October 15, 2009

If Only

Nothing.

This is parenting in a nutshell, isn't it? Bearing witness to the hard and to the good in our children's lives and not being able to do a damned thing but be present with them in the middle of it.

Back when we were hashing out the details of our open adoption agreement with Beth, I was thinking a lot about things I wished we had done differently in our first adoption. I got fixated on this idea that the agreement needed to somehow reflect the fact that child centered open adoption is a two-way street. (Which morphs into a multi-lane intersection as the child grows up.) I didn't want the agreement to only be about protecting Beth's rights to visitation and communication, as important as those things were. I wanted her commitment to stay in Firefly's life written down the same way as our promises.

Todd and I decided that, worst case scenario, we hoped Firefly would at least hear from Beth on her birthday and at Christmas. Nothing like that was in the agency's standard agreement template, so we asked them to add it. And there it now sits, in sparse legal-ish language, right after our promise to let Firefly to send and receive communication from Beth: "Beth agrees to provide the child with a letter at least two times a year."

As it turns out, Beth is the type who not only never fails to have a present at appropriate points for Firefly, but brings one for Puppy, too. Even so, that one stupid sentence relieves me of a lot of worry. Not that we'd ever actually haul Beth into mediation if she missed a few birthday cards. But at least I'd be able to say, "Hey, you promised."

I suppose it's obvious why I'm thinking about that tonight.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have language like that in our open adoption as well. We have never gotten the 1 letter a year from his birthmom but she never fails to see our son liek we agreed upon, so that's a blessing. Though at times I wish we had letters to fill in the gaps of times when we don'e see her or the year when she had her younger child. I think in those cases it would be nice to have something to reflect back on but then again those letters are for our son and not us so I;m not sure how important or unimportant he will feel about letters from her.. I guess time will only tell- he's only 3. Thanks for for postings- I love your blog!

shmode said...

Aw, poor kid, what a disappointment for him.
Happy Birthday to him!

Jamie said...

i'm sorry ~ i can't imagine the disappointment that is swirling around your home right now......i hope the future brings about change in the way that puppy would love. thinking of you....

mayhem said...

I'm sorry...

Just wanted to add that I can empathize with your family having two adopted kids who have different levels of contact with first family.

It's HARD for Sparkle to see that Pumpkin gets phone calls and gifts and letters from his first family while he has no more information about his own first family.

Of course for Pumpkin it's great, but... It's not fair.

Dawn said...

I'm sorry, Heather. (I'm sorry, Puppy.)

Meg Weber Jeske said...

I'm sorry too. For all of you.

This idea of openness being a 2 way street didn't occur to me until a long ways in to our open adoption. It makes sense, and it was a great idea to put that language into your agreement with Beth.

Sending love and good thoughts.

Meg

hope548 said...

You are so right. I never considered the other side of open/semi-open adoption. I do fear that our son's birthfather will slowly fade away, but am hopeful his birthmother will always want contact. I can't imagine having two kids with different levels of contact. I'm so sorry Puppy didn't receive anything form his birthparents for his birthday. I hope he has a wonderful birthday anyway!

Polly said...

So sorry!

call me mama said...

We also have two different (semi/open) adoption agreements with our son's first families- It IS tough- and though our boys are two and a half and three- they do look for fairness in all things. We should have thought to add it to our agreements. Sorry, and thanks... and Happy Birthday Puppy!

Jacksmom said...

Happy Birthday Puppy! I am so sad for him and he is not even my child. I can only imagine the disappointment and let down he must feel. I know open adoption is complicated, and perhaps I am just too assertive, but can you say to them something about how perhaps it may not cross their minds how it comes across to Puppy, but that it really effects him in a negative way when two people who are obviously so important in his life don't even acknowledge those special days for him? Perhaps I am a bit too overprotective, but it would eat at me if I didn't say anything about it. I hope this is the last year, last occassion that they let that sweet little boy down!

Heather said...

@Jacksmom - We have talked about it with them, to let them know what we were observing. On multiple occasions. At times bluntly. They're usually very receptive and say they'll come through the next time, but don't. I really don't feel like there is anything more we can do.

lava said...

Ouch. ouch. ouch.

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