Friday, November 27, 2009

Cast of Characters: Doug and Maura

Doug and Maura (adoptive parents)

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started talking to my baby. He has always been very easy to talk to; a great listener, never interrupts, and he doesn’t seem to be bothered when I change my mind or when I don’t know the words to figure out what I’m trying to say. He is (quite literally) closer to my heart than anyone. He is my son, he always will be my son, and I have never once thought of letting him out of my life.
Wait a minute, aren’t I giving him up for adoption? Isn’t that by definition letting him out of my life? Not a chance! As soon as I started thinking about adoption as being a possibility, I knew that I couldn’t go through life only wondering about my son. I already loved him too much to even consider the option of not being able to tell him that every chance I got. So when I started looking for adoptive parents, I let them know immediately that we were a package deal, that pictures and occasional e-mail, letter or phone call updates wasn’t enough. Not that I planned on barging my way into someone’s home; nesting into one spot is contradictory to my life style. But I knew whoever my son’s family was, they were going to be my family as well.
Some couples I contacted replied that they were not comfortable with that level of openness in an adoption. Some welcomed it; one family already had an adopted son and wished that his birth mother was more willing to have an open relationship with their whole family. Some couples didn’t respond at all. I later found out that since I was in Thailand when I first started contacting couples from the website, a warning e-mail was sent out to those I had contacted saying it might be a scam. I can see why; some lady in Thailand wanting an American couple to adopt her baby, and she says they have to adopt her into their family, too? Definitely scam material! Fortunately, when Doug and Maura got that e-mail, it just confirmed everything that I had already told them, that I was a traveler and that I found out I was pregnant while I was in Thailand.
As I told them my story and they told me more about themselves, it became more and more obvious that we had several things in common. I had a bachelors degree in social work, Maura was a child and family therapist. I was a potter and had even started going to graduate school for studio ceramics, Doug was a successful potter with his own studio. Since working at a summer camp in North Carolina for 5 summers I had always loved that state, and they lived out in a wooded area in NC. After reading their profile and a few e-mails were exchanged, I couldn’t wait to talk to them. Once we did have a phone conversation, I knew they were the ones. I was hesitant to say that decision out loud because I wanted to give it a little time, to make sure I was making the right decision, that I wasn’t jumping the gun on one of the most important decisions I would ever make. But every time I spoke to anyone about it, especially to my son about the kind of parents I wanted for him, I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect than Doug and Maura.
When they came up to Alaska to meet me for the first time, we were all so excited. I think I smiled the whole day at work in anticipation of their arrival. During that week together we went on walks, ate dinners together, I introduced them to my friends and co-workers, and we talked a lot. We mostly talked about our families, our histories, how we grew up, what our lives are like now. We also discussed some heavier, ‘what if’ issues. What if the baby is born with Down syndrome, or has some kind of physical or mental handicap? What if he discovers he is gay? What if I’m having twins? (We hadn’t had an ultrasound yet, so at the time we didn’t even know he was a boy.) They were so open and honest with all of their answers, and with their questions for me. Our whole time together was smooth, easy and exciting, and our meeting only confirmed everything I had already suspected- that they were wonderful people, were going to be incredible parents, and that we would have no problem becoming great friends.
After I left Alaska and finally arrived in North Carolina, Doug and Maura let me stay at their house until Shelley and Bill arrived and we found a house of our own. We enjoyed family dinners together (along with Maura’s sister and niece who also live with them), and I was able to meet Maura’s parents and Doug’s brother and his family. Everything they did made me feel so welcomed, and their families were eager to embrace me into their lives.
In my search for open adoption bloggers, I came across an anti-adoption website that stated that open adoption is a lie, that the adoption agencies and hopeful adoptive parents will tell the birth parents anything they want to hear in order to “snatch” up a coveted newborn. I’m sure there are some unpleasant stories of things not working out as planned, as there are with anything in life. But even though I wouldn’t be a part of their lives if it weren’t for my son, I have never once felt that it was only about the baby. They have given me no doubt that I will be forever loved as a part of their family.
In my search for adoptive couples, I discovered that there are many wonderful and deserving people who are looking to adopt who would provide an excellent home for a child. It was a huge decision for me to make, but I knew my heart would tell me who the right couple was. Doug and Maura have given me no reason to question or doubt my decision, and Bill and I can completely trust that our son will be in good, loving hands. They have been so supportive of not just the pregnancy, but of me, Bill and Shelley, and what is truly best for everyone involved. I’ve come to know them not only as my son’s future parents, but as friends. They are people I would want in my life no matter what the reason happened to be to cause our paths to cross. And as their friend, I am so excited to see them become parents, because I know how much they want it and deserve it, and I know that they will be great parents. While adoption is seen as a blessing for the adoptive parents, it is usually seen as a tragic and unfortunate circumstance for the birth parents. But because of Doug and Maura, and how much so many people already love this child, I can’t see this as a negative experience at all for me or for my son. He will be surrounded with so much love from all sides (they have said from the beginning that the more people that love this child, the better!). I don’t feel like I’m “giving up” my son, I don’t feel like I’m losing him. In fact, instead of feeling like I’m losing a son, I feel like I’m gaining an entire family who will be only an enriching addition to my life.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Rachel, I am Maura's college roommate (UC Santa Cruz). I loved reading your blog, and you describe, to a tee, the Maura & Doug I know and love. She is one of the most fabulous -- generous, kind, giving, sharing, funny, sarcastic, intelligent, nonjudgmental, loving, hysterical -- women I have ever known. And Doug, who I've known not as long, but long enough, is just all that with her, except for the woman part.
    I will keep reading! Thank you, Maria