But I could decide the kind of person I wanted to be in the middle of it all. It's an image that shifts and adjusts as I learn more about myself and my family. But it's been quite empowering at times to focus on what I do have a say over (myself) instead of fretting about what is outside my control.
When I imagine Firefly and Puppy twenty, thirty years from now looking back on open adoption in their childhoods, this is what I hope they will be able to say about me:
- That I took their thoughts and feelings about adoption seriously, even when they were young.
- That I was comfortable with ambiguity. I didn't have a pre-formed idea of what open adoption looked like that I was determined to shove us all into.
- That I gave them space to develop relationships with their first families independent of Todd and me and let them have more and more ownership and control of those relationships the older they grew.
- That I didn't see open adoption as a zero-sum game. I realized that their relationships with their first parents took nothing away from their relationships with me.
- That I worked hard to offer grace, hospitality and honesty to their families of origin, even when others weren't offering the same to me. I kept a thick skin for myself, but a thin one on behalf of my children.
- That I faced up to and worked through whatever anger, anxiety, or frustration the open adoption relationships brought up for me at times so that I could always speak about (and to) their first families with respect and care.
- That I didn't segregate adoption or their first families into a separate category; they were simply part and parcel of our extended family, our regular lives, our normal conversations.
- That I learned how to be an advocate when they were young and an ally when they were older, both in our personal life and in the broader community.