We feel like it is our job to load up our kids’ tool box – to do our best to make sure they have the tools they will need for the future. My wife and I went through a lot of crazy things, legal and emotional, while we were going through our adoptions. A lot of things we did for our own benefit and a lot of things were done for the benefit of the birth parents. Everything we did was for the benefit of our children. If we didn’t think it would benefit them, we wouldn’t have done it.
My children are still pretty young. Open Adoption, Open Heart is the story of our first adoption (the story of our second adoption will be out in a few months). It tells about our journey while developing the relationships of an open adoption, starting with our infertility struggles up through one year after our adoption took place. It was important for me to wait a year to write the book because the birth and placement of the child into our home is just a piece of the story- a piece in the middle, not the end.
Open adoption is a broad term that means there is still contact between the biological parents and the adoptive family. In some cases, like with ours, there is a lot of contact. We talk to our son’s birth mom a few times a week and share photos constantly. With our daughter’s birth mom, she has asked for a little more space than that, so we talk to her once every few weeks, and send pictures when she requests them. Contact with our daughter’s birth dad is about the same.
Right now is the time we’re paving the roads. One of our kids is 2 ½ and the other is just 17 months behind. They’re still too young to really comprehend what’s going on. When their birth parents come to visit, I can see that they know of the intense love shown to them- more than just our friends show them, but I don’t think they grasp the difference between that love and the love of, say,their aunts and uncles. We’re working on that, though. We have pictures of their birth parents on their bedroom walls. We take time to explain it to them. They don’t understand yet, but someday it will make sense.
We’re paving those roads, flattening out the bumps the best we can. Someday the time will come when we hand the keys over to the kids. Someday it will be for them to decide what that relationship will be. If they want less contact than what we’ve established, we will be ready to accept that. If they want more contact that what we’ve established, we’ll be ready for that too. The pathway between their biological family and their adopted family will be paved the best we can for when that time comes.
We love their biological families dearly. We love them for whom they are and they love us. Our children will no doubt see that love and our hope is that they’ll respond in kind. Their history is not one of abandonment, but is of love. They’ll have access firsthand to seeing that’s true. Hooray for birth parents. Hooray for open adoption.
Open Adoption, Open Heart
The world of adoption has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. No longer do biological parents have to say goodbye to their child forever. They now have more options when deciding the type of adoption to pursue, such as open adoption. Open adoption creates the opportunity for a special relationship between biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the child. Open Adoption, Open Heart is an inspiring and true story, which takes the reader deeper into the feelings and emotions experienced by adoptive parents. As you read this incredible story, you will experience the joys, difficulties, and amazing victories facing adoptive couples. Russell and his wife, Jammie, invite you to share in their inspiring and heartwarming journey.
From the Author: While my book's primary audience was thought to be those hoping to adopt, close to half of the books I've sold are simply people who want to read about our story and how adoption is different now than it used to be- and they have not adopted nor do they plan to adopt.
About the Author: Russell Elkins was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family movedaway from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. He and his family now live in the Boise, Idaho area.
Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.
Russell and 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.