Jane L., an Adoption Resources client, shares her unique experience with open adoption in Massachusetts.
I will always remember the day we met our son, Jake. Though he now stands 6 feet tall, he was a tiny bundle weighing just 7 pounds when he was placed in my arms shortly after his birth. He was born in the very same hospital where I had been born 35 years earlier. And, like me, he was placed into the waiting arms of a mother through adoption.
I thought, as an adopted person myself, that I knew all about adoption. Boy, was I ever wrong!
My Adoption Story
My adoption in Massachusetts was in 1982. It was and still is a closed adoption. I grew up knowing I was adopted and wondering about the woman who had been my first mother. She carried me for 9 months, but I knew little about her. I knew only what my parents had learned from the adoption agency: she was 19 years old, unmarried, and a student in Boston at the time. She asked the adoption agency to choose a family to adopt me. She told them she wanted me to have two parents, a home, security, and a loving family.
I ended up right where I should be. I had a wonderful childhood and two great parents with lots of love. Even with that, I wondered about my birth family and my story. I think the author Jodi Picoult summed up my feelings best when she wrote, “Being adopted felt like reading a book that had the first chapter missing. You might be enjoying the plot and the characters, but you’d probably also like to read that first chapter.”
I had learned to accept the fact that I would be a bit of a mystery, even to myself.
My Son’s Open Adoption in Massachusetts
So, when my husband and I decided that adoption would be the way we built our family, I thought I was an expert.
When we came to Adoption Resources, however, I discovered that adoption isn’t at all what I expected. Adoption in Massachusetts has undergone a transformation. Open adoption is the way most placements are made, and closed adoption is rare now.
Open adoption is what we have with Jake’s birth mother, Ella. While she was pregnant, Ella worked with an Adoption Resources counselor. She was able to look at photo books of waiting families based on the values that were important to her.
Ella chose us, and we eventually met over dinner. Even while she was pregnant, we texted quite a bit and spoke on the phone. I was even able to join Ella at her ultrasound appointment! After the delivery, Ella was the person who placed our son in my arms at 12 hours old. We both had tears in our eyes but smiles on our faces. We continue to have a wonderful relationship with Ella and are so glad that she has been part of Jake’s life from the very beginning.
The First Chapter isn’t Missing
The mystery that I feel in my adoption clearly isn’t part of Jake’s adoption experience. When questions come up, we simply call Ella and she can answer them for Jake. Food allergies, questions about race or ethnicity – things that have never been clear about me – Jake knows. He can call Ella and ask his questions. Now at 17 years old, he can even drive to visit her – assuming he can borrow the car!
Our family’s experience with open adoption in Massachusetts has been so beautiful in so many ways. Our love, respect, and ongoing relationship with Ella have led me to begin to think about searching for my own biological family.
If you would like to learn more about open adoption, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Adoption Resources. To get in touch with one of our counselors, please call us at 800-533-4346 or fill out our contact form.