.
Yes. I talk to her. I am Molly’s mom, forever and ever until the end of time. She gave life and personality and lord help us, probably Kansas Jayhawk blood to Molly. Our connection is our’s. Just our’s. Today, on Mother’s Day, I’ll send her a text and a picture of the stubborn and sassy girl that she chose for me to have. I’ll say thank you again because it will never be too much. I’ll tell her how Molly runs up and says “I’m sorry, Mommy!” and then runs away so that I have to go find what she’s sorry about. I’ll wish her a happy Mother’s Day because today is about both of us.
Yes. I talk to her. Without her, our family would have played out differently. I send her parts of Molly because she gave me Molly. That little voice singing about “wemon dwops” and “shimney tops” are gifts from her. And I want her to see the gifts I’ve given Molly too-she finds fullness and peace in seeing how Molly fits perfectly in our family-I know, because she tells me.
Yes. I talk to her. She is the reason that the dreams that I dared to dream really did come true.