OART Underground

I pretty conspicuously skipped the last Open Adoption Roundtable. I didn’t plan to, really; I read the prompt, I thought about it, I read the other responses, and I let the deadline slip by. Of course, this prompt asked whether I’d ever considered closing the adoption not long after I’d talked onblog about thinking about closing the adoption. I’ve never planned to, and I can’t imagine that we actually would—but I do think about it, sure. It’s an ugly thing to say.

It’s not that I want to end a relationship with Cricket—I can’t—I don’t have one. But I do sometimes want to end my relationship with Ruth and Nora. I get so angry at them sometimes. I try not to dwell on that onblog, in part because my anger is so boring; I’m not mad at them for parenting Cricket. I’m mad at them for dozens of small, petty things, nothing dramatic or worthwhile. Making a list feels like whining. They don’t acknowledge anything you send? Cry me a river, Susie Book. Additionally, I don’t think Ruth and Nora are bad people, or that they’re doing bad things—they don’t want to have the kind of relationship that I hoped for, and they’re pretty flaky. They don’t really want us around. I don’t like those things, but good Lord; certainly I have worse qualities myself.

Maybe it’s just that being stapled together is hard on people. I haven’t had to deal with that, really. I really like Mr. Book, so I don’t have that problem with him, and I don’t have to get along with any in-laws; the Mister’s husband passed several years ago, and his mother prefers to pretend that I don’t exist most of the time. It’s not a dream situation, but it’s easy to deal with. Heck, he’s even an only child. I’ve heard adoption compared to a marriage, but ours is distant enough that I think the comparison to in-laws is more apt; we’re each connected to the child, and have to put up with each other for that reason. We’ve all had moments of greater and lesser grace.

I wonder whether Ruth and Nora find themselves disappointed in me. They have watched me get more and more awkward and withdrawn around their son, I had a child much sooner than they were comfortable with, and then I told them that I sometimes think about closing the adoption. Twice in the last year I’ve asked about pictures (but no luck this year!) although they have no obligation to indulge me on that one.  I named Cricket when he was born, which they were unhappy about, and then I went and named him after his birthdad. I’ve mentioned before that I hope that after they adopt again, they might come to like us better for being quite stable and fairly easy-going, but of course they have no such chance themselves; they’re alone under our microscope for the rest of their lives. And while we of course don’t share our opinions, they probably know that we have opinions about their parenting decisions—because how could we not?

I wouldn’t close the adoption. I think it’s the wrong thing to do, and I don’t want to get away from Cricket. In truth, even my slightly crazed fantasy isn’t of a genuinely closed adoption: they still have our address and email addresses, and are welcome to contact us if Cricket ever wants to. What I want is to feel less pressure to perform, not to feel obligated to drop them an empty, chatty email every couple of weeks, and to be able to see the kid once in awhile and enjoy that time. I want to be able to write to him, too—that might feel important because it’s the only thing I think I’m doing well. But I wish you could see my box of cards for Cricket, or watch me carefully add stickers to an envelope after the writing is done. Yesterday I ordered next year’s holiday cards for Cricket; this is a more time-consuming process than you might guess, and must be performed the year before. It strikes me all of a sudden that most of what I’m actually able to do for the kiddo—the things I feel competent at—is invisible.

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5 thoughts on “OART Underground

  1. You know I wrote that Pain is Pain post for a birth mother who I happen to love who does this minimization. I hereby give you permission to cry yourself a river, SusieBook. I don’t care how reasonable an adoption looks on paper — it still sucks. Everything you describe here sounds hard and painful and I admire you for sticking to the relationship for Cricket’s sake. You are awesome.

  2. I know I sent you an email about this but I really hate Ruth and Nora as a proxy for hating IAC and places/people the promise OA without believing it or knowing what it could actually look/feel like to have this other set of people present in and important to your child’s life.

    Anyway, when Cricket gets older, he’ll be able to make these decisions for himself. And it sucks that you’re missing out on his early life and it sucks, and I don’t know what idea Ruth and Nora may be instilling in him about you, but hopefully your adoption will flourish more once he’s older and can contact you himself. Childlike curiosity about the origin story tends to trump caregiver selfishness and fear.

    Also, Joey is really cute, so there’s that.

  3. I second what Dawn wrote…you’re awesome! I admire you for the way you maintain the relationship. There are so many upsetting things, so many ways they’ve let you guys down. I hope that their second adoption will give them some insights and lead to improvements. For now, you’re making deposits for your and Mr. Book’s future relationship with Cricket and a future relationship between Cricket and Joey. Btw, I’m sorry about your MIL; she’s missing out.

  4. chiming in with the choir here. I do think you have a right to be upset that the relationship is not what you hoped, and that R&N are not what you expected and don’t hold up their end by being civil and responsive, or even proactive (as I think APs should be). I think it’s lovely that you write cricket letters, even if he can’t read them yet. I hope someday you will be able to have the relationship you envision with cricket, or at least have that opportunity.

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