Open Adoption Roundtable #35

We brought something back with us from Missouri; I’ve been affectionately referring to it as the “death flu.” I haven’t been this sick in a long time, but we’re getting better now—I’m still barking like a seal and sleeping sitting up, but otherwise just tired. And just in time, too: there is a new Open Adoption Roundtable!

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them. 

Write a response at your blog–linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and share your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is fine; I’d appreciate it if you’d add a link back to the roundtable. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

We’ve written about siblings in open adoptions twice before. Now we’re going to look in the other generational direction: grandparents. While the legal processes of placing and adopting focus on the triad of first parents-child-adoptive parents, the reality is that adoption involves extended family, too. So this time we’re offering up a nice, broad prompt to reflect on the influence of, relationships with, and experiences of grandparents in our open adoptions (whichever grandparents you choose).

Write about grandparents in open adoption.

Yesterday, I broke the news to my mother that Ruth and Cricket are planning to visit, and that they have timed the visit so as to avoid her. (My parents, who have wanted this for the last couple of decades, are finally taking a trip to Greece together in late April/early May.) I explained that my hope is that next year, assuming we have a visit next year, I will be able to talk Ruth into having a meal with my parents before we take off to an undisclosed location for the visit proper; I was apologetic about the whole weird thing.

“So she really, seriously just doesn’t plan to let me see him ever?”

“I—yeah, I think that’s right. I’m sorry. But I have this plan for next year?”

My mother was angry, but not particularly worked up or surprised; Ruth has said this to her before, in a card she sent to my mom around Cricket’s first birthday. My mom had hoped that things might change, since she wrote back very politely and has sent timely and tasteful birthday gifts each year, but I don’t think that anything has changed for Ruth.

There’s no question but that my mom is a problematic figure: she opposed the adoption, she made a couple of cracks about kidnapping Cricket in the early days, and she abused me as a kid. At the same time, I’ve been able to watch her with Joey, and while she isn’t perfect (she is seemingly unable to receive feedback from him, and doesn’t tend to listen to what he’s trying to communicate), she’s very warm and loving and clearly delighted by him. They don’t spend much time alone, but while we do things differently than she did, she is respectful of our parenting decisions and invested in Joey’s happiness. In our conversation, my mom said that if Ruth saw her with Cricket, she might change her mind—and that could well be true. Certainly that is a hope behind my meal plan. But I’m far from sure.

As for the other birth grandparents, my husband’s father has been dead for almost six years, and his mother pretends that Cricket is dead. It’s hard to know what exactly her relationship to Cricket would otherwise be—but I don’t think Ruth is interested in maintaining those kinds of connections, based on her total lack of interest in my completely awesome, stable, and available sister, Kate. (This is a real mistake, I think; maybe “birth aunt” doesn’t sound important, but if there is any way at all to get Kate involved in your life or your kid’s, you take it. She’s one of those people.) I want to write more about Cricket and my husband’s family, but that’s a separate post that I’ve been picking at for something like a month now.

Watching Joey really has helped me to understand at a gut level that more people loving your kid is a blessing, whatever else it brings. Watching Joey bolt toward the door at the end of a work day shouting “Oma, Oma, Oma!” with his arms outstretched toward my mom? That is amazing. It seems unlikely that Cricket could have that even with support from his moms, but I wish that he could get a little closer.

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One thought on “Open Adoption Roundtable #35

  1. That’s really heartbreaking. I’m sorry for Cricket and for your parents. I really hope that those relationships can be restored.

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