October 05, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #30

Roundtable time! This one is another chance to think back on the origins of our open adoptions.

Do you remember the first time you heard about open adoption?

If you need some further prompting: What were the circumstances? What was your reaction? If you grew up in an open adoption, do you remember the first time you heard the label applied to your relationships?

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 share 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.

The responses (so far):

Elizabeth (first parent) @ Between Mother and Mommy: "I'm a little ashamed to admit this (haha) but I think the first time I really heard about open adoption was on 16 & Pregnant (yes, I used to watch that show...gah)."

Susie Book (first parent) @ Endure for a Night: "Savage made open adoption sound pretty good; it never occurred to me that it might look different from the point of view of the woman sitting across the table from him, eating lunch and waiting to lose her child to the eager couple picking up the tab."

Danielle (first parent) @ Another Version of Mother: "Letters and pictures. That was, the birthmother and agency told me, truly open adoption. They sold it; I bought it."

Barb Sobel (first parent) @ Sideshow Barb: "I remember watching this in a cottage apartment, my doc martens tracing patterns on the cheap carpet, thinking 'Eeech. What a weird situation.' In six years, I’d really understand."

Red (first parent) @ One More Day: "When I finally started listening to what my SW had to say about openness, I was thrown into a totally new field of dreams. Could I find a place in my life for these strangers? Could I make it through this? Would they ever accept me? Could I really be part of my son's life and still give him the wonderful parents and home he deserved? Yep, I thought I could do that."

Spyderkl (adoptive parent) @ The Spinning Goth: "We have, all of us, learned a lot more about openness in adoption. Some things were good, others not so much. But we’ve learned more since that first day by just jumping in and living."

MommySquared (adoptive parent) @ Our Journey to Parenthood and the Years Beyond: "So from January 2005 to July 2005 we had a big learning curve, we met other families created through open adoption, we met and got to know them and the birth mothers and/or birth fathers in their families, we met older children who were adopted and had ongoing relationships with their birth families ... we got to see how it worked through the lives of others ... we got to see and hear how they love and embrace each other and how the children are effected in a positive way."

Monika (first parent) @ Monika's Musings: "Relationships grow and change. I don't expect every relationship to end up the same, and our relationship doesn't have to be as 'open' as some others for there to be true openness in our attitudes and actions."

TTABaby (pre-adoptive parent) @ TTABaby: "When open adoption was presented to us I needed to help my husband understand why having interaction with the birthparents would be an amazing opportunity. Once the fears and questions are answered it seems like- why would you keep your child away from people that love them? It will help us raise our baby with double love and we will have real answers to real questions from the source."

Racilous (first parent) @ Adoption In the City: "Now I believe that having two families is my son’s reality, we can acknowledge it and make it as seamless and normal for him as possible, or we can not. His parents and I choose the former because we think it will be the best for him."

M de P (adoptive parent) @ Reservado Para Futura Mama: "I read The Kid long ago, when children/family-building were far from my mind. In fact, I was on my way to Italy to see a summer fling of mine, but that's another story.... I remember reading it on the plane and crying my eyes out."

Cindy (first parent) in comments: "So the fact that people have to promote open adoption, force people to accept family members that they want to pretend don't exist, well, I just think THAT'S strange, and kind of disheartening. I don't understand why this openness just a very ordinary part of life that people can take for granted."

Robyn (adoptive parent) @ Chittister Children: "It would be nice if, by the time my son’s an adult, most people can say that they can’t remember a time when they didn’t know about open adoption."

Amber (adoptive parent) @ Bumber's Bumblings: "My first impression of open adoption, was, 'wow, that is so cool'. I was never weirded out by it!"

Meghann (adoptive parent) @ Everyday Miracles: "I remember the first time I spoke with a family in an open adoption. I’m certain I remember it so clearly because they made OA seem so…normal."

Coley (first parent) @ Living the Bittersweet Life: "Honestly, the first time I heard about open adoption was from my son’s adoptive Mother. At the time though, she wasn’t his adoptive mom yet."

Britney (first parent) in comments: "I had visited her at home not long before and noticed pictures of a young girl... now they made sense. I had never heard of such a situation but the ease and confidence with which she discussed it made it seem so utterly normal. There was no reason to think it was anything else."

Willow (first parent) @ Willownym: "My intro to open adoption as an expectant woman was all of the potential positives. I didn’t know that they were only potential positives. None of it was lies exactly but the truth of the contact was exaggerated. And they never mentioned that contact would be a privileged that can be taken away at a whim. The difficulties and uncertainties were never discussed. My fears and concerns were glossed over."

