On Thursday morning in Japan (Wednesday night in the US) Isabelle will become a big sister. Isabelle's birthmother, Lauren, will be induced and give birth to her second child and become a mother for the first time. We are SO excited and can't wait to meet baby Scarlet via skype!
This weekend I came across an open adoption forum and was reading through it. I was reminded as I read the questions of new parents of those early years in our relationship where we were tip toeing around each other working to develop our relationship and understand this thing called open adoption that we had all gotten ourselves into. I was encouraged by one post about siblings. A birthmom described our almost exact situation, kids 6 years apart who are now 18 and 24, one adopted and one she parented. She said they refer to each other as brother and sister, are both honor role students who love music (Isabelle is smart and very musical as I am sure Scarlet will be) and got along great. That is my dream for Isabelle and her sister.
I love the open relationship Lauren and I have developed over the years. As I read posts from new adoptive parents who were concerned about various little details of the open relationship I remembered those years when you don't know what the relationship will turn into, you don't know if you can trust the birthparents and you don't know how it will all affect your child. And most concerning at all you don't know your child yet but after 9 months together it seems like they do. You are full of so much fear. None of the questions I read were really about the situation being described but seemed to really be about fear. And in those early years one of the things you are afraid to do is ask the birthmother how she is feeling about the situation or making any comments about the adoption. So you just keep going forward alone into the unknown.
Luckily Lauren and I are past that. So after my first congratulatory email about her pregnancy my second one was about my fear. What will Isabelle think about this child? What kind of relationship will they have? Will she feel hurt that they are parenting Scarlet but not her? How will this baby change their relationship with Isabelle? Will they still love her as much? Have time for her? Be excited about what is happening in her life? And how should we explain this to Isabelle?
It took a while for Lauren to answer my email because over at their house they were asking themselves the same questions and were coming up with the same lack of responses. Together we came to the conclusion that while we may not know exactly what we are getting ourselves into we can all agree that we love Isabelle and will do our best to help her understand and feel loved through the process.
We decided to refer to Scarlet as Isabelle's sister since they really are full biological siblings and encourage their relationship as Isabelle will be as much a part of Scarlet's life as she is of Sam and Lauren's. And I have decided to view her like another precious neice to shower with love and attention. I have joked that while Isabelle is over here getting mad at us and wanting to go live with Sam and Lauren, Scarlet will be over there getting mad and wanting to come live with us. The grass is always greener on the otherside after all.
What I realized as I read some of the fears of other adoptive mom's on the web site is that we all struggle with this thing called, "normal". We get attached to what we think a family should be and should look like and somehow we forget that isn't something in our DNA but is something culturally defined. And while we certainly live in a culture that emphasizes one type of family, Isabelle and Scarlet will grow up a family with open adoption and this will be their normal. Yes there will be questions about why they are different but those same questions can come from any family with something different. People whose kids are raised in divorced families, blended families, single parent families, they are all going to get the same question we will get, "why isn't our family like my friend's family?" Actually I remember Jake questioning why we weren't divorced like his cousins parents. As I said, the grass is always greener on the other side.
So here we sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the next chapter in our open adoption confident it will be another wonderful adventure.