The Adoption Triad

On the smallest scale, the “adoption triad” refers to the three parties directly involved in adoption: birth mother, adoptive parents, and child. Some widen the meaning of the triad to include birth family, adoptive family, and child. In today’s climate of open adoption, the three parties are all acknowledged, honored, and responsible for the well-being of their relationships.

Many people still think of adoption as finished once the baby is home. In an open adoption, that is not the case. Adoptive parents and child will have a relationship with the birth mom and possibly birth family for the rest of their lives. It is a marathon, not a sprint. This is one marathon I’m actually willing and happy to run. So, what does our triad look like? I can tell you the snapshot of right this moment, but that wasn’t what it looked like two years ago and that probably won’t be what it looks like in another five. There have been more first meetings of people in our families than I anticipated. It is still special. We didn’t have all the family on both sides meet in the hospital and then part ways forever.

Our son, Joseph just turned three. Last night we had my husband’s parents meet Joseph’s birth grandfather for the first time. We didn’t plan a three-year timeline, that’s just how it happened. We met Joseph’s whole birth family on his birth mom’s side when he was two. I nearly threw up on the way there from anxiety. It is stressful to meet people who have had such an impact on your life, yet you’ve never seen in real life. That visit went fine. Nothing remotely bad happened. As for Joseph’s birth father’s side, again, nothing was planned but it so happened that it felt the time to meet when he was just over two. My parents still haven’t met any of the birth family. That’s what our open adoption looks like as of today.

It seems we eased into everyone meeting over the last three years, but it doesn’t have to go that slowly. We would have met people earlier. We weren’t keeping Joseph away, it just sort of worked out like that. No matter what, our first priority is his birth mom. Those first two years were really focused on arranging emails and visits with her. It was much harder than I thought when we didn’t see her. Especially in the beginning. Of course, we met prior to birth a few times and then had a meeting about two weeks after birth. After that, we didn’t see her until Joseph was about eight months old. This is not uncommon. We respect her and she knows the ball is in her court and we are always available. I think exchanging emails and knowing Joseph was ok was enough to keep her going. She was busy finishing high school. Some birth moms want more contact, some want less. Each person is unique and there is no “right amount” of contact.

More first meetings are happening tomorrow. We are going to meet birth mom’s new baby for the first time. He is two months old. Another extended family member and Joseph’s half-brother. We’ve seen pictures and I do see Joseph in him, which is cool. Our triad and story may seem complex, but probably more so to outsiders than to us. It’s our story and it is good.