Open Adoption

Our Open Adoption Interview

Our Open Adoption Interview

As you may have already discovered, I'm the proud <adoptive> mother to my sweet little Finley.  I know, she looks just like us.  What you may not know is that we are in a very open-adoption with her Birth Family and super close with her incredible Birthmother Lex, whom we endearingly call "Leelee." I've written all about how our adoption came about in previous posts, should you find yourself curious there's quite a few that will answer some of the more adoptive-mom related questions. 

About our Open Adoption

Lately I seem to find myself in a lot of conversations where someone is telling me that - they want to adopt, but don't think they could handle open adoption. Truthfully, I felt the exact same way.  It wasn't until I was actually in the adoption process that I realized this was the only way I could imagine it.  The same way all new parents have a list of everything they swear we won't do or become, and then we all know we end up doing most of those things and become that parent we swore we wouldn't.  How does that saying go? "I was a really good mom before I had kids."  Haha! It's exactly right, just like "I had a really closed mind before I had an open adoption."

I have a few adoptee friends who all have met a minimum of one member of their birthfamily, for some they continued relationships and for others it was just something they had to do at least once. Whatever the reason, it happened. It's human nature to seek your origin. 

Open adoption exists because the last generation of adoptees from closed adoptions grew up and realized they had a better way of doing it. Open. They chose to educate others or chose to adopt their children and then chose to be open with their child and everyone around them from get-go!

  Now I know what you are thinking, "I still couldn't do it." You could and you would, because the love you have for your child will make you want to do everything right by them.

Typically in conversations about my open-adoption I get asked, "What are the legalities on how open you have to be?" Well my friend, you can be as open as you feel comfortable.  I know there are some legal commitments you can set, but in the situation that adoptive parents don't follow through - hiring an attorney to file the paperwork might be too expensive for some birthmothers.   Our Attorney advised us to make no promises, because you never know how you will feel in coming years.  I really liked that approach, I feel it made our situation more genuine in nature.  I agreed to send picture updates & said we were open to physical visits, but we didn't ever talk about specifics for the future.  When she handed me her baby, I promised I would love and take care of her child to the best of my abilities. That was the first promise I made.  

With our daughter being in the NICU for 5 weeks, I saw her birth parents almost every single day.  Talk about open.  One of the first "open adoption" decisions I faced was regarding hospital bracelets on the day they signed their relinquishment papers.  The hospital allowed 2 per child, obviously one for mom and one for dad, right?  Well LeeLee wanted to keep that bracelet and it was the second promise I made to her, "after you sign these papers, I will not take your bracelet away."  We established trust very quickly.  One of my biggest fears was that LeeLee would change her mind.  Legally there was nothing she could do, but that wasn't my concern. My worry was that she would regret her decision, a choice I was so glad I didn't coat with "promises".  My heart would have been completely shattered if she ever told me she regretted the decision to place her baby with us.  There was a moment in week 1 in the hospital (before papers were signed) where she said to me, "Even if I wanted to keep her, I couldn't."  That pained me so deeply.  This woman is grieving while I was experiencing such intense joy. I promise you, if you are human and adopting domestically, you will definitely experience this "guilt". This is an emotion I never anticipated when we started this process.

Open Adoption is like a marriage, no two are alike.  The matching & choosing process is unlike anything I've ever experienced.  When we received the call that someone had chosen us as parents for their baby, I knew I could love them because they saw something they loved in us.  Our relationship started with a blind first date and its growing on a healthy path.  We are blessed.  I've seen all different types of OA relationships. From adoptive moms inviting their child's birthmother to live with them to some whose child's birthmom is not in a healthy place to continue an open relationship.  I've seen birthmoms in pain because their child's adoptive parents fell off the map after the papers were signed. Feeling tricked and misled.  They have to live everyday in that regret that I was so afraid of our LeeLee living with. Let me clarify, these moms don't regret placing their child, they just regret the persons they chose. They aren't trying to co-parent, they just want the promises made to them -kept.  After all the HUGE promise they kept literally broke their own heart. 

