Open Adoption Roundtable #17

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.

Publish your response during the next two weeks–linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and leave a link to your post in the comments. Using a previously published post is perfectly fine; I’d appreciate it if you’d add a link back to the roundtable. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

Are there any things that you don’t want the other members of your triad to know—or that you don’t want to know about them? I’ve heard first mothers talk about not sharing their birth stories with adoptive parents because those are for the adoptees and for themselves only. I’ve also heard of adoptees concealing their reunions from adoptive parents so as not to cause them pain. What don’t you want shared in your adoptive relationships?

This prompt first took root in my brain when I was reading some perfectly nice adoptive mother’s blog and saw that was celebrating her child turning nine months + because now (and I paraphrase) “She’s been with me longer than she was with her.” I hate this sentiment, and I also hate “Gotcha Day”; if Ruth and Nora celebrate(d) these, I thought, I never want to know. Both “holidays” feel like a really gross kind of possessiveness to me—I get it, you have the baby, you won. No need to rub it in with creepy made-up holidays designed to point out that you’re the real mommy, you are, not that other lady, it’s you.

I know how uncharitable that is. I look at that paragraph and imagine a perfectly nice adoptive mother leaving a hurt comment, telling me that they celebrate the day they became a family, and what is wrong with me? Well—I lost my son. I did that, it’s certainly no adoptive parent’s fault, and I don’t leave comments on those perfectly nice blogs telling people that they should be ashamed. (For the record, I have no similar feelings about finalization day. That seems like a perfectly fine day to celebrate, if anyone in blogland is looking for my approval.) But—okay, I will try to make a comparison. At the visit, one of the small wooden cars I had for Cricket to play with is a fire truck, and I noticed that Ruth was telling Cricket that fire trucks check on people who need help. She saw me listening and explained that they had originally told Cricket that fire trucks mean that someone is hurt, or that someone is in trouble, because it seems inappropriate to them that little kids think it’s awesome to see the fire truck zipping by when in fact it is racing through traffic because someone could be dying. So they told Cricket that it’s actually a sad thing, and he started to seem really distressed by fire trucks, so they’re trying to scale it back a bit, because compassion is great but they don’t want to traumatize him. And at first I thought, That’s so dumb. Why not let him just think they’re cool? But after awhile, I realized that they’re right—fire trucks don’t generally put the sirens on because everything is fine, and seeing little kids thrilled by them would be spooky if put into that context. I don’t know that I will necessarily do as they have done, and I don’t have any beef with parents who choose instead to point out a fire truck excitedly to their toddlers, but I think Ruth’s is a valid point of view.

Originally I planned to say that I don’t want Ruth and Nora to know that I regret placing Cricket, but I’m not actually sure that that’s true. I don’t want them to know if they don’t want to know, but I do kind of want them to know—more than that, I want them to want to know. (Okay, that’s it, I think I’ve officially hit “unreadable.”) I don’t want them to feel guilty about adopting him, and I don’t think they would, but. So what don’t I want them to know?

I don’t want them to know about anything I wish for that they wouldn’t be enthusiastically in favor of. I don’t want them to know that I do wish we could throw the boys a joint birthday party some years down the road, because they wouldn’t like the idea, and I would feel presumptuous and ashamed. Heck, I can feel that way all by myself without the embarrassment of involving Ruth and Nora. I don’t want them to know that I don’t want to see Cricket the way the Mister does, at least for the last few months—I dreaded the visit, mostly, and didn’t see “at least I’ll get to spend time with the kid” as a silver lining. That is a messed-up and complicated thing that I’m working through, and I know how bad it sounds. (And for the record, I really enjoyed the time I spent with him.)

Oh, and I don’t want them to know about the blog.

20 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #17

  1. I don’t think you’d have to apologize to any nice adoptive mom (I say that, being, I think, one of them!). I found the finalization very confusing, for the record, because I really was both happy about what we were celebrating & sad about the inherent imperfectness of the situation. I wish for example that birth certificates didn’t excise the truth: I am not the woman who gave birth to Saskia & although I’m her mother, I feel odd about that (similarly, my sister has twins via surrogate & that woman’s name is excluded, which also seems strange & in a way part is that there’s in that excluding a parity between the two set-ups that isn’t true).

