Open Adoption Roundtable #28

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.

This round is a smidge different–time for some cross-blog pollination! Lori of Write Mind Open Heart, an adoptive parent in two open adoptions, has up at her blog a set of eleven questions about open adoption which were posed to her by JoAnne, an adult adoptee in a closed adoption. There are some great questions there about the role adoption professionals played arranging contact in your adoptions and how you understand the legal weight of any open adoption agreements you may have.

1. Can the adoptive parents really go back on their word after the adoption has been finalized and do whatever they please in regard to updates and pictures?

Yes, of course. I cannot tell you how many times I have read condescending explanations to the tune of:

If you wanted to have contact/a relationship/some idea of whether your placed child is alive or dead, you shouldn’t have placed that child for adoption.

I don’t think people smugging it up about ~*~real ~*~parenthood on the internet are the only ones who feel that way, either. Heck, I listen to an adoption/infertility podcast every week, and on the last episode, a social worker who does adoptions said that she thinks legally binding open adoption agreements are a bad idea because adoptive parents need to be able to be the real parents. I don’t quite understand the mindset that agreeing to a visit once a year (in our case) stops people from doing more or less whatever they want to their children, but I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

On the other hand: I have a friend who placed a child for adoption only to have the adoptive parents promptly move across state lines and close the adoption. Her son is now in middle school, and my friend has found his older sister on Facebook. I think it’s getting less and less possible to hide yourself and your family forever; while adoptive parents can do whatever they please, the reality is that their kids may very well use available tech to look for birth family without any guidance or help from their parents.

I should also say that in our adoption, which I think is a pretty functional one, the adoptive parents don’t meet the terms of the agreement. (In our agreement, we birth parents are only “permitted” and not obligated to do anything—but we do that which is permitted.)

2. Who is the go-between for communication with most Open Adoptions: the case worker, the placing agency, or the lawyer handling the adoption?

In our case, the agency used by the adoptive parents counsels them, but we had very little guidance or mediation for the four of us during the process and have had none since placement.

 

5. Is there an incentive such as money for the adoption agency to be still involved indirectly and indefinitely for an Open Adoption? Does it cost the prospective adoptive parents more money upfront for it to be an open adoption?

I don’t believe so.

 

6. If the contract is legally binding, what happens to the adoptive parents if they don’t follow through? Is there really any legal recourse for both parties that are clearly spelled out?

Well . . . nothing. I mean, theoretically we could take them to court, but I don’t think that most birth parents have the resources to hire a lawyer etc. It’s hard for me to imagine that that process would make it easier to have a relationship. And I don’t know of any agreement that has actually been legally tested, so they may all end up not being binding after all. In practice, if things really broke down for the adoptive parents, they would I believe go to their agency for help—we (the birth parents) don’t have access to agency support, and would probably just keep trying to contact them every so often but otherwise give up.

7. What deters the birth parents from coming to your house unannounced?

Manners? Rational self-interest? Not being a paint-huffing crazy lady? I mean, maybe I should turn this one around: What stops the adoptive parents from coming to my house unannounced? Well, that would be rude and destructive to the relationship, and it’s hard to imagine it going over very well. We just aren’t that close. Heck, I wouldn’t turn up at my sister’s house without checking in with her.

The assumption that birth parents have no boundaries is pretty insulting. I’m participating in a study tracking birth parents, adoptive parents, and placed kids, and every time they interview me, I get asked literally dozens of questions like: What was the last time that your actions got you in legal trouble? What is the last time that you started a fire? What is the last time that you used illegal drugs? Does your use of illegal drugs prevent you from doing the things you want to do? (Never, never, never, and did you not notice the never? for the curious.) The birth parents I know are living their lives and missing their kids. When I really, badly miss Cricket and wish I could see him, I feel sad; I write on the blog; sometimes I bake.

8. Do you know if there are any court cases where it’s obvious that there are loopholes in Open Adoption that need to be addressed?

I don’t think there are, but I’m interested to see what will happen.

