We are so excited about the article about open adoption in this month’s issue of Sioux Falls Woman Magazine! Beth and one of the adoptive moms our office has worked with do a beautiful job telling their story of open adoption! You can read the full article, written by Chellee Unruh, below!
It takes a special kind of love to acknowledge that the best thing for your child is to place him or her in the arms of a family that can give them everything you can’t. It takes a special kind of love to form a deep friendship with a birthmother and give her baby the life she wished she could have provided. This is the beauty of open adoption; it embraces both kinds of love.
For this adoptive mother, the desire to adopt was always in her heart. “I worked at a children’s group home right after college and met a lot of kids that I wanted to adopt. That experience opened my heart to wanting to adopt a child someday.” After the birth of her son, they decided to continue expanding their family through adoption.
Their parents told them about Beth and John Hughes of Heart 2 Heart Adoptions. “We had a meeting with them and everything sounded exciting and wonderful. We couldn’t wait to get started!” John and Beth talked with them about having an open adoption. “We had no idea about open adoption, says the adoptive mother.” “We thought everything would be closed after the child was placed with us and that’s it.” John and Beth shared that open adoption had become the norm over the past three decades. They prayed about it and talked with friends and family.
The adoptive mother turned to a friend for advice. The friend shared at dinner one night that she was a birthmother who had placed her baby girl for adoption when she was 15 and has a very close relationship with the child and the adoptive family. The family that adopted her child ended up moving back to Sioux Falls and the daughter she placed in adoption ended up babysitting for her other daughters who were her half-siblings. The adoptive mother thought her friend’s story
was really sweet in how close their relationship became. “We thought, well that sounds amazing and went right along with what Beth and John told us, so that’s how we came to choosing the path of open adoption and it was the best thing we could have done,” shared the adoptive mother.
As the adoptive family, they started by doing a home study and created a Shutterfly book that told the story of their family and included photos of their family and friends. Almost a year to the exact date when they met with Heart2Heart, the match process with their birthmother started. Heart2Heart Adoptions worked their magic behind the scenes and sent their book to the birth mother and her family. After seeing the book, the birth mother and her family chose the adoptive family and began forming a relationship. There was a first call with the birthmother and the adoptive couple, and the match was confirmed. “We instantly fell in love with our birthmother and her family,” recalls the adoptive mother. The birth mother was a young girl at the age of 14 with the full support of her family in deciding to place her baby for adoption. “We really wanted a baby girl, but when we got the picture of our birthmother in the mail we just instantly fell in love with her, so we said whatever the baby is, we don’t care. We just love this young girl and she instantly made a connection with us.” We traveled to where she lived and met her right away. “It was an instant love. The birth family loved our son, which was important to us. They included our son in everything so much so that you wouldn’t know which child is our adopted child. They send Christmas presents to both of our children, which is really sweet,” smiles the adoptive mother.
The next time the adoptive family went to visit, was for the birth of their daughter. “It was such a beautiful experience to hold our daughter for the first time,” shares the adoptive mother. “Our birth mother asked the nurse to make sure that we were the first ones to hold her. The adoptive family spent two days all in the same hospital room with the birthmother and her family. The birth mother spent most of that time holding the baby. “We let our birthmother steer the ship.” says the adoptive mom. “Looking back I think she needed that for her, but I remember in the moment I was very worried that it was making it harder for her. I just really focused my attention on our birth mother because I loved her so much. By focusing on her it helped me calm my fears,” says the adoptive mom. “Our son provided some comic relief.” He was 3 at the time and danced around and kept the moment light-hearted.
Fast forward to today, they have a confident little girl that is growing up with both kinds of love. “Adoption is who we are as a family. We didn’t have a moment where we sat our daughter down to tell her she was adopted, she has just grown up knowing. Our daughter feels like she is extra special because she has both kinds of love in her life.” Her birthmother is very much a part of their lives. “She feels like my little sister,” says the adoptive mother. “We frequently text back and forth, and she has come to visit and sends sweet letters to our daughter.” The birthmother is in a very happy place. She is working in a job that she loves and is in a wonderful relationship. “Her happiness means so much to us, shares the adoptive mother. We want the very best for her.”
“This story of open adoption is one of many successful stories,” say Beth Hughes. It is common for adoption to evolve into a lasting loving relationship between birth families and adoptive families. While it can be emotional for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents, the result far outweighs any insecurities one might have during the process. The adoptive mother echoes these thoughts. “If I were to council any other adoptive families, I would say you just need to put yourself out there and sometimes it can feel scary to be who you are and worry that they won’t like you, but if you are open and authentic it will all fall into place. Open communication has been key to keeping our relationship strong and focusing on our daughter we both love. Focusing on the child should be the guide for any adoption. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing, to ensure that our daughter has a happy, healthy life surrounded by love.”