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I think people just starting out adopting get so confused and blindsided by the term open adoption that they may never really look into what it is really like. I admit I know little about this, just what we gathered when looking into a domestic adoption.<br><br>
From what I gathered very few domestic adoptions today are 100%completely closed, they usually have some form of communication. I know personally DH and myself said we would be looking more for a semi open adoption, where all letters, photos are exchanged between the agency and not directly. Meaning adoptive parents do not know where birthmom lives and vice versa.<br><br>
But after talking with two agencies from Texas we were told that as a minimum requirement one to two visits a year were mandatory. Now from what I am learning from members on this board those visits or communication is not inforceable. Is that correct? Does it vart by state? What if different states are involved? Is there any precedent on how to change the amount of openness after the adoption is final?<br><br>
I am shocked that some adoptive parents would agree and promise visits and letters knowing that as soon as the adoption was final they were going to stop everything. I mean if you are not comfortable with being open why not just state your limitations and expectations? Does open adoption appeal to birthmoms? Are they more leery of semi open? But at the same time, and as an adoptive mother, it would be hard I think to see your child depend and rely on seeing the birthmom and visits and what if she goes through a rough patch? What if she starts bad habits? Gets in a bad relationship? Is there any way legally and fairly to say you request no visits until she is better? I mean not cut her off completely but just step in and say "I'm concerned for you and how DD/DS is affected. Can we temporarily stop visits for a month until things get better?" type of approach.<br><br>
Also how many vistis are usual? One member here said they knew a birthmom with an open adoption who actually had custody 2 days a week or month? Is that typical? I guess I am just hoping that we can all learn more about it and maybe the fear/stigma with open adoption can go away. I'd love to hear from birthmoms, adoptive parents, and adoptees about how your open adoption works.
 

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I can only tell you how my "opening" adoption works, or at least how it works right now (I anticipate it will change over time).<br><br>
When DS first came home as a newborn the adoption was pretty closed. We did letters and pictures but no last names or face to face meetings, not even before placement. The agency presented it to me as the way things had been agreed upon with the birthmother and I didn't think to question that (something I deeply regret now).<br><br>
A few months ago I learned that DS's birthmother had passed away. I called the agency and inquired about sending flowers -- they called the grandmother and asked if I could have her address, and she agreed. A few weeks later she sent me a letter (via the agency) begging me to continue letters and pictures, and including her phone number. I called her up and offered to meet instead. She was thrilled.<br><br>
We had a lovely meeting, I took her out to a fancy restaurant and told her all about DS and got her to tell me stories about her childhood, and her daughter. She also told me the agency told her I didn't want to meet and that she and her daughter asked to meet me -- they would have loved more openness. This is where my own regret comes in. We then made arrangements for us to get together this time with DS. That meeting is tomorrow -- we're going out for dinner and to a children's theater performance together -- I think that will be a nice choice in that there will be an activity for DS to focus on if he gets overwhelmed and doesn't want to talk.<br><br>
Where the relationship will go from there I don't know. I hope we'll continue to meet semi-regularly, maybe every couple of months. I can imagine the relationship staying scheduled and formal like it is now, but I can also imagine it becoming more like his relationship with his other grandmother or his godmother, someone who comes to special events (e.g. a presentation at school, a final soccer game), and who he feels he can call whenever he feels like it.<br><br>
When I first started adoption I thought -- well they can meet when he's an adult. Of course that will never happen. My biggest regret is not opening this sooner.
 