9. Just like there are issues with closed adoptions and we have the outspoken activists’, etc., are there any Open Adoption opponents or vice versa that are working to be the voice for the birth mothers as well as the adoptive children and their best interests?

Not that I know of. I think that those who oppose open adoption can simply opt out.

10. When is the adoptee old enough to choose if they want contact or not? What if they are the ones who want to break off ties with the bio parents?

Well, as to the first question, that’s something that his moms will decide. I will say that if Ruth emailed me tomorrow and said that Cricket said he doesn’t want to have a visit, I would ask whether we could see whether he feels differently in six months—in the meantime, of course, we would be willing to not send him cards or gifts. I would probably keep exchanging emails with Ruth, but we have an independent relationship that I don’t think it would be appropriate for him to control. (Cricket is two and a half, by the way.) If he wants to cut off contact with us, we will accept that; we’d grieve, and we’d hope for an eventual change of heart, but I’d never want to force a relationship on him. At the same time, if his moms agreed, I might ask whether we could keep on sending cards for him to them that they could save and give to him if he ever wanted that.

11. Are there any support groups/legal aids for birth mothers where they can get honest answers with their concerns for open adoptions?

Open Adoption Support is a good one—beyond that, I’ve gotten good and kind information just by emailing bloggers.

Open Adoption Roundtable #26

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.

How do/would you talk with children about siblings in open adoption? How do you approach this as a (first or adoptive) parent, or how was it handled in your family if you grew up with siblings who didn’t live with you? For prospective adoptive parents or first parents without other children, has this been something you’ve thought about how you would approach? (Other responses can be found here.)

I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile.

I’ve been mulling over some of the comments I got, and am reluctantly convinced that I need to remove the language about hearts being broken; I have a weakness for faerie tale prose, and still think to myself sometimes in phrases from those I’ve read, or most especially some from a pink story tape we had when I was a child: “The wicked queen flew into a rage.” Now I’ve got to figure out the best way to talk about regret.

Mia said in comments that

As the adoptive mother, I wouldn’t want visits where my son might be told that it breaks his mother’s heart that he doesn’t live with her. My son can’t fix that situation, and he didn’t cause it, so he shouldn’t have to feel like he’s part of someone’s heartbreak or caught between two sets of parents when there is nothing he can do about it–he’s just a little kid.

It’s a fair point, and certainly I don’t want to burden little Cricket. On the other hand, I think that the absence of any mention of regret creates different problems: Why did we have and raise another child so (relatively) soon after placing Cricket if we didn’t regret the loss of him? And what birth family doesn’t wish that the placed child could have stayed with them, at least some of the time? Who doesn’t wonder what that would have been like?

I talked to a social worker at Catholic Charities who has done a number of adoptions about this, and she gave me permission to include my regret in the story I tell Joey: “It’s part of your story.” My understanding of the best interests of the adopted child (not thought up on my own, but heard from vaguely remembered experts) is that children own all of their stories, and that it is the parents’ obligation to give them all of their information—in age-appropriate ways, of course, and gently—but all of it. I’m not parenting Cricket, and I honestly don’t want to tell him anything. I want to send him to his moms if he has questions, dodging any awkward conversations until he’s taller than I am. But I want and need to tell Joey what happened, and why, and that it won’t happen to him and that I wish it had never happened at all. I am going to tell him all of that—I just want not to hurt anyone. That may be impossible.

I’m still looking for ways to put it, and hoping, cravenly, that Joey doesn’t talk to Cricket about this stuff. Heck, they’re unlikely to have an unsupervised conversation in the next decade. Maybe I can just swoop in with cake and interrupt. Or start a small fire. Or jump off the balcony.

I don’t feel as though Cricket is caught between two sets of parents—we’re clear that he’s with his moms forever, that they are his “real” parents (I use this language in real life), and that they are great moms and his family and and and. I want to find a way to talk to my Joey about this without wounding Cricket, and I know there has to be one, but I haven’t found it yet. And if I tell Joey these things and Ruth and Nora close the adoption because of it? I have no idea.

