I’m honored to be celebrating adoption with you over the next few weeks, and sharing stories from some incredible women. Similar to our series on Singleness, no adoption process is the same. 
Today, Tara shares her story of infertility and open adoption.Tara was not only my college roommate, she was my dancing and singing partner, as we had many nights of rocking out to Celene Dion and TLC in our dorm room. Now, she is a wife, mom, and part-time science teacher. Tara lives in Chandler, Arizona and enjoys board games, trivia, scavenger hunts, cookies, and Target.
“As I sit down to write, I hope and pray that this might make sense despite attempting to put together coherent thoughts through the fog of sleep deprivation. But the sleep deprivation is a blessing, because there was a time I thought I might never experience late night feedings and toddler tantrums. There was a time I thought I might never be a mom. And today I am sleep deprived entirely due to my almost-3-year-old daughter and my almost-1-month-old son.
My husband and I tried to conceive for three years. We endured years of temperature taking, pills, shots (including the performance enhancing drug HGH, which incidentally did not enhance my performance), scheduled sex, then “sex” that didn’t require my husband and I to be in the same room at the same time, and through it all not once did we see a positive pregnancy test. So we gave up. And asked God what he wanted for us. And He very clearly said, “Adoption.” And as it turned out, not just any adoption, but an open adoption.
When we embarked on this journey, I didn’t even know what an open adoption was, then when I learned a little, I was terrified. Both my husband and I had visions of Lifetime movies dancing through our heads where our child’s “real mom” shows up and demands her baby back. And less dramatically, I wondered if I would ever feel like a real mom if their birthmoms were in the picture too. But we decided to move forward and learn more, and after learning a lot and meeting families in open adoptions, we actually started to get pretty excited about it.
Here’s what our open adoptions look like:
With both of our children, their birthmoms, while pregnant, viewed profiles of couples wanting to adopt, then chose us, met us, liked us, and we were then “matched.” We then spent time getting to know each other before the babies were born. In the state of Arizona, a mother cannot legally sign away her rights to her child until 72 hours after the baby is born, so during this time of waiting for the baby to be born and getting to know the birthmom, there is always the possibility that she will change her mind. But we enter into the relationship with hope and with the goal of getting to know her and hopefully being a blessing to her.
When it was time for our daughter to be born (11 days late!), her birthmom, incredibly, invited my husband and me to be in the delivery room for her birth, and asked me to cut her umbilical cord. I’m not sure, but I think this is a pretty rare honor. With our son, we went to the hospital and began caring for him within 12 hours after his birth.
Our relationship with our children’s birthmoms continued to grow once we brought our children home. Initially, I would text and send pictures almost daily. You have to imagine that after carrying and loving that baby for 9 months to suddenly be without is devastating. So I never minded giving quick updates and pictures to these women who gave us such an incredible gift that we wouldn’t otherwise have.  Apart from the texts and pictures, we get together with our children’s birthmoms four times a year. These visits are usually a couple of hours, take place at our home, their home, or a park, and are just a chance for us all to come together and spend some time.

Here’s what I think about open adoption and why I love it:

1. It takes the shame and “secret-ness” out of adoption.
I have no problem telling anyone, friend or stranger, that my kids are adopted. Why? Because this is how God chose to grow our family, and I choose to celebrate that, not shy away from it. When I was in the pit of infertility, wondering if I would ever have children, God used Psalm 50:14-15 to encourage me: “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” I called on God a lot through this journey, and he rescued me. I choose to give Him glory for it all. Part of that is being open about our story. The truth is that our kids’ birthmoms loved them deeply. So deeply, in fact, that they made an impossible choice: to trust their beloved children to people who would take over as their parents. We already tell our kids what incredible women their birthmoms are, and we will continue to. Most kids come to their families through birth, some come by adoption, but all stories are worthy to be celebrated.
2. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
I have come to learn that my fears about open adoption were silly. An open adoption is a real adoption. The state of Arizona recognizes my husband and me, and only my husband and me, as our children’s parents. Though our children’s birthfamilies are a very important part of their lives, they have no legal rights to them. Also, there is no question to anyone who my children’s mom is. I feel like a real mom because I am a real mom.
3.  In open adoption, we gain not just children, but whole families.
This is one of the most surprising blessings of open adoption. We just wanted kids, but instead we got kids plus an incredible extended family. We love our children’s birthfamilies, not just for what they did for us, but for who they are. Plus, in open adoption our kids will have the gift of knowing where they came from, and being able to ask those questions that all adopted kids eventually have. Our son and daughter will be able to sit down with their birthmoms and ask why they made the choice they did, instead of always wondering – what a gift that is.
The irony of my family now is that I couldn’t imagine having an adoption that wasn’t open. For me, this is the only way to do it. I love my kids, I love the birthmoms who gave them life, and I love that God chose this to be our story.
He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. – Psalm 113:9

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