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.