We are often asked about Livie's first parents, especially at the beginning when we brought Livie home.
"Are you going to ever see them again?"
"Isn't it hard to have them around you?"
"Aren't you scared they will want her back?"
"Won't that be confusing for the baby when she's older?"
Dan and I made the conscious decision to adopt a child, and when we chose domestic adoption, we hoped it would be an open adoption.
We were very grateful that Olivia's other parents also wanted an open adoption. While we would not have turned away a closed adoption, we had a number of reasons for hoping that Olivia would know her other parents.
For almost everyone, knowing where you come from provides roots and a sense of belonging.
I can tell Paityn that she's English and German on my side, and Italian, Polish, and Irish on her father's side. I can tell her about her great-great-grandfather who traced our genealogy back to Mathias ___ who came to America in 1628 and settled in Boston.
We want Livie to know her background, too, and her heritage is unique to her genetic family. We can provide love and family, but we cannot provide her a history.
We want Olivia to know her first parents from the start rather than go out to find them at 18.
At some point, many people who are adopted have a desire to meet their first parents. This is only natural.
We wanted Olivia to grow up knowing her first parents so that there would never be a potentially awkward and emotionally difficult meeting for her later in life.
We wanted Livie to know that she was loved and that the decision to place her for adoption was made out of love.
While we could be the ones to tell her this, it would never mean as much as it would coming from her first parents. She has a right to ask the hard questions, and hearing the answers from first parents who will be present in her life since her earliest memories will, we hope, be easier.
We want to avoid secrecy and an open adoption dispenses with any possibility of secrets.
Studies have shown that keeping a child in the dark about her adoption is usually psychologically damaging. While we have no intention of keeping Livie's adoption a secret from her, having her first parents involved ensures that she will grow up with this arrangement as her "normal."
We wanted to have a source of medical information.
This is a rather pragmatic, but still important, part of open adoption.
We wanted the first parents to know Olivia.
Adoption is a wonderful thing. But the truth is, it leaves at least one person, and often two or more, hurting and alone.
Prior to meeting Olivia's first parents, we had plans for an open adoption. After getting to know them, one reason we wanted to ensure ongoing contact was to provide healing to them. It is not an easy decision to place a child for adoption, and never knowing that child can leave the first parents forever wondering.
We don't want Olivia to wonder with no way of getting answers.
Someday, Livie will have lots of questions.
"Is my other mom good at math?"
"Do you know if my other dad is good in sports?"
I want her to know the answers to these questions, and I won't know them all.
There is no such thing as being too loved.
Livie is so blessed! She came into this world with double the number of parents loving her.
I'm not a big fan of labels; I use the words "first mother" and "first father" in this blog to avoid confusion and protect their identity. At home, we call them by their first names with the girls. And we often refer to them as mom and dad, something which doesn't bother either Dan or I. They are, after all, Livie's parents.
I think there are all kinds of parents, and we view Olivia's "first parents" simply as another member of the family. Not just her family, but ours. Because once she became part of our family, those who are important to her are important to us.
Their presence in our lives doesn't take away from our place as Livie's mama and papa. It simply adds to the number of people who love her. If children can love step-parents or others who are not blood related parents, then we see difference in Livie loving both her first parents and her adoptive parents in different and equally special ways.
We want what is best for our daughter, and we believe knowing her first parents is in her best interests.
I have been asked how I can handle having Livie's first mom in her life. My response is that Livie is my daughter, and my love for her means that what is comfortable or easiest for me has no place in making a decision for her best interests.
Interestingly enough, her first mother also put aside her own feelings and did what she felt was best for Olivia when she chose us to be Livie's family.
I choose to believe that my daughter will have a big heart. One that is big enough to love Mama and Papa and her first parents, too. Truthfully, I hope she will love them. Perhaps she will call them Mom and Dad, too, someday. Either way, I want to believe that we are raising a daughter who will have a capacity to love more than just a couple people.
It's my hope that Livie's first parents are a big part of our family forever, just as she is. But this type of relationship is always in motion and never concrete. People grow, change, move... I pray that through all these changes, Olivia's first parents are a constant presence in her life. I want them to be as permanent in our lives as she is.
As her mother, I believe that part of my job is maintaining our relationship with her first parents until she is old enough to do it herself. I think this is the healthiest decision for her future.
So I will do my best to ensure she grows up knowing the couple who gave her life. For all the reasons above, but mostly just because I love Olivia that much. And I know they do, too.