Adoption Interview Project

This year I was fortunate to be paired with someone I already know and like: Momo, of Momosapien! Momo and I have had coffee together, and it was a pleasure to be able to ask her some nosy questions. 😉

1. How were you matched with your daughter? What was your adoption process like?

We were matched with our daughter through a local open adoption agency. We were given a heads up about her mom’s situation two days before QL was born and asked if we would want to be considered to parent this child. We said yes – this was the 6th potential match we had been screened for, the most recent of which was two days before we were told about QL’s mom. To break down that timeline: 5 years ago, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we got a call about a baby girl who had been born and were asked if we would consider parenting in that situation. We said yes, but that birth family chose a different adoptive family. We found that out Monday. On Wednesday of the same week we got a call telling us about QL’s mom and that her baby was due in a week – the Monday after Thanksgiving. We said yes to being considered in that situation. The day after Thanksgiving we got a call that a baby girl had been born to this mom and that the mom wanted to meet us. We drove 5 hours away to meet QL’s mom and baby QL, just 1 day old. By the end of that evening we were planning an adoption agreement with QL’s mom and the next day she was placed in our care. The three of us (Mama Meow, QL and I) stayed one more night in the hospital due to a raging snow storm.
All in all we waited 13 months to adopt. The process was very different for each of us. The wait was hard on both of us. The placement itself was surreal, especially with the backdrop of the snowstorm.

2. How long have you been vegetarian? What inspired you to start?

I never actually identified as vegetarian. Mama Meow did, and I ate vegetarian in her company for a long time while she was vegetarian. I have a partially written short story called Part-time Vegan about my experiences being partnered with someone who was making drastic changes to her diet when I, essentially, was not. Maybe I’ll finish writing it someday. We did raise QL vegetarian for the first 2 or 3 years of her life.

3. Do you ever think about adopting again? What factors affect that decision?

 We do think about adopting again. The only way I would consider adopting again is through the foster care system. We can’t afford to adopt through a private agency again, and I am pretty certain I wouldn’t want to go that route again even if we could. Other factors include the strain that parenting has put on our relationship in the last 5 years, and the financial aspect of caring for and raising another child, beyond the initial cost of adoption. We both agree that in most ways QL would love to have a sibling. I am not certain that will ever happen in our family though. Mama Meow really wants to raise another child. I have my moments of sharing that desire, and many more moments of feeling like our lives are already so full with just QL.

4. What is your relationship with QL’s first mother like at this point? You mention a recent visit: How often do you see one another?

Our relationship with QL’s birth mom is the strangest relationship I’ve ever been in. We share an intense connection and bond due to all loving QL to pieces. Communication between us often feels stilted, awkward and frustrating. My overall sense is that she is not interested in answering questions about herself or her life. She also does not ask us questions about our lives, us as people, our relationship, or about QL. This makes communicating very difficult, which is saying something coming from a therapist whose job is to communicate with people. We currently visit about once per year. Part of me wishes it were more often so that the bond between QL and her mom could grow. But much of me also feels so exhausted and overwhelmed from the visits we’ve had that I am not eager for them to happen more often. I wish we lived closer so visits weren’t such a big event. Dinner out together regularly, meeting at a park or having her over for dinner often would feel much more doable than having to drive 3.5 hours away, stay in a hotel and eat out for an entire weekend to be able to spend time with her. I know that I love and respect her. I know that I care about her and I really want QL to be able to know her. I know that I wish we knew more about her and her life, her feelings about the adoption, etc. She has told us many times how she knows we are taking excellent care of her daughter and she knows she chose the right parents for her daughter. This holds a lot of meaning to me.

5. What’s QL’s understanding of adoption and her family these days?

It is hard for me to gauge where QL’s understanding of her adoption sits. The things I hear her repeat back to us about her story include that she grew in her mom’s body, and then her mom chose us as her parents. She knows that process is called adoption. She knows other friends who are also adopted, and that other people also have birth moms. She knows that Mama Meow and I are her parents. She knows she has a dad, but that we don’t know much about him. Lately she is vocal about this making her sad.

