Open Adoption Roundtable #16

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.

10 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #16

  1. “I don’t see that I can really make anything happen. I can only make things not happen.”

    That’s all any of us can do, I think. Before we adopted J, I had all these ideas in my head about what open adoption was going to be like, and what it would *mean*, etc. And then D chose us, and we met her, and we met J, and now we’re parenting J and A – but it immediately became clear once D and J were actual people in our lives & not “hypothetical future child/first mom” that all my ideas and ideals about it were completely irrelevant to reality. I wanted to make things easier for D; I wanted to make things easier for J (and now A). I want to make everything beautiful and harmonious and wonderful, so we all look back years from now & think that even though none of it is ideal, it’s the life we’ve built and we are all happy with it.

    But I can’t do any of that. I can’t make it easier for any of them; I can only do my best not to make it harder for them.

  2. I hope that you can get to a point where you really enjoy this pregnancy and to a place where you can enjoy the thought of/reality of bringing Cricket a sibling.

    I like what Meghann writes about building the life they’re building and hopefully being able to look back on it years from now with happiness knowing that they did their best even if it wasn’t ideal. Isn’t that what any parent strives for?

    Know that we’ve never met – but I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog and getting to know you this way. Seems like you are going to be a GREAT mom because you are so thoughtful and introspective. Cricket is lucky to have you (however your relationship with him develops in the coming years) and the little kidlet inside you now is going to be so very lucky to have you as a mom.

  3. Just a couple thoughts to add…what a great anecdote about the teenage guy at dinner with his birth mom! I imagine that included in the assortment of emotions Cricket might feel will be curiosity about you and Mr. Book, esp. if he still resembles his dad as time passes. Particularly as a teenager, he may relish how different your personalities are from Ruth and Nora’s. Also, as soon as I finished reading the post I thought about how often some people s.kype with their SOs, friends, siblings, parents, etc. I know it’s not nearly as fulfilling as face-to-face contact, but I can imagine you, Mr. Book, and Cricket and the little bird s.kyping well before the kids have their driver’s licenses. It’s free, it can be impromptu or planned, and, though this point may be controversial, it offers a measure of privacy. To that point, I hope that Ruth and Nora will allow Cricket to be in touch with you guys in that way; but, you all will cross that bridge when you get to it.

  4. Ugh. When I imagine this I imagine my daughter will be pissed off. Her bmom did not tell anyone about her, and while “our” openess is increasing, it is only with bmom. I doubt my little one will ever meet her three older sisters, and that makes me sad. I have gathered (legally, on public social networking sites) many photos of the birth family for my kid. If she wants them, they are hers. I love her bmom, and I respect her decision, as much as I disagree with it. Sigh.. not easy stuff
    I really, really hope she will be glad Idid all I could to keep the adoption open as possible. I hope she doesn’t resent me for it.

  5. I like what meghann said too. I think all you can do now is try to begin building that bridge from one end by just being open to it and trying to communicate your wishes. for now, ruth and nora will have to meet you in the middle, but some day cricket will be able to cross it himself. I would imagine any kid would treasure the opportunity for a relationship with his birth siblings. it might just be a matter of time.

  6. “I don’t see that I can really make anything happen. I can only make things not happen.”

    I think you stumbled onto one of the big challenges in OA. There’s an enormous amount of allowing things to happen and of removing roadblocks.

    It is hard to imagine these little dependent beings as all grown up.

    Aside: That Luna is awesome. I love that she sent you such a sweet care package!

  7. Oh, I hope you can really manage the consistency. I can only imagine that it is really difficult, but from talking to adoptees as much as I do. Not being a secret, is huge. When you are a secret it feels like all the shame is foisted upon you.

    Unconditional love changes lives.

    My mom and I have had some really rough times, but I can’t say she is inconsitent and that has meant a lot to me.

  8. P.S.

    I know that you don’t want to read adoptee blogs, but do you think if you had that would have made a difference to you?

    I know some mothers who give away their children do read adoptee blogs and it doesn’t affect them, they think that their child will be different or that we are just defective.

    • Well, as I mentioned somewhere, I actually do read yours and Amanda’s–I just check in every couple of weeks and read every new post. But that certainly hasn’t made me worry less.

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