Sunday, February 26, 2006

open and closed, open and closed

I need to get this out before I try to go back to bed for an hour or two, mainly because it's what keeps going around in my head very - very - early this morning. As happy as I am to have Josh, I am in the process of grieving that this will not be an open adoption. And I'm frustrated because I have no one to talk to about it that understands even a little bit. Josh's birthmom wants us to send pictures and letters to the agency once a month for six months, and then once a year until Josh is 18. If she wants to receive those pictures, and letters, she will contact the agency and have them send my packages to her. I'm not expecting her to contact the agency. His birthmom, D, flew into Utah on Saturday, birthed Josh at 4:24 am on Sunday, and couldn't wait to get out of town on the next flight available - Tuesday morning. It's almost like she wanted to pretend like this never happened. Like Josh never happened. I know there are different kinds of openness in adoptions. I read on an adoptive parent profile last week that the family wanted an open adoption. Their definition of open was exchanging pictures and letters twice a year until age 5. Huh? That's not open to me. In my imagination, I dreamed that we'd have the kind of open adoption where the birth family (and I mean birthdad, birth grandparents, etc., not just the birthmom) would know that they could call us on the phone, get e-mails whenever, and we would see each other when possible (depending on where in the country each family lived). I think an easy way to explain my idea of open was that I expected to add the birthfamily to my family just like what would happen in a marriage, and hoped the birthfamilies would consider me, my husband and older son part of their family, as well. As some friends and family members have asked what kind of adoption this will be, and as I've told them it will be closed and I am still sad about that, I have not had one person try to be comforting or understanding about what I see as a loss for Josh and our family. Every single person has said that we will be better off, Josh will be better off, our future will be easier, etc. And I get frustrated with ignorance. And frustrated with the inability these people are obviously having to open their minds about the open direction that so many healthy adoptions are headed now. Sure, it's a very real possibility that an adoption that starts out as the open I described above could go very bad. I understand that. I understand that I imagined a utopia of all adoption possibilities for what I would like. I understand I could have recieved the phone call about Josh and then turned him down so we could wait longer for the ideal open situation. I understand and take responsibility for all of that. I'm just still sad for what won't be.


At 2/27/2006 09:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful son.

I'm a mom with two adoptive kids (living in the Bay Area, too!) in open adoptions. My son's family is the family you described in your dream of open adoption, but contact with my daughter's family is less open. We have, in fact, lost contact with her birthmom--not by our doing. I continue to collect photos for her and write notes just in case she reaches out again.

I do understand your sense of sadness about the adoption being closed. YOu will not have the information for your son that he will ask about as he grows up.

People who have not adopted usually don't "get" open adoption. They simply don't understand. I didn't either until I actually adopted my children.

What I've learned as my children have gotten older is that adoption, even open adoption, is a fluid thing. There are times when we have had lots of extended family contact. There are times when our contact is less so. My son is now 11 almost 12, and his birthparents have gone on to marry (not each other) and have children. They are busy with their own lives, and contact with the birth father is sporadic. I have to be careful not to mention him because he is not that interested in being in contact with my son right now. The last thing my son needs as he gets into his teenage years is to know that a younger cooler guy (compared to us--his adoptive parents) is out there whom he looks like and acts like--and that guy doesn't want much contact. It's one thing to have a closed adoption and that's why there is no contact. It is another thing to explain that yes, he could contact my son, but he doesn't want to.

I guess what I'm saying is that even in ideal open adoptions, there are disappointments and challenges.

As far as my daughter is concerned, it is NOT a good thing that her birthmother has disappeared. She has led a troubled life, and I have to be careful to limit what information I tell my child about her because I don't want my child to worry or to think something is wrong with HER because her birthmother is using drugs or is disappeared. There have been times when it has NOT been in my child's best interest to have contact with her birth mother. I can truthfully admit that I have wished at times that my daughter's adoption was closed because I've worried about her safety.

All in all, open adoption can be great, but it has challenges, too. I wanted to let you know about the reality of our situation so that perhaps you can see your situation with the pluses and minuses it offers.

