Last week I facilitated an annual visit between a birthmother – I’ll call her Paula, her now-toddler-age son, and his adoptive mother.
Before the visit, Paula and I talked about her anticipatory feelings. She told me that with the visit looming, she’d been experiencing bouts of depression. Thinking ahead to seeing her son had made her revisit the decision she made two years ago, and the consequences of that decision – not getting to see her son every day.
The minute the visit began, Paula burst into tears. After her son’s shyness wore off, he walked over to her and gave her hug while I watched. Tears welled up in my eyes. As he held on to her, she cried harder at first and then gradually stopped as she began engaging with him.
The visit lasted for a couple of hours. She and her son played some games together and read a story. Her son’s adoptive mother regaled us with stories about his antics over the past year.
After the meeting, Paula’s mood seemed lighter. She told me how meaningful an experience that had been for her. And she told me she was ready to start receiving twice-yearly updates (photos and letters) from her son’s adoptive family.
The experience was incredibly emotional for me, too. It made me appreciate how aspects of an open adoption have the power to … time and time again …open up old life wounds, but – for those willing to take the risks – provide powerful connection and comfort.