Our House: Opening your heart to an open adoption

Warning, this retelling by Gin and Jeremy Motsinger of the emotions they experienced during the birth and adoption of their daughter, Kinsey, and the subsequent relationship with her birth mother…let’s just say it’s intense.

Let’s face it. Adoption isn’t easy for everyone involved.

For the adopting parents, there are so many factors to consider and choices to make before you even begin your adoption journey. These choices force you to take a hard look at yourself and your family to decide what kind of adoption situations you’ll consider–one such situation is an open adoption.

Our open adoption journey began about three weeks before our daughter, Kinsey, was born. After waiting almost three long years and suffering the loss of a failed adoption match through a national adoption agency, we finally got some promising news from our local agency, Children’s Home Society of Virginia, where we had gone through the process to become an approved waiting family. CHS was working with a young birthmother who had learned about us through their resources. She was interested in meeting with us as well as another family regarding the placement of her unborn baby girl.

And she wanted an open adoption.

We were so excited, yet so nervous about meeting this young woman who could fulfill our dreams of becoming parents. A few days later, we were able to meet our birthmother, and we very quickly developed a fondness for her. In speaking with her, we felt she was wise beyond her years and full of grace for such a tender age of 17. We also felt there was a lot of promise in moving forward into an open adoption with her.

When we received the news about a week later that she had chosen us to raise her daughter, we were without words–but we also tried to keep our hearts in check. We’d been down this road before.

Several times after that, we met with her to go through paperwork and all of the necessary red tape, but to also spend more time getting to know one another. We had dinner a few times, had ice cream other times, and talked some on the phone. Having these experiences together made things more comfortable when Kinsey was born.

Three weeks after meeting Kinsey’s mother, we got the call that she was ready to give birth. We got to the hospital at 2:30 AM, and she gave birth at just after 3:00 AM. Gin, the hopeful mom-to-be had the honor to be in the room when our daughter was born–an amazing gift granted to us by our birthmom. And the hospital was also gracious enough to allow us to stay in the room next door. The day and a half we spent there was both amazing and emotionally draining at the same time.

We can’t even begin to express our gratitude in having experienced the birth and first few days of life with our daughter. Over the next few days, Kinsey spent time with both us and her birthmother while in the hospital.

At first, we were admittedly nervous about the amount of time that her birthmother was spending with her during her first day of life, but we wanted to be respectful and let her have this time with her baby. After several hours of wondering how things were going, we decided to stop in for a visit. Our fears for the day quickly vanished as she welcomed us in with a smile and showered us with gifts for our daughter from her family and friends.

Next was a roller coaster of emotions–the hospital gave us clearance to leave. Kinsey spent the morning with her birthmother as she prepared herself to part with the child that she already loved dearly. From the room next door, we were able to hear the crying and sobbing. Our hearts ached for her, and we can only imagine the feelings that she went through that morning. And, too, our hearts also raced in fear that she might change her mind.

We just held our birthmom as tight as we could and told her we would always be here.

But we clung to hope that everything would work out as planned. Several hours later, we were given notice that our birthmother was ready. We met her outside the room and hugged her dearly. Not knowing exactly what to say to try and comfort her, we told her that this wasn’t the end, it was just the beginning. And it was. None of us were exactly sure what an open adoption looked like or how we wanted it to be, but we knew that our future together was wide open and that we could define and build our relationship along the way.

We walked out of the hospital behind this amazing young woman who was holding Kinsey in her arms. After we got out of the doors of the hospital, we took some pictures. When the pictures were over, Jeremy got into the back of our truck and helped the birth mom place her child into our car seat to go home with us. That was one of the most incredible waves of emotion that either of us had ever felt. We stood there with this beautiful baby girl in our truck and this really courageous young woman sobbing with heartbreak outside of it. We were so heartbroken ourselves that we could not even speak, we just held our birthmom as tight as we could and told her we would always be here.

As we prepare for our daughter’s third birthday, we are pleased to report that we’ve been extremely happy with how our open adoption journey has progressed. Every few months we’ve been able to spend time with our birthmom, and our daughter has developed a loving relationship with her. We’ve even spent time and celebrated Kinsey’s birthdays with her extended birth family as well. We know that we are so blessed to have such a loving support system for our daughter. To us, this is priceless. We know that our birthmom loves Kinsey with every ounce of her heart and made a sacrifice that neither of us ever could ever imagine having to make.

Kinsey will know everything about her past. Our daughter will know and understand the choice her birthmom made for her. She will hear this not only from us but from the lips of her birthmother herself. We have such a feeling of comfort knowing this, but we can’t say it didn’t scare us at first. Some of our family members are still nervous about our open relationship with Kinsey’s birthmom. But we understand that it is not our choice but our responsibility to be open with our daughter about her adoption. All this openness, we believe, will help Kinsey understand who she is and what she means to us.

By having an open adoption, we hope to help our daughter through some of the difficulties often experienced by adopted children. We also hope to help her birthparents through some of their difficulties as well.

Kinsey will never feel that she was placed for adoption because she wasn’t loved or wanted. Through their interactions, she’ll be able to see that her birthmom loves her so much and makes an effort to spend time with her and be a part of her life.

Discussing her adoption will come with ease. By being completely open and sharing time with her birth family, we hope to make her adoption feel as natural as possible. As she grows and begins to have questions about her adoption plan, birth families, and conception, she will be able to go directly to the source for answers. We will never have to make assumptions based on limited information. And as her parents, we too will have a better understanding of the situation when our daughter asks us questions.

Kinsey will have access to updated medical information, as opposed to being limited to the medical snapshot typically provided during the adoption process. This is especially helpful in the case of younger birthparents who may not have much medical history to report at their age.

We get to consider an amazing person who gave us the gift of a family as one of our family members now. We really enjoy getting to know her, and we get to see her characteristics developing in our daughter. For instance, we know that our daughter resembles her birthmom in frame and facial features.

Kinsey will have a relationship with somebody that may understand her on a different level than we will, because she may grow up to be very much like her birthmom. She will also have a loving mentor to guide her when she doesn’t want to come to Mom or Dad for advice.

Our birthmom may be able to help explore and develop any natural abilities our daughter may have, like the artistic abilities with which Kinsey’s birthmother and birth grandmother are gifted. Artistic talents do not run in either of our families, unfortunately. We have the benefit of knowing this and we may be able to have her birthmom work with her and guide her to discover if she has some natural ability in this area.

Adoption is a scary and emotional journey. We believe that Kinsey was meant to be our daughter and her birthmom was meant to be part of our family. This is how we define “open adoption.” We can’t say that entering a situation like ours is the best option for everyone. But we can say that for us, it is perfect.

In the end, we hope that our daughter will be able to accept her adoption with ease and be at peace in knowing that she is loved by many.

— ∮∮∮ —

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Special thanks to Children’s Home Society of Virginia for putting us in touch with Gin and Jeremy. Children’s Home Society of Virginia is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3), non-sectarian licensed child-placing agency, and one of Virginia’s oldest adoption agencies. Since its charter by the Virginia General Assembly in 1900, CHS has been guided by the fundamental belief that every child deserves a home. In its 115 years, CHS has placed more than 13,000 children into safe, permanent families — that’s enough to fill 160 school buses! Their number is 800.247.2888.

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Jeremy and Gin Motsinger

To create their family, Jeremy and Gin Motsinger prayed to receive a baby through adoption. What they received was so much more.

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