Open Adoption Roundtable #31

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought this prompt would fit right in:

Write about open adoption and being scared.

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.

Write a response at your blog–linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and share your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is 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.

There was a question over on Open Adoption Support about why some birthfamiles talk about having lost their placed children, and one woman said that people like me have no right to say that we lost our kids, because we made a decision and signed the papers. Of course, I had already posted that sometimes I say I “placed” my son and sometimes I say that I “lost” my son; more accurately, at those times, I say that I lost my son because I am an idiot. I was upset and scared and self-loathing and determined to have some kind of plan. That scared thing? It turns out, that doesn’t go away.

At least not for me. Cricket is about to turn three, and I’m still scared of him.

I’m not one of those people who is afraid of babies or little kids; I’ve started hanging out in the church nursery on Sunday mornings so that Pete can socialize, and I’m happy to comfort the most fragile and shy babies. (There’s one little boy just a smidge younger than Pete who, when Pete sticks his face in this kiddo’s face to say a friendly hello, bursts into tears.) When I was in grade school, I helped my mother when she volunteered in the church nursery and always liked doing so. In fact, there’s only one baby I’ve ever been afraid of—not a baby any longer—my own Cricket.

Having been made acutely aware of the fact that can lose Cricket—because I lost him—I now am staring down the barrel of decades of being able to lose him again. There are a number of different ways it could happen: his moms could decide to close the adoption, shocking no one; he could tell them in a few years that he wants the adoption closed, something I am certain they’d agree to; and of course he could decide as an adult that he has two moms and that’s it, that these tall people have nothing at all to do with him. This is one of several things that keep me spooky and uncomfortable around him; I look at him (on the computer, Skyping) and feel frozen. Anything that I say could be not just the wrong thing, but the Last Wrong Thing. So instead, by default, my distance is the wrong thing. It’s not just that I can’t win—it’s that I can’t imagine what winning would look like. Can we possibly be close? When I reach out and he responds, I have no earthly idea what to do.

I have an example. I don’t know whether I mentioned it here, since it seemed unlikely to matter, but last month I made a two-minute video for Cricket in which I showed and explained our pool robot. I had learned via Skype that Ruth assumed that when I said “pool robot,” I meant those floaty things that release chlorine—but not so! There is a real robot! So I filmed it and picked it up and described its action. She told me that he is obsessed with the phrase “bear with me,” which I used as I hauled the robot up from the bottom of the pool. And she said this: “He did note that you say ‘love you’ at the end, and this made quite an impression. He talks about this pretty often.” And when she told me this, I didn’t respond directly—I made some inane comment about a different thing that she’d said—because what can I say to that? I reached out a little and he heard me, and now I don’t know what to do.

10 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #31

  1. I wish I had real wisdom for you, but for what it’s worth, I think your robot video and “love you” sound like very much the right thing.

  2. It sounds as if you did great reaching out so far. Maybe do it again?

    Also, from this exchange it sounds as if Ruth (sometimes) welcomes your love for cricket, even if she is conflicted about her openness with you. If so, I am glad!

  3. It’s gotta be so hard to feel that fear about saying the last wrong thing…even if can’t be yourself with Ruth there on skype, I love the sound of sending him a personalized video.

    I hope you guys get over the stomach bug soon! Little snerks would look adorable dressed up for Halloween…

  4. I does sound like Ruth, even if conflicted, wants you to know what your expressions of love for Cricket mean to him. I can’t imagine how this feels to you, it must be awful. I love that you made the video, keep them coming. Perhaps on the videos you will find yourself being freer, and he will benefit from seeing that side of you,

  5. I love that you made him that video. It does sound like Ruth gets it re: love is important. I feel like — or possibly just hope hard — her conscience wouldn’t let her get in the way of love; it’s why we all gravitate toward open adoption in the first place.

  6. Sounds like the video was a hit – maybe you should make more? And maybe it’s a better format for you to reach out and overcome some of your fears.

  7. I loved the pool video too! Really stinks that you don’t feel you can be yourself out of fear for losing him. eggshell relationships are hard for everyone.

  8. As a first mom from the late 80s, I understand the fear — the knowledge — that one can lose one’s child again at any time, that each call, each visit could be the last. The ceaseless double-bind. I’ve read a few of your posts and can see why you would feel this way all the more.

  9. I had never thought about that added fear of loss before… there are so many bad things that can lead to loss in this world, but this sounds particularly hard. That savoring every second and worrying you might do something wrong. It sounds very hard and intense. I hope our comments offer some support. I know this might mean little — but your words have inspired me to remember that sometimes when someone important in my life says something every so slightly off, sometimes it is a sign of how much they care. And sometimes it means I should reach out more to reassure that it is okay. I hope that all the adults in Cricket’s life help him see that. And I hope that all the adults in kids lives help them remember the people who love them from a far by keeping the conversation going through stories and mentioned the person even after the phone or skype has been hung up.

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