"We don't want our kids confused about who their real parents are. Besides, what if their birth mom just shows up unannounced? What if she wants to be our friend?" My husband and I nodded in agreement, sure we knew what we were talking about.
Despite our lack of education or knowledge regarding adoption, we thought we knew what was best.
We had that conversation a year before we officially cracked open our journey towards adoption.
This conversation is not one I'm proud of, but one I won't pretend didn't happen. I won't pretend I always knew what I know now. And I also won't pretend I'm some sort of genius or I know it all or I have it altogether. I don't.
What I will say is this: I am constantly learning. I am constantly finding out I don't know much; I only have about half a clue about anything.
I hope to always keep learning, to always say "I'm sorry" when necessary, and to always seek to love better than I did yesterday.
I hope to keep sharing where I've found I'm wrong so others can join me in the journey of loving well.
Many [Hopeful] adoptive families and couples decide early on they want a closed adoption.
If you fall into this category, you must answer this question: WHY?
From my experience and many conversations I've had with other parents by adoption, the desire for a closed adoption [on the adoptive parent's side] is nearly always birthed out of fear/jealousy/selfishness in conjunction with mis-education OR lack of education.
Every adoption and situation is different. There is no manual. We are all human.
But we are also signing up to parent a child who was not born to us. The essence of adoption involves two sets of parents and families; this has to be accepted and should be far before you become a parent to someone you didn't birth.
This is not to say open adoption = co-parenting.
This is to say we cannot ignore or deny our children their right to their biological family, to their story.
To whom much is given, much is required. With choosing adoption comes responsibility to choose humility, at the expense of yourself.
You are choosing to become a parent by adoption; parenting demands we deny ourself over and over again to give our children what is best for them.
In adoption, this often means communication and contact with their biological family. If anything, it simply means the freedom and true safety to talk about and ask questions regarding their story. Adoptees' stories start long before they were adopted.
Before beginning the adoption journey, working through your pushback to openness in communication is necessary. Our children will feel any pushback or distaste for their biological families; for our children, we must work through this.
I'm all about grace. Huge advocate. We need grace.
I'm also about truth: we have to get over ourselves for the sake of our children.
It may sound harsh, but we are supposed to be the adults in the situation. Our kids need us to put on our big kid pants so they can be kids in this messy world.
We came to the freeing realization if Mama R can trust us with her beloved, precious baby boy...we can trust her with our phone number.
Birth families are not a means to an end (a baby).
We must expand beliefs surrounding infant adoption.
Mothers and families who choose to place their children for adoption are doing the best they can with what they have.
Move from fearing to celebrating open adoption by reading and educating yourself about adoption and the people involved.
Do the hard work of analyzing your heart, asking yourself why you fear openness in adoption. Whether openness is an option or not, our hearts need to be sifted through and honestly checked.
Read articles and interviews by/with adoptees and birth families. As well as emotionally-healthy, educated adoptive families who see their children's birth families as human beings. [Find resources at bottom of post.]
Being your child's best parent is to put down all the barriers to give them what they need and deserve. It is our job to nurture, support, and celebrate their whole identity. Our children by adoption deserves the opportunity to connect with their biological make up, without shame and certainly without fear of hurting our feelings.
Adoption isn't about us.
I recognize not everyone has the option of communication in adoption. I think we still need to assess our hearts towards our children's biological families regardless of if communication is at all an option or not. [I recommend this podcast: Episode 45- How Do I Maintain Respect For A Birthparent When Their Choices Are So Bad?]
But I would dare to declare too many err on the side of, "We won't communicate with them because they aren't safe: they're in jail or living an unhealthy lifestyle."
As my friend Stacy encourages, remove the adoption emotional charge from the situation: if your cousin was a drug user, would you cut them off? Or have healthy boundaries? If your sibling was in prison, what would you do? Cut them out of your life completely, pretend they don't exist? Likely, you wouldn't. Our children's birth family deserve the same value.
Through adoption we gain not only a child, but an entire family.
Adoption isn't perfect. Adoption is messy. Adoption is born out of tragedy, loss, brokenness.
I asked in An adoption group how parents have gone from fearing to celebrating open adoption and their children's birth/biological families.
Here are some of the answers:
Jeanne, adoptee + mom by adoption & foster care:
Stacey, mom by adoption:
Ashley, mom by adoption:
Audrey, mom by adoption:
Jinnie, adoptee and mom by adoption:
Don't know where to start in regards to learning a bit more?
You can visit this page of resources, but I have also compiled a list below of articles, a video, and podcasts to help get you started:
What openness in adoption means to me by Stacey Stark, story teller at Adoption.com
Behind The Bump: A Birth Mother's Perspective by Shelley Skuster on Adoption.com
Adoption Is Not What I Thought It Was by me on Adoption.com
My "What If's" Are Not About You, adoptee's perspective
I am not afraid of my son's birth family by me on TODAY Show Parenting
Interview with Michelle Madrid Branch, part two by me on Adoption.com
An Interview with An Adoptee: What My Parents Did Right by me on Adoption.com
Meeting My Son's Birth Mom in The Hospital by me on Adoption.com
Interview with Transracial Adoptee, Angela Tucker by me on Adoption.com
I Miss My Son's Birth Mom by me on Adoption.com
Our Story Is Bigger Than Us by me on Michelle Madrid Branch's blog
Will My Child Resent Me If I Place Her For Adoption? Interview with an adoptee, on Adoption.com
An Interview With A Birth Mother: My Choice To Place on Adoption.com
The Differences Between Open Adoption And Closed Adoption, by Shelley Skuster on Adoption.com
Angela Tucker's The Adopted Life --> HIGHLY recommend all three of her episodes
What resources do you have to share? Comment links below!