I finally had a response from M’s maternal aunt. It was overwhelming! She was literally so happy to hear from me that she couldn’t stop thanking me and saying that she was crying because she was so happy. She told me that she thought of the day M was removed all the time and thought she would never see M again. It was so obvious from the conversation that she had tried her hardest to help her sister in order to keep the baby, and that she loved her niece very much. Then she told me that she called M’s birth mom, who we will call “Cindy” for the blog, and that Cindy couldn’t even talk she was crying so much. She also thought she would never hear from or see her daughter again.
Since then, the facebook page I created (which does not have our last names, address, etc) to share photos with M’s bio family has been absolutely flooded with family members who want to tell me how much they love M and how much they hope to see her again. Everyone has been polite and expressing their gratitude toward me for finding them. It’s so obvious that little baby M was very much loved and wanted by this family, even if they weren’t able to raise her themselves, and I have been brought to (happy) tears by this fact over and over again. Even her maternal grandpa got on facebook to send me a message!
The biggest news is that the aunt passed my phone number on to Cindy. (Yes, I gave her my cell number, because I needed to have a way to get in contact with them other than fb. From what I know of her birth mom and one half-sister, fb access is inconsistent at best.) I was overwhelmed with the very real possibility that I would be in contact with M’s other mom very soon. She texted me later that night, and for the first time ever I was able to tell her that our daughter is healthy, happy, and smart. I told her I was sorry for everything she had gone through when they took M and that I hoped she and M could know each other. I told the aunt that I would love to get to know them all and have M see them regularly, and I meant it with all my heart.
Of course, if it was all about me, I wouldn’t want to share my daughter at all, with anyone. I don’t know these people, how reliable or safe they are to be around. I don’t know that I’ll like them or their lifestyle at all. But guess what? Being a mother makes it very clear, every day, that it’s all about her, and what’s best for her well-being. I would never allow her to be in an unsafe situation, and I will constantly be assessing the places we go and the dynamic we become a part of as we delve into getting to know everyone. But this is her family, and they obviously care very much about her and want to be there for her. They are her family whether or not I like them. They are a part of her psyche and history. They can tell her about her ancestors, and the stories surrounding her conception and birth. They are going to be important to her, and I have a huge opportunity here to try to bridge the gap between biography and biology that so many adoptees report feeling when they’re grown.
Although there is some trepidation, and sure, some reluctance to share, on my part, for the most part my feelings are excited and happy. These people really love my daughter, and they have loved her since they knew she existed, just like me. They are going to think of her and care about her forever, just like me. Getting to know them and get along with them is as much my responsibility as M’s mom as it would be to get to know and get along with in-laws.
So, for those of you who have open adoptions, what type of boundaries did you put in place? Did you wait and get a feel for the situation before sticking to strict rules? Of course I will not be leaving M with anyone, will not allow her to be in an environment with substance abuse occurring or anyone who is inebriated. I will not be giving out my address until I know people quite well. I will not be giving anyone money. I will not allow drama to affect M’s life or interrupt her. I have no reason to think that these things would occur, but I’m just saying. These are pretty standard boundaries for a parent to have with anyone, and they apply to my own family and friends as well.
Any thoughts from other adoptive parents? Or birth families? Or adoptees? I have heard a lot from the foster care community but now I’m interested in the adoptive communities more specifically.