In case you didn’t get to read Heather’s response to my camping post, I have included it here. She points out some really good things, like the fact that we (meaning all of us involved) have no idea what this open adoption looks like. There is no manual for this. There is no “normal” plans for an open adoption. But if you were to ask me, I think we are doing a fine job at it! I hope you enjoy her response as much as I did!
My mom completely arranged every single detail of our camping trip, and I am so grateful she did. I couldn’t believe she thought of the idea to invite you, and that you accepted! Not because I didn’t want to go camping with all of us together, I just couldn’t believe we all were going to be hanging out, camping for three days!! (Like – wow, this is really happening?!?!) I didn’t know what to expect, either. I was excited, and I was a little nervous, because during this time, I was emotionally at my worst, and I didn’t want it to show.
Seeing all of the kids together, enjoying themselves, and seeing everyone together made me so happy! A happiness I hadn’t felt in so long, and I was definitely enjoying myself! It was also nice to get the opportunity to sit down with you and tell you what I have been going through. I was so scared to tell you the truth about my life, but I am so glad I did. You in return started to open up about what was going on in your life – the struggles and also the blessings. When you brought up the idea of starting a blog, I thought it was a beautiful idea, and appreciated you asking me how I felt about it first.
It’s awesome how we overcome the stereotypical thoughts about adoption. If you think about it, we’ve been doing it since the beginning. Since before the moment you held up my leg while I delivered your child. None of us knew what open adoption was going to ultimately be like, and all the necessary teachings that come along with it. Especially because there’s more than one child affected in our openness. I always want to do the right things, say the right things, and handle everything “correctly” for Jackson and for my children.
My oldest son, Marvell, took on this understanding of what adoption is, since Jackson was inside me. He was persistent in wanting to understand – he really used to ask me question after question after question. I think it is beautiful that he has this understanding, and how much he cares about Jackson and views him as his brother. I remember one night, Marvell was holding his baby brother, Michael, reading to him.. & I was telling Marvell that I could NEVER have asked for better sons, and how much I loved everything about the both of them. His first response – don’t forget about Jackson, Mom!! Of course, I could never forget about Jackson. Then I felt I had to carefully explain how yes, Jackson is my biological son meaning he came from my tummy, but he wasn’t given to me by God to be his parent and raise him up in this world. It wasn’t until months after this camping trip that I heard Marvell say the words to Jackson, “I’m your brother”… It definitely caught me off guard, I remember looking at JJ with wide eyes, just thinking, “what do we do or say?”.. Like, I literally at times have no idea what I am doing in this open adoption! I want to allow Marvell to express his love and happiness to Jackson that they biologically came from the same place, but at the same time, I wanted to protect Jackson from that precious knowledge that Marvell has, since he doesn’t yet understand it. Also, I don’t feel like it is my right to have conversations with Jackson about adoption, unless it is completely led by his parents. There are definitely boundaries when you are a birth parent (I believe), and I would never cross those boundaries. & that’s not a hard thing for me to do, because I respect and love Jackson and his parents way too much to ever cross that line.
Well, of course, Marvell doesn’t understand all of that. I had another talk with Marvell since then, letting him know that he is the ONLY one who has the understanding of what adoption really is. So, it’s best not to come out and say those types of things to Jackson because we don’t want to confuse him. I told him that there will be an opportunity later on in life to talk about those things once Jackson is ready, and his parents have prepared him. & I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten Marvell to understand.
I remember while camping, just sitting back so many times and feeling so thankful. For Life in general, for MY life, for my family and friends surrounding me. For the trees, water, fresh air. For the smiles on everyone’s faces. During our camping trip, I remember a moment so vividly, that completely blew me away. My kids ran over to the children’s area to play on different things. I was going to walk around the pond to go supervise the kids, and see how they were doing. Jackson said he wanted to go over there, too. JJ asked Jackson if he wanted to go with me, and he said yes and ran over to me, ready to hold my hand. As he took my hand, I realized that was the first time it was just me and him since I held him on my chest in the hospital as a newborn. I can’t even explain to you the joy, love, thankfulness, and amazement I was feeling for having the chance to even be in that moment. It’s not even about me, but WOW!!!! I never imagined myself walking with Jackson in the grass holding his hand. As we were walking, I asked him if he was having fun. He strongly said, “Oh, yeah!” with a huge smile on his face.. He reminded me of his mom so much! I could just picture her saying that and using the same facial expressions as he did.. I told him I’m so glad he was having fun. Then he started talking about the grass and how it looked like different things. He mentioned a turtle and a mushroom and different things, then would crack up at his own jokes. I was just listening to him, laughing at his silliness, admiring him. Then he stopped talking, looked up at me, and said, “I love you!”….. OH. MY. GOODNESS… I was totally not ready for that! Did that just happen? Jackson just told me he loved me? My heart was just melting as I said, “I love you too Jackson!” as it took everything inside me to hold back tears, because I didn’t want him to think I was an absolute weirdo!!
I am so happy to have had the opportunity to know what open adoption feels like. If you’re reading this – I just want to say THANK YOU MOM! For organizing and planning out this camping trip. It was a wonderful experience. I feel like I came out a different woman – that’s how awesome it was for me! I look forward to things like this in the future – be able to continue to hang out and see how God continues to mold the bond we share in this open adoption!