The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You can find out more over at Production, Not Reproduction. The new prompt is How has open adoption changed you? In what ways are you different because the presence of open adoption in your life?
As an adoptee myself, adoption has always been an intrinsic part of my life and my self-identity. Growing up, it was a "cool fact" I would share about myself. "I play the piano, I'm adopted, and I like to read." It was just something that was slightly different about me, something that I liked, but didn't really understand.
Since meeting my birth parents, I have changed. The differences in that regard are subtle. However, my relationships with them, and with my birth father's family, have once again affected my self identity. Primarily, I no longer view myself as the child of a nuclear family. While my family hasn't been changed by divorce or remarriage or anything like that, the way I define my family is no longer simple. When asked how many siblings I have, I often have difficulty answer--when I don't just say, one brother and three sisters (my adopted brother, and my birthdad's three other daughters.)
But what's more is my open relationship with my son and his family. That has changed me in more ways than I can even comprehend. Being a birth mother is life-altering. It is impossible to remain the same person you were before. But open adoption has made it possible for that to be a positive and uplifting change.
My very thought processes have changed. Motherhood awoke in my bosom, and though I am not the caregiver of that child, I still have the instincts that strike me at odd moments. And I AM able to care for my child, if not as a mother. I care for him as a birthmother. I care from a distance--I am always there to make sure HE knows that he is the most loved little boy in the world. =)
It's hard for me to put into words. Basically, I am a completely different person than I would be without open adoption. Adoption has blurred the lines of "Family", and it's made me more accepting. My heart didn't break when I placed my son for adoption--it grew, swelled ten times bigger and gave me just that much more room to love. That's what adoption means to me. It means more people to love the child, more love to go around for everyone. It means accepting that things might be awkward at times, that there might be uncertainty, that there might be worries. Open adoptions are not simple, and they are not necessarily easy. But they ARE good. They provide the opportunity for so much love. And now that I have them in my life, I can't imagine living my life any differently.