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Each situation is so unique. We foster-adopted our ds, but still did an open adoption agreement, which in our state is legally binding.<br><br>
Our written agreement is actually for a semi-open adoption, in which we send one letter and one photo to the birthmom, as well as one letter and one photo to the birthdad every year. But the birthfamilies (particularly the paternal grandmother) wanted some assurances from us that we weren't just taking ds and walking away, and I was able to give that to them in good faith. We did not talk about number of visits, but I was able to tell them in complete honesty that as long as it was good for ds, we would continue visiting with them (assuming our residence in the state, etc....I don't get how agreements for more work if folks move??).<br><br>
At first, we continued visiting weekly with ds' birthmom as we had done when ds was with us in foster care. But I had to beg her to play with ds. Most of the time she just wanted to sit and talk with me about her ex-boyfriend (with whom she seemed obsessed), and totally ignore ds. With her talking on and on and on about him, even *I* had difficulty paying attention to ds. I ended up giving her a schedule of visits once every month that I felt I could commit to. She agreed to the schedule, but never contacted us again. We later learned she was in a residential facility about an hour and a half from here. We couldn't get any more info. She has recently returned to town, and I have tried on multiple occassions to get in contact with her through her mother (ds' maternal grandmother), as we would like to visit again, but to no avail.<br><br>
We also had a relationship with ds' maternal grandmother, but she rarely follows through when she says she wants to visit with him. We have visited some, but it is really spotty (on her part). We do, however, email her periodically, and we almost always send photos in the emails. ds' maternal grandmother is raising ds' half-brother. We have visited with him some, but he has a really hard time with ds so ds' maternal grandmother doesn't always bring his half-brother to visit when we get together.<br><br>
ds' paternal family is really involved. When we were first talking about open adoption, ds' paternal grandmother and ds' birthfather (they live together) wrote us a letter saying that they wanted to have ds for weekends. We were not comfortable with this whatsoever. For one, ds was in foster care for a reason. Also, weekends is family time for us. We let them know we couldn't agree to that, but that over time we would be open to the way the relationship developed. I still don't see it happening. They still do not know where we live because I have honest safety concerns (again, this was a *foster*-adoption), and we just haven't formed the sense of closeness and trust that would make that kind of thing possible. In fact, I used to email them photos on a regular basis, and because ds' birthfather posted them on his MySpace after agreeing not to (for safety reasons), we had to discontinue sending them photos. Actually, there were a number of other lies involved, but that was a whole other story.<br><br>
However, we do visit with the paternal family-- meaning the paternal grandmother, ds' birthfather, and often aunts and cousins-- on a regular basis. At first we did it twice a month, but later a foster daughter was placed with us and we got bogged down doing visits with her family too (remember, dw and I both work full time), so we let the paternal family know we could commit to once each month at this point. However, because they are infrequent, we try to make them long. Usually they are a minimum of three hours.<br><br>
At one point, a birthcouple was considering us for a private adoption. They talked about wanting it to be fairly closed, which we were open to...but we also would have loved something open. I know a birthmama who has a great, open relationship with her son and his family, and they have become so close that he actually does spend the night at her house now (he is eight or so, if memory serves, and the birthmama has another child now). I always felt inspired by their relationship, and would love to have a birthfamily with whom we connected to that degree. We would be open to that kind of thing, though I think in the begining we'd want to commit just to basic stuff because that is the kind of relationship that just has to grow.<br><br>
With our foster daughter, who may become our adopted daughter, we tried to have an open adoption agreement with her birthmother. Her birthfather didn't ask for one and signed away his rights before we ever got to even meet him. But I have spent time with her birthmother. My dw and I signed an open adoption agreement, but her birthmother decided not to sign because she does not want to voluntarily relinquish her rights. Unfortunately, though, she has not done enought to get dfd back and is facing a possible involunatry termination of her rights. The trial is early this summer. If this happens, the state will not allow us to have an open adoption because the involuntary nature of things changes the dynamics. This makes me sad. I hope she decides to sign and asks for an open adoption instead, sometime before the trial. I think dfd deserves that, though to be honest, dfd's birthmother is a *very* difficult person to be around and it would be easier for me not to have to deal with her.<br><br>
Our family may actually be moving out of state at the end of the summer. This was not something we anticipated, as we had planned to raise our children here. If we do move, I do have some concerns about what to do to keep our adoption(s) as open as possible. I am hoping we can afford to fly back and visit periodically, but at the very least, I am hoping we can arrange for an exchange of letters and photos and stuff on a regular basis. I think the news will be very hard for the birthfamilies-- particularly ds' paternal side-- and that makes me sad. ds is young enough he won't really "miss" seeing them monthly, as they aren't a huge part of his world yet...but I do want him to have open access to that relatonship.<br><br>
Again, every situation is so different.
 