Open Adoption Roundtable #24

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 (including the link http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/2011/03/open-adoption-roundtable-24.html so your readers can browse other participating blogs) and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is perfectly 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 or at the new Facebook page.

I waffled between a lighter writing prompt and a heavier, more personal one for this round. I decided on the less personal topic; we’ll save the deeper one for later this month.

Awhile back, out of curiosity, I set up a search on Twitter for the phrase “open adoption”. If someone mentioned open adoption in a tweet it popped up in my feed reader. The search rarely turned up much. For the most part I saw promotional tweets from adoption professionals or prospective adoptive parents trying to “network,” with occasional chatter from folks involved in open adoptions who were talking about their lives. Then suddenly big bursts of tweets started showing up once a week or so. Tweets that were overwhelmingly–although not totally–negative about open adoption: talk of birth parents needing to leave the adoptive family alone or doing something wrong by maintaining a connection to their children, that sort of thing. Like the greatest hits of open adoption misinformation, delivered on a schedule.

I soon realized those bursts were coming whenever MTV aired a Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant episode involving adoption. I typically roll my eyes when another clumsy adoption storyline shows up in a scripted show or bristle when reality tv mines the adoption process for stories. But here was a television franchise with massive reach giving lots of viewers their first (heavily edited and manipulated) glimpses of real-life open adoptions. And it didn’t seem to be doing much for the cause.

For better or worse, open adoption is working its way into mainstream entertainment. Which brings us to our writing prompt:

How have you seen open adoption portrayed on television? What did you think? What, if anything, would you like to see?

 

I’m going to write the opposite of this prompt, because I am a contrary goofus.

 

I haven’t really watched any TV aside from the occasional ball game since I was eight years old. I will watch things on DVD, however, especially now that Netflix is around to make my life better. When I was pregnant with Cricket, I bought and watched the first three seasons of The Gilmore Girls. I don’t know what kind of sense you have of my from the blog, but GG is very much not my normal fare; my other TV DVDs are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, Firefly, The West Wing, Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, and I have my eye on Deadwood. I don’t watch feel-good TV, and I don’t want stereotypically girly TV. And yet, most of the way through a crisis pregnancy, knowing that I was going to lose my baby, I suddenly decided that it was time to watch The Gilmore Girls after knowing only the premise.

 

Funnily enough, the obvious reason for my interest didn’t occur to me until well after the adoption had taken place. I was watching—and sniffling over—a show about a woman who got inconveniently pregnant and while it was hard, she kept her baby and it was the best thing ever and they loved each other like no one else on earth. I sat alone in a room in my parents’ house, watching my stomach twitch and listening to the show and failing to take the hint my subconscious was giving. After I’d watched all the DVDs I bought (massively on sale, I am lamely compelled to point out), I got the rest of the series via Netflix. I craved this faerie-tale product offering me the opposite of adoption. Heck, adoption never comes up on the show; if I remember correctly, abortion is mentioned briefly, but the big decision is whether to marry the father or not.

 

I still have the DVDs. Mr. Book thinks that I should sell them off since I don’t like the show—I don’t like the show!—but I am weirdly superstitious about getting rid of them. I don’t have many relics from that pregnancy, and I feel somewhat obligated to keep a memento, since it feels as though that pregnancy ended in a death. Of course, there is still a child who was born at the end of it running around a few hours from me . . . but as many times as I try to rephrase that, I can’t get away from the fact that to me, right now, it feels like a death.

OART 22

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 to http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/2011/01/open-adoption-roundtable-22.html so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is perfectly 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.

One year ago many of us answered the question, “How will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?”

If you participated in the January 2010 discussion, revisit your post and give us the one-year-later update.

And whether or not you participated last year, tell us about your open adoption hopes or commitments in 2011.

How’d we do?

1. I will find a new model for our relationship with Ruth and Nora: not marriage, not friendship, but something else. I will take into account their wishes and my experiences, and rely less on my hopes.

