As an adoptee who was adopted in the closed adoption system, I’m very interested in the shift toward open adoption in recent years and today, I’m pleased to welcome Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart on this stop of his book blog tour. Welcome, Russell.
When my wife and I were going through the adoption process and I just knew I had to write a book about it, I didn’t want to write a boring book. I didn’t want to write another “how to” book on what to do- boring. I didn’t want to write lists of things to expect with adoption- boring. I wanted to take the reader on a crazy ride because, boy, that’s what happened to us! It was one wild and crazy ride!
That’s the great thing about fiction. I mean, when I read a good fiction novel and I finally close that back cover, it takes a few seconds to remember I’m not actually a cowboy or a spaceman, or whatever the book was about (I guess in this day in age it would probably be that I wasn’t actually in love with a vampire and a wolf at the same time). That’s the way to get to know adoption- to live through it with someone else taking you along for the ride. You can’t just hear about what adoption is like. You have live it.
Have I exaggerated my point too much yet? Oh well.
Our story started out with infertility. My wife and I tried and tried to get pregnant, but to no avail. We took a lot of our friends’ silly advice and tried home remedies that made no scientific sense. We obeyed our doctors. We saw specialists- all that good stuff. Still, no baby.
Deciding to adopt wasn’t very hard for us. It was all the stuff that happened afterward that made it crazy. Nowadays you have to create an online profile and wait for an expecting mother to pick you. We were lucky and got that magical email without having to wait too long- lucky since we were one out of about 950 couples with our agency. The young expecting mother really wanted to choose us and she really wanted adoption, but things kept getting more complicated and more complicated with the legal issues. Basically, the biological father said he didn’t want to raise the baby, but he didn’t want to sign any adoption papers either. He was just 16 years old and the birth mother was just 15. He wanted to be able to play daddy when he felt like stopping by, but not play daddy when it meant he had to do anything responsible. Since the birth mother was the only kid still living in her home with her single-parent mother who worked more hours than any regular full time job, she was basically being forced to keep the baby and drop out of school to live on welfare and be a mom.
She didn’t want that for herself nor for the baby. Finally, she told the biological father that she was leaving the state and she was going to go have the baby here in Idaho where we live (adoption laws are different in every state). That meant that the biological father had 2 choices- to raise the baby himself or to let her go through with the adoption.
Open Adoption, Open Heart is our story, not a “how to” or anything boring like that. The part of the story I just told is all in the first half- it gets even more intense from there. It’s not just a wild ride, but it’s a soft and beautiful landing. It’s the story of how our family was built through the miracle of adoption. We’ve built such a strong and beautiful relationship through the trials we faced together. Even now, 2 ½ years after the adoption took place, we still talk a few times every week. She flies out to see us once in a while.
Our children will be able to know their biological parents and their amazing history. Our children will be able to have their own relationship with their biological parents so they can see for themselves that their past is a history of love, not neglect or abandonment. Hooray for adoption, and hooray for the trials that made us all better people.
Russell Elkins and his wife Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell also writes a weekly post for Adoption.com and contributes regularly to Adoption Voices Magazine.