ADOPTION IS… REDEFINING
Written by Corrine Hellyar Christian. She is the owner of Pride & Joy Adoption Profile Services and she is involved in foster adoption ministry at Flatirons Community Church. Corrine is the Colorado Chair for United for Adoption and founder of Colorado Adoption Community.
We recently celebrated Valentine’s Day in our family – a day commemorating love.
I’ve noticed as one grows older we redefine what LOVE really means to us.
It’s no longer roses and chocolates or a new sparkly piece of jewelry – it’s something much deeper than that. For me, it’s letting my hubby go to bed early even though I’d like some quality time with him. He needs his sleep because he works his butt off to provide for our large family every day.
And he makes concessions for me when I’m tired and ready to throw in the towel after a long day with our seven kids. (GASP, yes, I really did say SEVEN! You can listen to the podcast episode telling my story by clicking here and also hear the details of when I adopted my twins by clicking here.)
We’ve been married nearly 17 years and throughout this time together there’s been a truckload of redefining. Our financials, body composition, religious views, household roles, places we call home, friends, occupations, political views…you name it.
But no event has redefined our lives more than adoption.
A little over 40 years ago, a brave woman gave life to the man I call my husband. She placed him in his adoptive parent’s arms two short days later.
I can only imagine how his birth mom wept and mourned her loss while at the same time his adoptive parents wept with joy over the most incredible little boy they had ever seen.
“We will love him unconditionally,” his adoptive mom Betty said to this sweet birth mother.
“I know you will,” she replied.
This moment redefined my husband’s life forever. His adoptive parents tried to have children for over eight years. Every Mother’s Day and every Father’s Day they prayed and wished for a child to come into their lives.
My husband was that blessed miracle for them. And he was his birth mother’s most painful heartbreak.
So, adoption was part of our family from the very beginning.
Redefining family: Fast forward to today…
My husband and I are blessed to have two biological children and five through adoption, including a set of twins. We have open adoptions with their birth families.
Not only are we open with their birth parents, we also have the birth grandparents in our family’s lives. As a result, adoption redefined for us what family is and what it means to us.
Just as our superficial ideas of love changed into something greater, our 13 years immersed in adoption relationships profoundly shaped and redefined our hearts.
I remember when I was throwing a birthday party for my oldest daughter, Brielle. She was turning three and her birth mom’s extended family was coming to celebrate with us.
The fancy tea party, cake, and guests were all around and ready to snap a hundred photos. Tables were set with fine china and each girl dressed up to the nines. All that was left to do was have fun.
I struggled thinking about the adoption agreement we signed all day long. It said we’d have open contact until my daughter turned three. After that, it would only be pictures and letters until she was ready to make contact with them.
The past three years were filled with countless family BBQs, pool parties, and birthday parties. There were drop-bys for lunch or just to say a quick hello, weddings and plenty of phone calls and pictures.
We ALL were family now! Over three years, this amazing child redefined our connections and family relationships.
Did this have to stop now because of a piece of paper?
My heart sank thinking about not ever getting to see these new family members anymore.
Everyone was healthy, respectful, enjoyable and totally sane. That doesn’t always happen in every adoption but this situation was special.
So, I called my former caseworker right then and asked him if I had to stick by the agreement we signed.
He was a little stunned as I explained how open our hearts and lives were with the birth family. I said I wanted more than anything for Brielle to know her birth family throughout her childhood and as she grew up.
His tone was jovial as he explained that our relationships with the birth family were all ours at that point. We could do whatever we wanted from here on out and the formal agreement was more like a back-up plan just in case we didn’t get along anymore.
“WHAT A RELIEF!” I thought.
I quickly called Grandma Dawn, Brielle’s maternal birth grandmother and asked if she would like to keep our contact as open as it’d been up to that point.
She said, “Well when you adopted Brielle, we adopted you as part of our family too. So, YES!”
I knew in my heart and soul that this was the best decision to make not just because we loved them but because our daughter would never question their love for her. They’d be around to show their love.
For us, this experience redefined what adoption was and what the relationships would look like in our family.
My experience with adoption also led to redefining myself.
I don’t look at others the same way I did before God brought us into adoption. I’m less judgmental, more forgiving, more open, less critical of myself and my flaws, kinder, softer and yet so full of true joy.
I believe that God knew adoption would be MY redefining. Now I’m a person who abandoned the traditional definitions of what love and family look like and replaced them with something greater. And I believe He’s given me the ability and the charge to share that love with others wherever and however I can.
I hope my words on adoption will spark a thought which leads to an action that redefines what another person thinks about themselves, the true nature of love, and family.
Want to hear a story from the perspective of the birth mother of one of Corrine’s children?
LISTEN to “A Birth Mother’s Open Adoption Story” by CLICKING HERE.