Six years ago, we were one of the hundreds (thousands?) of families walking into the courthouse to take part in National Adoption Day. We walked in with a chubby 8-month-old boy and when we walked out, he was legally our son. The love we felt for him was real and instant and in our hearts we knew he was our son when he was placed in our arms months earlier. But that day, 6 years ago, made it official in every way.
But our family didn’t just grow by 1. Our son had birth parents (and families) that loved him first. It pained them to make an adoption plan. But after thinking about all their options, they made the gut-wrenching choice to place him up for adoption. But they weren’t saying good-bye forever. He would always be a part of them. Because of that, our family grew by a lot.
The relationship didn’t develop overnight. It took time. We started meeting in public places with our social worker. After a couple visits, we decided we could do it on our own. And shortly after that, we realized it would just be easier to have them in our home. By then, we knew we were family.
We went on to adopt two more times; both little girls. With each addition, our son’s first family shared in our excitement. When we originally told them we were thinking about adopting a 2nd time, Ouma (our son’s birth grandma) volunteered to write a letter to expecting families for us to include in our profile book. She was excited for us and wanted to be involved. She shared her heart and opened up what it’s like to be in that difficult position. She told us how thankful she is that we allowed her to be part of our son’s life. How could we not? They’re family.
Sometimes people think it’s weird when I mention that we have an open adoption with 2 of our kids’ first families. I’m sure it’s hard to imagine when it’s not part of your life. I get that it’s different. But it has become our normal. Recently, Ouma and Oupa, came to our son’s soccer game. They could have easily watched from the sidelines and cheered him on, putting their entire focus on him. But they didn’t just watch our son. They engaged our girls too. They played with them. Held them. Showered them with attention. And that’s exactly what I thought would happen. Because it happens every time we see them.
Our son is the one who is biologically connected to them. But yet, they choose to be Ouma & Oupa to all of my kids. Six years ago, I was so incredibly happy to have this little boy in our lives forever. Today, I’m so happy that we have all of them in our lives.
Adoption is hard, emotional and messy but it can certainly have moments of intense beauty.