Fast forward 2.5 years, we've had about a dozen visits with Finley's birthfamily and I text with her birthmother at minimum once a week, this is just how our relationship has organically formed. This last October Fin's biological grandmother passed away. I loved her, she always had the most thoughtful gifts for us and was just a very sweet lady.  My husband, Fin, and I attended her funeral. At the service they read, "Candice is survived by her Husband, her sons, her daughter, and 1 grandchild."  There I was, holding her granddaughter.  I was overtaken again by the beautiful and unanticipated emotions of open adoption.  All of these thoughts ran through my mind, I was mostly just so happy that we had memories to share with Grandma Candi.  When we had visits we included all the family, I felt like it was normal to do so. I've seen and collected so many old photos, that in certain pictures I can see Finley's Grandparents features through her expressions. That is the magnificence of open adoption. 

It's hard for me to sum this up into one short conversation, unless we have hours to talk.  Honestly, I have so many more stories that support my growing love for open adoption. I always hear about its benefits for the adoptee, but I believe the benefits are shared by everyone.  I will never feel threatened by Finley's birthmom, because I've invested in our relationship and I know her, she's become my friend.  She always thanks me and let's me know how so grateful she is that she chose me to raise her child.  I'll never forget the day she chose me.  The day I knew my arms would never be empty again, the day my heart knew a mother's love. It wouldn't be possible without her, and I'll never forget that. So when you think of "not being able to handle open adoption"- think about not  being able to continually show love, compassion, and gratitude for the most incredible gift you've ever received. I assure you if everyone is healthy in your Triad, you will find nothing more natural than open adoption. 

Adoption Triad: A term used to describe the three-sided relationship that exists in an adoption between birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee, each of which is interrelated and inter-dependent on the others.

Why Adoption Was Our First Option

  I think the number one question I hear after I tell someone that we adopted, is "why?"  It's an interesting thing, because while in so many ways we are just normal parents - this is part of our life that will always be utilized to educate and advocate.  I think if our child didn't look exactly like us, we would be

 living adoption

 more often- probably every day.  My husband and I both grew up saying, "I'd love to adopt one day!" I'm learning there's just a lot of people that say that and quite a few less who actually do.  Your heart and your life circumstances usually have to strongly connect in order to adopt, in my opinion.  

  Like most married couples, after awhile you start yearning for that "Baby in the Baby carriage" part. After 18 months of 


 trying to conceive, we had one false positive. They exist. It was devastating. You name it, I tried it; positions, foods, special diets, gels, lotions, vitamins, not stressing, chiropractor, oils, acupuncture, ovulation sticks, every night, every 


 night, etc. etc.  If there was a "right way" to get pregnant, we certainly tried it.  It was exhausting. Amidst our efforts, I suffered the tragic loss of my Father whom I was very close to.  Without a doubt that added stress to my body.

  I was honestly ready to throw in the towel for some time when we took it to a fertility specialist. The results showed that I have what's called

Diminished Ovarian Reserve

a possible side-effect of


(a serious acne medication) which I had taken. Do I think this is what did it? I'm not sure and truly I don't really care. It cannot be changed, so I don't stress it. 

  Hearing the news was difficult, especially while still mourning my Dad. To now be grieving this loss was almost too intense. I mustered up all the logic and strength I could, and I gave it 24 hours to feel completely sorry for myself. I cried the whole time. 

  Within that 24 hours we decided to cancel the next two appointments with the fertility clinic, and to not pursue other options with a biological child. Ultimately we thought, why spend X amount of money on an uncertainty - when there will be a guaranteed baby who will need a home. It was as simple as that. Like I said before, I was already wanting to throw in the towel, I couldn't imagine enduring more months of the "waiting game" torture. 

