I found a version of this prompt in a set of questions written by a social worker for parents in open adoptions. As always, feel free to adapt it to your personal situation; if you grew up in an open adoption, you could look back on your actual experience.
Imagine your child as an adult describing their open adoption experience. What do you hope they will be able to say about you? How did you view their other parents? In what ways did you support their relationship with them?
One note: I deliberately avoided asking you to imagine how your grown child feels about their open adoption experience. Adoptees of all ages regularly report having more than enough people (i.e., any) telling them how they should feel about adoption. This is an exercise in thinking about our actions and choices from another’s perspective.
This past weekend, I was at a restaurant with my parents when I heard an older woman interrupt the young man she was with to ask “And which mom is this?” He replied, “My birth mom.” I liked that.
The only times that I’ve thought about teenage Cricket (the oldest I can really imagine him), I hope that when he gets really mad at me, he eventually gets over it. That’s really as far as I’ve gotten pre prompt. My husband and I talked last week about hoping that he’ll want to spend more time with us once he’s older (that is, more than an afternoon a few times a year—I don’t think we’re building up an unrealistic fantasy, but who knows). But I suppose this prompt is really more about examining my own actions and attitudes, which I’m always down for.
One of the only things stopping me from cancelling the upcoming visit is not wanting Cricket to look back and see broken promises from the birthparents. If he can say that we were always around when wanted, it will have been worth it. I hope he’ll say that we were what he wanted us to be. A nice lady at Catholic Charities asked me last week what I had imagined my relationship with him looking like before I placed him, and what I imagined now, and I said that honestly, I’m waiting for him to tell me; I don’t have much of an expectation, except that I expect some anger later on.
I hope Cricket will say that his bio siblings feel like his brothers and/or sisters. That’s one thing we’d planned for with Ruth and Nora that is coming to seem more and more implausible. I’d like to do what I can to make that connection more real for the kids, but I don’t really have any idea of how. When I was pregnant and I visited Ruth and Nora very late in the pregnancy, I spent some time with a little two-year-old girl, the daughter of a friend of theirs. She was just charming as all get-out, and fascinated by the pregnancy (after I left, she apparently told her mama that she had a baby in her stomach named Elizabeth)—I have her in mind when I think of what Cricket will be like when I have the baby. If I want him to think of the little bird as his, how do I make that happen? He’s too little to see the kidlet born even if that wouldn’t be weird for many other reasons (I saw my little brother born, is what makes me think of it).
I’m going to give up on this prompt because it’s just sort of depressing; I don’t see that I can really make anything happen. I can only make things not happen.