6. You mention that you have a tattoo for your daughter; I have a tattoo for my placed son. Without getting any more specific than you wish to, how did you decide how and where to represent her? How old was she when you got the tattoo?

 Her tattoo has been a multi-step process. Originally I drew a tattoo that was the letter Q with a star in the middle and had it inked on the right side of my chest. (One of my other tattoos is the big dipper – I like stars). I loved having a tattoo with her initial in it, but never liked the way it turned out. What the artist said looked like motion in the tattoo I thought just looked sloppy and crooked. Also, as time went on and we were more committed to using both of QL’s names most of the time, I felt uncomfortable having my tattoo just say Q. So I had it redone and straightened out, added colors and added the L for her middle name, the name her mom gave her when she was born. It needs to be touched up, but I love it. QL loves it too. Last year for her birthday I had a necklace custom made for her with the same design as my tattoo. It wasn’t the hit I hoped it would be. She liked it, but doesn’t ask to wear it. Maybe when she is older. She does talk often about getting tattoos that match mine and Mama Meow’s.

7. Tell us something new that your QL has been doing lately!

She is learning to write letters. She has been able to spell her name for a while now, but the actual writing of it can vary quite a bit. At her school there is a whiteboard where they students all sign in before entering the classroom. Sometimes she writes her name backwards – starting on the right side of the board and putting the letters in reverse order right to left. Other times she makes 2 balanced stacks of letters, 3 in each row, also usually backwards. She does also write it correctly, left to right, on occasion. Next up is reading I hope.

8. Your old blog nickname for your daughter was Little Bear, so I have to ask: Does she have some/all of the Little Bear books?

No, surprisingly she doesn’t have any of these books. I started calling her Little Bear when she was a baby, and up until recently it has been my favorite nickname for her. However, now that she is almost 5 and is really tall, she protests every time I call her Little Bear because she says she is NOT little. So I have to replace Little Bear as the name I call her most often, and I figured I would replace it on the blog. So far I’ve been lazy about going back and editing out all the times I call her QL on the blog. That might happen someday. Maybe I’ll edit what LB stands for…Long Bear? Lovey Bear?

 9. My raised son, Joey, is about to turn one—any tips or memories to share from when QL was that age?

We were doing a lot of sign language with QL at that time, and she was signing back to us more which was a lot of fun. She also didn’t start walking until after her first birthday, so that changed everything. I can’t believe he is turning one already! That feels so fast, and yet I know it isn’t. Happy early birthday to Joey!!


If you wish to read some of the other interviews in the project, click this link!

And in My Mind, I Still Need a Place to Go

I’m thinking about the blog and what it’s for now, pushed by a couple of comments. I certainly don’t want it to be just me whining, as sulky and self-centered as my grief has largely been; I don’t want it to be a baby book; certainly I haven’t enough adoption news to fill a blog. Heck, I’ve semi-seriously considering making it mostly a food blog, since I do a lot of cooking and keep making new things that turn out well.


I don’t go back and read the early blog, just like I don’t go back and read the emails I sent during the match and then after. I started the blog as a diary, but left it open to viewership because the theoretical possibility that someone might at some point read it made it more likely that I’d keep writing. Just an internal motivation problem. So I mostly feel free to just shoot my mouth off—and, my God, people respond. It is the most peculiar thing. I don’t regret that last post, as I ended up having a pretty good email conversation as a result, but the fact of the matter is that I know less about foster parenting than any foster parent ever and probably approach it from a different angle. Certainly my cousin posted something gracious about what she was accomplishing while the baby girl had a visit with her mother.


At heart, for me, this has got to be a place where I say whatever I want to—and if that results in a pretty unflattering picture of me, well, that is unfortunate and ideally will lead to soul-searching and self-improvement in Susie’s house. Certainly the comment pointing out that I whinge on and on about Ruth and Nora’s parenting struck home; I absolutely do, and I feel entitled to do it where they and those they know will never see it, but wouldn’t it be preferable if I wasn’t preoccupied with those things? Cricket and his mama seem to be a pretty bad personality match, and that’s surely harder for all three of them than it is for me.


