Last Friday we woke Puppy up in the early morning and bundled him into the car to visit Ms B. He ate his banana and smiled patiently at us as we drove south through misty farm land.
We have a final "official" meeting with Ms B next week, one facilitated by an agency counselor. At that meeting we will work on a draft version of the open adoption agreement and hear what kind of interaction with us Ms B would like during her time in the hospital. We really wanted to see her once more before that more formal time.
We picked her up and went to the city library, where Puppy could enjoy himself in the children's section and we could sit and talk. Her stepfather joined us for an hour or so. Gracious yet reserved, he kindly let Puppy show him page after page in a Thomas the Tank Engine book. Somewhat out of the blue he started to share about what it was like for him to be a white parent of two children of color. "I've always thought the greatest gift I gave them and the greatest mistake I made was ignoring their race. It was the spirit of the times, I suppose. We all thought the best thing to do was to be color blind."
After the library, we had lunch together, then drove Ms B home. It was an enjoyable time. We touched on some deeper topics, but for the most part it was a lighthearted morning. Getting to know one another better and joking around a bit. It may seem strange to talk of laughter when it is such a serious matter that brings us together in the first place. But it is the combination of the more vulnerable conversations and these easygoing interactions that make it possible for me to envision entering into an open adoption with her. I do not think it is necessary to enjoy the company of your child's other parents in order to have an open adoption, but it does make it immensely easier.
Oh--Baby B has a name now! A first name, at least. Ms B was upfront from the beginning about not wanting her daughter's name changed, a conviction born of personal experience. (I realize there are a range of positions on naming in adoption. I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer.) But she didn't have a name picked out; she had cycled through a couple, but not found one that really fit. So T and I have had the privilege of collaborating with her on possible names. We finally hit upon one which resonated with us all. I found it while noodling around the Social Security website. I was nervous about putting it on the table, because I had grown rather fond of it in the week or so I was mentally trying it out. But when I shared it, B immediately said, "Oh, yes." It is not super common (important to someone who grew up with the #3 name for her birthyear), it means "light," and I love it.