I remember the day I found out like it was yesterday. To say it came as a shock is an understatement-it was after all news that changed my life forever, bringing with it some of the most difficult and happiest times of my life. It is my belief that due to the choices we made over the coming months and years, I would be fortunate enough to continue to experience these contrasted emotions but they would become increasingly positive as time went on.
I think in hindsight, as a human being it is natural to go into shock,denial and react irrationally when faced with great trauma. As they say "an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is entirely normal". It is for this reason that I don't condemn my actions immediately after being told that my ex-girlfriend was pregnant, the fact I wanted to flee, to run, to hide, to push the responsibility to anywhere but my shoulders was totally understandable. In the ensuing days as the reality sunk in, fortunately I was able to reason and go about actually dealing with the situation. For many reasons both for me and all the others involved, looking back, I am so glad I did!
I am certain that part of what helped us make an informed, hopefully rational choice was discussions we had had prior- almost a contingency plan should something like this occur. Through many hours of discussion we spoke of our parents, their failed marriages and subsequent divorces, our youth- a definite lack of life experience and the contrasted ideals we would have for our children in their upbringing. At the time, devoid of any real emotional attachment- things were much simpler.
All that changed when Eve Rose was born- a beautiful baby girl, sharing our features, our geneology, our creation, our love. It was this love, what we wanted for her, that made the final decision oh so hard but paradoxically the thing that drove us to accept the pain as a necessary part of ensuring she had the best possible upbringing. It was without doubt the most difficult and selfless decision I believe we would ever make.
Child,Youth and Family were very supportive in the months leading up to Eve's birth. It seemed they assessed our decision time and time again to ensure we were fully aware and comfortable with what was happening. We were provided with many resources to educate ourselves and they were on call if we should need to discuss anything. I found them to be empathetic and considerate during the process- essential qualities considering the high emotions and importance of this life changing event.
The social workers requested from us a set of criteria detailing the things that were important to us in a prospective couple. We wrote of things as diverse as religious beliefs, education, age and travel history. With these things in mind, they then provided us with a huge selection of profiles which were an in-depth representation of these couples lives to date, some more personal than others and some most definitely not what we were after. After a lengthy deliberation my ex-girlfriend and I were certain we had found the parents for our little girl. It seems so clinical, so lacking emotion when I describe it, but that was certainly not the case. Even to go back there through my writing creates anxiety in my stomach, reliving the "choice" process of those years ago. To expect anything less would be heartless in my view.This was after all the decision of who would take ultimate care and responsibility for something we both loved so dearly.
Now with a warm smile on my face - 7 years down the track - I can say with much happiness and love that the couple we found, Eve's "forever parents" were and are to this day the most perfect we could have hoped for. Even our first viewing of their profile, it felt right. An almost cosmic connection between Kim and I and their handwritten word. The similarities of outlook, the shared ideals of reason, the ethos of love. Our first meeting, a follow on to this scribed introduction, although slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, just cemented our belief that we had indeed found the "one"(or two as the case happened to be on this occasion).
Open adoption was a concept we discovered when reading over Child Youth and Family information. Nowadays it is the way that adoption is handled ideally and to us, maybe a generation after all the trouble with closed adoption in the 60's and 70's, it just made more sense. The idea of of a child knowing it's heritage on both it's adoptive and genealogical side, knowing he/she is loved by all, and dealing with adoption as a concept as he/she grows up can only be more positive than if it were all dumped on him/her in their late teens early 20's- often a very difficult time for many young people anyway.
Like any relationship, in it's formative time, this one developed slowly. Unsurprisingly all parties were concerned, almost at their own expense, with the wellbeing of the other. All in all what shone through for me was an unerring direction of what was best for this little girl that we all loved so much. I am often asked if I "regret our decision". It is with this combined love in mind that I unequivocally state no. Sure, there are times that for us there is sadness, but the sadness is for ourselves and our decision was never about what was easiest for us. Dealing with this sadness was and still is a gradual process but as the bond and trust between us all grows the internal fears subside. As it becomes evident that she is coping with and understands (as much as a 7 year old can) the concepts and ideas surrounding adoption and what it means to her, the concerns and worries of repeated issues of adoption in a by gone era are reduced.
On a personal level I have found counsellors to be very helpful, but we all have our own ways and means of dealing with pain and sadness. Finding someone that fits well with you own way of thinking can be a difficult task but I have also found they have been helpful in other areas of life. I think as a male it is important not to try to suppress the feelings of grief and loss, although it is understandable if you justify doing so by trying to compare the grief experienced by birthmothers with that which you have felt yourself.
Interestingly, I originally started out with the idea that the more contact I had with Eve the harder it would be, the idea that detachment would be the best coping strategy. Almost a closed-adoption way of thinking. Contrary to this belief it now seems the deeper the relationship and the more contact we have the easier and more fulfilling it becomes. It is definitely worth realising that although it won't be an easy process it is extremely rewarding and life changing. So true to life in general I find.
So far it has worked out really well, almost to the point that I can't imagine it being any better. Eve now has a little brother, adopted too, and they are two of the most loved children I know! The contact varies, in ebbs and flows, and does so at times that would be normal considering the time demands on our lives nowadays. It is fair to say though, that like any relationship, albeit one with a difference, we get out of it what we put in. I believe it is this attention and care that we all take to nurturing the relationship that gives us the fulfillment and joy that we have today. Communication is essential and this too has seemed to get easier with time. Sometimes delicate, at difficult times it helps me to remember what we all have in common, that is the unconditional love for the little girl in our lives.