I had the honor and privilege of being a guest writer for United for Adoption today (be sure to visit and like their page on Facebook also). I am in awe of how God continues to use our story to touch the lives of so many - many that I may never know. This is truly what being a light for Him is all about and all glory is for Him! Thank you all who continue to pray for and support Courtney and me in our ministry! We love you!
In Christ, Jenny
Embracing Openness - Jenny's Story
As I sat down to write this particular blog, I struggled with how to begin and in finding those perfect words to set the tone. Then Courtney (my dear friend and co-writer) sent me this quote which happens to be from my favorite Glory Haus canvas print. Talk about divine intervention and perfect timing! It was just the words I was looking for and again God has shown me how He has placed us together for encouragement and support so that we can accomplish His work.
The quote above perfectly describes why my husband and I chose open adoption. Through our faith in Jesus and knowing what His word says, we are to open our hearts and minds to transform lives - not just our son's, but his birth family as well. We want to be a stark example of how Christ shows His love for us in practical ways. One way we can do that is to open our lives to another family - the family that He chose for us, our son's biological family.
I have been asked many questions about our open adoption just in the two short years of our son's life. Some of these questions are heartfelt and asked with pure intentions. Some are asked by those who are also seeking to adopt and want to know what kind of options they have. Other questions are asked in judgmental tones from those who could not possibly understand or want to understand, and give feedback such as "I don't know how you do that," "Isn't it hard?", "Won't it just confuse your son more?" The answers are yes, it is hard, but so is parenting in general. Marriage is hard. Jobs are hard. Life is hard. And we are not to be given "extra credit" for doing what we believe to be best for our son. We don't want to seek any kind of "medal of honor." We are just normal parents doing the best for their son just like everyone else. As for confusion, we believe that openness in adoption actually lessons confusion and takes away the factor of hiding things from our son. We don't want him to question why he's different. Because first, he's not... he's a normal child with a mommy and daddy. Instead, we want him to grow and have all assurance that the decision his birth mom and her family made was to give him the best life possible. To give him a life she couldn't at 18 years of age. To show him that he is loved and has an extensive family who also loves him beyond measure. I'm writing this particular blog for multiple reasons. I want to encourage and counsel others who are considering adoption by giving them the picture of a healthy and open adoption. And I'm also writing it so that others may understand our open adoption relationship better.
Just like individuals, all adoptions are not the same. What works for us may not work for others. And vice versa, what has worked for others doesn't work for us. But one thing is certain; every decision we have made and will continue to make will center around two things: 1) we will continue to do what God directs us to do through prayer, and 2) we will always do what is best for our son - whatever that may mean.
By now, most of you have read my Adoption Journey on our blog and have a picture of the relationship that my son's birth mom and I had prior to and at the time of his birth. One thing my husband and I were certain of when we first started the adoption process is that we would always do what is best for our child whether that meant open or closed adoption, meaning we either would or would not have contact with the birth family based on the situation. And there are varying degrees of open adoption - from sending pictures at a mutually agreed upon time-frame/frequency all the way to personal visits. And that may even change as time goes on or as a relationship grows. For us, we evolved from our birth mom just wanting us to send her pictures on the timeframe of her choice to now having personal visits at least twice per year. And that is the way it will remain as long as it is not emotionally affecting our son in any negative way or until it is not consistent. For all of us - our son, my husband and I, our birth mom, the birth family, and our immediate families - it is absolutely wonderful and a way for us to demonstrate the love of Christ to our son.
My heart also wouldn't allow me NOT to open my life to our birth mom. I believed from the very first time what we met that God had not only sent her to me to allow me to be the mother of her unborn son, but to also allow me to have a role in her life as well. She wanted me, someone she barely knew at the time - virtually a complete stranger - to come to doctor appointments, go with her to child birth class, and most incredibly to be with her in the delivery room. God gave me all the joys of giving birth to our son through our birth mom even though I couldn't physically do so. What a gift! But with that gift comes responsibility - to love, nurture, and provide for our son and to also do the same for the amazing young woman who carried him in her womb. She opened her heart to me, and for the rest of our lives, I will do the same for her. It is a true, unconditional love - for one another as mom and mommy, and most importantly for our son. How could I not allow her the opportunity to watch our son grow up and be a part of his life after incredibly selfless acts!
No matter what choice you make in your own adoption journey - open or closed adoption - the most important thing is that you follow God's direction and to do what is best for the child. There are not cookie cutter adoptions and there are more gray areas than black or white. Once you decide on your relationship with a birth family - it must be consistent. There can be no going back and forth, or walking into or out of a child's life. That is beyond unfair to them and it will do more psychological and emotional harm than good to the child. Their lives are precious and we get one chance to mold it as parents.