Friday, January 20, 2006

It must be in the genes

Yesterday was very special in our home. Our daughter's birthmom and brother came to visit. Her brother, L*, is four and had a blast tearing through the playroom with our kids. It was loud, pretty exhausting and worth every solitary second.

Her birthmom, J*, is a wonderful, wonderful woman. She has not always had the support she needs, and she has had to rely on herself as best she can. J* is strong, talented and funny as heck.

I was sitting there yesterday thinking about how our relationship has evolved over 2.5 years. So many people are absolutely terrified of open adoption. They have terrible preconceived notions of birth mothers, and some actually fear that having an open relationship means that they'll just show up one day to take them back. I couldn't help but giggle at the thought. You see, our research has proven true. Studies show that open adoption helps everyone through the process. While J* had to face her grief early and head-on, it helps her to see her child ... see our home ... to know us and be comforted in her decision. That only helps her. Our daughter will always see her birthmom as a reflection of herself. Why wouldn't we want the best for her birthmom?

Then, and most importantly, it is the best thing for our daughter. Her questions will always have immediate answers. J* is prepared to answer her directly as things arise. Presh will always know that she is loved by a multitude of people. She will have to grieve through her own adoption as she grows, but in the same way SHE will be comforted as she works through the answers. She will see that we love and respect her birthmom.

It hasn't been super easy for any of us. It's hard to arrange visits and coordinate schedules. Sometimes we are all really stinky at staying in touch. J* thinks about Presh every day of her life, and while yesterday was a lot of fun - I know that it was also very, very painful. It's a reminder to us all that things aren't ideal. Ideal would be rewinding time and making life's circumstances such that J* could be parenting her daughter. My heart is breaking for her today. She loves us - I know that - but I also know that the pain will always be there.

I am so thankful we were trained thoroughly on open adoption. If we had just been "shown" some options on openness (as many agencies do) and not really been prepared and educated, we would have been much more closed. We would have been selfish, thinking only of ourselves, and doing our best to justify that it really WAS the best for Presh. We can see all of that in hindsight.

Now, I can't imagine NOT having J* in our lives. So, while there is pain and extra work, we're all in this together. We ARE the adoption triad, making little Presh-a-mesh the focus.


ChrissyLou said...

Oh, Christine... you are the parents that everyone imagines getting for their child. If only everyone 'got it'.

Tara said...

Hi Christine! I'm de-lurking here.. just want you to know that I thoroughly enjoy all of your stories and thoughts on adoption, as my husband and I would love to adopt someday. (we've only been married a year and a half) Thanks for sharing such a good perspective with your readers!

Becky said...

How cool that you guys have visits! We can't do that right now because Tyler's birthmom is across the country from us. Too far. But we keep in touch via phone and email. :-)

Anonymous said...

Very touching post. I never thought of open adoption like that but every word makes sense!

Mama T said...

Hi Christine, I just wanted you to know that I added you to my blog links, if that's not ok, please let me know and I'll remove you!
Thanks, Tonja

David Edward said...

for this triad, you , j, presh. it works and for that I am glad. sounds like you were well trained.
not all adoptive parents or bio moms are as stable, balanced, mature. There are hazards. and for the adopted child, sometimes less is more.

Unknown said...

That's a typical concern and fear. You'd find this a great area to self-educate.

In the four years we have been exposed to open adoption, we have yet to meet an adoptive family to have an unsuccessful experience if the birthmother is willing to participate. This includes situations with addictions, mental illness, and even CPS removals.

If a parent is not stable, balanced and mature then I would certainly question the person who qualified them for a homestudy. Most birthmothers have issues in those areas, which explains their inability to parent. The experts know that the truth is always best for children - even the ugly truth.

I've met one woman who slowly, over years, explained the details of her daughter's removal. When she was six, her mother explained that birth mom made "poor choices" that kept her from parenting. As the girl grew, she found age appropriate ways to explain the drug use, prostitution and even how she involved her own daughter in criminal activities.

They had boundaries with her birthmom. She still was using on occasion. She was known to steal. So, they did not have her in their home. However, they saw her several times a year. They had phone conversations. Their agency helped to facilitate if problems would arise. They also provided a place for the visits when needed.

I've tooted this horn before: you should never, ever, ever step foot into an adoption (whether you are the aparent or the birth parent) unless you are using a reputable agency that provides thorough training, ongoing support throughout your child's life and whose primary goal is to promote parenting FIRST ... and adoption only after all other avenues have been investigated.

You wouldn't go shopping around for the cheapest heart surgery. You would spend your time hunting down the best surgeon, with a proven record. Adoption is also not a place you should be coupon shopping.