My short answer is: YES.
My long answer is…it depends.
Here’s why. Open Adoption is about relationships with and communication between people. It’s fluid. It’s delicate. And it’s real. Therefore, it’s subject to the same flurry of emotions and uncertainties as any other relationship.
At the beginning of my open adoption journey (back in 1988), communication between my son, his family, and myself was all conducted through the adoption agency. Cards, letters, gifts, videos…all were sent to this agency first and then transferred either to me or to his family. It was a bit awkward, but it came as no surprise to me. I knew it all upfront.
Nearly one year from his placement date, my son’s parents made a trip out to Massachusetts (where I lived) for personal business. Just them – no little ones. The trip was phenomenal. Although I and my mother had met this wonderful couple, my father, sister and my son’s birthfather’s family had not. We enjoyed one jam-packed day touring Boston, walking, talking and getting to know one another. It was extraordinary. It was as if we had known each other for years.
On that very trip, I broached my son’s mother and mentioned I might be interested in taking a trip out west to visit and would they be willing to meet me for lunch or something. I remember the exact moment…vividly. She and I were seated in the backseat of a car headed back to the birthfather’s family’s house (have I lost you yet?) She and I were chatting like girlfriends. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Let me give you our information.” And with that, she wrote her full name, address and phone number down and handed me the piece of scrap paper.
I felt so many emotions…I was stunned, ecstatic, nervous, happy, eager, cautious, overwhelmed…
Looking back, I suppose it was only natural. They had been to our homes and called us on the phone to make arrangements (no cell phones or Internet, remember, but still – information could easily have been revealed).
That day set the tone for these last 25 years.
The openness and trust that my son’s parents exhibited that day wasn’t just coincidence. It was a result of the relationship that we started to build with one another – all of us – on that day. There was just something there, you know? Something that’s kind of hard to explain. Think of your best friend. You know how you have that special something that only you two know? It’s kind of like that. We all just knew that this was right. This was good. And this unique family adventure we had just begun was going to be amazing.
And it has been.