Moving a child from one family to another means we witness a lot of painful partings, but because Abrazo does open adoption, the day of relinquishment and placement is not, typically, the saddest goodbye.
When birthparents legally commit to the surrender of their child for adoption, it is a day of great emotion, for them and for the infertile couple who has witnessed what they’re going through to give their child a better future, hopefully.
Yet when our placements are completed, the birthfamily and adoptive family usually leave the hospital or the adoption agency together with the child they now share. Like most relatives, they go out for a meal together, or they go to get professional family portraits done, or they make plans to keep in touch, because that’s what families do.
Many of Abrazo’s birthparents and adoptive families reunite at Camp Abrazo in the summer, or they make plans to see each other on their own schedule. When they part, they do so knowing it’s never a final goodbye they’re saying– just a “see you later” or “until next time.”
The Best of Intentions
Open adoption is not easy for anyone. But in our experience, it is better for everyone. Being like family, though, no family is ever perfect. Sometimes, families lose touch. It may be because one set of parents or the other struggle with post-adoption issues, or life presents unexpected problems that prevent them from staying in contact as planned.
In Abrazo’s program, the majority of our adoptive families do understand the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with their kids’ first parents, for the adoptee’s sake. But that doesn’t mean that life doesn’t sometimes interfere with even the best of intentions. And even the best of adoptive parents can’t force their child’s birthparents to stay in contact if they can’t or won’t.
When contact is lost, though, the missing party is never forgotten. We all keep the proverbial light on, in hopes that they’ll come back looking to reconnect, in time. Usually, they do, and they’re relieved to find they are welcomed with open arms.
This time, though, that isn’t going to be able to happen, and our hearts go out to those left behind.
When Time Runs Out
Years ago, Abrazo helped a homeless couple who had delivered a beautiful baby they loved but could not parent. They gave her a name, and chose her a family. Abrazo tried to help stabilize their lives after placement, but the lifestyle we provided them was not the street life with which they felt most comfortable. Sadly, the birthfather was fatally stabbed almost two years after the adoption, and now, we have learned that the birthmother has also died at the hands of her most recent partner.
Abrazo’s adoptive parents have been devastated by this news, which they now have gently shared with their daughter. Her last contact with her birthparents was when she was a baby, when they’d held her and admired her with such pride and joy. She was one of their greatest accomplishments, and they were so grateful adoption afforded them a way to provide her the kind of home they most wanted for her.
They knew they couldn’t be the parents she needed, yet they wanted her to always know that was on them, not her. That they weren’t able to sustain the relationship because of their lifestyle is something we’ll all always regret, but they always knew where she was and they never had to question the love and care she was getting. She is the smart, beautiful, resilient and caring young woman she is because of the sacrifices all her parents have made on her behalf, and she has the stable and secure life she has because the hardest decision her birthparents ever had to face was also one of the best things they ever did.
We honor the memory of Eduardo and Ann, knowing this is the saddest goodbye. And while the interruption of this saddest goodbye will prevent them from knowing this extraordinary daughter in this lifetime, even this tragedy cannot cancel out all the amazing blessings they helped to make possible for her future, so long ago.