It's been an eventful week on an emotional level. I'm not a stranger to grief and grief for the sudden loss of a parent is one that hits a little too close to home. I think of my Dad constantly and I think of little things I wish he was around to see or for me to tell him about all the time. Those are the times that the loss hits you. This has now started to happen with the kids birth Mom. In addition to the things I think about telling her I think about things the kids will want to tell her and won't really be able to do outside of a prayer.
Along with the news of her passing we were given contact information for her mother. They had not been in contact for several years at the time of her passing so getting this info was a surprise. One door closes, another opens...so cliche but so true.
I struggled with what to do with this information for a few days because while I saw it as a way to possibly get answers to some of the questions I know my kids will have it was a potential threat to our family. They have no legal rights as we're finalized with adoption but it still felt/feels like a threat. That's one of the biggest struggles of open adoption. The internal fight to opening your heart and family unit to other people. It takes getting over your own feelings of how you might be judged by others and your children to let other people in to love them.
I knew deep down from the moment I got the info I'd contact her, it was just a matter of when and what to say. It would have to be by email for so many reasons, it would have to express our sympathy for her loss, we need to prove we're decent people, show her the kids are well cared for, and most important for us it needed to outline our boundaries while clearly showing we have no intention of allowing any disruption to our family unit to occur. I also wanted to include a gift. A message of hope for the future of her grandchildren and the final heart wrenching words we received from her daughter not long before she died. Words that spoke of her peace of mind with us and the dire situation she was in. Even though they were hard words to read they are the final words from her child.
We waited 4 days to hear back from her but received emails from other family members within 24 hours. I knew she had read it and forwarded our email address. This has opened many new doors which are exciting, loving, strange, scary, and just plain painful. Each family has their own flavor of "crazy" and when it's your own you might recognize it as crazy but you know it's boundary and you understand the good along with the bad. I'm an outsider and it's scary seeing this mix of good and bad. After all my kids were removed for a reason so to think other than their birth mother, there is a family just like mine or that of my friends is unreasonable. If there was, why didn't they take the kids in?
I'm learning those answers now and doing constant checks on our safety and limits. I'm SO thankful we have finalized and I'm in control. I can't imagine the State ordering me to leave my kids for a few hours with strangers for visitation. Three or four months ago we would have had to comply. Now we're in charge and there's no book on how to do this. We're making it up as we go along and using our hearts and God as our guide.