  Neither my husband or I can remember who brought up adoption first. I remember us being equally excited, we had restored hope! We had just bought our first home and we couldn't wait to bring a baby into it.  We met with our attorney about 2 weeks after the fertility results. We both were drawn to private domestic adoption. A week later I ordered the crib - Pottery Barn was having a sale, I 


 to! We began talking about our child again and dreaming of what life would be like.  I'm a naturally impulsive person, but I feel like something was pulling me to move quickly, like I couldn't prepare fast enough. 

  We got the call about 10 weeks later, we had a Match! This was CRAZY fast! I don't think I've ever been so nervous to meet someone (I'll elaborate on another day about all the emotions of the Adoption Process and how to best prepare yourself).  After meeting the Expecting Parents in July, we knew we had a baby girl due in September. We had always loved the name Finley, and prayed that they would choose that to be on her birth-certificate, as her given name (and they did).  We continued to best prepare for baby girls arrival, and she came two weeks later and was 9 weeks early! 

  Meeting our tiny miracle was unreal.  I was blinded with love and my husband was more aware of the complications that could potentially come with her being so premature. We went through all the emotions the next 5 weeks- signing adoption papers and gaining legal guardianship, seeing our daughter's birth-family every day, dealing with social workers & nurses being so confused with our open-adoption. 

  We learned right away that society doesn't instinctively understand open-adoption, and that not everyone supports it.  One of the hospital's social workers legitimately made me feel like we were trying to steal this young woman's child.  There's a whole world of adoptive-mom-guilt I've learned about, it just comes with the territory.   

  I'll never forget our first morning at home with her.  We sat on the couch sipped coffee and watched our daughter sleep in her little monkey bouncer, I obviously didn't sleep at all that first night- lol. We had 2 weeks knowing that she was coming, but spent months dreaming and preparing for her.  It has never felt foreign to us, we see her as ours and as theirs.  We continue to do visits and communicate with her birth-family, we view them as our extended family.  In our experience everything aligned perfectly.  

  A year later we finalized our adoption. This was the most amazing court experience ever, the state declared her our child. We became her legal parents. It was the most surreal of emotions signing that birth certificate.

 I'll never forget Her birth grandma telling me when Finley was first born, "this child is yours, she may have been created by these two- but she was always yours."  Talk about emotional. Words cannot describe what her words mean to me. 

  So when I meet people, and they ask me "why adoption?" I feel like it's a loaded question.  How can I possibly sum up this whole story into one quick response here in the grocery store? I can't. Instead I say, "because we were meant to." 

That One Time in Little Italy

I remember -like it was yesterday- my husband and I were celebrating our 2nd Wedding Anniversary in New York City. We'd been hopeful-adoptive parents waiting to be matched for several months. The trip was over Fathers Day Weekend. I loved to go away on that specific holiday, because the year prior I lost my dad AND we found out about our fertility issues. Needless to say I wanted to get the heck away for Fathers Day. We were having dinner in Little Italy and I told him, "I pray we get a call next week! How cool would that be?!" I gave my husband a cheesy "soon to be dad" card & told him even though we were empty nesters, I still saw him as an amazing father. We spoke candidly about what it will be like to be parents one day, we discussed further about baby names that we loved and hated. There we were in The Big Apple, lovesick and yearning for parenthood.  

Sure enough... Not even a week later, we got a call from our attorney with a match! Com-plete-shock.  I remember being so excited that I didn't even ask if it was a boy or girl!!! Talk about cloud nine! Haha.. Needless to say that's how our journey with Finley began. A week after NY dreaming. 

We just had to do her first birthday in the Little Italy theme. I even had to learn to play the accordion. Just had to, makes sense right?

Here are some pics from her 1st Birthday Photo Session. We opted to do a "spaghetti smash" in lieu of the traditional cake smashing photos.. 

Here is a few from the party: 

This last one is my favorite! It's Finley's beautiful birthmother - LeeLee, Fin, and me. I'm so happy I'm able to share these milestone moments with Fin's birth family. Open Adoption is amazing, especially in our own little Italy!  (And go figure you are looking at three italian gals in this pic.) ❤️