Thursday, April 15, 2010

Staying OPEN in Adoption...

OK LOVE THIS STORY! Thank you Angie and Clayton for sharing it with us. You must read it! Its so real! They share with us how misunderstandings can happen in open adoption and how you can fix it with communication! I am really excited to share this open adoption story, because in the end, it all worked out and THAT IS HOW ITS SUPPOSE TO BE! :)Here is their story!

Clayton and I met when we were 17 years old. We worked together at the same place so we had all the same friends. He was the “dashing” forklift operator and I worked on an assembly line putting stickers on merchandise (glamorous we know!) We started hanging out as a group and within a couple of months he asked me out! 1 month later we shared our first kiss and we’ve been inseparable since then! We dated for 4 years and were married on a beautiful day in June of 2000. We were more than ready and so excited to start our married life together!

5 years later we had already been through more than we could have ever imagined. After several years of battling infertility we were realizing that having a baby might not actually happen for us. Meanwhile in 2003 Clayton was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer. We were scared about the unknown but we put all our efforts into focusing on him getting well and put the fertility issues aside. After several surgeries and months of trying to get through a tough recovery he is cancer free today!

However those 5 years were not without lots of happiness and joy as well. We took many trips together, bought a home, got a puppy and just enjoyed being together. During this time I was also baptized into the LDS church by Clayton and we were sealed for time and all eternity in the Manti temple the following year!

Prayer has played a huge role in our lives and decisions that we have made in our marriage. When the realization that we weren’t able to conceive finally hit us, we put our trust in Heavenly Father that he would answer our prayers and help us know what we should do next. Our answer to adopt was very clear, it also brought us so much peace to know that we were doing what Heavenly Father wanted us to do. We recognized that he has a plan for our family and that plan was adoption.

We signed up with LDS family services and about a year of waiting later we decided to sign up with a private agency (Heart to Heart Adoptions) as well. In the almost 2 years total time that we waited we did have 2 “failed” placements and had learned a lot about the adoption process along the way. We also learned even more to trust in Heavenly Father and have faith to continue on.
One of the things we learned immediately about adoption was how much the adoption process had changed over the years. We learned everything we could about open adoption and we were open to the idea but we still had fears.
One morning in June of 2007, about a week after our 7th wedding anniversary, I received a call from Heart to Heart telling me that we had been chosen by a wonderful birth mother named Diane to adopt her baby boy!! We were ecstatic!! There are no words to describe getting that call! She was due in 5 weeks so we had NO time to spare!

Driving to the restaurant to meet Diane for the first time, we were both nervous wrecks. What if we said the wrong thing? What if she saw us and changed her mind? There were so many scenarios playing thru our minds but more than anything we wanted to meet her, hug her, give her support and let her know how much we already loved her. When we finally met her we were relieved to see that she was nervous too! She was sweet, kind and funny and helped to put us at ease. We were excited to begin a relationship with her! Our caseworker helped us work out the details of the openness of our adoption. At this point we really didn’t have examples to look at so we went with what our caseworker recommended for us: Pictures and letters to his birthmother when the baby was 1 month, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months old and then a letter and pictures once a year.

Many of our friends and family had some BIG misconceptions on open vs. closed adoptions. In fact the more I had to educate everyone around me about them the more I gained a testimony of open adoption. I can say with absolute certainty that we knew without a doubt that this little boy was to be our son. But he also has an amazing, selfless and beautiful birthmother. Without her where would we be? The very first thing we did after receiving the call that we had been chosen, was to begin to pray for confirmation that this was Heavenly Father’s will for our family. Our prayers were again answered with feelings of peace and comfort that this precious little boy and his birth mother were to be part of our family.

