November 17, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable #10

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. Publish your response during the next two weeks--linking back here so we can all find one other--and leave a link to your post in the comments. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

A note from Heather: I'm thrilled to announce that this round will be hosted (faciliated? edited? curated?) by Thanksgivingmom of I Should Really Be Working. Thanksgivingmom placed her daughter for adoption three years ago this month. Her blog is a gem; she has that rare combination of strong opinions crossed with sensitivity to other adoption plane members. I always enjoy her thoughtful posts about working out her identity as a first mom and what it has been like for her to build an open adoption after the fact (she wasn't involved in choosing her daughter's adoptive mother and didn't meet her until after the placement).

And now I'll turn the floor over to Thanksgivingmom...


This is a topic that is very timely for me (Thanksgivingmom) right now, but is something that all of us in open adoption deal with at least once during the year: birthdays.

I know that birthdays can be an extremely emotional time, for everyone connected to adoption, not just those of us in open adoptions. So what is it that we do, as part of our open adoptions, during the “birthday season”?

Our experiences on this are so diverse, that I don’t want to limit your responses to one specific question. BUT, since some of us (like me!) sometimes like the specific questions, here are a few that have been rattling around in my brain as my daughter’s third birthday approaches:

  • What do you/your family do to integrate open adoption and birthday celebrations?
  • What do you wish you would see in future birthday celebrations re: involvement with your child’s adoptive parents/birth parents?
  • Do you have an open adoption agreement that requires contact on/around birthdays?
  • How does that agreement affect you? Do you wish it were different? Do you wish that you did have an agreement that requires such contact?
  • If you do not have contact around birthdays, do you do something private to honor birthdays?
  • If you’re an adoptee, how were birthdays celebrated in your family with regards to open adoption?
  • How do you wish they would have been celebrated?
  • And anything else you can think of!

Barely Sane (adoptive Mom) @ Infertility Licks writes: "Again, MG is too young to really "get it" just yet but as time goes on, the timing of these gifts will not go unnoticed and I think it will be significant for MG to know she isn't forgotten on that day."

Susie (first Mom) @ Endure for a Night writes: (on attending her placed son's birthday party) "If we can’t make it, I would like to call. Of course, that’s not exactly right; in some ways, I want to not call or go or have any kind of contact. I want to grieve and mope and feel sorry for myself. But since I keep reminding myself that this is a child-centered open adoption, I want to want to do the right thing by Cricket."

Jess (adoptive Mom) @ The Problem with Hope writes: "Birthdays are an extremely special and sentimental thing around here....and I don't think that I'd ever want to "separate" her birthday from her birth family (as if that's even possible!!)."

Debbie (adoptive Mom) @ Always and Forever Family writes: (on birthday/holiday visits as part of an open adoption agreement) "Given that M is the quiet type I'm glad we have that established so that we don't have to wonder about a visit around those times. Sure schedules and distance might be an issue but I know we'll always try to visit around Isabel's birthday and Christmas."

Robyn C (adoptive Mom) @ Adoption Blogs writes: "I always think of S as Jack’s birthday grows near. Every year, I remember how we wouldn’t have Jack if it weren’t for S. We wouldn’t be a family without her. I think about what Jack’s life or our lives might be like and shudder."

You Never "Get Over It" (first Mom) writes: "I have often toyed with the idea of having some kind of ritual for his birthday (preferably one that requires me to stay home and NOT go to work), but I just don’t know WHAT. Nothing really brings me any peace about him being gone. I have yet to find any ritual, any ANTHING that makes my soul less raw, my emotions less fragile on his birthday."

Dawn (adoptive Mom) @ This Woman's Work writes: "To me, Madison’s birthdays are very symbolic of the progression of our open adoption. Caution at the beginning. Trying to figure out boundaries. Pennie’s tentative attempts to create her own celebrations. Then finally a merging of our friends/families and public recognition of Pennie’s presence in our family and her relationship to Madison."

Leigh (first Mom) @ Sturdy Yet Fragile writes: "Her birthday, and the fall season/Thanksgiving bring on mixed emotions for me. In many ways I can get upset if I let myself think too much about our couple short days together and the horrible moment when I had to physically hand her over. But for the last few years, I also looked forward to her birthday, as it meant I would soon be receiving an update and some pictures."

