By Kelsey Vander Vliet
Originally posted from BraveLove https://www.bravelove.org/open_adoption_strange_friendships
Open adoption can feel like a strange relationship, and it’s a lot of work. During my pregnancy, I met with the adoptive couple monthly. Each time, we shared a meal and stories and got to know one another.
Throughout these monthly meetings, I grew to love this couple. I picked them to raise my baby, how could I not have love for them? I was sharing one of the most troubling times of my life with them, so of course, we grew close to one another. But were we friends? It felt like it, but I didn’t really know.
Once I gave birth and placed my son with them, they kept me in the loop. In fact, they went above and beyond with updates. Every first he ever had was documented with pictures and videos that they always sent to me. I knew they cared. During calls or visits, they truly wanted to know how I was doing, and I truly wanted to know how they were doing, too! Under all other life circumstances, I would have known for sure that this constitutes a friendship. However, I was hesitant to label it as such because this same thought camped out in the back of my mind,
“If I didn’t place my baby with them, would they care about me?”
This lingering question was the one thing keeping me from calling it a friendship.
I will never know the answer to that question, but at the same time, I will never care to know. My reality is that I DID place my baby with them, and they DO care about me. The reality is that I DO call them my friends, even if our friendship is different than any other friendship I’ve ever had. I am in year two after placement, approaching year three, and they still keep me in the loop. I still get texts, calls, and visits. They still ask me how I’m doing. I pray for them as a family, but also as individuals – just as I do for my other friends.
As time goes on, our relationship changes.
My birth son is older, and so am I. My life has changed dramatically since placement, and while adoption advocacy seems to have encompassed my life, I do have a life outside of my adoption. Sometimes I feel that my natural reaction to this strange friendship is to pull away but I have resisted my urge to run for the hills. My other birth mom friends have voiced the same feelings, wondering if this is a sign that they should close up shop and move on with their lives. What are we holding out for? Our children are fine, right? They’re learning new things, loving their families, and thriving in life.
We can’t get away that easily. What our children need is something that we can’t see yet, and it’s not even guaranteed – but it is a possibility. What my birth son needs from me doesn’t come tomorrow, or the next day. What he needs from me comes years later. Open adoption sometimes makes me like a guest that hangs around long after the party has ended. I have to fight through these reflexes and counterproductive thoughts. This unusual friendship – this open adoption – is hard work… but it’s something I can never give up on.