Open Adoption Roundtable #19

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 listed at Open Adoption Bloggers 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–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Awhile back I read a summary of a workshop held for prospective adoptive parents who were exploring their options. During their survey of different sorts of adoption, the speakers said that, at its most basic core, “Open adoption is about information sharing.”

“Hm,” I thought when I read that.


I turned that one over in my mind for quite some time and now I’m turning it over to you. Generalizations are a tricky business. Relationships are too diverse, too complex for blanket statements to cover them all. But generalizations certainly make for good conversation starters–and an interesting exercise in thinking about what we each would say is the foundation of open adoption…

“Open adoption is about information sharing.” Share your reaction to that statement. How well does it match up with your experience of open adoption? If you disagree, how would you finish the phrase, “Open adoption is about…”?

Semi-open adoption is about information; the adoptive parents can get constantly updated health information, the birth parents can know that the kid is alive and well, and the adoptee can have his or her questions answered. If information is what it’s about, open adoption (or what I’m tempted to call open open adoption) is pointless hard stuff. So what do I think open adoption is about?

I want to say that in general open adoption is about relationships, but that in our case—at least for me and the Mister—it’s about trying to make up to Cricket for the relinquishment forever. (Oh, that’s not the whole story, but it’s a big piece, and it’s what I’m focused on right now.) I have, in darker moments, told people that it’s important for me to maintain the open adoption so that when Cricket is older, he can tell me to eff off if he wants to—that that is his right, and that I need to make sure that he has the opportunity. I do hope that he won’t exercise that option, but it can’t be up to me, and I’m not allowed to go away because that would deprive him of the chance to tell me to get lost.

Recently I watched the adoption documentary Off and Running. A documentary about the adopted children of a lesbian Jewish couple: How could I not? I haven’t yet seen a documentary about adoption that I’ve really liked (or any movie involving adoption, now that I think of it), and this one was interesting enough, but not particularly well made. There were two pretty rough things in the movie, and one of those is that when the—Lord, can I call her the main character? hmm—when Avery writes to her birthmother, she gets one letter back and then never hears from her again (at least through the end of the film). I don’t guess that I’m in any position to talk about what all birthparents owe their placed kids, but I’m pretty sure that in Avery’s position it would have felt unfair, and that I would have felt re-abandoned. I see internet forum topics every so often with titles like “Why hasn’t my birthmother searched for me?”  While the agency I worked with never suggested that open adoption had anything to do with duty, I’ve come to see it as something that I’m obligated to do; whatever the relinquishment papers said, I feel certain responsibilities toward Cricket. Heck, I placed him for adoption because I was trying to do right by him—why would that need of mine vanish just because I no longer have any legal connection to him?

After Ruth and Nora took the pregnancy announcement so badly—and recently again, after reading a question over at Open Adoption Support that felt terrifyingly relevant—I spent some time thinking about what we would do if they were unable to treat our raised kid/s decently during visits. My first impulse was to say “We’d close the adoption!” . . . but then I think about Cricket, and the fact that walking away because of his moms would probably never seem fair to him, and I start thinking about whether we might be able to visit one at a time and leave one Book at home with any little Books. Maybe we’d go semi-open.

6 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #19

  1. This is one of those times where it doesn’t pay to borrow trouble. It’s in flux now — until New Baby arrives it’s hard to say what will happen. When Pennie was pregnant I was anxious for Roscoe to arrive so we would know how it was going to be since none of us knew but we were all worried about it.

  2. It’s so hard not to project ahead & wonder what if what if…
    Anticipating a whole new person’s arrival & impact is anxiety producing. And Dawn’s right: you just have to see what unfolds.

    Knowing it’s a big deal to others (& potentially that there will be jealousy or something akin to that involved) helps you cut them more slack for a while, remembering that everyone’s tender at that time.

  3. Great post Susie. You and Mr. Book are in this for the long haul; and, even if teenage Cricket confronts you with his anger or grief, I believe that the three of you will be able to address these feelings and preserve (or strengthen) your relationship.

    It was so striking to read the post you linked to incl. the comments. I really hope that R&N don’t treat the little bird the same way or act like that toward you guys. Another compelling aspect of Dawn’s post was the six months of silence that followed her disclosure to her son’s a. parents that she could never relinquish another child. I wonder if some of the tension will diminish when both parties complete their family building.

    I was happy to read that you guys get a visit with Cricket in October…maybe you can make some more of your homemade salsa that he liked so much!

  4. Was the other rough thing in the movie the time Avery spent away from the family? I’m just curious. I know that struck me, because we watched it right after Rowan had run away from us and yet I was surprised at how much my sympathy was with her more than with her parents. I guess I need to rewatch that thing….

    It sounds like thinking of open adoption as an obligation is useful to you now. I mean, it gets you through the hard parts if you look at it as penance. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be better or easier or that this is the healthiest permanent way of looking at it possible, but I can see why it works for now and I imagine it will evolve in various ways as the situation evolves.

    • That would have been a good one, but honestly, I was thinking of the part where she said that she wanted to figure out who she was/is, and one of her moms said “I’ll tell you who you are:” I cringed, and would have been mad as a wet hen if my mom had said that to me even without the adoption piece. I sort of see that as leading to the time spent away, so maybe yes?

  5. I hope that Ruth and Nora will treat you and the Little Bird better than the adoptive parents in the OA post. Dawn is right – it’s just so hard to predict what will change when another person joins the dynamic. I’m hoping Ruth and Nora bounce and can be delighted with the new baby.

    (my comments always feel so. lame. – sorry. I am trying to comment more, but sadly inspiration to be less lame remains missing)

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