Jan (adoptive parent) @ Even Miracles Take Time: "Not sure why my response was different with one versus the other, except maybe the conference they were people all in front of me discussing it, and they all seemed genuinely okay, and happy and to have love for each other, so maybe seeing the love emanate made it more acceptable. Not sure….but it definitely moved me."

Amy (adoptive parent) @ Beanie Baby Blog: "During that year I started reading adoption blogs. I can't remember which one was first. But one lead to another and another and another. And eventually I found the Open Adoption Roundtable plus Heart Cries and Amstel Life. Through all of these bloggers I was able to get a big picture of open adoption. We finally asked our agency to amend our home study to include a completely open adoption."

Ashley (adoptive parent) @ Modern Mommy Magic: "If I were to be brutally honest, I'd also admit there was a lot of anger. Mostly because we were still dealing with finding out about my infertility. I don't usually get upset when something goes wrong - I tend to get angry. And then I spend a good deal of time cussing. And then I move on to making snarky jokes. And then I'm fine. This was pretty much how I handled infertility and learning about open adoption. I was angry."

Lynn (adoptive parent) @ Open Hearts Open Minds: "It's hard to remember the first time I heard about open adoption, but I know what I thought: I want nothing to do with that. It seemed messy and complicated. I had no interest in potentially 'sharing' my child with someone else."

Rebecca (pre-adoptive parent) @ An Adopted Life: "There are just things in life that you know; that make sense. While this is all new and unchartered for me, I know that when our time comes we will not seek out boundaries, because we've already had too many doors slammed in our face. It's time we start opening doors."

Jenna (first parent) @ The Chronicles of Munchkin Land: "I am always amazed that Dee and I have found ourselves in this fully open adoption when neither of us had any real education or support about what it could or should look like. Then again, when I think about it, perhaps that’s why we’ve made our way to this particular point. It makes me think of what Luci Swindoll (who is hilarious and not offensive) said this weekend in Pittsburgh when referencing Picasso. 'Nobody told me I couldn’t.' No one told us we couldn’t become friends. No one told us that she couldn’t be in my wedding. No one told us we couldn’t spend the night at each others’ house for four to five days. No one told us we couldn’t go on vacation together. No one told us we couldn’t. So we just did."

Marisa (adoptive parent) @ Sheeps Eating Me: "We were having dinner in a Mexican restaurant, and over a giant bowl of guacamole and salt-rimmed margaritas, I said something that made her laugh. And I noticed – not for the first time, but suddenly with a new meaning – that we have EXACTLY the same mouth. I suddenly understood that I could never get in the way of my own children having that experience. I didn’t know yet how I was going to get out of the way (6 years later I’m still learning that) but I was very clear that I would support my children in whatever way they needed to get to see that they smiled just like their own mother."

Dr Spouse (pre-adoptive parent) @ What am I?: "In 1999 I was working in Southern California, and a mildly irritating hippy type colleague mentioned that he was heading to a different part of the state for the weekend to meet up with 'his daughter's birth mother'. I now remember being stopped in my tracks."

I Am (first parent) @ Statistically Impossible: "'Have you thought about open adoption' means 'have you thought about the industrialized west's social moores about familial bonds,' and 'have you considered restructuring the way you understand love?'"


Elizabeth said...


Here's mine! I wish I had had a better introduction! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm in! http://susiebook.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/open-adoption-roundtable-30/

Anonymous said...

Here is my introduction to open adoption: Not so pretty, but that's how it happened for me, truly.



barb sobel said...

whoaaaa! i dug way, way back in my archives...2006...


Red said...

Ok, sometimes my thoughts tend to get a little jumbled. Hopefully I was able to convey this properly. :D


Anonymous said...

I'm in a different place this time:

MommySquared said...

We've come a long way from our first fears in 2005! http://landtstauffer.blogspot.com/2011/10/do-you-remember-first-time-you-head.html

Monika said...

And this is mine...

TTABaby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TTABaby said...


Anonymous said...


M de P said...


Cindy said...

