Monday, May 09, 2005

'Tis Better to be Open

People seem to ask me a lot, "Do you still have contact with your daughter's birth mother?" Then, when I smile and say, "Oh, sure! We talked yesterday and will get together next month," they seem surprised ... horrified ... It makes me wonder why they even asked.

Our daughter is adopted, and it is an open adoption. That simply means that we know her birth mom, and have a relationship with her. We don't co-parent; it's not "shared custody." This wonderful young woman had a very difficult decision to make. While many women today choose to end their child's life, this young lady chose life for her child, and then had to determine the best way for that life to be lived. She loves her birth daughter - adores her. She also grieves over her loss. Every adoptive family is built on loss. It's a journey, and we're all slowly walking it together.

Perhaps it was easier for Michael and me to accept open adoption. Both of our father's are adopted - and were in closed adoptions. Both of these men loved their parents, but they also felt that it would be a betrayal of them to know anything about their genetic history. Whether or not their parents gave that impression, it was something that both of them felt. One of them has chosen to never know anything about their biological family. The other located his birth father, and finally received his answers after 50 years.

So, I thought I'd list some answers to the most asked questions. You can just click on the links below and cruise around. I'd love to also hear comments from those of you in open adoptions. We chose open adoption, first and foremost, because it was the absolute best choice for our child. What we've discovered, however, is that it's a gift to know our daughter's birth mom. She's a friend!

What is open adoption?

Are you co-parenting?

Won't your child be confused?

The whole thought of open adoption just scares me!

4 comments:

basket-talk said...

Interesting.

Good luck.

Lisa V said...

Hey Christine
Just found you from some other blog (don't remember which one). I have two children through open adoption- one 14 and one 4 and we love it.

Glad I found you.

Anonymous said...

I followed your link from KimKim's blog, so that's why I'm responding so late to your post. Your situation sounds lovely, it truly does. What I'd like to throw out there is that even though some adoptive parents don't have an open adoption, it is not because they are against it, it is often for a very good reason. I think you are seeing the world through your own experience and not realizing that if your child's birthmother was in jail, in a mental hospital, addicted to drugs or whatever, it would not be so easy to be one big open adoption family. Just food for thought...You can appear like an open adoption hero because you happen to have a situation where it's possible. Then some of us who are dealing with situations that cannot be open are labeled as anti-open adoption.

Christine said...

Actually, you can be fully open even when you can't have a fully open adoption with the birth mother. For instance, some of our best friends have a birth mother that just disappeared after placement. However, they continue to write/call periodically. About once a year our agency does a thorough search for her. The adoptive parents, for the rest of their child's life, will remain in a "fully open" mindset, so that they can have a relationship with the birth mother when and if she ever comes back.

I also have friends who are in fully open adoptions with birth mothers who are in prison, have mental illness, and also some who are still battling addictions and have been known to steal. They simply have boundaries (the obvious being the birth mom in prison - the prision certainly sets those boundaries). I have a relative that I see, but because of some things in her past, I don't see her at my past (history of stealing to support a habit). I know adoptive parents who use our agency to facilitate their visits, or they meet in a public place if the birth parent's home is questionable for children.

Fully open, in all situations, means not just cutting them out. If the birth parent makes that decision, then you continue with a "fully open" mindset in hopes that one day you can communicate again.

I'm sure you're defensive because that is your mindset. That's what you desire for your child. Granted, understand that this post if for the thousands who just simply find it too intrusive. It's for those who flat-out do not want to consider open adoption.

Thanks for your input. I truly appreciate that!