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.
What were your reasons for choosing open adoption? (Or, for adoptees, what are your reasons for continuing to invest in your relationships with your first family?)
Excerpts from the responses:
Mommysquared (adoptive mother) @ Our Journey to Parenthood and the Years That Follow: “We saw that in choosing open adoption as a way to have a family, our children would always have a connection and know and be loved by ALL of their families! We wanted them to know who they look and act like, we wanted for them to know siblings and grandparents, aunts and uncles. We wanted to have this family to be there for them to help heal their losses.”
CindyG (first mother) @ Another Crazy Christian: “My ‘choice’ in open adoption was not really about creating a connecting as it was leaving that connection intact, ready to be used when the time is right for everyone to get together again. For me, it’s also more about letting Parker know the truth about his life and his family, as everyone should.”
Racilous (first mother) @ Adoption in the City: “There is a distinct memory I have of my Social Worker asking me about openness, saying I could have letters, communication and even visits. And I said no. It sounded so complicated, so confusing. Wouldn’t the child get confused? Wouldn’t he/she just not really understand why all these other people were in his/her life? It seemed like an incredibly selfish solution – all I could think was what I got out of it. And then I talked a little more with my social worker and she told me what became the magic words – this relationship isn’t about YOU. It’s about that little person still growing inside of you.”
Robyn (adoptive mother) @ The Chittister Family: “I was never afraid of my children’s birth parents. Thus far, I have never thought that it would be better if they weren’t in our lives, even when I realized that open adoption is not easy. Yes, I still believe that, in the ways I mentioned above, open adoption is easier than closed adoption. But open adoption is a lot messier than closed adoption. At least for us, it involves caring for people and not being able to do all that much to help them. It involves some inconvenient truths that are hard to explain to children.”
Jenna (first mother) @ The Chronicles of Munchkin Land: “I continue on in openness because of the many voices in the blogosphere — adoptees especially — talking about adoption and how it has shaped their life, their experiences and their world view. I force myself to stay actively involved in a relationship, even when it hurts so much I cannot breathe, because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I broke my promise to always be available to her. Choosing to walk away from the relationship would be choosing to walk away for the second time and I simply will not and won’t do that to her.”
Traathy (adoptive mother) @ Happily Ever After: “Why did we choose an open adoption? Well…we didn’t. It’s just what has evolved. We didn’t go into this adoption with anything other than the ideology that we were going to do whatever it took to make sure that the best interests of the child we adopted was nurtured and she grew up healthy, happy and loved by *all*. Was it scary opening up to the ‘unknown’? Hell yes. Every crappy scenario played out in our heads. Ultimately, you just have to be okay with ALL of it because that IS what adoption is. Unknown. We chose adoption. Not an open adoption, not semi, and not no contact after birth. Just – adoption with all the unknown that comes with it.”
Amber (adoptive mother) @ Bumber’s Bumblings: “We finally had our first post-placement meeting when B was three months old. We were supposed to meet at her parents house for a Memorial Day lunch and we ended up staying there for almost twelve hours. They were just family after that. We exchanged cell numbers and started texting often and having more visits. Three years later, and they are still a part of our family.”
Sarah (adoptive mother) @ My Life with Bugs, Brat, and Monster: “He’s got the best of both worlds. He got a family that loves him mercilessly and without restriction from both of us. But; if I were to choose 1 reason- and only 1 reason- that we initially went with an open adoption, and if I’m completely honest, and ruthless with myself- it’s not because I knew how good this would be for him, for us, or for C. It’s because our lawyer, John Ramsey Esq., told us that was the best possible thing to do for our child- then despite D and I trying to convince him to have her declared unfit- our lawyer told us to shut up and listen.”
Monika (first mother) @ Monika’s Musings: “It was during the wait for my court dates that my caseworker at the adoption agency introduced me to the idea of open adoption. Her explanation was that I might have the opportunity to see my daughter as she grew. That was the only reason she gave me, and though it’s a great one it shouldn’t be the only reason open adoption is considered.”
Rebecca Hawkes (adoptive mother, adoptee) @ Love is Not a Pie: “As someone who is both an adoptee in reunion and an adoptive parent in an open adoption, not only do both parts speak to me but the two are intertwined. I maintain a relationship with my first family for one simple reason: they are my family. The threads that bind me to them remain unbroken in spite of the many years that we were separated. When I found them, I recognized them as my people, and they acknowledged me in return.”
Betty Anne Davidson (first mother) @ bettyanne&scott: “My heart had done such a 180 degree turn. I went from wanting her out of state, staying in touch through a third party (the agency), to wanting her as close as possible. If I was not in a place to raise her myself, I wanted to be able to see her and hold her and hear about her and watch her grow. I figured it might be painful, to see her and have her so close. But I chose that pain over the pain of never getting to see her or interact with her.”
Tiffany (adoptive mother) @ Raising Paityn: “I choose to believe that my daughter will have a big heart. One that is big enough to love Mama and Papa and her first parents, too. Truthfully, I hope she will love them. Perhaps she will call them Mom and Dad, too, someday. Either way, I want to believe that we are raising a daughter who will have a capacity to love more than just a couple people.”
I Was Anne (adoptive mom) @ Tears of/and Joy: “As the number of visits grew, so did my relationship with Fiona and Nate and Fiona’s extended family. Lily is what connected us, but our friendships took on dimensions that extended far beyond sharing a daughter. I blogged last spring about the fact that Fiona lived with us for five weeks. I recently held a birthday party at our house for Lily’s biological great-aunt. I see Lily’s birth grandmother several times a month for drinks, brunch, or zumba. They are my family and friends, and my life is so much richer because they are in it.”
Geochick (adoptive mom) @ An Engineer Becomes a Mom: “When S and I began our adoption journey, I knew that I did not want a closed adoption. Most of my reasons are selfish. I wanted, at the least, tangible bits and pieces of our future child’s birth family. I wanted to be able to share information about future child’s family with her/him. However, I wasn’t sure about a fully-open adoption either. It seemed so scary, letting a brand new person into our lives, someone we didn’t really know.”
Alexia (adoptive mom) @ Journey to Extend Our Family: “It was one of the speakers on our last day of PRIDE that truly spoke to us and opened our hearts to open adoption. The couple were adoptive parents to two wonderful young boys. They had two very different open relationships with both of their birth families and answered the million questions we had about open adoption. When we left that day we knew we were on board for open adoption not just because it was the right choice for our child but because it was the right choice for us.”
Maggie (adoptive mom) @ Pink Shoes: “My hardened resolve melted, just like that. It was like God turned on the light in that dark shadowy part of my ‘adoption room’ and all of a sudden I could see exactly how things were going to go. And I say, ‘I saw exactly how things were going to go,’ as a way of saying that open adoption chose us–we did not chose it. We were not open to it, we weren’t interested in it, and I even went as far in my crazy little head to call it irresponsible. ”
About the author:
A mother by open adoption, Heather Schade is the founder and editor of Open Adoption Bloggers. She writes at Production, Not Reproduction.