Heaven knows my hopes of a year ago are no longer steering my approach to the adoption—I’m more cynical and less hopeful. I expect not to get pictures on time, I expect not to see replies to emails for weeks if at all, I expect visits to be cancelled; good things are now a pleasant surprise, which has been a silver lining. I’m trying not to think of this as a permanent change—things could get better!—but for right now, I think it’s what works best for me.

2. I will, with the aid of Mr. Book, figure out how we want to handle the pregnancy we hope for later this year and the baby who will follow in the context of the open adoption. What will our boundaries be? What are our hopes for the relationship between futurekid and Cricket? What are our obligations to Ruth and Nora?

Well, we have a baby now—we’re still working on the boundaries part. My biggest concern right now is about not wanting Joey to be disappointed the way I have sometimes felt disappointed and not letting my grief over Cricket impact him. I think we’ve got a couple of years before these would be current concerns, at least. I hope that the boys will feel like family to each other.

3. I will make very sure that I am not looking at futurekid as a replacement for my lost son—the one who isn’t Cricket, but who Cricket would have been. That potential child is gone forever; I need to be very clear about that before I name another baby.

I genuinely and regularly thank God that this has not been a concern. Joey is himself, and he’s perfect (okay, he has cradle cap in his eyebrows, but that’s within spitting distance of perfect ;) ), and while he makes me wonder about Cricket sometimes, I am 100 percent not confused; I’m parenting the son who has been gifted to me.

4. I will be supportive of other people in adoption relationships on whatever side; the adoption blogger community has been very kind to me, and I want to give back.

I hope that I have lived up to this—certainly I have felt honored to know more and more of you.

5. I will make our home ready for a baby; I don’t just mean washing onesies. I will be sure that Mr. Book and I are as prepared as anyone can be—he’s going to need to read some baby books, I am going to need to pray, and we’ll do a lot of talking together. At the same time, I will not let myself obsess until I am actually pregnant: no crying when I see pregnant women or babies, no setting up a nursery, no imaging the hoped-for child. I will be present in my life.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry about the wait for too long! We are not babyproofed, but Mr. Book did some reading and we’ve both done a lot of laundry and gotten some practice at things like baths and diapers. There are things I thought we would need that haven’t been used yet—he hasn’t seen the inside of the crib as of today—and things that we’ve needed much more than I realized before (he is just the grubbiest baby, and could grow filthy sitting quietly in a sterile room. The baby bathtub has been a lifesaver). And of course there were things that we couldn’t have been prepared for. Mr. Book told me the other night that he had known (roughly) how hard it would be, and that he had felt ready for that, but that he really hadn’t expected it to be rewarding yet. He has been pleasantly surprised. Even the baby howling in his ear at night, he says, feels like an amazing gift.

6. I will be for Cricket what he wants, or what I think he wants: available, warm, and unobtrusive.

Well. Certainly I have been unobtrusive; I think that I have been available. I have not been warm. I’m still stiff and nervous around Cricket, and I don’t really expect that to be better now that (a) we haven’t seen him in coming up on seven months, and (b) he can have real conversations, which I see as bringing him one step closer to telling me that he hates me. I am nervous about seeing him again, and sort of unfocusedly angry about the long, weird break between visits, and of course not sure whether they’re actually coming at all. I’m not much of anything for Cricket at the moment.

As for the coming year—I’m not sure. I hope to have the boys meet. Modest, eh?

OART 21: The Most Wonderful Time

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts 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.

Last year we wrote about the holiday season in general. This year, inspired by a recent post by Claud, I thought we could focus in on traditions.

How do open adoption and holiday traditions intersect in your life?

My mother wants to send Cricket an advent calendar. Oh, she knows that she can’t—but I secretly wish that she could. While my mother surely wishes that Cricket were being raised as a Christian, there is a whole heap of Christmas traditions that she wishes that she could share with him . . . and so do I. My family is overwhelmingly German, so we have a Christmas with advent calendars and those horrible soft gingerbread cookies (although come to think of it, it’s been many years since we had these—perhaps my Omi was the only one pushing for them. So gross) and that odd candle-powered dingy angel thing and a räuchermänn as well as Santa Claus et al. Cricket, of course, does not celebrate Christmas. His adoptive grandparents do, so he surely will see some lighted trees etc. from the sidelines, but his mama Ruth is adamant that he not grow celebrating Christmas, as she feels that Hanukkah tends to suffer by comparison in the eyes of a child. We are allowed to send a Christmas gift—I actually got this written into our agreement—but it ought not to be intrinsically Christmassy.

