Puppy's first mom called this weekend. We had a nice chat. I like it when she calls, it makes me feel like she wants us to be a part of her life.
She mentioned that it's strange for people who are meeting her now to find out she has a child that she's not parenting. They aren't sure how to react. She said that she sometimes tells them to think of her like a surrogate. I said, "No, you're way more than that." She told me, "I know. But sometimes the only way I can get through the day is to think of myself like a surrogate who gave a gift to you."
She has every right to frame her experience in whatever way she chooses--I cannot dictate how she should feel or what language she should use. But it made me sad to hear her say that. To know that's where she is right now in her healing and coping.
I did what I could by letting her know we don't view her that way, that we think she has an important role in Puppy's life. I think most of the time she believes that. She called Puppy "my son" a few times in our conversation. Those aren't the words of a surrogate.
At the beginning of an open adoption you spend so much time talking about the "hows"--types of contact, frequency of visits. But the "whys" of open adoption are as important as the "hows". The "whys" are what makes openness last instead of petering out over time. They keep people committed when openness gets hard. I want Puppy's first parents to believe they have something unique and valuable to offer to him, a contribution that didn't end the day he was born. I'm learning more abut the uphill battle they took on; while they're convincing other people that it's good for them to be in Puppy's life, they have to convince themselves, too.