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To Open or to Close

The main course of this post will deal with the huge bag of worms called “openness.” But I’ll lead with a tasty little appetizer… case you haven’t read previous posts, my fingerprints came back approved! Yee Haw. At least now we’re OFFICIALLY waiting. Moving on.

Open adoption. Semi-open adoption. Closed adoption. If you asked the general public what they’d prefer, they’d probably say “closed, for sure.” Because most people view the birth parents as scary and threatening and maybe even an invasion. Before we started the process, we kinda felt that way too. Until we went through training. We walked away from that weekend of enlightenment wanting nothing more than an semi-open or open adoption. The birth parents aren’t scary…they’re our angels. They’re the people who are giving us a gift that we can’t give ourselves. They’re carrying a child and essentially trusting strangers to do the job they don’t feel prepared to do. If anyone should be scared, it’s them. They want nothing more than for adoptive parents to raise their child with love. That’s pretty selfless and miraculous in our eyes. An open door is so much more welcoming and brings forth so many more possibilities than one that’s closed. And so we refer to our dude’s birth (first) mom as our angel. We talk about her and we email with her and we pray for her. Our dude will want to know where he came from and who he looks like and where he gets his love for music. And because of our semi-open adoption, he will. She’ll always be a part of our family.

Below, Jacklyn gives her insight on adoption language, centered around the topic of openness. Every adoption is unique and it’s pretty cool to read other peoples’ perspectives.

“We adopted our little girl in 2008. We were at the hospital when she was born. I was the first non-medical person to hold her. She is such an incredible blessing to us, and her adoption has been a surprising blessing to so many people around her. We have an open adoption with her birth family. We exchange e-mail, I have a blog just for them where I post pictures and updates, and we get together regularly for visits. In fact, we invited her birth family to her dedication at church, her first birthday party, and (gasp) they know our address and phone number. When people hear we have an open adoption, we get so many comments about co-parenting.

“Aren’t you afraid they (the birth family) will try and tell you what to do?”
“Won’t your daughter be confused?”
“So does she have two mommies?”
“What if her birth family wants her back?”
“They come to visit? That must be awkward!”
“They are so lucky you let them see the baby.”
“I could never do an open adoption. It’d feel too much like being in a divorced parenting relationship.”

On the one hand, I welcome the opportunity to help educate people. I get to share on a regular basis with people I know and strangers alike the joys of open adoption. Just the other day, I met someone at the Dr.’s office who opened up about her desire to adopt when she learned we had adopted. “I hear that most domestic adoptions are open, though,” she said, “and I’m not interested in co-parenting.” I gushed about our adoption experience and our daughter’s birth family. I even gave this woman my phone number in case she had any more questions.

But, on the other hand, I get weary of having to constantly defend our adoption choice. I’m tired of having to explain that just because someone placed a child for adoption, it does not make them a crazy stalker who we have to fear will be hiding around every corner waiting to jump out at us and scream that we aren’t parenting our daughter the way she wants. But, mostly, I welcome getting to share the blessings we have received from our open adoption with our daughter’s birth family. I’m pretty sure my husband and I are way more blessed by it than her birth family.”

Thanks for sharing your story Jacklyn. Visit her read-worthy blog here.

Guest Blogger Gwen is expecting…for the second time. And once again, no baby bump or stretch-marks will grace her with their pending bambino. Step inside their world of growing a family through adoption. Follow along here at Mile High Mamas and her blog and get a candid feel for the ups, downs, highs, lows and surprises that go hand in hand with the struggles of infertility and the miracle of adoption.

New Baby, Changing Marriage: Having a Healthy Partnership as Your Family Expands

Dr. Millie Riss and Courtney Morton, LCSW at Greenleaf Counseling Center are licensed therapists who work with women, couples and families. They help people with struggling with eating disorders, life transitions, parenting concerns in addition to other life issues, such as depression and anxiety. They always offer free one-hour consultations to meet with potential clients about their concerns and discuss how therapy can help.

Having a new baby brings both growth and challenges to a marriage. Parents, especially moms, often say that they are too tired for anything after caring for an infant, not to mention if they are caring for older children as well. Sex drive disappears for many; money goes to diapers, college funds and babysitters; date nights a rare event; and work doesn’t end when you leave the office.

Particularly challenging areas for couples after having a baby include finances, sex and intimacy, time management, parenting issues, and negotiating advice from in-laws and the well-meaning public. Below are some suggestions for how to handle these struggles.

Finances: After hospital fees, diapers, doctor appointments, baby supplies, college savings, and babysitters, what’s left over for you? With all these variables that come with baby’s arrival, it’s important to set a structured budget while giving yourself flexibility and the freedom to make mistakes and learn from your financial experience. Remember, you don’t have to buy everything Babies R Us tells you you need.

Budgets can be helpful, but it’s hard to know exactly what to expect when baby arrives. If you use credit/debit cards, most banks have a program that helps you track what you spend in different categories. This tracking can be a good starting place when first setting up a budget. Where are you spending money now that baby is here, and what changes do you want to make? Having regular times to check in with your partner about the budget can help you stay on the same page and keep you in the black.

Physical and Emotional Intimacy: You just had a baby. You are tired. You are in pain. Your body is not familiar anymore. You may not feel sexy, or you may lack the energy to even contemplate sex. If you struggled with getting pregnant and had to schedule sex to conceive, being spontaneous takes extra effort. Many couples worry when they have a decrease in sex drive, but it is normal and will return, with some work initially for some. After you get the okay from your doctor to have sex again (usually 6 weeks), schedule a date night to commemorate the occasion. Continue to plan regular dates with each other where you spend most of the time talking about things other than baby. In order to cut costs, trade date nights with another couple with a child.

Most people have probably noticed that