Well, Millie continues to settle in at home and we continue to settle into life as a family of three. We are in heaven.
One of the things that has continued to come up as we share our story with people are questions concerning open adoption. Sometimes I forget that while Carla and I have spent the past year and a half learning about open adoption, the benefits of open adoption for the child, and the way that open adoption works, other people know relatively little about open adoption.
For many people, the images of babies being ripped away from their adoptive parents are still vividly running through their minds. When they hear about open adoption, I think that these fears creep in and cloud people's judgement of open adoption. So I thought I would take a moment and try to explain what open adoption means to our family.
When Carla and I first met with Millie's birth parents, there was an instant feeling of connection. As the discussion unfolded that evening, it was clear that these were such good people who were prepared to do this amazing thing because they had so much love for their daughter. As we left the table that first evening, it was with the understanding that these people would be a part of our lives forever. And I could not be happier about that.
In these first days with Millie, we have already begun to tell her the story of how she arrived home. That story, very much, includes her birth family. I know that she does not understand this story yet, but my hope is that as she grows older, this will just be another part of her story. It's no different, to me, than other parents telling their children about the day they were born. Yes, Millie's story features more characters and has a few extra plot twists, but it is still her story and we will never leave pieces out of that story. She has every right to know where she came from and we hope that she will always feel comfortable talking with us about her birth parents.
I have seen many students come into my classroom. And what I know is that the kids who have a strong sense of who they are, are the kids who have the kind of confidence that allows them to be their own person and take risks and do incredible things. We want our Millie to know exactly who she is and that means being honest with her from the very beginning.
Our plan moving forward with Millie's birth parents is to send monthly updates and pictures and to meet in-person three to four times each year. Sometimes, when I tell people this, I can see the hesitation in their eyes. I can almost feel people recoil. For some reason, this scares people. They don't understand it. And while I know it is not always my job to make them understand it, I do want people to know that this is the plan because it is what we believe is best for Millie.
I suppose people worry that Millie will be confused about who her parents are. This doesn't ever worry me. Millie will know exactly who we all are because of the role we will each play in her life. She will know that Carla is the one who will run around and play with her whenever she wants and who will teach her all about the world around her. She will will know that I am the one who will sit quietly and read with her and teach her about the joys of literature. She will know that her birth parents are the ones who gave birth to her and who share their genes with her. She will know that they are the ones who made the most loving decision that they could and found her the perfect home to grow up in. She will know these things because that is what she will see. That is who we will all be to her. I don't need to worry about who she will think we all are, because I know that she will know exactly what we all bring to her life. She has so many people that love her and that can never be a bad thing.
So, I get it. Millie's family won't look like everyone else's family. She is adopted. She has two moms. She has a birth family that will always be a part of her life. And it is my greatest hope that Millie will grow up knowing that all of these things make her special and wonderful. Yes, there will be difficult questions. And yes, there will be times when she will probably wish she was like everyone else. And yes, there will even be times when some mean kid is going to make fun of her. But that is a part of growing up. And learning to be proud of who you are, in spite of all those difficult things, is what makes a person a confident, well-adjusted human being and I know that Millie is going to have enough support in her life that she will be able to deal with those things and be a better person because of it.
It is my hope that the people in our lives will continue to ask us questions about open adoption. It is also my hope that people will learn to trust that the decisions we make about open adoption are the ones that are best for Millie. And it is my greatest hope that, one day, Millie will be able to talk about her story with pride because she will know how very special and very loved she is.
Openness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. If you have some time, check out the many different responses to the question, "What does openness mean to you?" that was asked to the Open Adoption Bloggers website as a part of their Open Adoption Roundtable. Click here to take a look.
And because I can't help myself. I will leave this post with a few more pictures of our Millie.