Yesterday the kids and I dropped off our Mother's Day packages at the post office. A stack of boxes for the many sort of mothers in our family. This year Eddie and Mari painted picture frames that we filled with photos of them with the gift recipients. Todd drew a card that we copied onto cardstock for the kids to color in.
As I was putting the finishing touches on the gifts Tuesday night, Beth called. She just wanted to hear Mari's voice. Mari was long asleep at that point, so she and Todd chatted a bit and made plans for a Mari/Beth phone call tonight.
I've been feeling what a privilege it is for me to be part of Eddie and Mari's connection to their families by birth, to be able to be part of nurturing those relationships and having relationships of my own with their first families. Our gift-making project showed how matter-of-fact the open adoption relationships are for the kids right now, how integrated they are into their big picture of family. There was no distinction for Eddie between the frame he painted for Todd's mom and the one he did for Kelly's mom. He simply finished one and reached for the other. I don't pretend that Mother's Day is always that simple emotionally, not for my kids and certainly not for their first moms. But for now, this year, the openness softens the seams of our stitched-together extended family.
I've been feeling, too, in the background of my mind this week the separation between us and Eddie's baby brother, the one placed for adoption this summer by Kelly with a family we are not sure even knows about us. His adoptive mom will be celebrating her first long-awaited Mother's Day and I've found myself wondering what they will be doing for Kelly. A card? A phone call? An extravagant gift? Have they visited with her since his placement? Do they connect very often? Beneath is all the question my heart is afraid to ask: does she like them more than us?
It is an unexpected place we are in, to be the second pair of adoptive parents to Kelly's children. I don't feel like I'm in competition with them, but it would be naive to think we're not being compared to them now. I look at Eddie's sweet little picture frame, knowing how hard he worked on it, how carefully he chose which colors to use for Kelly's and which photo to put inside, and wonder not just whether she will like it, but how it will fare against the efforts of his brother's parents. It's not lost on me how much my feelings echo those I've read from some first parents whose children's adoptive families are in multiple open adoptions.
I know that the best thing to do, really the only thing I can do, is to focus on our own relationship with Kelly and let go of the sense of comparison. Not just for my own long-term sake, but to be able to come alongside Eddie should he confront his own issues of comparison with his biological siblings in the future. This is all just taking some getting used to still.