A Story of Open Adoption

by Kristie Hoyt Gonzales

Adoption was always something I knew I wanted to do. In college I had the opportunity to study abroad and work in an orphanage. I fell in love with the kids. Leaving them was hard and I knew I wanted/ needed to do more.

Four years later I traveled to Guatemala for work. I fell in love with the city and the children. I was able to visit the special needs orphanage and my heart was broken for these children. In both Mexico and Guatemala, when I would arrive at the orphanages the children would smother me. They craved attention, contact, interaction, and mostly love.

And they had so much to give. Their hearts were big and open even in the face of adversity. They just wanted what everyone else wanted: a family, someone to hug them and tuck them in at night, comfort them when they fall, someone to read them a story while sitting in their lap, and someone to tell them they ARE loved. My heart broke every day I left them, and then when I returned. I wondered if they ever found someone to love them; a family of their own.

When my husband and I started talking about having a family we knew we wanted to have a child of our own and then adopt internationally—and from a Latin American country since we both spoke Spanish. After a few years of trying I was told it was pretty unlikely I would ever have kids and we knew that adoption was always the way our family was meant to grow.

We decided to adopt an infant since you only bring home your first baby once. That means we went domestic. We were open to transracial adoption and searched for an agency that would meet our needs, even though it meant going out of our home state. After a long process to enter the waiting pool, we were matched one week later. With TWINS!

But it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel it would happen, so much so we never even asked the gender of the babies. Three weeks later, late at night, the phone rang. It was an out-of-state number and I had all the numbers for the agencies and our social worker saved so I wasn’t thinking it was the call. But I answered and I am so glad I did. She told me we were matched for a little boy, and that the birthmom wanted to talk to me tonight! What? Tonight?! But Tony was working and it was past 10PM where she lives. “Call her anyways” is what I heard. I responded with a shaky “ok” and a “what do I say to her?”

Over the next few weeks we talked often with our birthmom (she has asked to remain anonymous). We developed a close relationship and she asked us to fly out for the birth. YES! YES! YES! But Hudson came early and fast and we weren’t able to get there for the birth. We had to be in state for at least two weeks waiting for our Interstate Compact Papers to fly home and had plans to visit some of the sights with our birthmom. However, since Hudson was born prematurely, those two weeks were spent in the hospital, which had a weird loop hole: even though all papers were signed and he was legally ours, birthmom still had all medical rights. This meant we couldn’t visit our son in the hospital without birthmom and she had to be in the NICU, so as a couple, we couldn’t spend time together with our new baby.

It was a very hard and difficult situation on everyone. Our birthmom, who had planned to say good-bye at 48 hours and then take time to grieve before we all went out for the first time, couldn’t leave. She had to be there, had to see us interact with our baby, the baby she just gave birth to, had to give the doctors permission to speak to us, watch the photographer take his newborn hospital photos with us, and put her grieving on hold. We had to put our bonding on hold and it became an awkward situation for all involved. To make things worse, we were the ones driving her to and from the hospital to the hotel we were BOTH staying at. Her counselor was with two other birthmoms during that time that were giving birth. We all wanted to be a family, but we also needed our space, which we didn’t get.

Fast forward a few months.  The grief that our birthmom had been compartmentalizing erupted. And she took it out on the only person she could and that knew about the adoption: me. I fought through it, was her punching bag, tried to set boundaries, but also keep with our openness plan. Our agency told us to cut off all contact and change my phone number, but I just couldn’t do it–to her or my son. After a few months, I was finally strong enough to set and keep boundaries. This was the best thing I did!

After a few months of no contact, our birthmom had the time she needed to grieve and I had the time to focus on Hudson and form an attachment. We now text often, talk on important days, and are planning for her to visit. Even though our relationship wasn’t always easy, I am so grateful for our birthmom, for sticking through the rough times and not listening to others to end contact because we wouldn’t have the relationship we have now. We have trust, we check in with each other (and not just about Hudson). We have a relationship with each other.

But our adoption story doesn’t end there. We knew our family wasn’t complete and we had love in our hearts from another child. It was still weighing on our hearts to adopt internationally. Knowing we wanted our children to have the same ethnicity we changed from adopting from Latin America to Africa. After researching different countries we felt led to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We chose DRC for the process and the fact you could adopt independently with lawyers in country versus using an agency. This adoption is a completely different experience. We are currently waiting for a referral and are excited to see our family completed.

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Kristie Gonzales is an Early Childhood Education Specialist. She says, “Adoption was always something that was on my heart and when I couldn’t get pregnant, we knew adoption was always meant to be how our family would grow. My husband, Tony, and I pursued an infant adoption and we were open to a transracial adoption. Our blessing, Hudson, came into our family through an open adoption, and we are currently pursuing an international adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Kristie Hoyt Gonzales can be found at www.ourjourney2forever.wordpress.com

Comments

  1. I have to say that, though you probably think you were simply were doing what was best and right for your family, that it is commendable that you went through months of dealing with an upset birth parent. It isn’t an easy thing to deal with when we “have” to, but to do so willingly with someone you could just get away from (changing number, etc) is great. I do agree with you, also, that the birthmother’s resolve to continue the relationship was commendable also. So many times people make decisions that affect a lifetime when they are in a bad place. Both of you rose above that and stuck it out. Admirable!

    • Hi Pamela, I hope Kristie will have a chance to respond to you, but I wanted to thank you for your thoughts. I agree with you, too!
      Luanne

    • Pamela, thank you so much! It is so nice to hear the support when so many told us to end communication. It was the best decision ever to keep contact. I ended up not talking about the situation with others for awhile. Hearing their negative comments or unsupportive comments weren’t helpful. Now I want to make sure adoptive families can have someone to talk to and have their concerns heard and their decisions supported. We are planning a “reunification” with birth mom this summer!

  2. What a difficult situation in the weeks following the birth! Kristie, You and your husband sound like such lovely people. I love that you didn’t abruptly end contact with the birth-mom. I think it’s so kind how you dealt with everything! And good luck with the next adoption. ❤

    • Thank you so much! We enjoy every day that we are blessed to be Hudson’s parents and are holding on tight for this ride of our second adoption.

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