I have never celebrated Hanukkah (we’ve missed both of Cricket’s birthday/Hanukkah parties so far), but have a vague understanding of what it’s like. At the same time, I love Christmas, not just in a Christian way (although midnight mass is one of my favorite things) but in the secular Bing Crosby way. Mr. Book loves Christmas. My parents love Christmas. My mother has apparently been thinking about collecting one of those tiny Christmas villages for the benefit of wide-eyed grandchildren—she has made up a Christmas stocking for Joey, and I am deeply curious to see what will go into it. She bought a children’s Christmas book to add to our pile while she was in Stumptown (I heard a story on NPR a few years back about a family who have a big Tupperware container full of Christmas books that gets brought out every December and immediately wanted to do that). Mr. Book and I watch Christmas movies all throughout December, and are constantly on the lookout for more good old ones. I look forward to making Christmas cookies every year, and slowly accumulate more and more decorating supplies to that end. Mr. Book has already sung carols to Joey. We have a box of See’s candy waiting for my return home (my family), and on Christmas I will make noodles (his family) and we’ll watch movies and open presents and play with the baby. Probably there will be trifle.

Today I spent the afternoon decorating the Christmas tree with my mother. It’s Cricket’s birthday, and I’m sure that she doesn’t remember that—she’s been bragging to people about the birth of her first grandchild, and only last night said that “I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that we need to have a baby for Christmas.” Today I’ve had a few quiet, sad moments, but there is also Christmas stuff going on and I want to be involved. Sure, I’d rather we were doing it tomorrow, but my mom has today off work, and here we are, listening to carols, me thinking about Cricket and feeling my breasts ache. It is the strangest thing, that physical reaction. Cricket got a gift from us last week and hopefully a card today, we’ll send two books in a week or so . . . and our December is otherwise completely separate from him. I think about the fact that my father’s birthday is on Christmas Eve and Cricket’s birthday is apparently usually going to be during Hanukkah. I hope he doesn’t mind.

Open Adoption Roundtable #20

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 about siblings and open adoption.


A year ago, Nora was marching around the parking lot of our apartment complex with Cricket on her back, hoping to keep him asleep for as long as possible, while Ruth and I trailed along behind her and talked about the siblings who might come along. First we talked about the child they hope to adopt in a year or so. I resist the idea that birthparents are obligated to treat the adoptive siblings of their placed biological children the same as they do their biological children. When I was growing up, my sister Kate’s godmother was the only godparent who kept up a relationship with her godchild, and she sent birthday cards and Christmas presents to Kate and Kate alone. Fair enough: she had a connection to Kate and not to the rest of us, or not in the same way. I know that adoption is more fraught by its nature than godparenthood, but my mental policy on each is about the same. That said, I like kids, and am happy to be something like an aunt to any adoptive siblings of Cricket’s, which was apparently a relief to Ruth.

Then we talked about biological siblings. It’s weird to think back on that conversation now; Ruth said (what I think of as) all the right things: the kids will be siblings, we’ll refer to them as such, those relationships are important to us the adults, we’ll have to have some hard conversations with them but that just comes with the territory. Now that I’m having contractions and picking up a couple new stretch marks (high up—Cricket had dropped by this point, but apparently subsequent kids don’t drop until it’s go time, so every kick is stretching my poor belly skin in new ways), we’re all having to figure out what this separated siblinghood means. I had this fantasy of Cricket being around for parts of the pregnancy and birth, of being able to talk to him about what happening even if he couldn’t understand. I saw my brother born, and while Cricket is really too little for that, I did daydream about him being close enough to be able to see the kiddo on that first day, or maybe the second. That was never realistic, and I knew it all along, but it does sadden me a bit to see how far we are from that soft-focus, warm and fuzzy vision of new siblinghood.  I don’t know whether they’ve told him that I’m pregnant, or that a brother is coming. I think that I should ask, and I keep avoiding it.