A couple of days before Diane’s due date, I received a call from our caseworker early one morning saying that Diane had gone into labor and was already at the hospital. They had tried to call me several times but I was in the shower and didn’t hear the phone! I frantically called Clayton at work to tell him the news! I didn’t even finished getting ready, instead I jumped in the car with wet hair and sped to Claytons work to pick him up so we could get to the hospital in time!!
When we got to the hospital our main concern was Diane and how she was feeling. Neither of us had ever experienced being there for someone to give birth before so we didn’t really know what to expect. We gained SO MUCH respect for Diane that day just watching her go through labor. I think it was also incredibly generous and loving of her to allow us to be there with her that day in the hospital. When Adam was born we were privileged enough to be in the room to see his birth, I even cut the umbilical cord! (something I was not expecting!) We were also the first to hold him which again, especially looking back on it now, testifies to me how much strength, love and courage birth mothers have for their children. To put that little baby first, beyond your own feelings and desires, THAT is love.

At placement our fears and concerns were only directed at Diane and her well being. I was especially concerned that I would never be able to express to her just exactly what she means to me.
There is a special and unique kind of love that an adoptive mother has for her child’s birthmother. It’s so deep and full of respect and awe. I know that the decision that Diane made for her baby was a gift for him to have a better life. I hope and pray that in return her own life has been blessed through her brave choice.

Our caseworker had explained the relinquishment process to us and told us that we would be taken to a separate room while Diane signed and then when she was done they would bring the paperwork to us to sign. Afterwards we would go into her room, exchange gifts and say our goodbyes (She lived in another State and would be returning home).
One of our gifts to her was a beautiful diamond necklace with Adam’s birthstone in the middle so that she could always have a little piece of him to carry close to her heart. I had also made her a special scrapbook and had a photo album for her with some pictures of Adam in it.
When the time came to leave her room so she could sign, I was actually holding Adam. I remember very clearly when the caseworker came in and told us it was time to go. I got up and carried Adam over to Diane to place him in her arms. She had quietly started crying and shook her head at me indicating that she didn’t want to hold him but wanted to me to take him instead. I had not expected this to happen and my heart ached for her. I was walking out of her room with her baby.
I barely made it out into the hall before I broke down sobbing.

There is so much joy and so much sorrow all at the same time.

Nothing could have prepared us for this part of the process. About 20 minutes later our caseworker came in with the paperwork for us to sign. Meanwhile she told us that Diane had decided that it was too hard for her to see us so we weren’t going to be allowed to give her our gifts in person or hug her goodbye. I couldn’t hold back the tears at the point. I wanted to tell Diane in person how much I loved her, I wanted to tell her that Adam would be ok and that we would do our best to raise him in a righteous and loving home.
We had to respect her decision though and hoped that she was ok. They assured us that they would help her get through it and that she was confident with her decision to place him with us but she had to deal with her grief in her own way.
A very emotional hour later we were walking out of the hospital with our beautiful son sleeping in his car seat!!! I’m not gonna lie….it was an AMAZING feeling!! We drove home in complete awe of our experiences and couldn’t wait to introduce Adam to our families!!

I mentioned earlier that we had set up a “time line” of when we would send pictures and letters. For that first year we stuck to it like glue. I faithfully wrote letters and sent pictures just like we had agreed. When Adam was 1 month old we got a call from our agency saying that Diane wanted to talk on the phone. We happily accepted and were able to get some closure after not being able to see her at placement in the hospital. She explained that it was such a difficult time for her but that she was healing and SO HAPPY to get our first letter and pictures. When Adam was 6 months we got another call from our agency indicating that Diane wanted to talk with us again.



