Open Adoption Roundtable #15

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. The prompts are meant to be starting points–feel free to adapt or expand on them.

The prompt for this round comes from the very dear mama2roo of Letters to a Birthmother:

Does money have an impact on your open adoption? If so, how? (Could be issues pre- or post-placement, expectations, assumptions, costs of visit activities, travel, gifts–you name it.)

Yes. Ruth had proposed a meet-up on May 8, and while I had a few reasons for wanting to reschedule, among them is the fact that we simply can’t afford to travel right now—for the last week and a half, we’ve had $20 to spend on groceries or any emergencies. Luckily, we avoided having an emergency, and I’m a dab hand at beans and rice.

When we drive to the Emerald City to see them, we use about a tank and a half of gas—call it $50—in addition to any other money that gets spent (Mr. Book usually wants to get himself breakfast at McD’s on the road, recently we’ve been going to a coffeehouse for a break in the middle of the vist, etc.). When they come to see us, we take them out for one meal and I cook one meal, often something more elaborate/expensive than I would have made for just the two of us. There’s no way we could manage either one of those today, and although things will be all better by June (I hope I hope), I don’t know whether we’d be able to feed company in early May. I can’t talk to Ruth about this stuff; I don’t want her to feel as though we’re begging for help, which we’re not, and I also find it a bit embarrassing. (We haven’t been irresponsible; I just haven’t been able to find work.)

Last year, Ruth offered to give us gas cards for visits, if we needed, and I don’t think I’d ever be able to accept them. It’s funny—I’m one of those birthmoms who did get some financial assistance from the PAPs while I was pregnant, which I know is controversial—they paid for medical expenses that weren’t covered by MediCal and bought me some maternity clothes. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me; these were expenses I wouldn’t have if I weren’t pregnant, and things they would probably have to pay for themselves if they were expecting a biokid. But I think that experience has made me extra averse to ever getting any financial assistance from them of any kind now that Cricket is born and placed. They weren’t “buying a baby,” but of course that money cemented in my head that the unborn child was their kid and that there was no way I could keep him. The secret added complication is of course that I am pregnant right now; if I take money from them while pregnant, gosh, hang on a second, I know how this one goes and no thank you I mean thank you but no thank you.

I don’t mean to imply that Ruth and Nora ever did or ever would think that giving me a maternity dress or filling our car with gas buys them anything, and in fact I think they would be horrified by the suggestion.

In a way, I think that this is all related to my crazy hope chest. Needing help to pay my medical bills and not being able to buy baby things last time ‘round seemed like proof that I couldn’t be a mother. But now I have blankets, I have burp clothes, I have tiny outfits. There are other things that we need (and don’t for a minute think that it doesn’t fReAk me oUt to make a list of the things we should hopefully acquire in the next seven months), but if we bought a pack of diapers, we’d be able to fake it for at least a couple of weeks. It’s going to be hard, parenting with not a lot of money, but I’m finally at a point where I believe that we can be good parents and impoverished parents at the same time. I’ve set up a couple of registries and will hope that my parents get enthusiastic about shopping for junior, but we’ll scrape by either way. I would like to get a dresser that we can also use as a changing table, but we can always put baby clothes in a cardboard box and change diapers on the floor. It would be nice to have a crib, but that’s really unlikely, so we’ll do without.

Money really does affect our open adoption—right down to being a primary cause of its existence.

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8 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #15

  1. Speaking from experience, it’s possible to be impoverished and be good parents. We’ve had three kids with no changing table (we used a mat on the foot of our bed), a hand me down crib, and a lot of hand me down toys/clothes/supplies. Babies are expensive- if only because, cloth or disposable, diapers are expensive. However, they don’t have to be insanely, ridiculously expensive.

  2. Nursing the baby is one way to save. I am also an ad.mom and although I adopted my fosterchild and not a prebirth match type thing, I ENJOY helping the family, because THEY are my FAMILY also KWIM? But myself, I would feel just like you do accepting money. I give graciously but can not be gracious about receiving for some reason.

  3. We are a family of four living in a one-BR home (living room converted into BR, DR is now living room). I think I know every free event, parade, playground, etc in the year. When we were pregnant we did a lot of second hand and Goodwill shopping, and much of our stuff was passed on from other Moms. The babies use it for such a short amount of time that it all stays in pretty good shape. Also, is there a freecycle group in your area? We got a crib and playstation from freecycle. Plus, my kids like playing with the easiest things – jars, buckets and large bolts keep the 12-month old amused for half an hour.

    You are going to be a wonderful Mom, and you already have the video games so adolescence will be much less expensive!

  4. Hand-me-downs are awesome! We were lucky enough to get a couple garbage bags full of hand-me-downs, and we’re still dressing my daughter out of those. We also ended up handing down to others adorable outfits that my daughter wore all of twice before growing out of them. Oh — and we got a hand-me-down pack&play, which could totally work as a crib if you need one. But we never used a crib at all — my daughter sleeps on a mattress on the floor, Montessori-style.

    We had a changing pad, but we used the floor all the time anyway, until we finally got rid of it. And most of the time I dress my daughter (and myself, for that matter) out of the clean laundry basket. I never got any kind of diaper bag or anything — just used messenger-style bags we already had.

    Really, they never like fancy toys as much as adults expect them to. My daughter’s almost 2.5 now, and one of my major playtime successes was an empty plastic water bottle with a few ounces of water, a squeeze of dish soap, and a few drops of food coloring. She also loves it when I give her a small spiral-bound notebook and a pen so she can pretend she’s writing. And once I spent 30 minutes on the train acting out the difference between “picking up” her sippy cup and “peeking out” from behind my scarf, and she LOVED IT and kept requesting that game (unfortunately I found it rather less fascinating than she did).

    Diapers, yes, are expensive — though I believe cloth is significantly less so than plastic.

    And a car seat, that’s the only other potentially pricey item you MUST have. Note that car seats MUST meet federal safety standards to be on the market, there ARE NO unsafe car seats for sale, so DO NOT let the name-brand manufacturers scare you into thinking you have to get a fancy-pants seat!

  5. I really wish that $$ didn’t have to play a part in adoption.. EVER! In the decision to place, in the ability to have an OA, in money ever having to change hands.

    Thank you so much for sharing. It really gives great insight into how a first mom feels about this issue.

  6. As a birthmom money was the primary reason that I chose placement as well. And as Andy said, I also wish that money never had to enter into the equation either. But it does and it affects everything in one way or another, big or minute.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am sure that your son’s mothers are going to be very happy for you. 🙂

  7. I hate hate hate that money is ever a factor so drastically someone’s options for building a family. whether it’s the ability to parent a child or the ability to even conceive one. make no doubt about it, you will be fabulous parents.

    you don’t need a boatload of stuff, as you know. you need a carseat. you can usually find good cloth diapers at a 2nd hand/consignment shop, if you’re into that sort of thing. hand-me-downs (even maternity clothes) are awesome and you can save a small fortune. anything else you want, you can find 2nd hand or on craig’s list.

    I just wish money wasn’t even an issue when it comes to parenting.
    I do appreciate hearing your perspective on this as a first mom, thanks.

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