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Open Adoption from the Adoptee’s Perspective

Jun 13, 2018

Last episode, we had Kelene on the show, who is a birth mother that made an adoption plan 26 years ago.

That little baby girl, named Chrissy, was born early and was only 3 pounds. Kelene and the adoptive parents worked together to love this little baby and today she joins the show! This is the first ADOPTION NOW episode to have both the birth mother and the adoptee together sharing their journey. It’s an incredible story and it’s so helpful in understanding open adoption.

To start this episode, April asks Chrissy what she thought about the story that was told last week. 

Chrissy says she cried when she heard the story and all of the love involved. She says she has been so blessed!

April shifts her question to Kelene to get her opinion on open adoption and the joys it can bring. So often, adoptive parents are terrified of the potential for a biological mother to change her mind or have an active part in the adoption itself.

Kelene says that she understands why open adoption can be such a scary thing for many parents because you have to figure out boundaries. This means determining how involved the relationship with the birth mother is, how often she comes over, and so forth.

For those unsure about open adoption, Kelene encourages you to nonetheless see the beauty in open adoptions despite the uncertainty and fear that may arise.

April then asks Chrissy how she addressed her birth mother.

Chrissy says she didn’t know that Kelene was her birth mother until she was about 7 years old. She knew she was adopted her whole life and after years of asking her adoptive parents, they sat her down and told her. 

She says she was very excited whenever she found out who her mother was. They were at an Italian restaurant, Kelene had another child and was changing his diaper. Chrissy caught her off guard with the bombshell: “my parents told me you are my mother.”

Surprised and teary-eyed, Kelene hugged Chrissy and confirmed it.

When April asks Chrissy if it felt weird to grow up as an adoptee but have a sister that is a biological daughter to her adoptive parents. She says it wasn’t. She always knew she was adopted, but it really didn’t feel all that different. Chrissy says she never felt like she wasn’t a part of the family. Her cousins, uncles, aunts, and siblings would all give her so much love.

Building off of this, Chrissy says that the whole experience has just been so easy for her and the openness of the adoption has had a lot to do with that. She has some adopted friends though who didn’t have as easy a time.

Some of Chrissy’s friends have questions that weren’t answered or may harbor resentments that Chrissy has never really felt.

She says that everyone is committed to the overall relationship. It’s a completely positive, healthy dynamic between her adoptive parents and Kelene her birth mother. There’s so much love and support in all aspects.

April asked Kelene if she was ever nervous about crossing boundaries with Chrissy’s adoptive mother. She admits that yes, early on, she was wary. But it was never from a negative place. She has so much respect for Joani that she would never want to cross a line and vice versa. 

Knowing just how strong their relationships are, April points out that they have three amazing qualities that allow for flexibility in the overall direction of the relationship: courage, respect, and love.

When April asks Chrissy if she gets along with Kelene’s other children, she says that she does!

She says they get along really well. They all call her sister. Chrissy says that those in Chicago and Colorado alike are family to her.

When asked if Chrissy has met her biological father, she says close to 2 or 3 times they have met up. At one point, they all had dinner as a group while Chrissy was visiting in Chicago. Although they don’t really have a relationship, she still said it was really good to meet him.

For more on this story, advice from Chrissy, and the many advantages of having an open adoption, listen along to the episode!