There have been other things I couldn’t talk about recently—my dad had a reoccurrence-of-cancer scare that turned out to be nothing, thank God—and feeling like there’s something I can’t say tends to drive me a bit frantic. I want to say that complaining here lets me get it out and then be genuinely concerned and engaged when Ruth talks to me, and I think that’s partially true; again, however, it would be better if I could just not get angry and frustrated in the first place. It’s not as though we have a relationship with Cricket right now—perhaps I should stop worrying about his day-to-day and just focus on being there in case he ever wants us (and sending holiday cards). I wonder this every so often, and certainly Joey means that I focus mostly on the boy who is here and trying to crack his head open on the fireplace, but I can’t quite step back as far as I imagine.


This little identity crisis has been brewing for awhile, and is the main reason why I’ve been posting less. But I suppose now I will probably work on it out loud.

The Unnumbered Questions

Well, O Solo Mama put up some questions about open adoption, and I’m one of the people taking a swing—I’m trying out the questions that came before the list, however. I addressed a couple of the others over on Dawn‘s blog, but it turns out I wasn’t quite finished.

No seriously, how do you watch your child being parented by someone other than yourself? Do you take some kind of pill every day? Or do you grieve for a long time, so long, even, that it impairs your relationship with your child or with your subsequent chidren? And then who helps you?

My first impulse is to ask a question in response: Why would closed adoption be easier? Yeah, being a birthparent is hard, and you grieve. But not knowing whether he was alive or dead—that’s not an improvement. I don’t, at least so far, have trouble hearing my son call his moms “Mama” or “Abba”; I was pretty clear on the fact that placing him meant that he was going to call someone else mama. If you place a child for adoption, someone else will be the parent to your kid. Period. Maybe a closed adoption lets you imagine that the child is pining for you always, or thinks of you as his or her “real mom,” or that the child died and that you have no hostage to fortune out there in the world, but I just can’t bring myself to put “birthparents (or adoptive parents, for that matter) can more easily lie to themselves” in the “pro” column for closed adoptions.

Technically I suppose I can’t tell you whether the placement/openness/existence of a Cricket has impaired my relationship with Joey, because I only have this relationship with him; I don’t know what that theoretical, sans adoption motherhood looks like, and never can. But I’m completely in love with Joey, and he seems to be thriving. Here’s a funny thing: one of the reasons that I placed Cricket is that I wanted him to be a longed-for child—I want that for every kid, and since he was born of a crisis pregnancy, I didn’t think that we could give that to him. But the loss of him has made Joey especially longed for, not just by me and his dad but (it turns out) by all grandparents and aunts and uncles and great-aunts and -uncles. This adoration doesn’t, so far as I can tell, have any creepy hint of “replacement child” about it—it’s just that now we’ve all in a sense been waiting for this boy for years, and he’s here, and everyone loves him. If I try to set him down for a nap and five minutes later need to pick him up because just not being held is enough to wake him up, it’s a little frustrating, sure—but it feels so good to hold him, even when I really need to get work done, even if I really have to go to the bathroom.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not grieving for Cricket—I imagine that will go on and on. But shoot, my husband still grieves for his father, who died five years ago; that doesn’t stop him having full and loving relationships now. Grief is. It doesn’t kill you. And again, I don’t imagine that the grief is necessarily any less when you don’t know your placed child’s name.

So who helps me? Well, I talk to my husband and to a counselor; I do some brain work on my own. I have to think that I’d be doing those same things if we were in a closed adoption. And I’m living my life and feeling blessed, so something must be working. I didn’t have any trouble bonding to Joey, and while I do of course think about Cricket and miss him, it isn’t poisoning my parenting or anything like. I wish our adoption was more open, in fact.

A Credit to Her Sex

After thinking about Ruth’s email and reading the conversation over at Dawn’s blog for a couple of days, I’m left with one conviction: When, in a prebirth matching relationship, you are all answering the question “What would your ideal open adoption look like?” the answer is probably “I have no earthly idea.”

Okay, that’s hyperbolic, but in many ways I did have no idea. I certainly didn’t feel like a mom when we were writing up our open adoption agreement, and I spend those months afraid that I would do something to scare Ruth and Nora off. They were my only plan. I didn’t know that visits would be hard, and I also didn’t understand that I’d miss him. I certainly had no idea that some nights I’d wonder what it would be like to have him sleeping next to me, between us. I knew that I wanted to name him; beyond that, I think I could have been pushed pretty far. Figuring out what I want over a year into the relationship kind of sucks—my consolation is that what I want will probably keep evolving, as will the wants of Cricket’s moms.

