I know there are differing opinions on this topic, even amongst my friends, so let me just preface this with, as always, these are my opinions.
I sincerely believe in letting our birth mom live her life the way she chooses, even though it is so very foreign from my own. It’s not my place to judge her or to tell her that she needs to make some changes in her life. Do I wish she lived a healthier lifestyle? Sure. I wish I lived a healthier lifestyle (but not enough to put down the chocolate doughnut and go running at 5:00 AM).
We invited Alyssa, Olivia’s birth mom, out last year for Olivia’s third birthday. When she called to tell me she was off the plane and had her bags, she said she was stepping out for a quick smoke and then would be ready for us to pick her up. I’m not going to lie. At that moment, I had a teeny, tiny freak-out. I didn’t know she was smoking again. Cigarette smoke is one of my migraine triggers, so I was worried. (Just to be clear, I was not worried that she’d smoke in the house.) I decided to be mellow and see what happened.
What happened was we had an amazing visit. Having her stay with us was the best thing we could have done—for all of us. For Olivia, Alyssa isn’t just some pictures and a character in stories we tell her. She’s real. Olivia knows her, knows who she is, and loves her. And the smoking really didn’t get in the way. Alyssa was so respectful. She’d go outside, down the street, and around the corner—in August—in Phoenix—so Olivia wouldn’t see what she was doing. And Brigham and I didn’t say a word.
Alyssa went to church with us when she was here. I think it was the first time she’d been to any church. She had bought a new outfit just for church. She said she wanted to be respectful and be sure all her tattoos were covered. I love her for that. Not just for covering her tattoos, but for wanting to be respectful of us, of our standards. Why in the world wouldn’t we show her that same respect?
I may not like some of the choices she makes—indeed, some of them pain me—but I respect that they are her choices to make. We would never tell her that she can’t be a part of Olivia’s life unless she stops smoking and drinking. And she would never dream of smoking or drinking around Olivia.
It seems I’ve painted a rather dark picture of our birth mom here. That was certainly not my intention. I just wanted to highlight our mutual love and respect for each other. So, to offset the above, let me tell you what an amazing person she is. Well, we all know she’s selfless for placing her baby. And she chose us, so she has good taste. She has an incredible work ethic. She works full time in a management position and goes to school full time, as well. She’s majoring in math. (I’m praying Olivia got those math genes from her!) She’s intelligent, witty, and a true friend. And we love her like crazy.
So while our lives are so very different, we are able to come together and enjoy each other. We're family.