Interview Time! 2012

This is my third year doing the Open Adoption Interview Project. I’ve been paired with adoptive mothers each time: the first year, a woman with whom I have very little in common in terms of philosophy or life experience; last year, someone I am fortunate to call a friend; and this year, a lady who falls somewhere in the middle: Kelly of Making Monkey Soup. Her questions and my answer will appear on her site. To read other interviews, please visit Production Not Reproduction.

Kelly is an adoptive mother through foster care to Mea; she also has a biological college-aged daughter and three adult stepdaughters. While the adoption is not open, Kelly has reached out to Mea’s first family through letters.

1. You’ve written about getting one letter from Mea’s birth family: Have you had any more contact from them?

We have not heard anything at all since that first letter.  I hope that things are going well for them.  None of the letters that I have sent have been returned, so I do have hope that they are receiving them okay.  Things have been a bit crazy at home right now, so it’s been a few weeks since I have written to them as well.  My plan is to keep sending letters and photos every few months.  I have gotten to a point where I hope that I will get a response, but I am not going to count on it.
As of right now, we haven’t discussed the letters with Mea.  I know the level of disappointment that I have felt in not having any response, and I don’t want that to be passed on to my six year old.  I have kept copies of the letters I have written to them to share with her when she is older, so that she can see that what I wrote to them, and that I tried.
Navigating opening a closed adoption is hard.  Due to the circumstances of her placement with us from foster care to foster adoption placement, I don’t think her family thought they would hear from her ever again.  I am hoping that maybe they are just in shock from receiving the letters, and that at some point if I continue they will start writing back to me (us.)

2. What would your dream situation be with regards to a relationship with/contact from Mea’s birth family?

I would want for them to be able to know their daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, etc.  To see that she is well taken care of and happy.  To be able to see where her humor, silliness, and personality comes from.  Ideally, I would like for them to be there for her, in whatever way she would need them to be.
I would be open to visits, and continuing the letters.
In trying to establish contact, this has been all about Mea.  If she has questions, if she wants to know them, I want to know that this is possible for her, and safe.  I think that because she is only 6, it is hard to know what her wants and needs will be when it comes to contact when she is older.  Which is why I have been trying to get some communication going, so that the lines of communication can be opened now, instead of trying to open things up when she has more questions later.
Ultimately, I want whatever Mea wants.

3. What’s Mea’s understanding of adoption right now?

Mea knows that she was adopted.  She knows that she has another mother, and that she grew in her tummy.  She knows that she couldn’t take care of her when she was born, so she lived with another Momma, June (foster mom) until she came to live with us.  She knows that she was not with us until just after she turned one years old.  Sometimes that is hard for her to understand.  As she is getting older, she is realizing that most babies are with their mom’s from birth.  Even most adopted babies.  That has been more than a little hard.
In pre-school they did a family tree, and the teacher requested for the kids to bring a baby picture of themselves to class.  She came home very distraught, because she didn’t think we had any “real” baby pictures of her.  I did, as her foster mom June had given us a photo album of her in her first year, but I will never forget how upset she was at the thought that we didn’t have any baby pictures.
I have since have made some copies of these photos, blown them up so that these photos are around our house as well.

4. Last year, you posted about trying to convince your friend to talk her pregnant (and planning to parent) daughter into placing her baby for adoption (http://makingmonkeysoup.com/2011/07/19/sometimes-you-just-make-do/). What is your understanding of the birthparent experience of adoption?

I went back and re-read that post.  I don’t think that I wrote it in the way that I intended it to sound.
When we were talking about her daughter’s situation, we were discussing all options that her daughter had available to her at that time.  It was early in the pregnancy, she could have had an abortion, looked at adoption, or her ultimate choice, parenting.
When I offered to talk to her daughter, it was more to talk to her in general, not to talk her into adoption.  I couldn’t make that choice when I was seventeen and pregnant, I certainly wouldn’t ever consider “talking” someone into it, although, I can see how what I wrote could look like that was what I was saying, I wasn’t too clear.  I just think that it is important that young mothers don’t go into parenting alone thinking that it is a cake walk.  It is hard.  Especially, if the baby’s father is not in the picture.
I have many friends who have placed children, most of whom I have met since blogging, but a few real life friends who have as well.  I have seen how devastating it can be to relinquish a child.  I know that it is beyond hard.  When I first discovered I was pregnant with Mackenzie, I thought about adoption for a period of time.  I just knew that I wouldn’t have been able to do it.  I would have been wrecked emotionally.

5. What has been your favorite age to parent with each of your daughters so far?

I love toddlerhood.  It is by far my favorite.  Two to five years old.  They are learning so much, and you can see their little minds working so many things out sometimes.  It is an amazing thing to watch, and they are so funny!  They just say the funniest things.

6. What are your hopes for Mea’s future?

I just want her to be well adjusted, happy and for her to have a life full of wonderful amazing experiences.  I hope that she will be able to have a relationship with all of her family members that she desires, and that these relationships are everything she could ever hope they would be.
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6 thoughts on “Interview Time! 2012

  1. Really good interview. As I read this interview right after your interview on her blog, I’m struck by how you each want a more open relationship than you have; you’re in one role, and Kelly is in another. It really underlines to me the fact that all parties in an adoption need to be open to openness, for openness to work. Most of my experience as a social worker has been with parents who’ve adopted from foster care, and I’ve tried to educate them on the importance of openness, but in reading your two interviews back-to-back I see the value in having – maybe an “openness awareness” project that would reach all members of the adoption triad; or at the very least, birth and adoptive parents. Thanks for this interview!

    • I like the sounds of this “openness awareness” project. It sounds similar to a workshop I plan to teach with Heather from Production Not Reproduction about open adoption for counselors and therapists.

  2. Good interview. Sometimes I wish schools wouldn’t perpetuate family tree exercises. I just realized our future kids will need to put a cross next to my late BIL’s name (or whatever signifies dec.).

  3. Ugh on the family tree exercise. Often it doesn’t give ways to represent all important familial relationships, and often it put a student in a place where she is faced with sharing a storyshe may not be ready to share.

    Thanks for this interview, SusieBook and Kelly.

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