Friday, July 10, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable #3

So you're thinking, what is she posting about now?!?!?! Well, on the blog that I follow called Production, Not Reproduction
they basically have a discussion about open adoption. Anyone can write about it, any part of the adoption traid, whether it be a first parent (birth parent for those of you not up on your adoption language), an adoptive parent, or adoptee. I haven't been able to participate in the previous discussions since we've not adopted yet, and previous topics were about "our child's" first father (there isn't a child yet) and I hadn't the slightest clue what to ask my future self about open adoption. So I skipped it. But this week's question is one I can participate in!

For the Open Adoption Roundtable #3 the topic this week is to share our wish lists for open adoption. This is something I have thought about a lot, what I would like from "our child's" first mom, so I finally feel like I have something to say. The following are in no particular order. I have a lot to say, so I will write it out, and then at the end, just go back and hit the high points for those who don't want to read the whole thing.

In an ideal world, I would like for our relationship with the first family to exist. What I mean by this is that there are very few closed adoptions anymore, and for good reason. These adopted children need to be able to know their stories, know their histories (medical, etc.) to be able to really understand who they are. Each has a unique circumstance and story. We know that as our child gets older, they will have questions, and we want to be able to turn to their first parents and ask them to help us by being a part of that. Who better to answer the hard questions? We may know some of what happened, but we didn't experience it first hand, and our child should know that they were very much loved by their first family, that it wasn't an easy choice, but why it happened. It will tear us apart to see our child struggle with who they are, where they came from, but I honestly believe that if we have a good relationship with the first family, that as these things come up, they could really help with the answers and develop a solid relationship with their child as well. I wish that we would really get to know our child's first family, not just light, let's be careful about what we talk about kind of stuff, but some of the deeper stuff too. I'm not saying we need to know everything about their family, but to have a nice casual relationship with them would be great.

I wish that the relationship we have with our child's first family will be one of mutual respect. Whatever the family's reasons for making an adoption plan for their child, they have to be respected by us, and we want to be able to convey that respect for her to our child as they get older and we tell them about their story. We want her to have respect for us as well, particularly when our child is older and asking her questions and trying to work through their identity and figuring out their place in the world. I would like us to be able to present a united front with "our" child as much as possible. I think one of my biggest fears is that when our child is older and doesn't like something we say or do, for example, where discipline is concerned-if our child has a relationship with their first parents, that they would think living with them might be better. Now, of course, we'd never agree to let our child go live with anyone else, that's ridiculous, but the grass is always greener, and I would hope that our child's first parents would back us up instead of feeding into it. I want them to trust us to do what is best for our child, and just to back us up so that our child doesn't end up trying to play us off of one another. I want to learn to trust them to do what is right for our child as well, not to mislead our child. I want to feel like when they are older and want to spend time alone with their first family to trust that they aren't going to let anything happen to our child, and that they will still feel confident that they made the right decision to place their child with us to raise. I wish that when it comes time for the tough questions and parts of our adoption with our child, that we have the strength and grace to deal with it.

I will send pictures and letters to our child's first family, and hope that they will feel comfortable enough to have discussions with us about how often they'd like these things and feel comfortable enough to tell us when they are having a hard time dealing with the decision to place their child and want us to step back and hold off for a bit, or on the other hand, when they'd like to have more communication. I want there to be that comfort level to say, "Hey, I'm having a hard time seeing my child grow up with someone else and experience all those things they would have with me, I need a break for a bit." and for them to not feel bad for saying that. I know that there are going to be hard times for them. I have no idea what might be going through their heads, but I want them to feel like they can say that to us. I want them to feel like they can ask us for more if they want more. We may or may not be in a place where our comfort level is there, and I want them to know that we will tell them if we're not comfortable or ready for something as well.

