The vibrant oranges, reds and yellows of the trees around Julie’s childhood home served as the perfect final chapter to “Frozen, But Not Forgotten”. The book is now with the proofreader, and Phoebe’s placing family had suggested a great item to include in its pages would be a joint family photo. Julie and I agreed this would be a special way to wrap up the project.
We texted and identified a time we could meet at Julie’s parents’ home, where we enjoyed the weekend visiting a pumpkin patch and carving jack-o’-lanterns. Earlier in the weekend, we spent time with Julie’s grandparents picking apples and pears from their orchard.
On this particular evening, though, we reconvened a gathering that began several months earlier when we met Phoebe’s placing family for the first time. Although we each lead separate lives with dozens of commitments and places to be, the blessing of open adoption enables us to pick up where we left off. Unlike most open embryo adoptions, where families are separated by many states, we are only 90 minutes apart.
Everyone oohed over Phoebe’s little fingers and relished her rolls. We watched as she dug her feet into the fall leaves and searched for objects to crinkle in her hands.
After sharing updates, our families bunched up together as my father-in-law graciously snapped three dozen different options with my iPhone. I’ve narrowed my list down to two or three of my favorites, and one will end up in the book. Remarkably, all of our little people smiled except for Phoebe, who can’t be blamed for looking so serious when surrounded by so much to process all at once.
After confirming my father-in-law had, in fact, done a tremendous job capturing the spirit of the moment, we said our goodbyes and waved as our new friends backed out of the driveway and headed off on their own pumpkin-carving adventure.
Not every family is comfortable pursuing open adoption because they fear their children will be confused about who their real parents and siblings are as they grow older. That fear has never been our own. We have every intention of sharing Phoebe’s adoption story with her at every stage of her life, and of making sure she knows her story. Most importantly, she will have the privilege of knowing the special people who have loved her and supported her beginning at her earliest stages of development.
As production of the book wraps up, I’m reminded why we started this journey more than two years ago in the first place: to grow our family and to affirm that each life is immeasurably precious.
Now a new chapter opens: Sharing that message far and wide with other couples whose family storybooks are only just being written.