Guest Blogger Christy Lohner speaks about her domestic second open adoption and how different it was from her much more open first international adoption.
On this 4th of July, I find myself thinking of the past, not the fireworks or the ‘reason” for the holiday, sadly, but intent on what I was doing 1 year ago today. I was knee deep in what I thought was a return to a comfortable environment but what really turned out to be a new culture with a new baby and completely overwhelmed. You see, this was not the second open adoption that I expected.
My first open adoption was an international adoption. I spent 6 weeks in country and grew to love the people and culture and made lifelong friends and gained an entirely new family. This family I love and adore and speak to weekly. In fact, my son’s birth mom lay sleeping downstairs in my house right now! Right next to my son’s 10 year old sister! Some people may let out a silent gasp at this idea…..that my son’s birth mom is here with her daughter, in my house, staying for the summer from half way around the world. That raises all kinds of questions, I am sure!).
My second open adoption, I completely expected to be met with open arms. Why you ask? Well, I was a mom that already had one child from the same culture and country and I was about to adopt another child with the same back ground, albeit domestically. I thought this would give me an ‘in’ with my new family, that they would be so happy to know that their daughter was going to be with a family that “got it’ and that I would understand how important the culture was and the ongoing connection to the birth family. That was not to be the case. I walked into the hospital and was met with complete skepticism and mistrust. There was no translator, VERY little comprehension of each other’s language and immense tension. I mean, I understand that this birth mom had just given birth the day before to a beautiful daughter that she thinks may not see ever again. And there was no way I could calm her perceived fears, I couldn’t communicate with her.
To this day, our communication is strained to say the least. I have found other ways to reach out and it is met with a rebuff. And in some ways, I feel like that is a rebuff of our daughter. I so desperately want her to have a connection with her birth family and I know they may deal with things in their own way, a way I will never understand due to the language gap.
But, I will keep trying. Trying for my daughter’s sake. Trying for the sake of the connection to the culture and extended family that had to make a difficult choice for her to have something different. Trying so hard that we are going to visit her family in a few weeks and I have NO idea how we will be received. Trying even harder in fact that I am hosting the entire community of birth families with a group of other adoptive families to bridge a gap between language and culture: all for our children.
This is what I find myself thinking of this 4th of July. Thinking of a baby that is 1 year old and a firecracker of a personality. One that I hope will have huge reasons to celebrate the holiday. Her holiday.
I have learned that my open adoptions will never be the same but I hope for similar. I have learned that this journey is one of joyous heartbreak on so many levels, from start to finish. One that I would not change for anything in the world.