March 22, 2009

With Wonder

Yesterday the four of us drove down to Ms B's town for Firefly's second first birthday celebration. The second celebration of her first birthday, that is. Beth wanted to include some of the important people in her life in Firefly's birthday party, and for all sorts of reasons it didn't work out to do it all at one time. So Beth came up for our family party in February and we headed to her neck of the woods today. (In a car with a very antsy toddler and a tired baby who couldn't fall asleep. Oy.)

I sort of thought of it as the party with Firefly's birth family, only really the only one there technically part of her birth family was Ms B. Ms B is distanced from her own family, and the couple whose home the party was at have become Beth's surrogate parents in many respects. Two of their adult children came, along with their spouses and a baby granddaughter. Some family friends also stopped by, a married couple who are full of fascinating stories. This is the group who surrounded Beth and held her up in all sorts of practical and emotional ways during her pregnancy and after placement. They were there when Firefly was born and when Ms B entrusted her to us. We've seen some combination of them most every time we've gotten together with Ms B.

Ms B didn't feel like Firefly needed any more presents (a woman after my own heart). So she and the mom friend made a keepsake box together and she asked everyone write out a blessing or prayer for Firefly to put in it. So she had that box of blessings to give to her, as well as a journal that she had filled out for Firefly about her memories of the pregnancy and this past year. We ate and talked and played with the kids. People showered affection and attention on Firefly and they showered them on Puppy. (I am so grateful for the way they've always embraced Puppy as equally as they do Firefly.) It was familiar and comfortable.

Lately some people I've come to know through their blogs have been writing lovely posts about open adoption. They are at the beginning of their journeys and full of heartfelt wonder at this process which brings former strangers together with such a sudden, surprising intimacy. Their posts make me smile for them, and also chuckle a little at myself and the days when I could wax sentimental about the beauty of open adoption. Don't get me wrong, I am as committed to openness as I ever was. It's a commitment that has been reaffirmed many times as we've faced some bumps with members of the kids' birth families. What we've experienced in the past four years has made it stronger, more realistic, more durable. Like the complex love of a longtime married couple compared to the pure excitement of newlyweds. Equally good, but different. (And we realize we're still early on in our own journeys.) Reading those posts, part of me sighed for those early, heady days when openness was mostly an abstraction.

Yet gathered yesterday, I looked around at these people who are making themselves family to Firefly, not even because of any biological ties to her, but because of their love for Beth. I saw their embrace of us as part of that community. I watched as my daughter was literally surrounded by people holding out blessing for her, people who were there only because of what open adoption makes possible. And a little bit of that wonder returned.

11 comments:

Megan said...

What an amazing gift!

planetnomad said...

What a beautiful post. What amazing people. How gifted your daughter is to have such people in her life.
Yesterday I followed a link from your blog and read a woman's story who had a very different experience than Beth did. It was good today to read this.

shmode said...

When we post about open adoption, this post states exactly what we hope for in return for the discomfort, strain and downright work to go through with it. I only hope our next adoption, if it is an open one, has the same opportunity for an awesome display of love for a child (or children in your case!).

luna said...

that is just the most beautiful gift ever! what a lovely community of love surrounds firefly, and your family.

and hey, you chuckling at me?! we haven't even entered into an open adoption yet, and I"m constantly trying to check myself against my hopes and expectations for a relationship, and making sure there is always room for change, flexibility and evolution...

Heather said...

@luna - No no no, I was chucking at myself for acting all jaded. I was the object of amusement. Gah. Did I just inadvertently insult a bunch of people?

Kischa said...

Wow! You must be a very special, loving and wonderful person. Wishing you the best with the babies.

cynthia said...

i know what you mean... i am in the new and awe struck phase of our second one, and though of course its more complicated, in some ways the awe is what's easiest to write about, you know?

pottergrrl said...

It does sounds like a wonderful experience. It makes me feel warm for all of you. The best of open adoption, as in life, is the amazing flexibility and stretchiness of love.

Sadly, I think that there is some problematic overly hearts-and-flowers rhetoric on the front-end of open adoption that may make it tougher for real life to measure up. It's a complex issue, though. Our agency certainly emphasized that it's hard. But they are also so focused on ensuring that their families are up for open adoption that a kind of party line develops.

I have to say, though, that with all the bumps and challenges we've had, the wonder moments are more amazing for the struggles that preceded them.

Tammy said...

You know our story and well, this post leaves me in tears for the joy I have for your whole family, which includes Beth and Firefly. I often feel like I was "sold a bill of goods" but the reality is that I created an ideal of what I could hope for, which frankly would include visits like this. Maybe someday, but not now. I'm still a firm believer in openness and the benefits when everyone is in on it, but I am starting to feel strongly that there needs to be more talk about the real hard things about creating these new relationships born out of an unexpectedness and crisis of it all. That's reality. What you are experiencing seems to me to be two families working hard to make a healthy, whole and loving relationship for your beautiful daughter. That is what it is all about. Thanks for sharing this, H... beautiful indeed.

Lavonne said...

What a beautiful picture of family.

Lori said...

What a beautiful moment in Firefly's life. The perfect celebration of her birth and life!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...