Friday, April 29, 2011


It's been such an emotional several weeks. Matthew has been able to meet his godmother, his aunt, uncle and cousins, and we have enjoyed spending time with so many loved ones.

Tomorrow, Beau and Sheila, Matthew's genetic parents, arrive here in our home to spend a few hours meeting Matthew. As much as I strongly support and am committed to open adoption (for my thoughts on why, click here), this is hard. Harder than I thought it would be.

Sheila first wrote and asked shortly after Matthew was born if they could come meet him. We always knew and agreed that they WOULD meet, so her question was about timing, not overall permission. At that time, I was so tired and hormonal that I really wanted to say no. I knew that my fatigue and hormones were talking so I told her I needed time, and she agreed.

Even though Beau and Sheila have never, ever, once given me reason to feel territorial, there was a part of me that when they asked screamed out, "No! He's my baby!!" Truthfully, a little part of me still does. And I guess that surprised me, because I know there's absolutely no threat or danger with them that they would have an inappropriate connection or response to him. But my blog has always been about showing the truth of Embryo Adoption, even the hard stuff, so there it is.

Once in a while I even have a nightmare-if they kidnapped him and the police did a DNA test, he would match them! How would I prove that he's really my son?? (I don't think Beau and Sheila are kidnappers-this just demonstrates the hold fear can so easily take on my heart!)

Plus, they're coming to our home. So I sort of feel like I'll be under inspection, and since I'm a pretty mediocre homemaker, that sends my stress level very high. Again, they've never given me reason to feel threatened, and the only reason that we're meeting in our home is that it's just the most practical place since they're traveling from far and anywhere public wouldn't permit us to stay more than an hour or two, and even if they would, Matthew wouldn't tolerate it.

Nightlight recently changed their contract to say that genetic parents can revoke the rights of the adoptive parents to any remaining untransferred embryos, so long as they provide 30 days notice. This really bothered DH and I on a lot of levels. Again, let me be so clear in saying that Beau and Sheila have NEVER given us reason to feel threatened, and we don't have any concern that they actually will revoke our rights and "reclaim" the remaining 6 embryos. But just the knowledge that they COULD, if we signed this contract, bothered us. We told Nightlight our concerns, and they agreed to let us sign a different document that eliminates that provision. I do hope they'll eliminate it for all clients. I think it undermines the treatment of this whole arrangement as an adoption. You can't just "reclaim" a born child years later (barring extreme, unusual circumstances that usually involve fraud or duress) so it bothers me that embryos are treated differently. But, I digress. This isn't meant to be a public criticism of Nightlight (whom we LOVE, for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they heard our concerns and are allowing us to sign a different document), but I did want to post some since it's part of our current feelings.

I guess I just wonder if I'll ever stop feeling like I have to prove myself or please someone. As an adoptive parent in an open adoption, it's hard to know that the biological parents are out there, and have the potential to evaluate your choices for your child. What if we disappoint them? What if we do something that would make them regret their choice? What if they think that they could do better at raising him than we could? It's just a lot of pressure, even if it's all hypothetical.

I do stress that regardless of my own insecurities, we still believe that an open adoption is best for Matthew which is why we are resolved to always continue, regardless of how we feel. The only thing that could ever put the brakes on this is if for some reason, it ever became unhealthy for him. And Beau and Sheila are committed to that, too, so we can always reevaluate how well he handles it, etc.

So, I'm just a ball of nerves today. I'm nervous that they'll be pleased with us and with him and with how we've parented him so far. I'm nervous that they'll observe something that will make them go, "Boy! What were we thinking??" I know that it's very unlikely that those things will actually happen, but I still feel it and have to continually surrender this in prayer. I wish Mike was still here. He was such a strong advocate of open adoption and he knew me well enough to say exactly what I'd need to hear. He could always help me get out of my head when we'd talk about it. He taught me so much, on this issue in particular. And man, that sweet Skyler-boy is such a testament. Mike and Krista definitely have it right on this issue! Krista just texted me, "Just focus on loving them. Matthew will steal the show." I needed to hear that. They both were always so good about realizing that adoption is as much a ministry as it is a blessing.

I know Beau and Sheila have a ton of emotions of their own surrounding this meeting. I can't imagine that when they meet him, that they won't miss him. I know that I would. He's such a precious, precious boy. My heart catches in my chest when I think about him. Parenthood is the only time in your life when you don't have to learn to love someone. It's just automatic from the moment you say, "hello." There's no way to describe it.

I was thinking last night about our infertility. I was thinking about how if we'd never heard those words in November 2007 that we'd never have a biological child, that we'd never have had our precious little Matthew. I can't imagine loving any child more. I can't imagine missing out on him. It actually makes me glad for our infertility, because I would not like my life without him. How wonderful are the ways of the Lord, even if we don't always understand them! When we first got that diagnosis, we'd already been trying to have a child for almost 4 years. When we started our adoption in 2008, it seemed like we'd already waited forever, and that we'd have forever more to wait. And yet, it all culminated in this precious baby boy, who I believe was always intended to be ours (Beau and Sheila concur). We started trying to conceive in January of 2004. Matthew didn't even exist yet (he was created later that year). If we'd have been successful with things according to our timeline and our plan, we'd never have this sweet little guy. I'm teary just thinking about it.

I know I sound sappy and sentimental and even a little cliche, but I really have come full circle with our wait and our journey. That little boy was worth all the wait in the world. In the 7 years that it took us to have him, Beau and Sheila gave him life, they had their own children, and they came to a place where they could make the difficult decision to relinquish him and his 11 siblings. When I think about it that way, 7 years seems sort of short for all of that to have happened. So I guess I will take this opportunity to encourage those of you still waiting that even though waiting is hard, and loss is even harder, God's timing is wonderful. It may take us a while to understand it, but I believe in time, He often reveals His reasons. Bless you who still wait. We worship with you and claim with confidence that His plan for you is perfect.