In the meantime, I do worry that our relationship is going to suffer a bit. My natural inclination (which I’ll fight whenever I feel up to it) is to pull away—not to email as often, not to ask about the next visit. I think it would be best if I can go on as if nothing has changed…and in a way, nothing has changed. I don’t see them as quite perfect anymore, but as I said to Mr. Book last night, that just leaves them as really excellent. I think I wanted to see them as perfect in part because of story women making an adoption plan get told: if I can’t parent because I wouldn’t be the perfect mom, I really need to pick the perfect adoptive parents for my son. I suspect that those Platonic PAPs don’t exist, but there are a lot of wonderful people out there, and wonderful is surely good enough.

I talked to my mother, and she asked me to get pregnant again. The first time my parents asked me to replace Cricket was three weeks after his birth—I keep kvetching about this, but it keeps coming up. =/ My therapist said on Monday that she thinks that it’s reasonable of my mom to keep asking for a grandchild because she lost one. I think this may be my week to stop feeling sorry for myself (for a bit) and try to see from other people’s points of view.

I do feel a bit self-conscious; I done got linked, and now people new to my little blog are seeing me not at my best—this entry is being written under the influence of no sleep (again). It’s also hard for me to disagree with people in a dialogue; don’t get me wrong, I do it, but I get anxious and broody about it. I try to explain that I was hurt by what you said, yes, but that doesn’t mean I think you were wrong, or wrong to say it; that I feel that I’m being made to stand in for positions I consider but don’t necessarily advocate for; that I’m just thinking out loud here, and I don’t want to bother anyone. But after all that, I am what I am and I’ve said what I have.

Birth Rites

Reading Dawn’s post about her transracially adopted daughter’s conversations on race made me think about Cricket’s matching and not matching. While he is as white as all four of his parents, I am a practicing Catholic, whereas Ruth and Nora are Jewish (Nora is not from a Jewish background and has not officially converted, but attends services and celebrates with her wife). Before his birth, we had several conversations about circumcision; I made it clear that I wasn’t going to have him circumcised and would not choose that for a child of mine, but that I assumed that they would want him to have a bris. When pressed for my reasons, I explained that I talked to a nurse (years ago, in a women’s studies course) who refused to perform them—she said that it was cosmetic surgery on someone too young to consent. It made sense to me, and the arguments in favor never have—Mr. Book is also opposed to circumcision. Ruth tended to agree with us, but she worried that it would be one more thing making him different from other Jewish kids. I also mentioned that circumcision made sense for me as a religious gesture–I like the idea of a visible sign of the covenant with God. Ruth found that part less important, saying that if it became important to him in his relationship with God, he could have it done as an adult. In the end, however, they couldn’t bring themselves to have him snipped; their rabbi performed a snip-free conversion for Cricket, a simchat ben. I assume that Orthodox Jews would not consider Cricket Jewish, but they would also have some problems with his moms, so I guess that’s not a major concern.

I chose Jewish parents (and therefore Judaism) for my son with an untroubled mind; mine is a fairly liberal theology, I believe that most of the major religions are praying to the same God, and I don’t think you have to be Catholic to be saved. But. I made one plan for Cricket that I never told his moms about. When he was mine, on that first day, before I signed the papers…I baptized him. I used that “extraordinary circumstances” clause and didn’t even mention it to Mr. Book at the time. But it was important to me; on that day, I was his mom, and I made several parenting decisions. The others I had discussed in advance with his moms-to-be, but this one was private. I don’t know whether I should ever tell them—or even Cricket—about that, and I probably won’t. I did tell my mother later, and she cried, and told me that she was glad; that she had wanted to do it herself, but understood that it wasn’t her place. And then she told me that before I was baptized in church, I was baptized by my dad. Apparently on one of the first nights of my life, my mom started to worry that I could die before I was baptized (I was perfectly healthy, this was just new mom stuff), and she talked my dad into baptizing me just in case. So apparently I was just carrying on the family tradition.