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Post placement agreements are enforceable in some states. However, my understanding is that this really hasn't been tested. So it's hard to say how much they will really stand up. "custody days" would not be typical in an adoption situation.<br><br>
The big determining factor for "Open Adoption" typically is visits and full disclosure of information. But visits being the big thing.<br><br>
However, many agencies, birthmoms, adoptive parents consider open adoption to be any situation where there is an exchange of information such as addresses, phone numbers, full names etc with exchange of photos/updates etc. Whether or not they actually have visits.<br><br>
In our case, our daughter's birthmom saw our online profile and emailed us. Then we started emailing and talking on the phone. We went out (she's across country) when she thought she was going to be induced and ended up spending a week visiting with her and her family prior to her ending up induced. Our agreement was to be photos and updates after the placement. We did go visit her and her daughter again before leaving the state.<br><br>
The agency set up arrangements with her (and us...everyone else had signed it by the time they gave it to us) for photos/updates at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 months of age and then once a year thereafter. No visits or other communication was agreed to. We have been much more "open" than the agreement. We have had times when we had to set some boundaries up and there have been times when we've had to revisit it all. Still always doing more than the agency agreement.<br><br>
I always tell people to ONLY agree to the bare minimum they are willing to do. Things change in life and you just never know what will happen. We can always do more but to do less is just not ok. And I would NEVER agree to something that I'm not ok with doing. We've had to pass on situations where I was just not ok with committing to certain things. But I think from my own growing up and also due to the fact that I've been parenting for over 18 years....I know that things change. Sometimes they change drastically. And I'm just not able to agree to certain things based on 18 years of a child's life when it may or may not end up being in their best interest down the road.<br><br>
Unfortunately through our journey, I have seen all sorts of horrible things people will do.<br><br>
There have been times when I have understood why some aps have pulled back on contact or changed the arrangements. I do find it very difficult to ever condone someone completely closing an adoption. Unfortunately though, sometimes some of us have had to protect our children from their birthfamilies.<br><br>
There is no "usual" Some will agree to one visit a year, others do more. If you are in a state with legally binding post placement agreements you absolutely can include stipulations. At one point we were working with a woman who really wanted this. So we did put things in such as if she were to be using drugs, any criminal activity, and so on.<br><br>
Usually if 2 states are involved then it will go to whatever state the adoption is being finaled in.<br><br>
I think the vast majority of hopeful adoptive parents start out very frightened by the idea of open adoption and not interested in it at all. Then usually along their journey they become more and more open to it.<br><br>
Potential birthmoms do seem to prefer the idea of open adoption (with the possibility of visits) Some agencies will really push for this and I've seen time and time again where attorneys and other "adoption professionals" recommend things that people are not ok with. Some will encourage aps to appease the birthmom until relinquishment, revocation is up, and/or final is over. I find that all rather sickening.
 

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In my state, there is no such thing as an open adoption (at least not legally). I don't mean to say that people don't make agreements, but they are not binding agreements.
 

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Just because there is no legally binding open adoption agreement does not mean that there is no such thing as open adoption in your state though.<br><br>
All states have open adoptions. Most do not have legally binding post placement agreements. Whether it is possible to have a legally binding post placement agreement or not, is not what defines open adoption. Open adoption can simply mean that there was an exchange of identifying information.<br><br>
A closed adoption would be that where there was no identifying information exchanged.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>clothcrazymom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8104552"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Just because there is no legally binding open adoption agreement does not mean that there is no such thing as open adoption in your state though.<br></div>
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If you are responding to my post....that's what I said. No such thing as a legal open adoption but that people make agreements that are not enforcable.
 

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we are in an open adoption atm. we met the birth mother here (on the mdc adoption board) near the end of her pregnancy. she lives in another state, and we travelled there to be there for the birth. we met her a few times in person before the birth (as well as phone calls and frequent e-mails). i was there for the birth and my husband was neary with our older son, and the birth parent's older dd. i stayed the first night in the hospital with them, but not the second night. we brought her "home" (hotel) from the hospital and the next day we dropped her off at their house to spend a few hours. we saw the birthmother once more while we were in town - breifly at our lawyers office. we still have frequent e-mail contact including photos (as frequent as you can with babies...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: ) and she checks our online photo page. we made no concrete plans for visits, but she knows we are comfortable with the idea. i would have to check the paperwork to be sure, but i believe the agreement was for a letter and pictures every 6 months or evry year (as a bare minimum). the birth parents both have our adress and we have theirs.<br><br>
for anyone thinking about open adoption i totally recommend "the child of open adoption".
 