I know tomorrow will probably hold a lot of tears, but I also pray that it will hold a lot of joy. At the end of the day, it's not a bad thing for more people to love my son. I pray that he blesses them. I pray that their spirits (and ours!) will be lifted by this meeting, rather than pained. And I pray that God would continue to teach us how to best knit our families together for Matthew's own good. I'd covet your companionship in these prayers.

Love to you all.


  1. Jen, you are an amazing person, inside and out. Matthew is a very lucky boy to have such wonderful parents. I know it will be tough for you, I am sure the emotions are like a crazy rollercoaster. Sending calming thoughts and lots of prayers. Just one look at Matthew and I know he is one very happy little guy. As I said before you still glow, to see you and Todd holding that handsome little guy, it brings tears to my eyes, the love just radiates around you all.

    Hugs, prayers and love,

  2. My prayers are with Matthew, that he knows there are so many out there that love him, with you and Todd, that your hearts be at peace, and with Matthew's biological parents, that their hearts be filled with love and joy and peace! There will be tears of joy, tears of love, tears of sadness, and may you find what you need emotionally in each of those tears.

    I pray guidance and faith over everyone, as you navigate these uncharted waters may the Spirit guide you through.

    You are all loved, and it is so very obvious how much you love Matthew. I know they see that and will see that through everything else!

  3. This post had me teary, too. I loved hearing that you've come full circle in this journey. Ken and I are praying over tomorrow!

  4. I can imagine the feelings you must be having about your meeting. Praying that both you and they have peace about it and that you can just focus on loving that little boy. Can't wait to hear all about it!

  5. Many, many hugs and prayers for a beautiful day for you all.

  6. WOW JEN, big day tomorrow, I remember our day like last April like it was yesterday...I need to get to bed as I have to be up super early, so I will give you a few brief thoughts of our meeting:

    1) I was terrified just like you and ran a million different scenarios(all of your & more) through my head-none of them have happened to date, nor do I feel like they ever will.

    2) To see Adam's genetic Mother in person(Father was a sperm donor), to wrap my arms around her and thank her for changing our whole lives by choosing us to be parents to her embryos was overwhelming, the love I felt for her in that moment cannot be described.

    3) I cannot imagine her NOT being in our lives.

    4) Don't commit to too much continued contact too soon-IF that comes up at this first meeting. Send me a private email with your number if you want to discuss further and I'll give you a holler next week to tell you more about this first year of having her family in our lives.

    May your meeting tomorrow be full of an indescribable joy that warms all of you from the inside out as you know that God is lifting you all up and bringing you together for the sake of life & love. Will be thinking about you all day.

  7. Wow, what a big day coming up. I wish you the best. I think the first meeting is the most difficult, it was for us anyway. Each one has become easier and the fears and worries lessen each time. Now I feel like we are just getting together with family. It is that comfortable. I hope the same for you.

  8. ARRRRRG! I just typed out a very lengthy comment and blogger ate it. :( I'm pooped. So I will summarize.

    It's no secret that I'm a big advocate of open adoption (of course as long as it is a healthy situation for the child). This wasn't always so. I was actually terrified of the thought. I remember sitting in a class before we adopted and being asked how I would respond if our child asked to meet their birth parents. I burst in to tears. I said that it would make me feel like somehow we were not enough.

    Somewhere along the way God changed our hearts. We agreed to an open adoption knowing that it was best for our child, and best for her birth parents. I have been very surprised at how blessed I have been in the process.

    I can tell you that with our early visits I had the most of not all of the fears and insecurities you have expressed. I think it's very normal. If I'm honest, I still put a bit more thought into what she is going to wear, how her hair looks, freshen her with lotion so she smells yummy, and make sure her nails are trimmed. It's silly. I know it is. But I still do it.

    I have a great friendship with Em's bithmom. Our relationship works so well because we have such a great mutual respect for each other. I can never take C's place in Em's life and her story, just as C can never take my place. We both know that, and we're ok with it.

    Open adoption can be a tricky road to navigate. There are so many emotions on both sides. But you are all great people. (Ok, so I don't know Todd or Beau--but I'll take you and Sheila's word for it that they are!) At the end of the day, you each have a unique special love for Matthew, and I don't think a child can have too many people to love them.

    I pray everything goes well for all of you, and it is a great visit, and the start of a new chapter in your relationship.

  9. ok, so that wasn't much of a summary... sorry for the book. ;)

  10. Hi Jen! I am really looking forward to hearing how things went. This is something that anyone who has adopted our babies as embryos thinks about. Yours will be the first experience that I've read about, so I am really anxious to hear about it.

    Thinking of all of you, including Beau and Sheila.

  11. I'm so glad you are open to openness. It's a testament to your love for you son that you'd do anything to avoid having to "split the baby." It makes me think of the Solomon story, where the "real mother" puts her son's needs ahead of her own desires to avoid literally splitting him in two.

    I think that adoption, whether of snowflakes or of babies, does create a split between a person's biology and his biography. Openness is a very good way to help that child heal that figurative split and to never have to divide his loyalties, his attention, his psyche, or anything else. Your fostering contact for him with his biological parents now and in the future is, in my opinion, a very healthy and motherly thing to do. It takes away nothing from you and only adds to him.

    (P.S. By "real" I mean people who are not fake. To my kids I am real, and so are their birth moms.)