In Which Our Hero Is Kind of a Downer

I’ve been reading more and more adoption blogs recently—I should start adding names to my blogroll, I guess, as it is sadly incomplete. Of course, there are some I read that I wouldn’t link other people to: blogs whose authors have points of view that I find offensive. Yes, I often keep reading…but probably I shouldn’t.

Sometimes I write whole posts and delete them because I worry that I’m just rehashing old territory. I should either be a mother or not at all a mother right now, the limbo is my fault: check. I feel ambivalent about visits: check. Sometimes I cry about Cricket but I never tell his mom that: check. What more can I say?

I mean this blog to be mostly a space for me to work things out—so maybe if the same things keep coming up when I sit down to write, I should just write them out, see whether I can say or see something new. On the other hand, does it really benefit me to indulge myself in a sad sack game of broken record? I honestly don’t know what the best course is.

There have been so many little kids on the planes this trip. The first I saw were a pair of (I assume) transracially adopted little kids, a boy and a girl, two and four years old. They were adorable, and I let their family in the queue ahead of me and then valiantly didn’t watch the kids as they chatted with their parents and looked around. At some point (yes, I know how bad this is), I decided that if someone noticed me watching the kids and babies and asked whether I had or wanted any, I would tell them that I had a son stillborn last year. What is wrong with me? I’m glad that it didn’t come up—even though I did end up chatting with a few of the moms when their kids ran up to me, or into me—I would, I’m sure, feel even worse if I’d actually lied instead of just planning to. Usually I just tell people that I don’t have any kids.

I sometimes realize that I could end up bitter about the adoption, but have to acknowledge that if I do, it will be entirely my own fault. On some level, I loathe myself for making that decision—for even being able to make that decision. Shortly before our wedding, Mr. Book was treated to some no-doubt-delightful sobbing phone calls along the lines of “what the f%ck is wrong with me that I could do this,” and you know what? I haven’t really resolved that question to my satisfaction. Did I place give Cricket up because I thought it was the best thing for him? Yes, and.

I don’t know that any of my questions have one-word answers anymore.

Open Adoption Roundtable #9

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.

This round we’re going to consider one critique of fully open adoptions. Have you ever heard–or perhaps even made–statements like these?

“We have medical histories and can share the information we have about their birth parents with our children now. If they feel a need to initiate contact with their birth families when they are adults, we will fully support them.”
“The decision to have a relationship with her bio family should be hers when she is ready. Creating a relationship between them before she wants it might cause issues in the future.”
“Children deserve to have just one family during childhood and not to deal with anything adoption-related until they are more mature. A fully open adoption robs a child of a normal childhood.”
These statements are from people participating in closed and semi-open adoptions. I paraphrased them slightly, but left the meanings intact.

The writers share a certain point-of-view: that direct contact during early childhood between birth families and children placed for adoption may not be the best idea. Adopted persons should be free to initiate relationships with their first families–or not–on their own timetable. The parents (first and adoptive) in an adoption shouldn’t make such an important and personal decision for them.

What is your response? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

This afternoon, I got a package from UPS—it was a small box containing the birthday card that I ordered for my son a couple of weeks ago. In about four weeks, I will fill it out—Dear Cricket, Happy Birthday, thinking of you, all my love, your birth mama Susie—and mail it. There are a number of arguments to be made against the perceived scariness or inappropriateness of open adoption, but I want to start here: Who on earth could think that it’s a bad think for a child to get one more sweet, harmless card on his birthday? What is the loss to him, really? When I talk to people who think that my card is damaging, a bad thing, a violation, I don’t know what I could possibly say to them. I just get stuck on “But it’s his birthday, and I sent him a card. You’re supposed to send cards on someone’s birthday.”

