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Monday, May 12, 2008

Footprints of a Family, our second adoption journey, epilogue

this journey begins here

Thank you for taking this journey with me, with us. I have enjoyed writing it as much as you have enjoyed reading it. This was such wonderful and tumultuous time for us. We did go home with Michael that Saturday. We were met at the airport by my parents and our daughter...what an incredible reunion it was. Cassie was so excited to meet her brother, she immediately wanted to hold him, remember she was only 4 years old. As we were walking out of the airport, I was holding her hand and she looked up to me and said, "Mommy, thank you for bringing home my baby brother." Tears flowed down my face.

Michael's birthfather continued to contest the adoption, but he did it silently. He was formally served adoption papers. He ignored them. He had 30 days to sign, fight, or do nothing. He did nothing. Somehow they found our phone number and we started getting daily phone calls, multiple calls a day. They never said anything. This went on for weeks. Finally, I grew tired of the calls. One day I said into the phone, "Please stop calling us. We would have gladly shared Michael with you and kept you in his life through pictures and letters, but we will not put up with this BS. Please stop calling us until you can be more respectful towards us." That was the last phone call we received. After the 30 days was up we thought we were free. Alas, we were not. He was served papers again and this time had 14 days to contest, sign, or do nothing. Again, he did nothing and his parental rights were finally terminated.

Six months later we stood in front of a Judge and formally became a family of four. Our family was complete that day.

Breastfeeding Michael was not as easy as I had hoped it would be. The supplemental nursing system was very difficult to use, and Michael was a very difficult baby. He did nurse for comfort many a night during his colicky phase. That was a blessing, being able to soothe him. For that reason alone I found this endeavor to be successful.

We have stayed in contact with Laura and her family. Michael wore the family christening gown his birth great grandmother made, on the day he was baptized. We were very honored and that made his baptism day all the more special. We did send it back for the upcoming generations to wear. Laura has 2 daughters now, a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old. We refer to these angels as Michael's baby sisters. He speaks to Laura and the older girl on the phone frequently. He will even sign cards to them - "Love your big brother, Michael". I find this very endearing. Michael's birthfamily has sent birthday and Christmas gifts to both Michael and Cassie, every year. I was so thankful for this because I did not want Cassie to feel left out. They have always included her in everything, which is wonderful because we don't have the same relationship with her birthfamily.

"How have we told our children they are adopted?" - I don't be quite honest with you!! They have always known. It has always been a part of our dialogue. When they were very young we read adoption books to them, we have quite a few excellent adoption children's stories. When we read them, we would elaborate the book with their story. When I was asked if they grew in my tummy, we would talk about it - "No sweetie, you grew in Laura/A's tummy and she gave you to us to love and that is how we became your Mommy and Daddy". Our conversations have always been open and honest and loving. This was very important to me. I was also adopted and I have always known. My parents always talked about my birthparents in a kind and loving way, they always let me know how special adoption was. My adoption was closed, still is....that was how they did it then. I am so glad the times have changed. Open adoption is so much healthier for everyone involved.

"Have my children ever screamed in anger that I was not their mother?" - No, not yet, but I am sure they will. I did to my mother when I was a teenager (yes, I have apologized to her for that!!) Cassie did say to me one night in all of her preteen angst, "If I am so special why did A give me away?" Oh how that broke my heart, my sweet little angel hurting so much. I have told her many times why A "gave her away" but I knew at that moment my words would mean nothing to her. Thankfully A had written her a letter on the day she was born and I knew this was the moment to let her read it. In this beautiful letter A tells her everything I have always told her, but at that moment she needed to "hear" it from A. She read that letter, and she understood, and she felt loved, and she was at peace. A was also adopted and she knew this day would come...I was so grateful to her again. I am sure it will come up again, but I am also sure that having contact with their birthmothers eases most of their uncertainty and questions. We have only spoken of the birthmothers in loving and kind ways.

"Since you seem to be close to Michael's birth family, has this had any impact on Cassie, not having that same closeness?" - Not that we are aware of. Of course, it was very helpful to have his birthfamily "adopt" Cassie and include her in everything so she never felt left out. We are eternally grateful to them for that. I think if they had not done that it would have had a huge impact on her! We also have contact with Cassie's birthmother and I knew she would be open to visits. Cassie expressed in interest in a visit last year and I encouraged her to send an email. She did and we met with her birth grandmother and birthmother and her baby sister. It was a beautiful day and we are now in more frequent contact. After our visit was over, Cassie looked at me and said, "Thank you Mommy." Tears came to my eyes as I told her, "Your welcome".