I'm not sure if I thought of it as 'open adoption' at the time because this was about ten years ago, when I participated in a small starter church (known as a 'church plant').
There was only about a dozen regular attendees and the mission of the church was mostly for single moms/broken homes in a certain area of my city.
Anyways, I was fortunate to befriend a single mom of two, a woman in her early forties at the time. During the three years I was part of the ministry of this group, I did manage to befriend her. It wasn't hard, she is a very kind, gentle, intelligent, and easy to talk to person.
During the last year I before I decided to leave, she did have a child, conceived by a man who was NOT her estranged husband who she had been trying to include in her life, for her daughters sake.
The fact that she was pregnant was more a shocker because of her teenage daughters and her age, to me at least.
And I will always remember hearing her talk to the pastors about a poem(relating to adoption) commenting that she 'wouldn't be a stranger' like was mentioned in the poem.
Honestly, it was the poem that bothered me, I have never actually understood why people cut people out of their lives who are not harming them, you know, um.. just ... because they don't fit..??
Because I knew this wonderful lady, I thought it was strange to even mention that she could be a stranger.
Now, because of the size of my extended family and the communities I have lived in, the problems in my own family and because I've just always been kind of drawn to the people that have 'special' needs and such.
I guess I am really used to(from CHILDHOOD) seeing families that are actually abnormal.
(aka, divorce,step-children,foster children, inter-racial marriage, common-law living, etc)
But these situations seem normal to me, because they are all that I have usually seen and accepted, as a matter of simple life.

So the fact that people have to promote open adoption, force people to accept family members that they want to pretend don't exist, well, I just think THAT'S strange, and kind of disheartening.
I don't understand why this openness just a very ordinary part of life that people can take forgranted. I know families aren't perfect, my own sister doesn't invite me to her birthday party, and that's sad.
In the same way, it's also sad when my sons adoptive mom doesn't have time to send me a email about the life of my/our son.
People should want to connect with any and all family that can encourage and enhance their lives. There's so much enhancing(and I'm not just trying to brag!) I could do in the lives of my family ALL my family, but they often seem to forget me or ignore me.

Anonymous said...

I like this one, even if my answer is weird:

BumbersBumblings said...


meghann said...

I didn't really answer the question. Well, I did. But since my answer to the first question was "no" it might have been a very short post. Instead I ended up taking a little stream-of-consciousness trip... http://www.bflomama.com/2011/10/07/oar-30-•%c2%a0where-we-started-where-we-are-and-how-we-got-here/

Coley said...


Elly said...

Cindy -I'm not sure I'd describe those situations as 'abnormal' but I also grew up in a 'non-traditional' family, and my feelings are similar to yours in that one. As so many of my 'family' aren't actually biologically related to me, OA doesn't seem that odd.

Having read the roundtable topic, I actually can't remember when i first heard about OA. I do know that my own perceptions of it have changed. I have to confess that initially I hoped for a closed adoption, whereas now we have an OA, and that seems perfectly right and natural.

Unknown said...

Several years ago, I went to lunch with a new friend from work. She was engaged and planning her wedding, so that topic pretty well dominated the conversation. Ever the wedding enthusiast, I asked excited questions and she beamed as she answered. At one point I asked, "who is going to be your flower girl?" Her response, "my daughter," drew from me the confused look I now know so well.

She explained that she had gotten pregnant at fifteen, while living in foster care... she didn't want her daughter to start out in the system, so she made an adoption plan. She picked her daughter's parents and saw them several times a year. Her daughter was nine now, and they sent pictures and copies of report cards. She told me how nervous her fiance was to meet her daughter and how excited her daughter was to be in the wedding.

I had visited her at home not long before and noticed pictures of a young girl... now they made sense. I had never heard of such a situation but the ease and confidence with which she discussed it made it seem so utterly normal. There was no reason to think it was anything else.

This same friend was one of the first I told about my pregnancy... and the first I talked to about adoption. Her response was, "it was hell. for years. but I don't regret it." I asked lots of questions... she was always generous and open in answering.

I am forever grateful to her for such a casual introduction to open adoption. It made my own acceptance of the idea so much simpler. It gave me invaluable knowledge that informed the questions I asked agencies and hopeful parents which, I am certain, have much to do with the strength of my relationships with my son and his parents today. It also bolstered my courage to speak about my son. It's ok to include him in conversation. It's ok to refer to "my son's parents" with the ease I refer to my aunt. It's not that I'm never nervous throwing it into conversation... or that no one ever responds poorly... but I KNOW that speaking about it as normal helps other people see it that way, too. And what a difference that makes.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Here is mine :)


Amy said...

I had trouble posting a comment. Hopefully it will go through this time.


Unknown said...

I feel like I could have written a novel on this... And I could have revised this a thousand times. I finally decided to just leave it as is. :)


Lynn said...

Here's my post. Basically, I thought the worst...and none of it came true. http://openheartsopenminds.blogspot.com/2011/10/first-time-i-heard-about-open-adoption.html

An Adopted Life said...

Here is my post:


DrSpouse said...

I know it's really late, but here's my contribution:


I am said...

Late to the party as usual, but here none-the-less.
Thanks again for doing this.

Cat's Litterbox said...

Sorry I'm just getting time to do this one!!!


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