I know, of course, many of the arguments against open adoption, but I think that most of them are predicated on this idea of the birthmother as a dangerous woman: an unstable, baby-snatching, drug-using creature with wild eyes and snatching hands who signs that birthday card “ALL MY LOVE FROM YOUR REAL MOMMA!!! P.S. I AM COMING TO BRING YOU HOME BABY” Thing is, I’ve talked to a lot of first parents and I’ve never met that madwoman. I’ve met grief-stricken women and women who’ve had a lot of trouble in their lives, but I think that the birthmother who tries to climb in through the nursery window is a very rare creature. I think that open adoption works best when prospective adoptive parents and prospective birth parents choose each other; when they know that the people on the other side of the relationship are not something they can’t handle. If you are matched with someone who frightens you, perhaps this is not the match for you. In situations where children have been removed from the birthparents’ home by the state, you may or may not be able to have a healthy open adoption. But for the rest of this entry, I’m going to talk about domestic infant adoption.

“Children deserve to have just one family during childhood and not to deal with anything adoption-related until they are more mature. A fully open adoption robs a child of a normal childhood.”

This is a bit of a head scratcher for me. What you grow up with? That’s your normal, whatever it is. I grew up dirt poor and abused, and that was normal. I know kids who grew up surrounded by extended family, wandering from house to house because everyone in the neighborhood was an uncle or an auntie—and that was normal for them. I grew up with three siblings and young parents, and that was normal; Mr. Book grew up an only child of older parents, and that was normal. The fact that an open adoption can provide the adopted child with an even bigger network of relatives who love him or her doesn’t seem freakish, to me—it sounds like one of the better things about adoption.

Part of the reason that I’m confused by this one is that I can’t think of anything we’ve done or planned for Cricket as part of his open adoption as potentially harmful; he’ll have one more birthday present at his birthdays, he will occasionally visit Stumptown and its museums, and his birth parents come over for dinner every so often. In so far as a baby cares, he has seemed pleased to see us so far. He is especially fascinated by Mr. Book, and spends a lot of time staring at him—Mr. Book is his only dad, and I suspect that having his birthdad around and able to answer questions may be really important to him as he gets older. I do emphatically not think that kids raised by queer couples are missing out, but I do think that the ability to have man-to-man talks if he wants to might be valuable to Cricket. Mr. Book and I are planning to have a child in a year or two—it seems like just a good thing for Cricket to get to see futurekid.

My perspective may be skewed by the fact that Cricket has several factors from having the prototypical All-American childhood—he is already the adopted child of Jewish lesbians, open adoption isn’t going to be the one thing that makes him stand out in a WASPy population. Life is complicated, and family is complicated, but more loving family can be a very great gift.

“We have medical histories and can share the information we have about their birth parents with our children now. If they feel a need to initiate contact with their birth families when they are adults, we will fully support them.”

Well, I have a problem with a couple of assumptions made here. At the most practical level, medical histories can change—Mr. Book’s mother has just had a tentative diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which is not on the medical histories we gave the agency because it hadn’t happened yet. But more than that, there are two biggies here: (1) “[We] can share the information we have about their birth parents with our children now” and (2) “If they feel a need to initiate contact.”

First off, I think there is no substitute for a birthparent’s explanation to the placed child of the reasons for and circumstances surrounding the placement. If and when Cricket asks why I “gave him up,” Ruth can say, “Why don’t we call her and ask?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking forward to those conversations—but I owe them to my son, and I don’t think that even the most well-intentioned adoptive parents can explain as effectively. And, just like medical histories, the information about the birthparents changes—they marry, they have other children, they go to prison, they win Nobel Prizes. The only way to provide really accurate and up-to-date information about the birthparents is to keep in touch.

That idea about “if and when the adoptee feels the need” worries me—if the adoptee has to ask, then he or she is raising the issue, and that may lead adoptive parents to feel betrayed or hurt—so perhaps the adoptee will wonder and never ask. And if there is a reunion, that is a complicated and difficult emotional experience in and of itself: a whole lifetime of hurt expressed over a short period of time. There’s a forum post that I have saved on my computer, made by an adoptive mom, that bothered me so much that I took the trouble to copy it. One fragment of it runs so: “And as for the “reunion” word….it is very one-sided. From the bparents side, I can totally see why they would feel like it is a reunion but (infant) adoptees do not remember their bparents so how can you feel reunited with a stranger? I think adoptees create a very idealistic scenario and create emotions that they think they should have. Genetics do not determine emotions toward a person….I’m sorry, I just don’t get it!” Of course I disagree with this woman about almost everything, but one thing that struck me is that her fear about adoptees idealizing their firstparents is mostly easily dealt with by letting the adoptee meet his or her firstparents. My firstmother is not Joni Mitchell; she is a very nice woman who had a wild adolescence and now works in advertising (for example). I once read a different woman, a birthmother, talking about her open adoption relationship (a forum post long ago, and I can’t for the life of me remember who she was); she said that if her teen birthson ever ran away to her house, she’d call his adoptive mom first thing. They are friends—not enemies. This I suppose also ties into the statement:

