And though Nicole has had to adjust to the idea of her birthmother having her own baby and dividing her attention and time, I can tell that she is just as fond of Twila. But three years ago when I was pregnant with Twila, things weren’t so clearly copasetic.
Nicole was seven-years-old when I got pregnant. She had spent those seven years being the apple of her parent’s eye. I am still the only sibling in my family to have had a baby, so for her entire life, she was the center of attention not only in her own family, but in her birthmother’s family. So it was no wonder that she withdrew from me when I—the one who was supposed to be devoted only to her—became pregnant.
She wasn’t the only one feeling some reticence about the change. During my pregnancy with Twila, my husband and I prepared and planned, decorated and dreamed just like any first time parents would. But it was different for me.
Sure it would be the first time that I stayed up all night soothing my baby; it would be the first time I breastfed, and the first time I named a child. It would be the first time my husband and I looked into the eyes of our baby. But it would not be the first time I looked into the eyes of my child and fell instantly in love. Many things would be new and different but some things would be familiar, not the same I thought, but familiar. Perhaps some things would be more difficult, more complex.
When Nicole was first born, when I first looked into her eyes, I thought I could never love like that again. How could I experience that instantaneous love with more than one being? Less than a minute later, when I invited her parents in to meet their daughter, my heart was still filled with uncomplicated love. Love for my birthdaughter and love for the parents whom I had chosen for her. Less than twenty-four hours later when we held an entrustment ceremony to “officially” pass my birthdaughter to her parents, my heart was filled with many complicated feelings. Joy for Sandy and Tom’s dream of parenthood coming true, joy for my birthdaughter’s new life, excitement for my new life, for starting over, and bittersweet sorrow for the end of a life-changing pregnancy.
As the months turned into years, the residual sorrow turned into joy, peace, contentment and appreciation. I watched my birthdaughter grow into the young lady she is today under the gentle guidance and unwavering support of her mother and father.
Over the years, our open adoption relationship turned into genuine friendship. The tiny seed of a relationship—which started out as earnest kindness to each other and a mutual love for Nicole—thrived and grew strong on trust, honesty, flexibility and open-mindedness. Though we didn’t know where open adoption would lead us, we trusted the path and kept moving forward.
So as we’ve faced new challenges and adversity together the strength of our relationship has carried all of us through. When I became pregnant with my own daughter, our relationships once again faced complication; especially my relationship with Nicole. But our carefully tended relationship has proved resilient enough to weather all that life has thrown our way.