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 listed at Open Adoption Bloggers 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. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.
Write a response at your blog--linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is fine; I'd appreciate it if you'd add a link back to the roundtable. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments or at the Open Adoption Bloggers Facebook page.
During a January roundtable, when we answered a set of questions posed by an adoptive mom in a closed adoption, almost every one--even those in thriving, healthy open adoptions--pointed out that sometimes open adoption is flat-out hard.
I thought it would be worth exploring that difficulty some more and sharing our experiences. I know that it's those hard times that have been the most lonely for me in our family's open adoptions. It was easy to convince myself that, unlike me, my adoptive parent peers were nothing but secure, facing any challenges with graceful confidence. Finding out that wasn't true--and gaining perspective on what might be going on for the other constellation members during those same rough times--has made a world of difference.
Let's tell our stories. Our topic for this round:
Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?
Racilous (first mom) @ Adoption in the City: "I have to hope that M&P will allow a relationship between J and I to form, and that can’t happen without not only their permission, but their participation. That is a hard reality, that the fate of your relationship with your son is in the hands of someone else."
Barb (first mom) @ Sideshow Barb: "While I knew the possibilities of open adoptions closing, I thought we were above that. And by 'we' I mean the Kid’s parents & me, because clearly we were smarter than that. Unfortunately it has very little to do with intellect & everything to do with emotions & insecurities."
KatjaMichelle (first mom) @ Therapy Is Expensive: "Losing Kidlet to adoption the first time did things to me, it changed me. Losing the small bit of him I have of him through openness would kill me stop me in my tracks for a long long while. And yet, while the question is clearly phrased asking if I’ve ever WANTED to walk away you may have noticed that in one of the posts I linked to I did was prepared to do just that. I’d do anything for that kid so if a time comes where he needs me to step back I’ll do it but until then no amount of “hard” or “too much” is going to make me want to walk away. I won’t abandon him a second time. I won’t do it."
Stauffer Family (adoptive mom) @ Our Journey to Parenthood: "Recently there has been some stretching and growing in each of our relationships with each of our girl's birth mothers ... I think the timing of each challenge being so close together made me feel 'If we could have had a baby we wouldn't be going through this!' That's the ugly infertility nag raising its head as it does occasionally ... but that is not how we have our family and that really is not the way I feel all of the time!"
Cat (adoptive mom) @ Cat's Litterbox: "The 'it's too much' came from being overwhelmed with stress and fear. It was a passing moment, but it was there and it was real. After meeting with his birth father's family, that night, I told Steve that it was all too much for me to handle. I hated that I had to share my son with them. I hated that I couldn't get pregnant and have a baby with my own DNA and I hated that we were in the situation where I was feeling fear, anxiety, and sadness."
SJ (first mom) @ Missed Note: "Remember when I blogged about babysitting and Cory crying out for his mama? It is moments like those that best illustrate what makes open adoption so hard. You get to see your child, but in the arms of another woman. You can console him/her, but they are crying for someone else. You notice the little personality quirks that you gave him/her, but you are not comfortable pointing it out and openly taking pride in being part of such a beautiful creation. Moments like those make me want to walk away to take the route of self-preservation."
Jenna (first mom) @ The Chronicles of Munchkin Land: "Yes, there are times when open adoption has felt like 'too much.' On her first birthday, I honestly questioned whether continued contact was going to do me any good. I wasn’t yet in therapy as our unethical non-agency wouldn’t provide me with any and I felt completely overwhelmed by the loss of my daughter. I don’t think I actually considered 'walking away,' but I knew something had to change somewhere."
Thanksgivingmom (first mom) @ I Should Really Be Working: "Ever since I read this topic yesterday, I’ve been battling with how to answer. If I should answer. Because the truth is, this often feels like one of those baiting questions that a first parent will never answer 'correctly.' Admitting to those kinds of feelings may just prove that I’m everything they say I am. Answering honestly may provide naysayers all the ammunition that they need to slay us."
A Life Being Lived (first mom) @ Carrying a Cat By the Tail: "Is Open Adoption 'too hard'? For me, definitely not. On the contrary. It's the thing that makes adoption bearable at all."
Brandy (first mom and adopted adult) @ Our Life in the Desert: "As for my role as an adoptee raised in what is considered an open adoption – I have walked away. I’ve come back and walked away again. I’ve shouldered a lot of blame for the ‘wrongs’ that lead to my birth – I was a damn fetus – grow the hell up."
Robyn (adoptive mom) @ Chittister Children: "But for all that I might want to walk away, I won’t. Open adoption isn’t supposed to be easy for the adoptive parents. It’s just supposed to be better for the child."
Jodilee0123 (adoptive mom) @ Simple Perfect Life: "When we got the call for Jada, we were given every opportunity to walk away from an open adoption as her birthmom wanted it to be closed. I cried. We kept trying, got her email, started emailing and now have what I think is a pretty amazing relationship. I think about what we would have missed out on had we never pursued contact. I think of what she would have missed out on. I think of what Jada may have missed out on."
Nicole (adoptive mom) @ All Grown Up: "Open adoption feels like way too much a lot of the time. And at other times it feels exactly normal and causes hardly a ruffle in our daily lives. But for us it always, always is the right thing to do for our daughter, no matter how it feels."
Harriet Glynn (adoptive mom) @ See Theo Run: "I had visions of an easy, casual relationship: beach parties with my family and theirs, friends and children all running around eating Bavarian smokies and fizzy lemonade. Instead, Mark and I spent the next three months as shell-shocked new parents with frequent visits by various members of his birth family, who live within easy driving distance. Every ounce of control seemed to have vanished from our lives. I felt devastated by how obviously painful it was for the birthmom, and guilty for wanting some time to ourselves to bond with our new son."
Luna (adoptive mom) @ Life From Here: "The truth is, as hard as it might be for me sometimes, we’re doing this because we made a commitment — to ourselves, to our daughter and to her family of origin. Besides, however challenging it is for me, that is nothing compared to what our daughter may feel someday, or what her birth parents may feel when they don’t get to see her, or when they do."
Barely Sane (adoptive mom) @ Infertility Licks: "Things didn’t get easier, they got harder. I went at it with guns blazing, sending photos, making phone calls but I think the wounds were still too raw. Rather than accept it as a gentle process, I was like a rabid dog, forcing my way into their lives. MG’s first family pulled away and I was unsure what to do. I backed off and kept to our pre-arranged schedule of emails but I rarely got responses and almost never got answers to direct questions. I had no way of knowing whether or not I was sending too many pics, too few or if I was giving enough information or too little. I felt lost with no real knowledge of how to go about building a relationship on-line when it all felt so one sided. I began to wonder if they truly wanted openness and realized, we had never actually discussed what they wanted, we had all just nodded our heads to L’s lawyer and signed the standard agreement." Note: [A] bunch of my stuff is now PWP, including this latest OART. If anyone wants to read it, just fire me off an email and I'll happily pass it along.
A (adoptive mom) @ Not a Visitor: "I am never tempted to close our semi-open adoption, in fact I long for more contact and openness. Right now the communication is one way, from us to Z. It can feel like I am writing letters to nowhere."
Ritehere (first mom and adopted adult) @ It's all (w)rite here: "The way I approach OA is thinking back to all of the things I hated about being a child raised in a closed adoption. It sucked. Maybe for some it didn’t and other they just didn’t care. I take the memories and wishes I had as a child and am now hoping to be able to give those to Asher so he doesn’t grow up feeling the way I did."