Thursday, November 05, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable #9

"Children deserve to have just one family during childhood and not to deal with anything adoption-related until they are more mature. A fully open adoption robs a child of a normal childhood."
This is the statement in Heather's Open Adoption Roundtable that struck me the most, so I am going to react to this one.

The fact of the matter is, adoption robs a child of a 'normal' childhood whether it is open or not. To be raised by parents who are not related to you biologically is not the way most people have created a family. If you are telling your child that he or she is adopted, there will always be issues around adoption, whether the adoption is open or not.
I am coming at openness in my adoption from a semi-open perspective. My son is only 3 months old and we have lots of time to cultivate openness. I am trying to communicating with his birth parents more often than the 'official' agreement dictates. I have sent notes and pictures to his birth parents, though they have only responded once, back when Henry was only a week old. I will continue to send them updates at a rate that I am comfortable with (more than once per year which is what I agreed to at placement) unless I hear from them or through my agency that they don't want to get them any more. I am disappointed that I do not get any response from them, but I know things must be difficult for them and I am trying to be understanding and give them space. I hope that in time they will be able to respond and send us pictures for us to show Henry. I am hopeful that one day we can meet each other again. I felt a strong bond with them when we spent those first 2 days of Henry's life together in the hospital. I want Henry to know that bond.

To hit on some of Heather's other points, I think it is my responsibility to keep Henry connected to his birth family at some level before he is able to make the decision about whether or not he wants to keep up with that connection. If there is no communication for 18 years (or really if there is only one-way communication from us to his birth parents), there is really no basis for him to make that decision -- it has been made for him by us. To truly give him that decision, it is up to me to create some sort of relationship for him to decide about.

I read several open adoption blogs, and Henry's adoption isn't nearly as open as most of the blogs I read. I'm not sure I am emotionally ready to have that type of openness, but as it isn't even an option for me at this time I try not too think about it too much. I do, however, hope that throughout Henry's life we can communicate with his birth parents so he can know where he comes from, genetically. Even though I can't know what it's like to be adopted, I imagine that I would be curious and would want to know about my birth parents. So, as Henry's mom I am obligated to make sure that when these questions come up I can answer them as best I can and hopefully take him to look in the face of someone who looks like him.

I truly have some mixed feelings when it comes to full openness, but I would never dismiss it as bad for the kids. Adoption is complicated, period. I entered into adoption with my eye wide open about this fact, and I think it will take Henry's lifetime to figure out what this will mean to him.

8 comments:

Deborah said...

Did you have a conversation with Henry's birth parents about sending them more than the required pictures and letters? If not, I guess there's no way to know whether they appreciate what you're sending and just can't respond, or whether it's upsetting to get these things. I guess at least you're giving them the option to keep them and open them later, if they want.

Robin said...

You're a great mom, Rachel. I really appreciate all of your points and think you are doing the right things for Henry.

cynthia said...

Its a process! That's all I can say. But I say it with encouragement- what seems hard now will seem easier in the future... and then there are always new questions!
By the way, congratulations on your new son!

Barely Sane said...

First time reader thanks the OAR #9 but you echo feelings I had & still struggle with regarding contact, or lack there of. The lack of response from H's birth family is likely something that will change gradually over time. Eventually, you will get regular correspondence from them and hopefully a true relationship will start to form.
Don't give up hope though - keep doing what you are doing and I promise, you wont regret it. The day you get a timely response is worth it all.

littlezen said...

Lovey Girls first mother didn't want any contact. She told the agency owner that it would be too difficult. It makes me very sad. Any pictures I submit are going to her bio grandmother. A number of times I've just looked at her as she slept and was so sad that her bio mother did not want any sort of contact. We will tell her about her bio mom, but there's not really anything else we can do.

My name is Andy. said...

I think you nailed it with this statement "The fact of the matter is, adoption robs a child of a 'normal' childhood whether it is open or not".

Great post!

AshPash said...

Our domestic adoption started out private but soon turned "semi open". We visited the BM's home once with our then-15 month old daughter. We have seen the BM over the years at various settings b/c she is "connected" slightly to a family member's "circle" (church). Every year we send photos and a card on Mother's Day and sometimes at Christmas. The BM sends a small gift on our daughter's birthday. Now that our daughter is older, there is no contact with the BM. When our daughter is ready (high school I assume) we will let them meet "as adults" in a safe setting of our daughter's choosing. The BM has maintained a reasonable distance. She does not try to contact us, etc.. We live an hour away so it's not like we run into her at the grocery store! start NOW correcting people with their inappropriate adoption language. He IS "your own"!
http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/pdf/PositiveLanguage.pdf

birthmothertalks said...

I think it's great that you are sending more than the required amount of pictures. To me it shows that you respect them and honestly are Grateful that they chose you to be their child's parents. I can tell you from experience that the first year is the worst. Not that any of them are easy, but first one is really hard.