“The decision to have a relationship with her bio family should be hers when she is ready. Creating a relationship between them before she wants it might cause issues in the future.”

Everyone has issues in the future—creating a relationship makes it possible to resolve them. And, of course, parents make these decisions for their children all the time; you do not ask Junior whether he wants to have a relationship with Gramma, or smelly Uncle Rick. You are the parent, and you help to build relationships between your child and his family. You make decisions on behalf of your child all the time, and I think that to suddenly adopt a hands-off kind of policy in regards to the birthfamily is intellectually and emotionally dishonest. Your child can’t create familial relationships on his or her own—by leaving it up to the adoptee, you make a relationship impossible at first and then merely difficult, handicapped by the years spent in the dark.

Open Adoption Roundtable #8

Roundtable time! Write about a blogger (or bloggers) who influenced your real-life open adoption, and how. It might be someone who became an offline friend who supports and challenges you. Or a writer from a different perspective who makes you uncomfortable, but gets you thinking. Maybe a blogger who doesn’t even know you are reading. Tell us about them and how they’ve affected you.

Reading This Woman’s Work feels like looking in Ruth’s window, sometimes—Dawn and Ruth have a lot in common. I mean, there are of course huge differences as well, but they’re both Jewish women who are the primary caregivers for their kids: Dawn has a son and a younger daughter, and Ruth has a son and plans to adopt again. They process things in similar ways. They even both have dogs named Peanut. My blog isn’t a dialogue with Cricket’s parents, and in most ways I’m grateful for that…but reading Dawn’s blog lets me imagine that I’m hearing some of Ruth’s thinking about adoption, seeing something of what it’s like to be an adoptive mom in her circumstances.

Without Thanksgivingmom, I wouldn’t be blogging; hers is the first adoption blog I read, and I had no idea that first parents could blog before reading hers. She revealed for me a whole world of women writing about their adoptions from all three sides. More than that, of course, she is a voice of compassion and a sometimes frustrated wisdom in the “thousand points of light” that seem to make up the online adoption community. She was the first woman I heard say “Well, I regret that I had to do the adoption, but I don’t see what else I could have done—my daughter’s amom is awesome, my daughter is awesome, and here we are.” It helped me to get grounded when I was drowning in my own grief.

The newest blog I’ve been reading is The Happiest Sad; it’s written by a woman who has only very recently relinquished, and it’s heartbreaking. Reading her words, I see things that I say and have said, and it’s been helping me to process some of my own adoption issues. I hope she wouldn’t be offended to know that I pray for her (me being Catholic and all)—she knows in her head that what she did was right, but knowing in your heart…heck, I don’t know if that ever happens.

Open Adoption Roundtable: My First!

First things first: dinner tonight will be a cranberry bean stew and then tabbouleh. I’ve decided to take a page from Thanksgivingmom’s book and join the Open Adoption Roundtable. 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.

Figuring out boundaries is difficult when you write about your personal life. Any on-blog mention of family, friends or co-workers risks invading their privacy. Bloggers who write about or post pictures of their children are accused of exploitation. Where is the line between your own experience and other people’s personal lives? What information is yours to share and what rightfully belongs to someone else?

Add the overlapping relationships of open adoption to the mix and you’ve got yourself a potential ethical and personal mess. And yet it’s impossible to talk about one’s open adoption experience without mentioning the people involved.  Where do you draw the lines–on your blog and in your personal life–and why? What, if anything, don’t you tell?

