Open Adoption Roundtable #10

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.

This is a topic that is very timely for me (Thanksgivingmom) right now, but is something that all of us in open adoption deal with at least once during the year: birthdays.

I know that birthdays can be an extremely emotional time, for everyone connected to adoption, not just those of us in open adoptions. So what is it that we do, as part of our open adoptions, during the “birthday season”?

Our experiences on this are so diverse, that I don’t want to limit your responses to one specific question. BUT, since some of us (like me!) sometimes like the specific questions, here are a few that have been rattling around in my brain as my daughter’s third birthday approaches:

  • What do you/your family do to integrate open adoption and birthday celebrations?
  • What do you wish you would see in future birthday celebrations re: involvement with your child’s adoptive parents/birth parents?
  • Do you have an open adoption agreement that requires contact on/around birthdays?
  • How does that agreement affect you? Do you wish it were different? Do you wish that you did have an agreement that requires such contact?
  • If you do not have contact around birthdays, do you do something private to honor birthdays?
  • If you’re an adoptee, how were birthdays celebrated in your family with regards to open adoption?
  • How do you wish they would have been celebrated?
  • And anything else you can think of!

How timely for me! Cricket’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and we’ve had a bit of chaos surrounding it. Since I am one of those who likes the specific questions, I will answer these.

  • What do you/your family do to integrate open adoption and birthday celebrations?

Well, Mr. Book’s family chooses to pretend that Cricket is dead, so I assume that they won’t be commemorating his first birthday in any way. I suppose there’s a chance that he’ll get a weepy, angry phone call from his mom, but there will probably just be silence from that side of the family. My mother has bought him a book and a birthday card. I’m actually a bit nervous about this, as she didn’t get express permission to send a book. On the other hand, it is a cool children’s book, and I think the gift is coming from a good place in her—I think it’s really a (relatively) uncomplicated desire to send a present to a baby on his birthday. Ruth has said that she doesn’t want me to get trapped in the middle of my mom’s relationship with them, so I haven’t mentioned to them that my mom has a book to send. I just don’t want to then be responsible for telling my mom that she can’t send it, which would feel sad and unkind. So yeah, I’m taking the coward’s way out. As for me and Mr. Book: he may have to work on Cricket’s party day, but we are invited to the party. If we can’t go, we will visit some day that week. I have already mailed his present and a card.

  • What do you wish you would see in future birthday celebrations re: involvement with your child’s adoptive parents/birth parents?

I really don’t know. I would like to be included, but not at the expense of Cricket’s happiness—if he doesn’t want us around, I want to respect that. But assuming that he doesn’t care (or, miracle of miracles, wants us around), I hope that we’ll be able to see him on or near his birthday every year. If we can’t make it, I would like to call. Of course, that’s not exactly right; in some ways, I want to not call or go or have any kind of contact. I want to grieve and mope and feel sorry for myself. But since I keep reminding myself that this is a child-centered open adoption, I want to want to do the right thing by Cricket.

  • Do you have an open adoption agreement that requires contact on/around birthdays?

Our open adoption agreement guarantees us the right to send a birthday present, but not to have any kind of contact. However, Ruth and Nora have said that of the two mandated sets of photos a year, they plan to send one around his birthday every year.

  • How does that agreement affect you? Do you wish it were different? Do you wish that you did have an agreement that requires such contact?

Honestly, at this stage in our relationship (and hopefully forever, knock on wood), the agreement matters very little. Ruth and Nora want us around, we want to be around, and we are all working together in a pretty good set-up. I do wish that we lived closer—this only started a week or so ago. For the rest of the adoption so far, I’ve been glad to have this buffer of distance. But now… When I sent Cricket’s birthday package, in addition to his card, I included a card for Ruth and two books I think she might enjoy. And in the card, I said that I wished we lived in the same city sometimes, because I’d like to be able to take her out to coffee once in awhile and just chat or hang out, no big deal. That is such a big deal for me. I know how small it sounds, but while I’m sure I’ll get frustrated or angry or depressed about things in the relationship again in the future, I have this enormous faith in her, and a great love for her. I don’t want to buy her a cup of tea so that I can stare at the baby, although he is adorable and certainly I’d be glad to see him—I wish that I could have her company sometimes, is all. I guess that’s friendship, or the wish for it. I don’t think we ever will live in the same city—we love it here, they love it there—but just wanting less distance is a precious and rare thing for me, the antisocial butterfly.

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3 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #10

  1. Hi Susie – I’m here thanks to the link for the OART#10. I am still new to this whole open adoption (3 yrs) thing but in my case, I usually refer to it as openness given the distance between my daughter & her birth family. I don’t know your story yet, but I’ll have to get caught up.

    Anyway, I just wanted to comment on your feelings about wanting to take Ruth out for coffee because I would LOVE to have the same ability with my daughter’s birth family. I think that when people talk about open adoptions, the ones that work the best are when both the a-parents and b-parents are able to form their own relationships and bonds over things not necessarily child related. So I totally understand where you are coming from in that aspect.

    I truly hope that if you attend the bday party, that you have a good time. Also, given I haven’t read the history yet, I hope that the gift your mom bought is well received. We have received 2 gifts for my daughter from her birth grandma and I don’t think it’s necessary to give permission for them. I mean, I have other friends that just buy stuff for her w/o asking and for no reason, so I think it’s just a really nice gesture…. hopefully Ruth sees that too.

    Thanks for helping me gain more insight.

    • My mom is a bit complicated, but I too hope that they’re just glad about the book. =) Thanks so much for your thoughts and kindness.

  2. Pingback: Open Adoption Roundtable #10: Birthdays « Open Adoption Bloggers

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