    I don’t think we’ll ever celebrate forever family day or anything like that.

    I wish Ruth & Nora wanted to know you regretted/were sad about the adoption & could help hold that. And I’m not always sure I want Caroline to read my blog, either. At least some of her family does (& like it). I don’t know, but my wish is sadness can be shared & somehow in that way, lessened.

  2. They day we took Madison home was the day after our anniversary and now those three days (Madison’s birth, our anniversary, her coming home day) seem crowded with bittersweet sentiment. We have a picture of the day we took her home (it’s a picture of her in the carseat on the way home) and for a long time I couldn’t have it out on the shelf but then one day Pennie said it was one of her favorite pictures (because it is adorable, not because of when it was taken) and so I put it back out. I have very mixed feeling about that day and it’s certainly one of love but not at all of celebration. We also don’t celebrate her adoption day because that’s when it became legal but it just wasn’t a big deal by then — it was paperwork. Plus the ceremony wasn’t meaningful — I didn’t like what the judge said really. I used to feel bad for not being happy about that day but I don’t anymore.

  3. Yes to not wanting to hear about things like “Gotcha Day” or the 9 months thing. I actually blogged about Cupcake turning 9 months (did I? Or did I just draft it….not sure!) and how hard that was for me. Hearing about her finalization party didn’t really bother me the same way either…interesting!

    • I’m so glad to hear you say that—I obviously feel pretty defensive about this one, but feel a little better for knowing that I’m not the only one gritting her teeth at Gotcha Day.

      • You know, it’s a cutesy thing that aparents can celebrate, and I don’t knock them for doing it, I just don’t REALLY want to hear about it to be honest. But I’m not one to comment on their posts and be the buzzkill of “you know, ‘gotcha day’ hurts ME because….”

        BUT, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting. Your “gotcha” day is my “lost ya” day. Doesn’t have quite the same “adorable” ring to it, you know?

        And as I don’t try to share my pain on that end with Dee, I appreciate her not flaunting her joy of the “gotcha” at me in that way.

    • yeah….I remember reading that “9 month” thing in a blog too. I like the blog, but part of me was a little put off by that remark. I mean, the ‘nine months’ in utero are far more important life-impact-wise then all the life of a person after birth. No human being will ever grow as much, as quickly, and form as much important stuff ‘outside’ the womb as they did inside.
      Did that make sense…anyways…I am totally with you

  4. As an adoptive mother, I hate the term “Gotcha Day.” It just seems, well, tacky. And many other adoptive parents I know say the same thing. The problem is this – what else do you call it? I think if anyone came up with a better name it would be used.

    And I will never forget giving our children’s birth mother a long hug while she sobbed and thanked us for taking her child! Thanked us??? I simply could not believe it. My emotions from that day are so conflicted that I cannot imagine ever making it an annual celebration.

  5. Ditto the comment above about “Gotcha Day” being an incredibly tacky term. When we finally bring our baby home (we’ve been trying to adopt for 2+ years now), I expect that that date will always be burned into my memory as the day I became a mother — but to me, there will always be the other side of the coin for that day, because someone else will be saying goodbye to her baby while I’m saying hello.

  6. I think part of the issue for me, too, is that in Cricket’s case, “Gotcha Day” was the day after his birthday—while I’m all in favor of celebrating him for a solid month each year, it isn’t so far away from the other obvious Cricket holiday that I can see why you’d want to have a second party.

  7. This post has me feeling like I just put my foot in my mouth, or my e-mail in my mouth:

    Our daughter was placed with us at 2 months old. She was in interim care with the agency while her first mom got counseling and explored her options. She continued to visit with our daughter and chose us about a month before placement (long story about that month), and we met, and talked. We just had the anniversay of our placement day, which I call our Famiversary. Placement day was, hands down, the most emotional day of my life. I was a mom. And I was taking a child from this woman I had already grown to love. FFWD 2 years, and we’ve struggled. But we are a family. Me, hubby, babygirl and her first mother. It OUR famiversary.

