April 07, 2011

My Answers: Yes, No

Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?

I could pull out a story or two, but the upshot would be this: when someone in my life is treating me (or my family) like poop, I don't like it. It makes me grumpy and sad. And when the poop treatment comes in the context of our open adoptions, with their high stakes of maintaining birth family connections on the kids' behalf, then my grumpiness and sadness gets ratcheted up to eleven. Any generalized parenting anxiety flies together into worries about effects on the kids or fears of Mari and Eddie growing up and heading off into the sunset with their first families without so much as a look back at us. I fret, deliver strident monologues to an audience of one (Todd), and don't sleep well. So, yes, sometimes it feels like far too much.

(There are some lovely people among our kids' birth families, people who are incredibly dear to me, patient with my shortcomings, and have only good intentions. Please don't think that I'm lumping all first family together here. We just have a couple of extended family members who struggle to have healthy relationships in general and that carries over into their relationships with us.)

But have I ever wanted to chuck it all and walk away from the people involved? No. It would be trading one heaviness for another, and at what cost? If I had to put words to my deepest desires in the hardest of those poop times, it would be that things could just be simple. Not that I could erase first family from our lives, but that somehow we could all co-exist in this overlapping, messy family without the emotional complexity that adoption brings.

Obviously it's not a realistic wish. I'm not claiming it is. But it's where I always end up in the hard times: "I just wish it could be simple."  I do my best to acknowledge my sadness or anxiety or frustration, but not give in to them; Todd and I make our decisions based on our commitment to raising our children with ongoing, respectful connections to their families of origin. We believe in the value of openness and have already witnessed enough to know it's worthwhile. So far that's what keeps me pressing into the openness when things are hard, instead of pulling away, even with its complications.


Lisa said...

I struggle with this. We have contact with our daughter's first mother/grandmother pair, and the visits we've had were always positive. However, recently, things in first mother's life recently have led her to want to spend more time with Olivia, specifically alone. And that is NOT ok with us. We don't worry (much) about HER, it's certain abusive people in her life who are the factor we can't control. I don't care what the cost to the relationship with first family...I won't have my daughter put in a dangerous situation for any amount of time. But first mom insists that it won't be dangerous, and I can't seem to convince her that she's not the best judge of such things from her perspective. It is just so hard sometimes to maintain the connections and shield Olivia from certain things.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it's all worth it. We're still new to the open adoption experience.

harriet glynn said...

OK so maybe I'll just delete my post, sub in yours and change Todd's name to Mark. I feel the exact same way.

Laurie said...

A week ago I blogged about this very subject when my baby daughter's birthmother didn't want to meet us or her. It made me so sad for our baby even though at the same time i understand.

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