Roundtable #44: What Openness Means to Me

OAB RT buttonThe 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.

Adoptive parent Luna of Life From Here recently wrote a powerful post about what “openness” means to her. Someone suggested that it would make a good roundtable topic, and I agree!  Our writing prompt for this round:

What is “openness” to you?

P.S. Here is the HTML code for the Roundtable button up above, if you’d like to use it:

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Excerpts from the responses:

Racilous (first parent) @ Adoption in the City: “I could easily write at length of all the pretty happy things I believe openness is, but that’s not all it is to me.  It’s a complicated thing, incredibly layered with joy and sadness simultaneously, with familiarity and awkwardness.”

Lori (adoptive parent) @ Lavender Luz: “Sometimes openness is helping to make two things into one, to become expansive enough to bridge wide gaps, and to be patient.”

Cat (adoptive parent) @ Cat’s Litterbox: “For me, openness means stability.”

Laura Dennis (adult adoptee) @ The Adaptable (Adopted) Expat Mommy: “For adult adoptees, openness is about maintaining adoption reunions, especially difficult after the “honeymoon period” wears off.”

Robyn C (adoptive parent) @ The Chittister Family: “In the end, openness means that adoption is not something to be ashamed of, it’s not something that should be hushed up, it’s just an everyday, ordinary kind of thing. Because openness is just as much about dispelling archaic notions of adoption from decades past as it is about being able to send my kid’s birthmother a video of Cassie saying ‘hat.'”

Dawn (adoptive parent) @ Building Family Counseling: “To me, openness in adoption is an attitude. It’s a belief that our kids are best served with honesty, respect for their origins, and the understanding that caring about, connecting to and loving one family does not preclude caring about, connecting to and loving another.”

Meghann (adoptive parent) @ Four Wild Blueberries: “Openness means that helping our children navigate this life they did not choose for themselves is more important than George’s or D’s or my comfort. We made these choices, after all, but it is they who bear the consequences; it is our responsibility to mitigate the fallout as much as we can.”

Jenna (first parent) @ The Chronicles of Munchkin Land: “Openness is in the normalcy of our exchange. It wasn’t weird for me to email Dee a photo. I didn’t have to sit and think and rethink and overthink the action. I opened my email, attached a photo, wrote a sentence, and pressed send. I didn’t have to feel butterflies in my stomach when she replied seconds later. I just hopped on Instant Messenger and we talked. As we do. Because it’s our norm.”

Maggie (adoptive parent) @ Pink Shoes: “Your love for your child is fluid.  Not in an ebb and flow kind of way.  In a growing so huge it re-defines who you are in the greatest way kind of way. And that’s what openness in adoption has become for me.  I had no idea how crucial it would be, how much I’d need it, for me, for my daughter, when we first met her expectant parents. ”

Mommysquared (adoptive parent) @ What Makes a Real Family?: “This definition didn’t define family by DNA, just by relationships.  That’s how we perceive our family.  It’s not just your connection by DNA makeup but by the relationships we have together.”

Kim (first parent) @ These Are the Days: “But on that one summer day in 1989 – and probably without any premeditation – she single-handedly set the tone for the next 25 years. In that park, two women shared a bond of trust, motherhood, friendship, love and openness. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.”

Amber (adoptive parent) and Ash (first parent) @ Bumber’s Bumblings: “​For the first time I feel like B’s birthday is also our family anniversary. We are all about to gather to celebrate the perfect life of a little boy that sprouted a crazy, unconventional, open family.”

Venessa (adoptive parent) @ Unexpected Dreams: “Openness to me means building a lasting relationship with our birth mom, one that is rooted in friendship and love for each other. That is where we are now. Friendship.”

Dolores (first parent) in a comment: “What I expected openness to look like and what it is is different. I expected we would be more like family.”

Jess (adoptive parent) @ Two Mommies and a Baby: “I have seen many students come into my classroom.  And what I know is that the kids who have a strong sense of who they are, are the kids who have the kind of confidence that allows them to be their own person and take risks and do incredible things.  We want our Millie to know exactly who she is and that means being honest with her from the very beginning.”

Lynn (adoptive parent) @ Open Hearts, Open Minds: “When I think about what openness means to me, I think about the title of my blog, ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds,’ which I started before Elliot was even born. I chose the name as a statement about how I wanted to behave — and what I wanted to believe — with respect to our open adoption. Back then in the early days of navigating the murky waters of open adoption, this statement was somewhat aspirational. Perhaps it still is today; I don’t always succeed in being as “open-hearted” or as open-minded as I could be. But, I try…and I do believe that the crux of open adoption is having an open heart and an open mind.”

Monika (first parent) @ Monika’s Musings: “I love the ‘intentional’ part of the Ohana definition. There is a biological family in adoption and there’s an adoptive family. But when you commit to an open adoption for the benefit of all involved, that’s intention. You intend to come together as a whole family for the benefit of all involved.”

Erin Beth (adoptive parent) @ A Peculiar Love: “Now, when people ask me if we have an open or closed adoption, I tell them ‘we’ll always be very open with our son about where he came from and who his first mom and dad are’ because being open is more than keeping contact with a first family. It’s about a commitment to be open with your child. A promise to be available and honest about any questions they have. A responsibility to be proactive and start the conversation sometimes. This kind of openness happens regardless of whether or not there is contact with a child’s first family.”

Petite Coccinelle (first parent) @ Navigating Normal: “I’ve seen the pain that denying someone the knowledge of and access to their genetic roots can cause, both to the adoptee and to those that share their lives. I’ve seen that pain trickle down through subsequent generations. How could I possibly witness the kind of life-long damage that closed adoption can create and ever think it would be a good idea for my own beloved child? No, this could never be the life I chose for her.”

Whitney (adoptive parent) @ Our Adoption Story: “I have finally come to realize that, for me, openness is less about CONTACT and more about RELATIONSHIPS.  We have practiced openness this way since M’s birth — it’s just not the way I have always described it. ”

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.


32 thoughts on “Roundtable #44: What Openness Means to Me

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  5. What I expected openness to look like and what it is is different. I expected we would be more like family. I thought we would visit often, call each other once in awhile, continue to develope a deeper relationship. I thought emails and phone calls would, of course, be about our daughter, but we would also share about each others lives. I thought we might get together around the holidays and our daughters birthday. I thought through challenging times we might get through them and come together stronger in our relationship and closer. What openness is…awkward and confusing. We always have visits as planned and I receive wonderful updates with lots of great pictures that I love and cherish. We correspond through short emails to set up a visit or I request an update. Emails, cards, and gifts at Christmas. We have grown apart through challenging times. I am truly am grateful for the amount of openness I have and remain very hopeful that our relationship will grow into something wonderful and comfortable that more feels like family.

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  8. It means my son can always come to me.
    It means he can always ask me anything.
    It means sometimes I’ll tell him he has eyes like his first mom, and that I thought she was very pretty.
    It means I write down all the little things I remember about his first dad and tuck them away in a shoe box.
    It means my son has an aunt Beth in another state.
    It means sometimes his heart may be broken, because I will always tell him the truth.

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  10. Openness means, first and foremost, no secrets, no lies, and no shame. It’s accepting the circumstance and finding a solution. When it involves an open relationship between birth/first parent and adoptive parent, it means respect, compassion and love. When something is kept closed, it’s kept dark, deceptive, and becomes claustrophobic and restricted. When things are open, we see the truth and it becomes free.

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