Open adoption is an important topic these days, with many families opting for ongoing contact such as visits and phone calls. But what about those who, due to circumstances beyond their control, are unable to have an open adoption? How do you maintain a connection with your child’s birth family when no physical connection exists? The answer is easier than you think.
When our daughter was born, her birth mom, D, requested a semi-open adoption, with contact only through the adoption agency. The first few years we exchanged letters and photos. Although the door was not fully open, we were connected. D told us how receiving the photos and updates helped reassure her that she had made the right decision. We were also glad to have some pictures, letters and a few special gifts from her for our daughter. The one that meant the most: A pale pink Care Bear that D had saved from her childhood. We assumed we would eventually meet again one day, when the time was right, and both D and our daughter were ready.
And then the door slammed shut. We received the heartbreaking news that our daughter’s birth mom passed away. Through tears and emotional talks with our daughter, we did our best to help her through her grief. You see, even though our child was now seven and hadn’t seen her birth mom since she was an infant, the bond was still there. She spent the next week clinging to her Care Bear. She said she had hoped to meet her birth mom one day and now she knew that day would never come.
I once read that most adoptees go through a grieving period over the loss of their birth families when they become old enough to understand exactly what adoption means. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never met or never will meet their birth parents. There is an unbreakable bond between blood relatives that cannot be denied. Your child’s biological family will always be a part of them, no matter what. That doesn’t mean they won’t love you — you are family too. What it does mean is nothing can erase your child’s origins, and that’s a good thing.
When D passed away, I feared our daughter would lose her connection with her birth mom. Three years later, that is not the case at all. We keep D’s memory alive by answering our daughter’s questions and sharing what we know. This is something that all adoptive families can do, no matter what type of adoption they have. We’re also lucky enough to have pictures our daughter can look at any time. And most importantly, she still has her own special bond with D. She sometimes dreams of her and even talks aloud to D on occasion. In her “conversations,” she shares what is going on in her life, as if D were sitting right there with her. And from time to time, our daughter squeezes her Care Bear tight, grateful to have something that once belonged to her birth mom.
The point is: There is an unbreakable bond that exists between a child and his or her birth family. Neither time nor space nor even death can sever it. So if you worry about not having an open adoption, rest assured your child will remain forever connected to the people who brought him/her here. Love and family are just that powerful.