I hope I have answered all your questions. I did not really have a goal when I started writing these journeys, but now that they are done I hope you have a much better understanding of the intricacies of open adoption. I also hope you have the utmost respect for birthmothers, they are amazing woman and I hold them in the highest regard.

Cassie and I watched the movie Juno the other night....we loved it. It was very honest and real. I highly recommend it.

Open adoption is a beautiful paradox. Through hope, love, joy and pain two families who were once strangers are forever united and become one family bonded together through the love they share for a special child.

the final chapter will be Michael through the years, a photo journey


nikki said...

Thank you for sharing your stories. I have loved reading them.

JanMary said...

I too have enjoyed reading this - thanks for sharing it all.

Stella said...

Thank you so much for sharing! It's just absolutely incredible to see and read!!

ChrisB said...

I have enjoyed following your two journeys, with all the highs and lows! Your open adoption has been a positive experience for all concerned, which is truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with us and it will be lovely that your children have this record.

lisa marie said...

I liked that Juno movie too and think you guys are just wonderful! I was raised by my mom and step-dad, he did adopt when I was 11 and I know this isn't the same but there was so much hurt there for so many years. To think that my biodad threw me away, then went on to have more kids he had contact with. Then my mom was always talking bad about him. And when I met him at 18 my mom was upset and told me to never let my dad know or he would be hurt. I never wanted that for my kids and although their dad and I went seperate ways I have never spoken ill of him and always encouraged them to find him or have contact. Jealousy has no place in parenting. :)

Chrys said...

absolutely beautiful! thank you for sharing your story and life with us. I have learned so much and am better because I have taken this journey. It really has helped me understand more of the adoption process for both sides. I am grateful.

Heather said...

I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Thanks so much for sharing such a personal journey with all of us. It just opens up my eyes to all the different lives people lead, quietly, lovingly, strongly. Truly a beautiful story.

Mariposa said...

I have teary eyes now...thanks so much for sharing this...this is just what we (me and IT Guy) needed to read. You see, getting pregnant is quite difficult for me so as early as now (we're getting married next year) we get to talk about adoption. I have always wanted to be a mother...and I have grown to believe that motherhood is not limited to carrying babies for 9 months! Look at you! You are such a wonderful Mom! God, what a beautiful story...I would always remember you and your family. Happy Mother's Day to you!

karisma said...

Thank you! I am crying again after reading all this! Such a beautiful story and Im so happy that it all ended well for you! Thanks again for sharing it with us!

You really should have this published into a book. I feel it would really help a lot of people going through the process!

bichonpawz said...

Oh Alison, this was a heartwarming journey! Thank you so much for sharing. Juno was a beautiful movie, wasn't it? Your kids just have the best parents!

Pamela said...

it has to be like a quilt- one where you know where all the pieces came from and the love that stitched them together.

I can't imagine a better way.

Tera said...

Thank you for answering my questions Alison. I have such admiration for your strength. And I am so much more knowledgeable about adoption after reading your stories. I feel a bit torn though...I couldn't wait every week for the next installment. I hope you have another little treasure up your sleeve to keep my life intriguing!!! haha What am I gonna do without my Footprints of a Family to read and cry with and laugh over??? :-) Thank you so very much for sharing this beautiful journey of your life.

Irene Latham said...

Hi Alison - I think y'all should be on a poster for adoption. :) I can't tell you how much it has meant to me to read these stories. It restores my faith in humanity. So glad to hear a love story like this one. xxoo

ConverseMomma said...

You really went through so much with the adoption. You are a strong, beautiful Momma!

suchsimplepleasures said...

growing up, i had a ton of adopted friends. i always knew their side. hearing the side of the eye opening. thank you for sharing it!!
how are you! i miss you! i've been mia...but, i'm slowly working back into the blogging thing!!

Laura McIntyre said...

A massive thanks for sharing these, you have gave me such an insight into a world i knew nothing about.

The way you have handled everything has been perfect, your children must really feel loved.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I have loved this Alison. I'm so glad you all found each other. Thanks for sharing your story so beautifully.

Karmyn R said...

What an emotional rollercoaster! I'm sorry for the birth father in that he missed out on an incredible opportunity to be a small part of such an amazing relationship.