A straightforward prompt for the end of the year:
What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?
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.
Excerpts from the responses (so far):
Kate (adoptive mom) in the comments section: "Finally, I realized that I love my daughter's birthparents. Not 'love them 'cause they made me a mom', not 'love them 'cause they're my daughter's birthparents', but actually love these two people for the human beings they are. Huge to realize this. I think it's the essence of family - love without a reason for loving."
Sparklejenna (adoptive mom): "This sums up another thing I have learned through the process of open adoption, and that is that our children don't belong to us, no matter how they come in to our lives. They are these amazing little beings of the universe and we are just lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of their unfolding."
Debbie (first mom) @ Complicated Debbie: "I've learned that my heart is capable of breaking daily over the same things."
Racilous (first mom) @ Adoption in the City: "I think from all the stories I’ve heard this year, all the people I’ve met, I have opened my mind to the far reaches of what adoption can look like. And I am finding a way to not only understand that different isn’t bad, but I have learned that those who may approach things differently than me can teach me a lot if I only open my eyes and pay attention."
Elizabeth (pre-adoptive parent) @ Happy Adoption Story: "This adoption process is going to make me a better person. It already has. I have, in the past, allowed my own insecurities, my tendency to be overly-sensitive, and just plain hurt feelings, make me angry at others. I am quickly realizing that there really isn't going to be much room for that when it comes to this adoption."
Katie (pre-adoptive parent) @ Removing Roadblocks: "This is a big one-I want to spend time with our child's birthmother and her son. They are super-fun to be around and easy to get along with."
Lynn @ (adoptive mom) Open Hearts Open Minds: This year, I learned that relationships in an open adoption, as with any type of relationship, are fluid and evolving.
I am (first dad) @ Statistically Impossible: "I don't have it all worked out. I don't know where this adoption process is going. And I'm not afraid. That's just how relationships go. We never know where they're headed, and in truth, I think I'm glad of that."
Robyn (adoptive mom) @ The Chittister Family: "So, what did I learn about open adoption in 2011? I guess I learned more about what open adoption is like through other people’s eyes."
K (first mom) @ 100 Letters to You: "I hadn't really realized just how much my relationship with O's parents had changed until I started reading through the emails we sent just prior and right after O's birth. We were EXTREMELY close at the time. And now, well, we're just not. But it's a good change for us, and I think we're both pretty comfortable with where we are."
Amy (first mom) @ Ramblings from Real Life: "I learned that open adoption never gets any easier when it comes to emotions. I think that in the past almost eight years I have learned what my emotional triggers are, but there are some that will always pop up that I am not aware of."
MommySquared (adoptive mom) @ Our journey to parenthood and the years that follow: "Also, we did learn never, never close the door on a relationship! We kept that door open never closing it for the possibility of meeting up with our older daughter's birth father...and this summer we reconnected in person spending the day with him, his wife and his daughter during our family visit to Minnesota where he lives and our daughter was born."
Monika (first mom) @ Monika's Musings: "But I learned there is more power in me than I thought. I did more letting go this year in my relationship with my daughter & her parents. This is not to say that I'm abandoning the relationship. However, I'm worrying just a little bit less that the investing I've done in the relationship will be for naught."
Kelly (adoptive mom) @ Making Monkey Soup: "We still haven’t come to a place where we have decided one way or another to open our adoption, but I know that I have people out there who can be a resource for us, and a support group of other parents who have been successful in opening what had been closed foster care adoptions. Just learning that there are families out there who have been able to make an open adoption happen, when the social workers have stated they thought it would be better to keep things closed, makes me feel that my gut feelings about opening our adoption up could work."
Jenna (first mom) @ The Chronicles of Munchkin Land: "But it comes down to this: I won’t apologize for my family. I won’t change how we do things just to make you feel better. I won’t quit doing what I’m doing just so you feel better about the path your life journey has taken."
KatjaMichelle (first mom) @ Therapy is Expensive: "Lesson 2: I have a voice and I need to use it."
Venessa (adoptive mom) @ A Journey of Love: "I am so thankful for that we still have a relationship with the birth mom and birth father. I want them to continue to be part of our daughters story. So no matter what, I will do what I can to make this relationship work. Many people dont agree with me or my husband on this but again, it is our adoption and only we know what is best for us in this situation."
