spoken or unspoken promises …

prom·ise (prms) n.

1. a. A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; a vow.

b. Something promised.

2. Indication of something favorable to come; expectation: a promise of spring in the air.

3. Indication of future excellence or success: a player of great promise.

v. prom·ised, prom·is·ing, prom·is·es


1. To commit oneself by a promise to do or give; pledge: left but promised to return.

2. To afford a basis for expecting: thunderclouds that promise rain.


1. To make a declaration assuring that something will or will not be done.

2. To afford a basis for expectation: an enterprise that promises well.


As you know our family was built through domestic adoption. Along the way of our journey to parenthood, we learned what it meant to parent a child entrusted to us. The promise of placing a child to you to become a mother or father comes from great love of the child by the parents who made that child and for whatever reason cannot parent and care for that child. In return to promise whether spoken or unspoken to the birth parents an ongoing relationship is a selfless act as it is really to the child that this promise is made.

Not everyone has had the opportunities that my husband and I had along our journey. The opportunities to become informed and seek education. The community we found and maintain as friends of other families like ours, built through adoption. We sought this out because we did not know what it was to become parents through adoption. We knew we needed to understand what it was before we took the leap onto the path that would make us parents. I wish for so many who take this journey to parenthood that they become informed and educated before becoming parents to better understand what the relationships can be like and to choose if that is how they want a family.

Looking back we can say that this is what helped us become the family we are today. We were able to decide what path was the right one for our family to be; that we wanted an open ongoing relationship with our child’s birth family … not just for us, but for our child and what it would mean to them.

Over the years I have met both in person and through cyberspace, many women who have made the loving decision to place a child born to them to be raised by another. But for these women the promises spoken or unspoken have been broken. The families that they met and chose to parent their child have walked away or at least closed the door just enough not allowing a relationship between the child and birth parents to grow and blossom. It is so sad to watch from a distance to see the affect this has on these individuals. And to think what will become of these children kept from their birth family not by their choosing. When they are older will the have to secretly seek out their birth family?

We met many young people and adults who had been adopted in a system that did not allow an ongoing relationship after the child/baby’s placement. Those in charge thought it best for the birth mother/family and the child to not know each other for a variety of reasons. What did we hear from these people? How much a piece of them was missing … they loved the families they were raised in but somehow couldn’t find their whole selves … some were able to try and reach out to birth family with the help of their parents and some had to do it in secret because they knew their parents were afraid of what would happen when a reunion happened that choices might be made to love birth family more than the family they knew.

In today’s world or at least where we live, it is more common in a domestic adoption to have met and create a relationship with the birth mother/father and extended family and become a family as one with the child as the link to all of them. It is this belief that our family was made.

And so it is with a heavy heart that I read or hear how an adoptive couple close the door just enough not to allow an in-person relationship between the child and their birth family. I have seen and heard the fear of adoptive and hopeful adoptive couples at conferences or in chance meetings. I don’t understand their fear … how can you turn your back on the family that chose you to be the parents of their child? How can you close the door to your child and not allow them to know all of their family?

As we are learning as our children grow from babies, they begin to understand more and more of their story when you talk about it (and hopefully you are sharing with them their story of their life). There will be questions of why this or why that? You will see the strong physical resembelance of your child to their birth family … relish in it! Our daughters now 6 and 4 years old brighten and smile when you share with each of them some action they’ve done or said that resembles their birth mother or father. Don’t steal this from your child it will help make them whole!

I have no answers for these broken-hearted families who have no or very limited access to the child they so desire to know and have in their lives.

I wish for all hopeful adoptive parents and adoptive parents to think twice before they speak or infer a promise to get a baby that the ramifications will be great and the hurt greater. If you cannot fathom an ogoing relationship don’t pretend that you will, be honest with yourself, be honest about your family. Don’t hide your true feelings to get the end result… a child … in the end you will be doing harm to this child who may never understand why you kept them from knowing their family.


an engagement of sorts

You might say we agreed to an engagement with C after her visit … engagement you say?  What does that mean?

