Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable - Better Late then Never?

I read a few blogs about adoption that have really helped me. I stumbled on this open adoption forum tonight after reading write mind open heart and the questions and many of the answers got me to thinking about our adoption. I don't feel like I have the answers to these questions but in answering them it has helped me to understand our relationship with little man's birth mom a little better.
1. If open adoption is so great, why do so many people suck at it? By this I mean, not honouring commitments, closing the adoption, telling the other family they’re not “doing this thing” correctly or playing the “for the sake of the child” card?
Every situation is different for us little mans birth mom "K" is in a place in her life where she is trying to see what she can get from us, rather then what part she can play in little man's life. I have realized that when we meet up I previously had expectations set for how I thought K should interact with little man. It has not really gotten easier in the 1 month since our adoption has finalized but I have realized I can't hold K accountable to an expectation I have set. (we adopted through foster care and have had contact during the entire 2 years of fostering and now continue to have contact) The other important part in all of this is little man's 1/2 brother they are 11 months apart and he is with K and her new boyfriend. I hope that one day the boys can have a healthy relationship. I can't imagine knowing I had a brother or sister in the world and not knowing them.
2. From the standpoint of first parents, open adoption sounds like something that could prolong suffering. Could this suffering potentially outweigh the good of knowing where your child is? Who helps the first parent?
It was not an easy decision for K to sign over her parental rights to us, and I feel like she wants to be our child too sometimes. She does not have a strong connection with little man, most of the time when we see her it seems like she just wants to know he is healthy and happy. Since we adopted through foster care she has several options open to her for counseling and to my knowledge she utilizes them.
3. I’m guessing kids are not hung up on how many relatives they have. Tell me that the thing that hangs up the public all the time about open adoption and other unconventional relationships—two mommies, two daddies, three, four, parents—is the least of your worries because it seems to me it is.
The one thing that I wonder about in the future is how little man will feel when strangers tell him he looks just like his daddy. We hear this all the time and often we say "thank you" and continue on with our day. Sometimes we gently correct the person and say something to the affect of "really we get that all the time but we had the joy of adopting little man." (we usually save this response for people who know us through acquaintances but don't know our story. )
4. Do you ever feel like you should give this child back? Does the thought ever seize you totally as you watch your child with her bio-family: “ooops?” (OR for f-parents: Do you ever feel as though you need to take this child back? That nothing is stopping you beside an agreement that feels false? Does that feeling go away?)
This question reminds me of the time we spent as foster parents with the ups and downs of not knowing if little man would be our forever son or if we would be part of his reunification with K. When he would leave our home for supervised visitation it was the longest 2 hours in my entire week. We were blessed with an amazing driver/supervisor who helped during this time, but the sadness I felt as he cried being put in the van and when he returned home after the hour visit with puffy red eyes will always be a part of our process but it definately showed me that no matter what happens I would never want to give him back. He is my son this isnt even an option.
5. How do children ever cope with knowing they could not be kept? When they see their natural parents having more kids, what do they think? Who helps the child in this situation? Both sets of parents? Little man just turned 2 so I am not sure how to answer this. K made the decision based on the fact that she has another son who is 11 months younger then little man and if she decided to sign over her rights to us for little man she would be able to give him a better life and give his 1/2 brother a better life too. It was not an easy decision for her in any way and I hope that someday she can explain to little man and we can help him to understand. I have a lifebook for him that explains what I saw that day and the case worker asked K to write a letter but she declined.
6. Can you say comfortably that some surrendering mothers could not cope with an open adoption or do you think that it should always be the standard?
I really don't know the answer to this. In our situation I believe K has times when being in contact with us is hard but she seems to work through it. For the second part I think it depends on the situation the adoptions of the past where people have no idea about their history have left many people in their 30's with a lot of questions.
7. Is there ever a reason (aside from extreme/illegal behaviours) to close an adoption totally? No. We decided that is little man doesnt want to have as much contact as we currently have at any point when he is older we will let him have a part in the decision. Right now he is 2 so he doesn't even know what is going on, when he is older he should have a say in our relationship with K.

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