Update 11/15/2013 6:37pm: With low food rations in the house and very worn out full-time working parents, we decided to hit our local sushi place for a quick happy hour for dinner. It turned out to be a lovely mellow time (Lilli had her first raw sushi, smoked salmon nigiri!) and an opportunity to celebrate our Entrustment Day. As I talked to Lilli about Entrustment Day these words came out of my mouth: “This is the day that you became a part of our family, and the day your birth parents H & T became a part of our family.”
Matt just smiled across the table at me, knowing that I’d gotten it in his words, and Goldilocks’ “just right.” Just the right sentiment we want for our family’s Entrustment Day.
Our daughter Lilli recently turned two years old. And today marks our ‘Entrustment Day,’ or at least that’s what we’re calling it for now. Two years ago today, Lilli’s birth parents entrusted Matt and me to be Lilli’s parents. We’d known Lilli and her birth parents H and T for just five days, but on that day we became family.
Two years flew by. It seems like a lifetime, yet we are still so new to being parents and to being in an open adoption relationship. Having peers helps.
There’s a vibrant community of folks at Open Adoption Bloggers. Lots of interesting bloggers from all sides of open adoption. An amazing resource and a great inspiration for my own blogging.
They have a nice series of writing prompts called Open Adoption Roundtable. Their latest prompt: Does it get easier?
Two years seems like hardly enough time to answer the question, yet as I wrote above, we’ve already lived a lifetime. Or several.
I remember that weekend two years ago well. We had the quickest imaginable courtship with Lilli and her birth parents. Some open adoption families meet their birth parent(s) during the pregnancy. For us, Lilli was four, going on five weeks old. When we met them, all of us knew that we would need to work quickly to get to know each other and see if this relationship was the right fit.
Rewinding a little further in time, I’d like to share how we entered the process. Matt and I chose open adoption – out of all the types of possible adoptions we could have chosen – primarily for one reason. We believe in the idea of having the most open adoption possible. We believe that transparency is honesty. And we believe that honesty is the most ethical way to be in relationship with our child, with our family and friends and with our birth families.
That means we were transparent from the start. We told our counselor as much as we thought could be relevant to the birth parents for our home study. I wrote things in my autobiography that some of my closest friends might not even know. The photo collage we prepared reflected our fun and often goofy personalities. And, according to H and T, that’s why they chose us.
When we finally sat down to get to know H and T and Lilli, we minimized small talk and got right to the real stuff. Though it was awkward and overwhelming and intense and exciting, in some ways it was easy. We just laid our hearts out there on the table right next to theirs. It was all about moving to the next step – placing, or entrusting, Lilli with us – if H and T deemed that was what they wanted for themselves and for Lilli. Everything after placement was a distant future. Those first four days were about getting through day five.
Fast forward to today. Did it get easier in these last two years? So far I’d have to say no. Life is not easy. Relationships are not easy and they are never static. Two years ago, not only did we adopt a daughter, we adopted a whole new family into ours. We added another family to coordinate holidays and visits with. We became parents. We became juggling, full-time working parents. We became parents to an infant. And then a toddler. Lilli’s birth father moved away and hasn’t responded to texts or emails. Lilli’s birth mom is enjoying living on her own, but she’s estranged from her family. Lilli has an older brother who is living with Lilli’s birth grandparents. Lilli is talking now and we realize it’s time to start talking to her about her story.
Okay, I should take it back, a little. Did it get easier in these last two years? It got more complicated. But we are learning to take it easy. To be easier on ourselves. To ease into our days when Lilli is exhibiting cranky-two-year-old vibes. To make easy meals or go out if we just can’t deal. We do less (quantity), which actually means we do more (quality) as a family unit. We take the time and care and nurturing needed to let Lilli assist us with cracking open the eggs, or spread butter on the toast. If we planned to go to the park, but Lilli seems content playing with her babies, we don’t stress out about staying home. If one of us needs adult time, one of us gets adult time with a friend. We continue to be in an open and transparent relationship with birth mom H.
Does it get easier? No. And yes.
Postscript: Thanks to hubby’s feedback, I want to clarify one thing. In responding to the prompt ‘Does it get easier?’ I’m only addressing the time since placement. There’s another question, ‘Does it get easier after adopting?’ I’ll have to get to that in another post.