Sterling and I met when Nathan was in the Marching Band at USU...well I guess I should say we kinda met. We had her over to our place a couple times, but we never really got to be close friends...that came later. As Nathan and I began our adoption journey Sterling was on an adoption journey of her own. We have become close friends; she has been such a great person to know. She is kind and smart and beautiful...her friendship is very precious to me. She blogs HERE...and it is worth the read.
I asked her to share a little bit about her adoption situation...she has a very open relationship with her baby's parents.
Amy, Sterling, Bo & David
by Sterling Bo Winn
The term can give warm fuzzies, or it can make someone shiver.
I know there have been bad experiences with open adoption, and I’m not going to invalidate any of those. This is just my story, and how I came to be where I am right now.
I started looking at adopting family profiles when I was 3 months pregnant. I wasn’t really consciously planning on placing at that point, but I wanted to see what these families were like. It was a new concept to me that I could choose a family, meet them, and even correspond with them a little before placement. If I was lucky, I would even get emails and pictures every once and a while for a couple years after placement. (Apparently I only knew about the 1990’s style open adoption).
When I started emailing David and Amy, I intended to keep things strictly business (ha!) and only ask questions that were not too personal, and made it sound as though I was just browsing. In a matter of four weeks and a dozen emails, I was not only corresponding with David and Amy, but I was forming a relationship with them. We learned that we had crossed paths dozens of times in our lives, but had never actually met. We shared personal information, fears, rants, and joked. Without my realizing it at the time, I was getting to know a couple that I would come to consider family.
David and Amy live 2,500 miles away from me. I tell people that I couldn’t have chosen a family further away unless I placed an hour and a half east of them, or internationally. The distance doesn’t matter, though. It just makes our reunions that much sweeter.
I met David and Amy in person for the first time when I was 6 months pregnant. They came to Utah to visit family, and I met them for dinner. When I walked in to meet them, I knew they were my son’s parents. (That’s a different story altogether, and hopefully Holly will invite me to share that one, as well!) I also realized that I might possibly get to watch my little boy grow up, and get the closure and peace of mind that not many people get. David and Amy were so loving from the beginning, and always told me how much they appreciated and treasured our friendship above all else.
As we approached my due date, my step-father became very ill… we thought he wouldn’t make it. My first reaction was to call David and Amy. I knew they understood how much my step-dad meant to me, and I needed to hear a calming voice. They shared my grief, and gave me words of support and love. They told me that even if this somehow changed my desire to place (I’m not sure how it could have), they would be there to support me 100%.
On February 20, 2010, I delivered my baby David (“Bo”) into this world. He is beautiful and – literally – the perfect child. The two days I had him in the hospital were the most bittersweet of my life, and I really did toy with the idea of backing out of placement. But I remembered how much I love David and Amy, and I knew that I would never worry if my son was loved. I knew he would be, because of the way I had been treated.
Placement day came, and my heart was aching. I was already anticipating an empty arms feeling. Placement was perfect, though. I cried and cried, but I was able to find the strength to place my baby into the arms of his mother. I knew she had waited 8 years for that moment, and the joy and pure love I saw in her eyes, and David’s, helped me make it through the following days and weeks.
In the weeks following, David and Amy kept me updated with tons of pictures and emails about their life with Bo. They told me all of his little milestones and many things few people would really care about (how much he was spitting up, how he always wanted to be on his tummy, how much he eats, how much he poops...) and kept in close contact. I expected it to fade out after a couple of months, but instead it evolved. We had our scheduled emails and pictures, but I knew that at any time I could ask for an extra picture or email just for fun (which I only did twice). Amy and I became even closer, and our emails became less about just Bo (though he is still our favorite subject!) and expanded to include everything about our day to day lives. We both began to feel like sisters after only a few months. I felt comfort and peace whenever I would hear from them.
It was heart warming to see pictures of David and Bo together, and receive emails from David about how much he loves his son, and know that he is the kind of dad every boy should have. I knew I couldn't offer that by myself and I was, over and over, reassured that Bo is the most loved and adored little boy.
In August, I had the incredible opportunity to fly to Florida to be with them when the adoption was finalized (I was the first birthmother present at an adoption finalization for the judge), when they went through the temple (Oh, how my heart longs to enter the House of the Lord someday soon!), and when they blessed little Bo. I still longed for my baby and missed him, but being allowed to share in their joy helped me to find the joy in my own heart. I rejoiced with them. And it felt soooooo good. I can advocate adoption completely because I have seen firsthand the happiness it brings to ALL participants.
Sterling and Bo at the Temple when he was sealed to Dave & Amy
I recently returned from another visit to Florida, this time just for fun. We spent hours and hours talking, laughing, and sharing stories. It was the best vacation I’ve had so far in my life, and it was amazing to feel as though I was with close family. When I left, I was not the only one crying. I know our relationship is not just a facade to make them look good (although I believe they are the BEST couple in the world!), but that they genuinely love and care about me... not just because I am their son's birthmother.
I know that as the years go by, we may contact each other less often. We plan to keep our families close, and I know that both sides will try. I also know that if many months go between emails or phone calls, I will never have to worry if my baby is okay. I have seen enough of them and learned enough about them to know that Bo is where he is supposed to be. I’ve had the opportunity to share their joy and love in becoming a family. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ has grown as they have shared their love of God with me.
I am so grateful for an open adoption. I went into this looking for my baby’s parents. I never imagined I would find my best friends. They are the parents I would like to be. They help remind me why I turned my life around, and why I desire to live a good life… so that my sweet little Bo will be proud of me and the decisions I make from now on.
Open adoption is beautiful. It is a blessing. I have been healing much more quickly than I thought I would. I will never “get over” my adoption experience. But, thanks to my incredible relationship with David, Amy and Bo, I have had the closure that is allowing me to move forward and find happiness. I don’t know where I would be without the miracle of open adoption.