    And I sent her an e-mail. And told her so much. And now I am thinking I discounted her pain. Shit.

    • You know her better than I do! I do not know her at all! And every woman is different; seriously, if your sense is that she would want to celebrate with you, don’t let my feelings make you doubt yourself. I also think hamburgers are gross, and that Canada Day isn’t a real holiday; I’m only speaking for myself here.

      • It was a painful day for her, though she says there was more relief on that day then in the months before when it felt more like pergatory.

        And yeah, she gave us her baby and she got us as her family in return. That’s some trade off. I’m an asshole.

      • Okay. I re-read my e-mail and it was not as bad as I thought. I recognized the day for what it was, the day we were all brought together as a family. I acknowledged the emotions.

      • Trish, reading your comments really breaks my heart. I would NEVER want my opinion on this to make someone else feel badly. I agree with Susie in that you know your daughters birthmom and she definitely might not have the same….er….issues? that susie and I do! (I know birth Mom’s that certainly don’t!) I also think it’s different things for different people IN different situations. Your “famiversary” (which I think is actually a kinda cute name – how’s that for conflicting my own statements???) isn’t basically synonymous with her birthday.

        I think for me, some of the “issue” with “Gotcha Day,” especially when it comes on the heels of the birthday, is that it can feel like, “Sure, you were there for the birthday, but what’s even MORE important is this day where she became MINE!!!” It might not be meant like that, but can feel that way for me…

        (And, for the record, you certainly don’t seem like an asshole to me :)) ((((hugs)))))

        Also – I had a hamburger for lunch and it was delish! Sorry Susie 😉

  8. Well, and I think that mistakes made with good intentions (if it was a mistake) are less likely to do damage. You obviously care a lot for her, and I’m just babbling here, but that matters more than word choice.

  9. I’m another adoptive mom who doesn’t celebrate (or use the term) ‘Gotcha Day’. In fact, I’d have to look at paperwork to even remember the date, though we do tell him the story of that day whenever it comes up in conversation.. It was a five day process between meeting him and bringing him home, and he likes to hear the details.

    re: not wanting Ruth and Nora to know that you’ve not always been eager to visit Cricket…I think (as a mom)that if I was in an open adoption, I’d understand if my child’s birthmom said she was too deep in loss to enjoy a visit and would rather wait for another time. I can see that if the theory of the open adoption is that the child is first and foremost and it’s best for the child to have regular contact, the adoptive parents might have a “suck it up for the good of the kid” attitude, but if the theory is that both birth parent and child should benefit, I think that leaves a lot more room for birthparent feelings to matter, especially when the child is so young that he can’t really conceptualize that a visit failed to happen, or feel any rejection because of it.

  10. I don’t get Ruth and Nora, why do they have to explain fire trucks?

    When my son was about Cricket’s age we lived right next door to a fire-station. The trucks would come out big and blaring with their diamond plated steel on the side. He would rush to the window and shout out, “Fire-truck!”

    I even, probably wrongly, would sometimes pretend I saw a fire-truck coming when he didn’t want to get up for school.

    We went to the fire-station and ate their pancakes on their fundraising days. The fire-fighters explained how they put out fires in a very kid-friendly way.

    I mean he is this very little boy, why can’t that just be part of his world until he grows into understanding?

    They are lucky they don’t live next door to me or I would be lending them copies of, with, “children are not tiny adults” highlighted and then they would move away to get away from my annoying, non-information giving didactic friendliness.

  11. That whole 9 month thing had never occurred to me until I read this post. I would never think of our situation in such black and white terms. My daughter’s birthmother is the reason she is with me. She created her and cared for her during the pregnancy the best she could. And then she made the monumental decision to place her baby with us. My daughter is MY daughter, but she is also HER daughter. No finalization (which we just had Monday), no new birth certificate, nothing will change either of those facts.

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