Since planning a cross country move, ending a job, and beginning a PhD program aren’t stressful enough, the boyfriend decided we should get married too. So now we’re planning a wedding.
What does my wedding have to do with adoption?
Nothing, I’m just that far into bridezilla land that everything needs to be all about me and my wedding at all times…
Soon after getting engaged I realized I could not visualize my wedding without my son there. I could not have a wedding if he couldn’t attend, I just couldn’t. Due to the upcoming move, the Husband-elect and I are operating on a shortened engagement timeline which means less time for my wrong coast family (also known as my son, his brother, and their parents) to plan and save for a cross country trip. Initially I panicked, cried, and focused on the unlikelihood of them being able to attend and tried to get used to imagining a wedding without them. Then I decided to (pretend to) be mature and have the conversation.
I explained to my son’s mom that I was having a hard time finding the engagement excitement that I was supposed to be feeling, because in part I was upset that they wouldn’t be able to attend. She also responded with honesty, letting me know that the chances of the whole family being able to attend were slim to none, but that she would do everything in her power to get at least herself and our son to my wedding. To help with this she sent me dates for the upcoming months when he would absolutely not be able to attend and my wedding planning began in earnest.
When we enter into an open adoption relationship most of us think about the milestones that will occur during the lifetime of the adopted person. We think about giving or receiving updates about first steps, first words, first days of school. What most of us forget to think about are the milestones for the rest of us.
Birth parents and adoptive parents can earn new degrees, start new jobs, begin new marriages, end old marriages, add more children to the family, the list goes on. How do we incorporate our non-traditional extended family into these events? I don’t have all the answers–I’m obviously still trying to figure out exactly how to navigate this myself–but I do know it starts with honesty.
Honesty about your expectations or desires: I wanted my son at my wedding and I said so. If you’re going through a divorce/break up you might want the other half of your open adoption relationship to know about it, but to stay out of the details. If you’re witnessing a divorce you might want the other half of your relationship to know you plan to stay neutral. It’s graduation season and many of us have wondered if there will be extra people cheering on our adopted person for his or her big day. What’s the protocol for sending out graduation announcements/invitations as an adoptive or birth family member? I’ve earned three degrees since my son was placed for adoption; his family has received announcements each time, but it has never seemed realistic to me that they could have attended a graduation ceremony.
This isn’t to say you have to share all of your life events with the other members of your open adoption relationship, only that it’s a possibility that bears exploring.
What say you, readers? Have you been present at the momentous occasions of other members of your constellation? Have they been at yours? Share in the comments 🙂
About the author:
Kat Cooley, MSW writes here at Open Adoption Bloggers twice a month. She is a social worker providing comprehensive all options counseling to those experiencing unplanned pregnancy and will soon be returning to school to pursue a PhD in Social Work and focus on adoption related research . She is also a birth mom over a decade into an open adoption. She is always open to suggestions for topics; you can leave them in the comments, at the OAB Facebook page, or tweet her @KMCooleyMSW.
Image credit: renjith krishnan @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net