I feel incredibly blessed to have been paired with Erica for this journey of open adoption because, quite frankly, she's awesome. Yes, she's made mistakes in her life (mistakes that resulted in the termination of her right to parent Ashley and three siblings), but she isn't afraid to admit them or even to talk about them publicly, as she now sometimes does. She has worked hard to turn her life around, and because of that hard work she is now able to be a beneficial part of Ashley's life ... and mine.
I know that not all relationships between adoptive and first mothers are going to be like mine with Erica. We're lucky; we have a lot in common and find it very easy to get along. But we wouldn't have realized this if we hadn't first taken those initial steps to get to know one another. Erica asked to meet my husband and me early on in the process, when she first learned that we would be Ashley's adoptive parents. That meeting went well, and I took the next step after Ashley's adoption was finalized, inviting Erica to join me for what turned out to be the first of many lunch meetings.
Successful open adoptions originating via foster care are a rarity. I understand that there are situations where a high degree of openness is not possible (as because of distance) or not in the best interest of the child. But I'm also aware that it would have been very easy for Erica and me to have missed this opportunity and, instead, to have erected a wall of suspicion and distrust between us. (In that scenario, the person to really lose out would be Ashley.) And I can't help but wonder what would happen if more first parents and last parents would make a habit of getting together for lunch.
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