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I would say that it varies from family to family, as far a what an open adoption is.<br><br>
I just recently read that a post placement legal agreement is enforceable in 13 states. I believe that to mean that if either party did not follow the agreement, the other party could take it to mediation. It doesn't mean that the adoption finalization could be overturned.<br><br>
In our open adoption, dd's bmom has our address and phone number and we have hers (somewhere anyway). We communicate through email primarily and that is how we set up visits. We agreed to 4 visits the first year, then a minimum of 1 visit per year after that. If either party moves out of the state, then that party is responsible for flying back to fulfill the agreed upon visit. In addition, the first year, we agreed to 4 sets of pictures, and I *think* 3 sets every year after that. The agreement is for a visit with bmom only, if there are to be other people there, we need to agree to it. And if bmom were to show up under the influence, the visit is cancelled and it is up to us as to whether it would be rescheduled. I cannot imagine that happening, to be honest.<br><br>
Our agreement is not a legal one. Our state allows it to be, and we would have gladly done so, however, bmom said it wasn't necessary. We agreed to what we felt we could handle and will not be going back on that.<br><br>
That being said, we have a WAY more casual relationship than it sounds like. I email C every few weeks usually, just to let her know what is going on, attach some pictures, etc. We've gotten together 5 times so far and dd is months old. I just give her pictures when we get together (in addition to the ones that I email). I don't really follow the "in month X, I will send pics" because like I said, we get together often. I may as well just give them to her then, and she is fine with this. We have been just going to a coffee shop to get together. Now that dd is crawling, we are going to meet at a park.<br><br>
Next week, we are going to a family birthday party.<br><br>
The only issue that I fear may be coming up is that bmoms sister sent her a blanket for a Christmas present and addressed it to dd's birth name, not her name now. But, bsister is a teenager, so i don't know that she gets it or not. I plan on saying something if anything else like that happens.<br><br>
For us, open adoption is working out great. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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In my state, adoption agreements are legally binding the way custody agreements are. If we violate the agreement, birthmom can take us to family court. That said, the agreement REALLY favors the adoptive parents. It is written with so many stipulations for the birthmother. If she violates any of them on two subsequent visits, the entire agreement is null and void.<br><br>
We have agreed to two visits a year. We see birthmom much more often than that, but could chose to meet only the two visits a year if we feel that would be better for dd. The aggreement also states that if the visits become emotionally difficult for dd, then we have the right to end them.<br><br>
As the adoptive parent in a very open adoption, I can tell you that it is both wonderful and scary. We do worry that dd's birthmother will not stay clean and drop out of dd's life. But the openness is good for us and dd. I also worry about the emotional toll it takes on dd's birthmother.
 

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We are in the same position with dd's birthfather. It makes me sad that the states uses this all or nothing aproach to manipulate birthparents, but I also would be fearful of having an open adoption with the birthfather because of has past actions.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Sierra</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8100075"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">With our foster daughter, who may become our adopted daughter, we tried to have an open adoption agreement with her birthmother. Her birthfather didn't ask for one and signed away his rights before we ever got to even meet him. But I have spent time with her birthmother. My dw and I signed an open adoption agreement, but her birthmother decided not to sign because she does not want to voluntarily relinquish her rights. Unfortunately, though, she has not done enought to get dfd back and is facing a possible involunatry termination of her rights. The trial is early this summer. If this happens, the state will not allow us to have an open adoption because the involuntary nature of things changes the dynamics. This makes me sad. I hope she decides to sign and asks for an open adoption instead, sometime before the trial. I think dfd deserves that, though to be honest, dfd's birthmother is a *very* difficult person to be around and it would be easier for me not to have to deal with her.</div>
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>pumpkingirl71</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8105733"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">As the adoptive parent in a very open adoption, I can tell you that it is both wonderful and scary. We do worry that dd's birthmother will not stay clean and drop out of dd's life. But the openness is good for us and dd. I also worry about the emotional toll it takes on dd's birthmother.</div>
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We just got word, through the grape vine, that birthmother has taken a bad turn and it is very scary <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I feel very naive, because the level of openness we allowed is now something I am scared of.
 

