Even though adoption has changed a lot in the last few years, even though I belong to a church that celebrates families, eternal connections through generations and even has a past of *gasp* women sharing a husband, people still get freaked out when they find out we have two open adoptions. This means that both our younger boys’ birth families are involved in their lives, included in our family events, and are treated as extended family. 

It’s not always easy, but then again, what family relationship is? You get out of it what you put in to it. We didn't initially decide to have an open adoption. For us, although we have been richly blessed in these relationships, we decided to do it for our boys. Adoption got a pretty bad rap as government and social services stepped in to take the birth family out of the process, hush the origins of the child, and cloak the whole process in shame during most of the 1900’s. Adoptions handled this way churned out adults who had holes in their lives. They didn't know where they came from. They didn't know why they were not raised by their birth families. They thought maybe there was something wrong with them. They thought maybe they weren't loved.

 When Rachel placed Ben, our youngest, with us she did it because she loved him. I’m not a better mom for Ben then Rachel could have been, but I had some things that came with my package that Rachel didn't have at that time. I had a husband, I had other boys who were looking for a brother, and, important to LDS people, a marriage sealed for eternity in a temple of the Lord. Rachel wanted Ben to have those things. She also wanted Ben to always know how much she loved him. She wanted him to know who she was and why she made the choices that she did. We wanted those things too.

We want Ben to be proud of his birth heritage. Ben comes from strong German, Hawaiian and African American ancestors. Last weekend we were privileged to meet Ben’s birth great-grandparents. It was their 60th Wedding Anniversary and all of Rachel’s siblings and their families would be there. Ben got to meet all his birth cousins and Aunts and Uncles. Ben got to connect with his Hawaiian heritage at an awesome luau. He was quite the celebrity. I think it went to his head. Here's  all of us except Nathan, who was hiding, with Ben,his birth mom, birth grandparents and great grandparents.

 And here's Ben with some of his birth cousins. 

It was 100% worth it to work through any discomfort we might have felt to have Ben see and feel the love from his whole birth family. It was worth it to see Rachel, and how proud she was to be able to show Ben (and us I guess) off to her family with no shame and no sadness. Just joy and love in being a family together. Because that is what I truly believe. I believe that we are all connected, that we will all be together in the end, that the hurts that come with adoption will be swallowed up in the love. We experienced a little of that this weekend and it felt great. Here’s to ohana, however you make it!