In your case, you may find that connecting with other adoptive families will be a good thing. In the Bay Area, we know families that are in groups for families who adopted from Guatemala, families in groups with biracial children, families with kids from China...It's a virtual rainbow of opportunity out there. The groups could be a way for you to find a sense of connection that you won't get thru contact with the birth family. We belong to a church with lots of adopted kids, so my kids don't feel alone.

I remember in the early days of babyhood, adoption was front and center in my mind, but honestly as time goes on it is less and less a daily issue. It DOES come up once in a while, and I'm ready when it does, but the reality of family life takes over.

All the best to all of you,


At 3/01/2006 10:04:00 AM, Blogger Linsey said...

I am happy for you, and that you were able to get your son. While I can't relate directly to adoption, it being open or not, I can rlate a story. My cousin met a sweet girl a couple years ago, she was pregnant. My cousin (who, along with his 2 brothers is adopted) encouraged her to put the baby up for adoption. She had the baby, gave it up and very hesitantly left it an open adoption. Shortly after she delivered, she and my cousin got engaged and have married. Since they have been married they have learned that it is likely she cannot get pregnant again. She has loved being able to see her child grow and to see her child happy. The family has sent her many sweet things. She has been so grateful to have it "open". It gives her comfort knowing that she did the right thing for her baby and that she wouldn't do it different if she had known she couldnt have more because she sees the happiness of everyone involved. She has said that since she will now likely have to adopt, she hopes for her future babies sake, the birth mothers sake and her sake she will find a mom willing to keep it open. I agree that it is important. And I see your frustration.
ANyway, i keeep gettin interrupted by my kids, so I am probably not making the sense i had hoped for....

At 3/01/2006 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Rachelle said...

Hugs to you and your family. Having never been in that position, I am not sure what is "Easier" or "better." I hope that maybe later on the b-mom will want more.

At 3/02/2006 12:24:00 AM, Blogger tam said...


I am a birth mother whose relinquished child is now 16. I am also a mother with 4 children from my womb looking to adopt more children.

"Our" (the adoptive parents and mine) adoption is an open one. We were told by the agency that we were "pioneers" in open adoption because of how open we agreed on being. We were even asked to speak to groups about it and we did but it became a burden and we stopped.

Your vision of the ideal open adoption is beautiful. And, I believe very possible. Your reality is also what exactly as it should be for now. I don't know your spirituality but it is my belief that God knows what is best. He knows the desires of your heart and those of the birth mom. I believe there are no "accidents".

I loved seeing "my" son and being able to hug him and love him albeit from a distance. But as your anonymous commenter stated...the tides of time bring change.

Sometimes I would not make contact for months. Sometimes we would be together weekly. I had times I wanted to forget about the whole thing.

Whatever you do in regards to the contact with the your best to not let the "she won't seek Josh out" feelings get the best of you...continue to write as if she does. She will most likely come to a place in her life that she desires to know something. You may want to encourage her, in your letters to her, to at the very least let the agency know of medical information that comes up during her life and her families life. Maintain the hope that what has been decided on now can change in the future.

It seems as though you are moving through a grieving process over what didn't happen. That's completely and totally OK. You should move through it and feel it and not think guilty thoughts because not every moment is pure joy in this.

Your grief does not overshadow your joy in your new son, it adds dimension to it.

Keep in mind the birth mom is also post-partum, in difficult circumstances if needing to give up her son, and grieving herself even if she doesn't know it. It is highly probable that she is depressed and not just from giving birth. It's extremely likely she does want to pretend Josh didn't happen...but how glorious it is that he did! And, HE Never needs to know the minute detail about the birth mother bolting so soon after he was born...he does need to know that the entire transaction was out of love. Not Hollywood, fairy tale kind of love...the real stuff, tough love if you will, from her...the warm, gushy, abundant, nurturing love from you and yours.

I am jealous (the healthy kind) for you and your bundle...despite us having 3 at home and 1 in heaven all birthed by me...I know I have more children. My womb can no longer hold a growing child so I am awaiting patiently the day my husband is ready too.

If you so choose I would be happy chat further in email...I'm afraid I've taken up too much space already. I am new to this blogging business...I'd prefer to not leave my email here. If you desire more conversation on this leave a comment here on your post and I'll figure it out then.



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