While I'm on the topic of comfort, I'm not sure what I want yet with regards to visits. Letters and pictures are one thing. Visits are another. Sure, I know that Lifetime paints some ugly pictures when it comes to kids being taken back by their first families, it just isn't something that really happens, but I think I kind of worry that our child would want their biological parents more than us. Don't get me wrong, I want our child to know that both sides of their families love them very much, I just worry. I'm good at it. I just worry that our child will think that their life would be better if they were with their "real parents" (I was a teen once and sometimes wished my parents were someone else's-usually whichever friend was getting what I wanted or doing what I wanted to do) which I think is completely normal, but will still hurt so badly. I worry that our child's first parents will feed these childish notions not necessarily on purpose but perhaps inadvertently in the process of trying to have a good relationship with our child. Kind of like trying to be their friend instead of another parent. I don't know if any of that made sense, I'm just spilling out what is in my mind at the moment. I may have to come back and edit this later, LOL. I want there to be visits when both sides are ready for them because I do think it is important for our child to know their first family for so many reasons. I'm just not sure if the visits will be short visits or long visits, or when I'll be ready for them to be solo visits with just our child and their first family. It's a comfort thing, and I'm sure that as we develop a relationship with our child's first parents it is something that can be worked on and discussed, but I imagine at least for the beginning starting with baby steps, and short visits together. I would love to have visits for major things like birthdays and things like that once we have a solid relationship with our child's family. I think that events like that are times to show your love for one another, and we wouldn't exclude part of our family from that, nor would we our child's. I wish for understanding on the part of our child's first family as we work through this with them.

Those people who aren't up on open adoption stuff, or don't know much about it won't understand this next comment, but I honestly hope that the first mom wants contact with us. I want letters from her, or emails or whatever. I want to be able to show them to our child as they grow up and say, see, your first mom does love you and she does keep in touch and care about how you're doing. I want to have pictures of the two of them together at visits, for our child's scrapbook, for them to look at, for them to show their friends if they choose to share that they are adopted. I want there to never be a doubt in our child's mind that their first parents love them. NEVER.

Ok, so here's my summation.

-I wish to have a relationship with our child's first family. Not just a "hey, how are ya?" kind of relationship, but one where we talk on a regular basis, get to know one another really well. I want to KNOW our child's birth family, after all, if they are our child's family, they will be an extension of ours. I want a good relationship with them, with mutual respect, and good communication.

-I wish that when it comes time for the tough questions and parts of our adoption, that we have the strength and grace to deal with it. At the same time, I wish this for our child and their first family as well. I know this is asking a lot, but I hope that we can share our fears and wishes with our child's first family, and that they can do the same with us. I think it will only strengthen our relationship if we know where the other is coming from. None of this adoption stuff is easy.

-I wish for at the very least emails or letters, and pictures for our child from their first family. I WILL be providing the same for the first family from us (until our child is old enough to write letters to them on their own, and even then will still send some from our end) and just want our child to have pictures of their other family, and letters that they can read and see how the other side of their family is. I wish for visits at some point as we develop a relationship with our child's first family.

-I wish that our child will always think of us as their parents and family. I know this is a common worry among adoptive parents which you can tell in my more lengthy discussion above, I just want to always be thought of as their mom, Archie as their dad, and Jack as their brother. I want our child to know, love, respect and care about their first family, but I want them to want us when they need help or someone to talk to.

-Speaking of Jack, I wish that the fact that Jack is our biological child and the next one will be adopted to NEVER be an issue. If it does come up I pray that we can deal with it swiftly and that it will never again be an issue. I also pray that what is said doesn't cause long-term hurt and ill between the two. I want them to be as close as if they were both biological.

-I wish that our child should never be put in a position where they feel like they have justify who they are or where they came from to anyone else. I want them to feel secure in who they are, and their story. I wish that they know love from all sides, and know that they can share their story about our family with whomever they choose, but that they don't HAVE to share that story with anyone. No one is entitled to know their story, and that is theirs to share, no one else's.

-I wish our child to feel special, and not to view their adoption in a bad way, but a good way. They get to be loved by more people because of their larger family. I wish for our child to be happy and confident about who they are, and to be happy about how we became a family.

-Lastly, I wish that the older members of our family who were part of closed adoptions and didn't see anything wrong with it will come to see that open adoptions are healthier for all involved, and will support our expanding family where openness will be necessary and MANDATORY!

No comments:

Post a Comment