Open Adoption Roundtable #13

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 part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list 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.


We often hear about open adoptions where the two sides don’t want the same level of openness. First mothers who don’t get updates as often as they would like, or not as many visits each year. Or adoptive parents who want to include their child’s first mother in his life, but she is not ready.

But what we don’t often discuss is when people on the same side of the triad can’t agree on the level of openness in an adoption.

  • It could be a wife who wants a fully open adoption but the husband only wants to send letters once a year.
  • Or a first mother isn’t ready for an open adoption but the first father wants to be part of the baby’s life.
  • Maybe a spouse isn’t supportive of their partner entering into reunion with their first mother.
  • Or a partner who came along after the adoption and isn’t comfortable with your relationship with your placed child.
  • And the classic Hallmark movie of the year scenario: Your mother-in-law is convinced that the baby will be snatched away from under your nose if you have an open adoption.

How would/do you navigate these situations? Does your current relationship impact the type of open adoption that you have? How does this affect your current relationship?

The last time I talked to my mother, she was telling me that the missionary friends who had just visited ended up looking at my wedding pictures—many of which include Cricket. There is a whole series of me holding this baby, and then some shots of this baby with two other women, and my mom said that they were friends and this was those friends’ child. I’m not sure how it happened, but I have become her adoption confessor: whenever she lies about the adoption, she comes to me for absolution. Every time I forward a couple of pictures on to her, she tells me that it makes her both happy and sad to see them—but that I shouldn’t stop sending them.

Mr. Book’s family has a less conflicted attitude: they think that we shouldn’t have done the adoption, they tell him that being able to make that decision makes us bad people, and they have decided to pretend that Cricket is dead. They strongly disapprove of us having any contact with the kid. I sent a picture of newborn Cricket to Mr. Book’s mother before this policy had been officially instituted, and she hasn’t spoken to me since—the adoption has effectively ended my relationship with that side of the family.

Those pictures I put up yesterday? Mr. Book hasn’t seen them yet. He got them when I did, and by now I have ordered prints, received them, and put them into the Cricket photo album—and my husband still hasn’t seen them. I asked if he wanted to look at them with me the other night, and he got slightly angry at me, asked me not to pressure him. I won’t bring it up again for awhile…but he’s never looked at any of the pictures unless I was beckoning him over to the computer, asking him if he’d be willing to see.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one on our end who wants to do anything related to the adoption. Sometimes, honestly, it feels like too much. But when I’m genuinely getting overwhelmed, Mr. Book steps up: Nora just had a birthday, and I handed him a card and asked him to write it. He wrote something charming, stuck it in the mail, and it just wasn’t my problem—such a relief. I had assumed that I would need to address, stamp, and mail it, and I know it sounds tiny, but he did all that and I don’t have to worry about it.

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2 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #13

  1. Yes, I totally agree. It more complicated than just two sides of the story.
    Often, as is in any family, every person involved has a ‘side’ or POV that has to be considered and worked around.

    I have to tell you that my mom has a bit of the same attitude about seeing or sharing pictures of my son that I placed. She wants to pretend that he is just a ‘friend of the family’ but she knows better…

  2. being a amom along with having my own bio children AND being adopted myself i think i fit into each category!My sons bmom is still making bad choices. . ie stealing, lying, etc. by adopting through cps its been a challenage. I truly love her as a person i just dont agree with her choices. i love her, as a person..i actually wish i could fix her if that makes sense.
    for christmas, the presents she got my son were stolen. She even got me a present which in fact she stole. This is soooo hard because again ive grown to love her. My husband wants me to cut ties.. but i cant! i do know i have to be careful but again i love her and want to fix her problems.

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