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can i pipe in?<br>
i want to reinterate how aparents attitudes towards bmoms/rents affects your achild.<br>
I know these things all need to be considered.... but your attitudes for "those kind" of people with carry over into your relationship with your child.<br>
Emilie
 

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Em, are you speaking to a specific post? Or just in general?<br><br>
Because, I know I didn't mention anything about "those kinds of people" in mine, and if I had noticed it in someone else's, I would hope I would speak up.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Emilie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8122361"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">but your attitudes for "those kind" of people with carry over into your relationship with your child.<br>
Emilie</div>
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Emilie,<br><br>
I assume you mean the fact that many birth parents (at least for foster to adopt situations) have problems with drugs and violence. But please remember that we, as adoptive parents, must keep our children safe. We don't mean to be disrespectful or judgmental, but these relationships are incredibly complex.
 

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I think I'm projecting on you! lol.<br>
I am at my folks and my emotions are running high.<br>
I will explain more- later- but man oh man-have I figured some things out!<br>
Hugs mamas.<br>
Em<br>
No- it was just in general. It makes me cringe- cause my parents could never fathom being one of "those" people- a woman not in the position to raise a child- and they talked poorly and still do of people less fortunate for them- for any reason- and it really hurt me- then and now and confused me and messed me up....<br>
write more later.<br>
Em
 

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Em~<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">s I'm curious to hear what you mean. I hope the visit winds down smoothly. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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Hugs Em.<br><br>
I just wanted to clarify your comments. I hope the remainder of your visit goes ok.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Starr</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8099530"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But at the same time, and as an adoptive mother, it would be hard I think to see your child depend and rely on seeing the birthmom and visits and what if she goes through a rough patch? What if she starts bad habits? Gets in a bad relationship? Is there any way legally and fairly to say you request no visits until she is better? I mean not cut her off completely but just step in and say "I'm concerned for you and how DD/DS is affected. Can we temporarily stop visits for a month until things get better?" type of approach.</div>
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These are legitimate concerns imo. I can share with you our situation. We are adoptive parents in an open adoption in MD. We signed a post-adoption contact agreement with our daughter's first mom. It is a legally binding document in the state of MD. And we agreed to very open terms. We agreed to visitation on the 3rd Saturday of the month [the first mom wanted the day specified.], phone calls on all bdays and visitation on the 4th of July [again the choice of date was the first mom's request.] We also agreed to cc the first mom on medical and dental records yearly. [At her request as well -- she was really uptight that we would be negligent medically for some reason?] Once again this is legally binding ... HOWEVER. There is no agency supervising this. If we breach it, the first mom would have to take us to court. And if we have a good reason for breaching it [i.e. concerns for our daughter's well-being] then the court would take that under consideration. In reality, our daughter's first mom does not have the emotional or financial resources to take us to court so the agreement really does depend on our integrity and commitment to our daughter and her first mom. We fully intend to uphold the agreement -- and yet, it's been 3 months since we've visited. Because our first mom is going through a very rough time and it would not be in our daughter's best interest. And you know what? For all her difficulties and issues, her first mom knows that too. And I believe she knows that as soon as she is on a more even keel, we will resume the visits.<br><br>
I think this is a very, very individual thing. Depends on the law in your state, depends on the situation of the first mom, depends on the integrity of all parties involved. IMO.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Momily</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8099724"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Where the relationship will go from there I don't know. I hope we'll continue to meet semi-regularly, maybe every couple of months. I can imagine the relationship staying scheduled and formal like it is now, but I can also imagine it becoming more like his relationship with his other grandmother or his godmother, someone who comes to special events (e.g. a presentation at school, a final soccer game), and who he feels he can call whenever he feels like it.<br><br>
When I first started adoption I thought -- well they can meet when he's an adult. Of course that will never happen. My biggest regret is not opening this sooner.</div>
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{{{Momily}}} This is very moving. I applaud your generous heart and your vision of weaving your son's first grandma into your family. That is the model we are striving for too. And even now, with our daughter's first mom is not doing well enough for us to visit with her, we are regularly in touch with her biological aunt and cousins and half-siblings...
 
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