You see, during our journey to parenthood one of the many things that we learned and agreed was that family-building through domestic open adoption was similar to getting married.  How you ask?  First you meet, kinda like dating, then while continuing this relationship you are asked by expectant parent(s) to be the parent of the baby, it’s like becomming engaged and when the baby is born your relationship becomes like a marriage, family!

We enjoyed our visit with C so much!  It was so great to be together in person after months of communicating from a distance.  She stayed at our home, saw the nursery we had been setting up (prior to even meeting her).  We all attended a group gathering of the monthly support group with our facilitator.  We toured around together, and through this only deepened our affection for each other.

To our surprise and pleasure she also invited us to visit her in her home state, come to a doctor’s appointment and join her for birthing classes.  We were thrilled to say the least and this trip would also give us the opportunity to meet the baby’s father.  Her baby was due in July.  It would be May when we visited … so much to do and so little time as it was already the end of April!



Could this be it?

It was December 2005, we had already received some calls related to the website we had out there on the world wide web announcing that we wanted to be a family through adoption, domestic open adoption.  So far the calls we received had not amounted to any future calls with the person on the other line … until that one call in December.

C found our website on a google search.  She called through our 1-800 number midday and my husband (working from home) answered.  They talked for a bit.  Both nervous I’m sure.  We learned she was 8 weeks pregnant and was pretty sure she wanted to place her baby in an adoption.  They agreed to talk again.  It wasn’t until after the holidays that C called back again.  This time I happened to answer the phone.  It was a great conversation like talking to an old friend.  The three of us talked this time conferencing on our home phone.  We shared with her our facilitator’s name and number and asked if she would like to be called or to call her.  She chose to call our facilitator.  For us this was the first real step on our parenthood journey.

Turns out she called our facilitator within days of talking to us and after they talked and C gave a medical release for pregnancy verification, we all talked again soon after.  Because C was so early in her pregnancy we were all encouraged to start our relationship, too early for much else as a lot could happen in the next 7 months.

We talked, emailed and through Yahoo instant messages chatted and shared pictures.  Our calls would be full of fun and sharing about ourselves to each other.  Our Yahoo instant messages were filled with sharing fun photos that we all had to share of each other.

She told us more why she though adoption was the right plan for her baby.  She passed on the contact info of the baby’s father and let us know we could contact him to talk to as well.  My husband called him and with that we got to know him as well.

Before we knew it, weeks and months were passing by.  It was April and now C was 6 months pregnant.  Our facilitator suggested we meet in person.  Mind you we lived in different states that aren’t that close to each other.  We started making plans for C to come visit us.  Our only pre-requisite was that her parents knew why she was travelling (she lived at home and at the point had not told them she was pregnant).

We were excited to meet in person after these months of communication and developing a relationship.

As we waited to pick her up at the airport we wondered, could this be it?

keep on living while you wait …

This was a very important message communicated to us by our new friends and those we saw as our mentors on our journey to parenthood … keep on living while you wait!  A truer statement could not be told to us.

You see you jump every time the phone rings, every time you open up your emails and every time you check at the site meter of your website, is this the one, is someone calling us, did someone contact us via email? we hold our breath and wait to see …

So keep on living we did.  We jumped into our newly found community of families through domestic open adoption and made friends along the way.  We re-entered our life of other friends and our families with a new desire to be a part of everything again.  We dined out, saw movies, went up to wine country, played in the snow in the mountains, went camping, and enjoyed our lives while we waited you see we always knew we were still waiting during this time we just didn’t want to stop and wait while we waited.

But you cannot put your life on hold (well not any longer, I think we had everything on hold while trying to get pregnant).  You need to keep on living, working and enjoying life.  We were also told to make the most of our couple time while we waited.  And that was because when you become a parent it’s not about you and your husband any more. there’s another individual that takes your time and attention and when that time comes you want to be ready to jump in together!