The only person who knows about this blog is the birthfather, my husband, and he doesn’t have the address. Ruth and Nora certainly don’t know that I blog, nor does any of my family. That makes me feel more personally free to write, to whine about things that make me look petty or brag about tiny triumphs. I get to make decisions on their behalf about privacy, and I think they’ve been good ones; I use pseudonyms, and the occasional picture will be password protected. Of course, the one person I haven’t mentioned is my son–if, when Cricket is older, he wants to read this blog, I will give him the address. I don’t write with that possibility in mind, however.

One of the reasons that I want to feel free to say whatever I want here, without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings, is that I try to be super, super careful in my relationship with Ruth and Nora. Right now we’re disagreeing about the movie Juno–I told her that I don’t like it, she told me why she disagrees with me–and now I don’t think I’m going to talk about it anymore, because it’s not worth the possibility of creating real conflict with her and then never seeing Cricket again and oh God. I know that’s not the likeliest outcome, but why would I risk it? I told Mr. Book the other night that I don’t think Ruth, Cricket, or Nora will ever see the real, complete Susie. “Why not Cricket?” He asked. And that’s the question that I’ll be looking at for the next couple of decades, I guess. I do like it, though, that his question assumed that I was right about Ruth and Nora. It’s not that I’m lying, exactly–I’m just being a heavily expurgated version of myself. I don’t mean that I’m avoiding doing thinks like smoking crack or firing guns around them, either–heck, the other night Mr. Book and I shared a beer and only got halfway through. I am essentially harmless. But I can be extremely silly, and incredibly sad, and many other things that I don’t think belong in my relationship with my son or his parents. Or, hey, here’s one: If I had it all to do over again, right now I would choose not to do an adoption. Why would I ever tell Ruth and Nora that? But I sometimes feel that I need to say these things or I’ll just lose it.

I grew up in a family that didn’t talk about some important things, and it’s left me with a need to say what’s going on. I tried things their way, and it didn’t work out so good. My adult compromise is to say everything–but not to everyone. My blog is a place for me to say everything without hurting anyone, which seems to me like the best of all possible worlds.

What No One Told Me About Adoption: Carnival One

Grown in My Heart gave out this prompt a couple of weeks ago, and I’m tackling it somewhat belatedly. That original post is here. So…here’s what no one told me about adoption.

  • No one told me that giving birth was going to flip a switch inside me and then snap it off; It’s baby time, nownownow, and the litany keeps playing in my head. Fortunately I am able to plan on a child in a couple of years, but I’m stuck with this hormonal siren song until then.
  • Toward the end of my pregnancy, I did have some moments of feeling like a heifer at the state fair. I’m terribly wide-hipped, so I never stuck out so far as many gals do–so Ruth and Nora (and their families) seemed concerned, and made a couple of casual (strained) comments about that fact. There was no ill-will behind it, but it did leave nasty “incubator” echoes in my head for awhile. I hadn’t realized that I’d be seen that way. Similarly, although I cut out caffeine for the first two trimesters of the pregnancy, I did have the occasional cup of coffee or diet Coke after that, and Ruth and Nora commented on and seemed nervous about that. I mentioned that it’s a miscarriage risk, but at I was less worried about that after seven months, and they seemed slightly less worried.
  • That I would dread every visit, and feel awful afterward. We’ve only had three, so hopefully this will pass, but it took me completely by surprise. I wonder whether Ruth or Nora feels anything like this?
  • That seeing other people suggest adoption in different situations would make me nervous. I am definitely not anti-adoption, but to hear people talk about it as though it’s as emotionally complicated as getting a Coke from a vending machine makes me really uncomfortable. And yet I don’t want to be That Girl, jumping into these conversations to shrill that “It’s not that simple!”
  • That I’d be desperate to hear other birthmothers talk about their experiences.

That’s all I can think of right now.

Mr. Book is exciting about the coming of October, as he plans to spend the whole month watching horror movies. I am going to surprise him this weekend with pumpkin sandwich cookes that have cinnamon buttercream in the middle–I’m making this up, a bit, so wish me luck. The peanut butter cookies are fantastic, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s lukewarm at best on peanut butter cookies. I had hoped that that was just because he hadn’t had great ones, but nope. I will have to make them for my father, who loves peanut butter treats, when I go to their house for Thanksgiving.