Ginger (first Mom) @ Puzzle Pieces: Adoption writes: "The years I haven''s not that I don't care. It's that their birthdays are hard for me. It's that picking out a birthday card that's suitably neutral and inoffensive is emotionally exhausting for me. It's not simple. Nothing is simple."

Jenna (first Mom) @ The Chronicles of Munchkinland writes: "Birthdays are probably the hardest day of my yearly adoption journey. And yet, at the same time, I welcome them for they mean that my beautiful daughter is another year older. It means that I’ve spent another year getting to know her in various ways. It means that I get to celebrate her presence in my life. I can ignore the general melancholy of the day for the most part if I know that my daughter has remained in my life for yet another year.

Family of Three (adoptive Mom) writes: "Actions speak louder than words, and the fact that FirstMom is setting aside her current challenges to make the effort to be here for Sassy will ring much more clearly than my reminders someday to Sassy that FirstMom does love and care about her."


Barely Sane said...

Am I first?? Cool!!

Anonymous said...

Mine won't be up until the morning, but it's at

Great timing for me too, btw. ;)

Jess said...

I'm back, I'm back! Don't call me a slacker and laugh and point, please!

Deb said...

We've had people think we were crazy for having our daughter's birthmom at the birthday party. Eager to read other posts of people doing that same thing.

Leigh said...

Do we put the links here or on Thanksgivingmom's page?

sorry if I did it wrong!

Heather said...

@Leigh - Here is fine!

Ginger said...

Here it is:

As a warning, I think NaNoWriMo has made me long winded and has completely turned off my inner editor...

Jenna said...

Mine is also long-winded. That said, Munchkin's birthday is right around the corner so I'm feeling *VERY* introspective.

Elly said...

It is so valuable to me to read other peoples' experiences. We don't have a written open adoption agreement. Funnily enough, I would have thought of it as requirements for US, not thinking that maybe DS' first mom ('M') might also be called to commit to anything. It has been especially educational to read the experience of first parents (moms) who don't feel entitled or in a position to e.g. send a birthday card or gift. So when I last wrote to M I mentioned that it was fine if she wanted to send something to DS (it is hard to say it without sounding like "send a gift! Now!). I realized she might feel like she needed permission.

This is also the emotional time of year for me. We had the call about DS and his bmom the day before thanksgiving, we told our families at christmas and he was born just after new year. His birth is so tied up with meeting M I can't imagine thinking of it without thinking of her.


Cedar said...

I saw the invitation to join this roundtable over on Thanksgivingmom's blog. This is an older post of mine, but I would like to contribute it to the roundtable:

Open Adoption: They knew it would work

While doing my masters thesis on PTSD in natural mothers, I came across a number of articles by researchers (1976 and on) who were studying how open adoption would affect surrender rates. I was alarmed that it had been primarily developed to persuade mothers to surrender their babies. So, this blog post details a few of those studies.


Anonymous said...

I know I'm not part of your roundtable, but I just wanted to thank you for this post. My husband and I are in the process of adopting our 2 year old through the foster care system, so, while our situation is different from yours, it still has similarities. Once the adoption is finalized, it is our choice how much or little contact he has with his birth mom. It's great to see opinions from both sides.

Is everyone in your roundtable a traditional domestic adoption, or are any of them foster-based? I would think it might be a little different in a foster case, as the children were taken away from the birth parents due to negligence, abuse, etc.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling comment!

Happy ICLW!

Anonymous said...

I'm excited to see this Open Adoption Roundtable. I'm not sure if I am leaving a comment in the correct spot as I've never commented on a blog before...I am and adoptee and a birthmother. I chose open adoption because, growing up and even today, I have every little information about my birth family. The family I placed my daughter with wanted openness even more than I did. While there were painful moments watching her with her adoptive family, I knew it was important. It allowed closure in a different way. Birthdays were/are bittersweet. Now that I am married and have children, it is much less painful. Her birthday and Mothers Day were my time to grieve. To allow all the pain to surface. I wanted to FEEL because the rest of the time I had to pull up my boot straps and proceed with life as "normal". Her parents always did something extra special on those days to let me know I wasn't forgotten. They are wonderful people...

Andy said...

Here's my closed adoptee's view of birthdays

familyofthree said...

Timely topic for us as well... thanks for facilitating it!

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