July 29, 2008


Last Thursday was the only time I've met a first parent after the fact--that is, after the adoption. It was definitely different than meeting an expectant parent considering placement. On the one hand, there's no risk of pressuring them. On the other hand, you're meting someone who wasn't necessarily on board with open adoption, much less a participant in picking you.

My sense was that the first part of our meeting was just watching him wrap his mind around the reality of Firefly. Not a two-dimensional face in a photograph, but a real child in his arms. We talked a lot about her and a little bit about the future. T and I were able to say most of what we wanted to, some of it easy and some which required a deep breath first. Overall, I think it went really well. I didn't leave brimming with joy, but neither was I discouraged. I think "cautiously optimistic" may be my watchword for our relationship with him for awhile.

I wish you could have seen this giant man (he's super tall) holding tiny Firefly on his lap, her reaching out her hands toward him. She has his eyes, his nose, his eyebrows. What must it be like to hold a child with your face and realize what it is you let go?

He and Ms B have a lot to work through, separately, about their feelings toward one another and the events of the past many months. Their emotions are strong and sharp. I feel like my challenge is to respect that they're adults and it's none of my business while also keeping it from poking into Firefly's life. I keep pushing back at the anger and trying to somehow say, "It's fine that you feel that way, but you don't get to say that about the other person in front of Firefly, not yet." She doesn't deserve to be in the middle of what's really between them.

Sometimes pre-adoptive parents worry that open adoption means the loss of parental control--someone telling them how to dress their child, critiquing their discipline, judging their choices. The pesky co-parenting myth. I chuckle, mainly because that has just not at all been my experience, but also because they're right about the loss of control, but wrong about its object. Part of settling into my role as an open adoption parent has been releasing what I can't control and embracing what I can. We can nurture and uphold the relationships with the kids' first parents on our end, we can guide how they're spoken of in our home, we can initiate the kinds of contact we want. But so much is out of our hands. We can't control whether their first parents' reciprocate. We can't force relationships to materialize. We can't push our way in to our kids' emotions. Heck, I can't even control my own emotional reactions.

At times I wonder if this is why some adoptions drift closed for seemingly no reason. You can exercise a lot of control in a closed adoption, at least while your child is young. That can be tempting. Maybe I'm naive, maybe we've just been absurdly lucky, but it's been so worth for us it to be open to possibilities. Be mindful of our own actions and give things time to unfold.


luna said...

"Part of settling into my role as an open adoption parent has been releasing what I can't control and embracing what I can."

I love this, and the recognition that the need for total control isn't always what may be best for your firefly...
such an interesting experience this must have been for all of you. thanks for continuing to share your journey.

hope548 said...

I really like reading about your open adoption experience. We are in a match situation right now with the potential for some openness, and it's really good to hear your perspective. I know both my husband and I aren't sure about what level of openness we're comfortable with, but think it will become more clear once we have a baby placed with us and start to understand what is best for that little person!
Thanks for sharing!

cynthia said...

knowledge is always better than not knowing- almost no matter what, i think. we met w's birthfather when w was 4 months old, so i can really relate to a lot of what you wrote.

Rebeccah said...

The concept of releasing control is really the theme of my life right now. I can't control my infertility; therefore, I'm embracing adoption -- etc. I'm such a control freak but have come to realize that controling other people is just not possible. But if they were impacting my child's life? Wow. So much to think about, so many challenges ahead. I enjoy reading about how you handle them.

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