When Cricket was born, I was glad of him, but it wasn’t really a happy time for me; more than anything, I was matter-of-fact. For Ruth and Nora, it was scary—they were very aware that I could still change my mind and make him not-theirs—but it was also exiting and joyful and other good things. This time, our positions are largely reversed; I’m nervous about the birth part, and the hospital part especially, but I have this deep, warm joy connected to thoughts of meeting my new son and showing him to his dad. Ruth and Nora see this pregnancy as the unwanted one—in their eyes, I am creating a new loss for Cricket, and complicating their lives somewhat.

Open Adoption Roundtable #19

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.


Awhile back I read a summary of a workshop held for prospective adoptive parents who were exploring their options. During their survey of different sorts of adoption, the speakers said that, at its most basic core, “Open adoption is about information sharing.”

“Hm,” I thought when I read that.

Hm.

I turned that one over in my mind for quite some time and now I’m turning it over to you. Generalizations are a tricky business. Relationships are too diverse, too complex for blanket statements to cover them all. But generalizations certainly make for good conversation starters–and an interesting exercise in thinking about what we each would say is the foundation of open adoption…

“Open adoption is about information sharing.” Share your reaction to that statement. How well does it match up with your experience of open adoption? If you disagree, how would you finish the phrase, “Open adoption is about…”?


Semi-open adoption is about information; the adoptive parents can get constantly updated health information, the birth parents can know that the kid is alive and well, and the adoptee can have his or her questions answered. If information is what it’s about, open adoption (or what I’m tempted to call open open adoption) is pointless hard stuff. So what do I think open adoption is about?

I want to say that in general open adoption is about relationships, but that in our case—at least for me and the Mister—it’s about trying to make up to Cricket for the relinquishment forever. (Oh, that’s not the whole story, but it’s a big piece, and it’s what I’m focused on right now.) I have, in darker moments, told people that it’s important for me to maintain the open adoption so that when Cricket is older, he can tell me to eff off if he wants to—that that is his right, and that I need to make sure that he has the opportunity. I do hope that he won’t exercise that option, but it can’t be up to me, and I’m not allowed to go away because that would deprive him of the chance to tell me to get lost.

Recently I watched the adoption documentary Off and Running. A documentary about the adopted children of a lesbian Jewish couple: How could I not? I haven’t yet seen a documentary about adoption that I’ve really liked (or any movie involving adoption, now that I think of it), and this one was interesting enough, but not particularly well made. There were two pretty rough things in the movie, and one of those is that when the—Lord, can I call her the main character? hmm—when Avery writes to her birthmother, she gets one letter back and then never hears from her again (at least through the end of the film). I don’t guess that I’m in any position to talk about what all birthparents owe their placed kids, but I’m pretty sure that in Avery’s position it would have felt unfair, and that I would have felt re-abandoned. I see internet forum topics every so often with titles like “Why hasn’t my birthmother searched for me?”  While the agency I worked with never suggested that open adoption had anything to do with duty, I’ve come to see it as something that I’m obligated to do; whatever the relinquishment papers said, I feel certain responsibilities toward Cricket. Heck, I placed him for adoption because I was trying to do right by him—why would that need of mine vanish just because I no longer have any legal connection to him?

After Ruth and Nora took the pregnancy announcement so badly—and recently again, after reading a question over at Open Adoption Support that felt terrifyingly relevant—I spent some time thinking about what we would do if they were unable to treat our raised kid/s decently during visits. My first impulse was to say “We’d close the adoption!” . . . but then I think about Cricket, and the fact that walking away because of his moms would probably never seem fair to him, and I start thinking about whether we might be able to visit one at a time and leave one Book at home with any little Books. Maybe we’d go semi-open.