Monday, April 21, 2014

Open Adoption: The Extraordinary Ordinariness of My Extraordinary Family

Victor Habbick
It's the week of school vacation in the Northeast. My daughter is in the backseat of a car, heading south. She is squished in the backseat between her two brothers. It's been a long drive and everyone in the car is ready for the drive to end and the week at the beach to begin. It's a family scene that is ordinary to the point of cliché. But in this case, it is also extraordinary.

The situation is exceptional because the mother in the front seat of the car is the one who lost the daughter years ago to the foster-care system at a time when her own life was in crisis. Back then, she could hardly have imagined that she would be as she is now: healthy, sober, stable, with a good job and a strong relationship, heading south for vacation with a backseat full of kids. But there she is.

It's exceptional because there is another mother—me—states away from the traveling car, receiving updates via text messages and snapshots of road signs. When I began my journey into foster-care adoption, could I have predicted this outcome? No way!

My family is one that is stitched together by adoption, biology, and choice in almost equal measure. And for us, this is ordinary. I rarely write about open adoption anymore because the communications, the visits, the meals shared, etc., are simply part of the fabric of our life. It is ordinary that my daughter's other mother has become one of my closest friends. It is ordinary that the daughter we share communicates openly and frequently with each of us and that we communicate openly and frequently with each other. It is ordinary for two middle-school girls and two pre-school boys to be running around in my backyard with a soccer ball as the adults chat in the kitchen, preparing a holiday meal.

It's so ordinary that I sometimes forget how extraordinary it is. There are many ways to be a family. This is mine.
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