I took something that Clayton and I had talked about completely out of context and assumed that I knew what he wanted, which was no more phone calls. When Clayton got home and I told him what I had done, he knew that it was wrong and even worse, I KNEW I WAS WRONG. After all, I have a testimony of open adoption! I know how important it is and what a blessing it is! The next day I called our caseworker and explained the situation to her. She advised me not to worry, she had taken care to explain it to Diane thoughtfully and that we should just let it be. I couldn’t let it be. The shame that I felt, and STILL feel to this day about not accepting that phone call is enormous. I continued to write letters and send pictures but I was sick inside. I have so much love for Diane, so why had I done this? I’m not going to make excuses for myself but I know that I was feeling insecure. I wanted Adam all to myself. I realize this makes no sense, after all I get to be the one who takes care of him be and is his mommy his entire life while she has to watch from a distance! Like I said, I’m not making excuses for my actions I’m just being honest about what was going through my head. On his 1st birthday we received our first letter from Diane. She expressed how upset, hurt and sad she was that we didn’t want to talk to her but she also had to respect our decision and still loved us. It took me several months more to get the courage to face that I had hurt her and own up to it. I wrote her a letter I apologized for not taking that call. I also told her that we would NEVER turn down a phone call again. After that first year, according to our agreement we were only obligated to send 1 letter a year on Adam’s birthday. However we had learned so much and gained such a strong testimony about open adoption that we just continued to write letters and send pictures and packages every 2 months or so. We didn’t hear from Diane for a long time. When Adam’s 2nd birthday was nearing, I called the agency and asked to speak with her. We had a great phone call that lasted about an hour. It was wonderful to talk to her!! About 2 months later we got our 2nd letter from Diane. We found out that due to some issues while moving and family getting involved she hadn’t got some of our packages and letters and one of them was my letter of apology!! She was grateful for my letter and finally felt like we had resolved what had happened and could move on. Since then the openness continues to get better as we are learning day by day what this means for all of us! We now email regularly. We also have an adoption blog that Diane can see any time and I put updated pictures and stories on it every week and I continue to send letters, pictures and packages every couple of months. We’ve learned that there is no “set” way that an open adoption should be. It’s whatever you and the birth mother are comfortable with. Our comfort levels have grown so much as our love for Diane strengthens and grows. She is wonderful and we want Adam to know that. He has so many people that love him. My insecurities are gone and instead of wanting him all to myself, I want to embrace open adoption and let him feel the love around him.
He has a right and a privilege to know where he comes from, who he looks like and why he is so very special!

We will continue to have an open adoption with Adam’s birthmother for the rest of our lives. (Hopefully one day that will mean visits too!) We are so grateful for her and her decision to place him with us. We have a strong testimony of the gospel and Heavenly Father’s plan for each of us. We know that without the trials of infertility we would not have been lead on the path of adoption and for that reason we consider infertility one of our biggest blessings. We are so grateful for the power of prayer, it gives us the opportunity to draw closer to Heavenly Father and increases our faith. We are so blessed and privileged to be Adam’s parents and to be a forever family!


  1. I love this story! Thank you again for sharing it! So many people feel the same things you were so brave to share with us. :) I appreciate your sweet honesty and I am so glad that your adoption is open today! :) Good luck on your journey and finding another sweet child to help complete your family :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I've wondered many times about the adoptive parents point of view when something like this happens, and I admire your openness and honesty in sharing the story. I admire your courage in making something right that you feel you had done wrong. That is one of the hardest things in the world. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. your story was wonderful! i am so glad that you and your birth mom made it through that time...
    that doesnt always happen and how sad for the child involved.
    your story will be a great help to other couples and in turn us birth moms so thank you for sharing!
    P.S. your some is such a HANDSOME little man!!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story and testimony of prayer, and adoption. It truely touches so many lives. I'm glad you have an open adoption and were able to work things out. I too had a miscommunication with my couple early on in the adoption that hurt both of us. Luckily we worked through it and are careful to rescept each others boundaries and feelings but also be open. I have a great open adoption because of open communication. Hopefully You can have visits. I love the visits I have had with my son and his parents.

  5. thanks everyone for sharing your comments, we really appreciate them!
    And thank you Karine for being willing to share our story on your blog! I hope you get your little addition to your family soon! :D

    If you have a minute, stop by therhouse.blogspot.com and vote for our family, we are entered to win an awesome giveaway!!

    Clayton and Angie