I actually finished reading this book a few days ago but found myself having such an emotional reaction to it that I wanted to wait a few days before I shared any review. Russell Elkins shares such a deeply personal and inspiring story in Open Adoption, Open Heart that it is difficult not to feel emotionally overwhelmed by his story. There were certainly more than a few instances in which I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I read through their journey from infertility to parenthood.
The story begins so hopeful and so promising. Russell and Jammie were young and he was finishing college. They were newlyweds who were unsure about when they wanted to start a family. After about six months of marriage they stopped using contraceptives and decided to simply allow a pregnancy to occur if it was meant to occur. They were not actively trying, but they were not actively preventing either. They were simply allowing the natural course of conception to take place, only it didn't happen. After six months of a carefree attitude they started trying a little more actively yet there was still no baby on the way. A few years later and they were starting to lose hope. Ultimately they found themselves on the path to an open adoption.
Reading their story really caused me to stop and spend a little time on some self reflection. My husband and I are currently in that stage of not actively trying and yet not actively preventing either. I found myself wondering, "If we don't conceive within a few years, could we do what Russell and Jammie have done?" If I'm being honest, I don't know if I could. I read about their struggle with hope and loss. I read about their hope that every month would be the month that they conceived and every month they faced heartbreak when Jammie's crimson reminder arrived. I read about their prayers and their dreams and their hope and the heartache they suffered through when their dreams were shattered over and over again.
When they decided to consider and pursue adoption to start their family I felt myself feeling happy and excited for them but their journey was so difficult. It was time-consuming and stressful and worrisome. Russell appeared to have been riddled with anxiety while they waited to hear if a birth mother had chosen them and if they would be able to adopt a baby and start their family. It was such a difficult journey to work out the legal details with Brianna (Ira's birth mother) and as the months turned to weeks and ultimately to days their hope increased but so did their worry and their fear and their anxiety. Their struggle with finding the perfect balance between respecting their open adoption agreement with Brianna and her role as Ira's birth mother as well as finding their own new identities as Ira's parents, it was an emotional journey.
I have a whole new respect for birth parents and adoptive parents who choose to share this journey to provide for a child. It was a beautiful and inspiring story. It was heartbreaking to follow their loss and see their struggle but it was so heartwarming to read about their hope and their love and their compassion. It was a quick read at just over 100 pages and it is definitely worth the time.