I have to say, I really appreciate the comments and emails on my last post. I admit was uneasy about writing it; I'm constantly feeling out where the privacy boundaries (both the kids' and their first parents') are in talking about our family's open adoptions.
One small follow-up: Many of you commented on how hard this must be. It's true that it's not easy to watch someone you care about in crisis. And obviously anything I've felt pales in comparison to what they are going through. But I think I may have given the wrong impression. If I had to rank the four different relationships we have with the kids' first parents, from smoothest to roughest? Our relationship with the parent in that post would come in as the easiest. Hands down, no contest.
It's true that the instability in their life and how it affects their relationship with their kiddo sometimes weighs on me. I worry about them when things are bad. The practical side of contact can be tricky. The money stuff stresses me out sometimes, because deciding boundaries sucks and generosity is still a discipline in many ways for me. But the actual relationship at its core is really, really good. For the simple reason that they trust and respect us enough to be honest with us, and vice versa.
I'm not saying we know every detail of their life or their thoughts on the adoption, nor should we. Not at all. But if we call to invite them to visit--or even just to chat--and they aren't in a place to deal with adoption, they tell us. They've gently offered ways we could be more helpful in our triad role and extended grace when we've fallen short. If they're going to move or their phone is getting shut off, they try to let us know ahead of time. There may be things to work through or figure out, but I'm never second-guessing myself or wondering what they are thinking about this open adoption we've got going. I don't worry that they're picking apart my letters, looking for hidden meanings. There's no manipulation or evasiveness. If they're out of touch for awhile because of life stuff or for their own mental/emotional health, I usually know why and I have faith that they'll be back when they can. That kind of communication means so much to me.
We've got a good foundation started. I really do trust that we're all in it for the long haul, because we care about and enjoy each other and--most importantly--we care about our shared child's well-being. None of us are going to storm off forever in a huff because of some real or imagined slight. And that makes all the difference in the world.
You don't know how much I wish I could say the same about some of the kids' other birth family members.
Now that I think about it, had we been handed little written profiles of their first parents when we were matched, they way they were for us, it's the ones whose write-ups would have included "red flags" or "challenges" (to use two favorite adoption agency phrases) who have ended up being our best relationships. By far.
It just goes to show you that there's really no formula to open adoption, no way of predicting how any particular open adoption will turn out. And our family's adoptions are still so very young. We've yet to see how things will shift and change as our lives continue, and as the kids grow and add their own choices to the mix. There's a lot of story here still left to be written. But right now I'm very glad this particular first parent is part of it.