Barb Sobel (first mom) @ Sideshow Barb: "Finally, at 38, I discovered that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. My Jr High math teacher would be proud. Aristotle, too. And my therapist."
DrSpouse (pre-adoptive parent) @ What am I?: "It is possible to be too open - I had a very early lesson in how even seemingly innocuous information can be misinterpreted."
Karen (adoptive mom) @ Karen's Adoption Journey: "Seeing those photos, I realized with a clarity that had escaped me prior to that moment that we did not leave his family behind in Ethiopia. Despite the hardships of distance and communication, we are not two separate families, but rather one large one, joined by our love for one little boy."
Danielle (first mom) @ Another Version of Mother: "I will always be a 'birthmother'. I cannot take back anything that happened to me almost a decade ago. A thought that both comforts me and renders me feeling so helpless that I wish I could crawl into bed and sleep forever."
Amber (adoptive mom) and Ashley (first mom) @ Bumber's Bumblings: "I've been thinking about where to go with this topic for a few days and when Ashley, B's birth mom came for a visit today, it popped into my head. I know you have so enjoyed hearing from her in the few blogs she has written or participated with me on. I randomly asked her the question above today."
Cat (adoptive mom) @ Cat's Litterbox: "If you would have asked me a year ago, if I thought our relationship with his side of our family would be what it is, I would have said no. I didn't think it was possible... but I was also basing my opinions on the way L acted in May and June. She was upset and scared and lashed out and I'm just thankful that we were all able to get past that."
Geochick (adoptive mom) @ An Engineer Becomes a Mom: "It’s up to the adoptive parents to do the heavy lifting. First-parents get the short end of the stick when it comes to adoption. They are often written off as horrible people, after all who would give away their baby? The horrors! That’s not true, but if you’re hearing from home, from your friends, from society in general to forget about the baby and move on, wouldn’t you feel tentative about initiating conversations with the adoptive parents? It’s up to the adoptive parents to reach out and indicate that contact is welcome. "
Kristin (adoptive mom) @ Parenthood Path: "The fact is, D does have two mothers, two mommies. But this was a new test, and I found that sometimes my heart (and insecurities?) makes it a challenge to practice what I preach. That was something important that I learned about my open adoption in 2011."
Meghann (adoptive mom) @ Everyday Miracles: "In 2011 I learned that our everyday life has very little to do with open adoption and is, at the same time, imbued with it. The things we do—going to the library, feeding the ducks at the park, grocery shopping, playing, cooking, reading together, eating, bathing, breathing, sleeping…—none of these has the least to do with adoption. But if it weren’t for adoption, we wouldn’t have anyone to do them with. That realization is constant, even though I am not constantly—consciously—thinking about adoption."
Momo Meg (adoptive mom) @ Momosapien: "I’ve pushed myself to be very clear in my communication with LB’s mom, and to communicate even things that feel challenging to me. As our contact has ebbed and flowed this year, I’ve also given myself a chance to notice those patterns and recognize that they likely have more to do with the cycles in our lives than with anything we have or haven’t done. I’ve attempted to be more present and authentic when we interact, instead of being overwhelmed and nervous."
Camille (adoptive mom) @ Embracing the Odyssey: "Your feelings as an adoptive parent aren’t so important when compared with what is best for your child. And so I know this may offend some folks, but it’s important enough to risk ridicule. I’ve got to say, I don’t understand the people I’ve met who are actively seeking closed adoptions when so much evidence (blogs, testimonials, research studies, etc.) points to the benefits of open relationships."
Coley (first mom) @ Living the Bittersweet Life: "I have learned that the time I have spent cultivating a relationship with Charlie before he was old enough to even reciprocate it was not in vain. He is well aware of who I am and our bond. I now think that had I not invested time and energy into our relationship from the very beginning he might not be as comfortable with me as he is."
Ginnie (first mom) @ Momma's Word Soup: "When we left that lunch I felt like that big weight with "Less Than" stamped on it had been magically lifted from me. I am not Less Than anyone. I am actually More Than many people. I may even be More Than Baby Girl's APs in some ways."