Open Adoption Goes Both Ways

white black and red person carrying heart illustration in brown envelope
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

“I am bored!”

The words seem to resound, bounce off the walls of our home over the weekend. If they were not out biking or prone on the sofa, eyes glazed over, watching something inane on the television, they start like cicadas, a lone voice, growing, amplifying into a resonant chorus until I either yell or find something for them to do.

Yesterday, I set them to task making birthday cards for their birth mother. Silence reigned in the house for a good hour while Saathi and I napped. I went straight to the coffee pot post-nap only to find the kitchen island littered with snippets of paper, sticky tape and crayons and color pencils rolling all around. Brushing off annoyance, I cleared up and made a strong cup of coffee.

Ammu bounded over first handing over a sealed envelope decorated with pictures. Pattu’s envelope also sealed seemed to mimic Van Gogh’s blue and yellow patterns. Laddu followed right behind, a solitary piece of paper in her hand. She had painstakingly written her name, Mommy B’s name and made two pictures, one small and another larger with spiky hair. Before I could put it away, she held on wanting to explain the significance of the pictures.

“I made the hair spiky because it looks funny. I want her to laugh,” she said.

“Can I have an envelope?” she asked, noticing her sisters had both given me sealed envelopes. Rooting inside my catchall box, I found one for her.

“Mommy B,” she wrote on top as she read along.

“She is not your mommy!” Ammu responded.

“Yes! she is!” Laddu retorted.

Before I could intervene, they reconciled and Ammu helped Laddu put her card in the cover.

Walking late morning as the clouds created an eerie kind of light, I mulled over the exchange from the day before. All these years, I have been fixated on ensuring my twins know and develop a relationship with their mother. Mostly, I have thought of it as a bond between their mother and me and their mother and them. Saathi and Laddu have remained in the periphery, rarely hogging the limelight.

Laddu laying claim to her reminded me that open adoption works both ways. My twins have two families as does my youngest. While Mommy B did not give birth or raise her, she is a mother by proxy. She is their sisters’ mother and therefore a mother to her in a way. Ammu and Pattu’s great-grandparents have already claimed Laddu as their pint-sized great-granddaughter. It was easy to accept and process given that relationships that span generations are usually rose-tinted and sweet. This new bond created solely because Mommy B visited and stayed with us and spent numerous hours playing with Laddu is different. It is happily disconcerting because it is organic and unexpected. It makes me think about our narrow definitions of family and how we lay claim to people. It makes me question a whole lot of things. 

4 comments

  1. Stunning post 💜 I often wonder if we should invite further openness to our daughter’s birth mother before anyone asks for it – I guess letting my daughter know it’s an option early on will answer that.

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