Sunday, January 30, 2011

OAR#23: Taking the bliss outa ignorance

(I'm sliding in a post before January concludes officially.)

In a little twist, the most recent Open Adoption Roundtable sent interested responders to another blog and asked for answers to Jessica at O Solo Mama's "ignorant questions" about open adoption.

I'll take a stab at answering as best I can...

1. If open adoption is so great, why do so many people suck at it? By this I mean, not honouring commitments, closing the adoption, telling the other family they’re not “doing this thing” correctly or playing the “for the sake of the child” card?

Open adoption relies on human relationships, human relationships with loss, longing, and love at their heart. Like any relationship, it is only as healthy as all of the humans within it. Therefore, it is almost always complex, messy, and emotionally challenging. All too often, it "sucks."

Of course, for perspective, it's important to recognize that open adoption is not the only relationship in which people sometimes have trouble honoring commitments or behaving as anticipated. And of course, it is in relationships with a great deal at stake - such as marriages, or bonds between parents and children - that our human weaknesses cause the most pain and do the most damage.

2. From the standpoint of first parents, open adoption sounds like something that could prolong suffering. Could this suffering potentially outweigh the good of knowing where your child is? Who helps the first parent?

Obviously, I can't answer this one, but I am interested in the responses being submitted by first/birth parents.

3. I’m guessing kids are not hung up on how many relatives they have. Tell me that the thing that hangs up the public all the time about open adoption and other unconventional relationships—two mommies, two daddies, three, four, parents—is the least of your worries because it seems to me it is.


Well, it's too early to tell how Dylan will feel about having two mothers, but I'm guessing he'll pick up on the cues that M. and I give him. We're pretty comfortable with the lingo of open adoption, so we suspect he will be too.

4. Do you ever feel like you should give this child back? Does the thought ever seize you totally as you watch your child with her bio-family: “ooops?” (OR for f-parents: Do you ever feel as though you need to take this child back? That nothing is stopping you beside an agreement that feels false? Does that feeling go away?)


Well, unfortunately, we haven't seen Dylan interact much with is birth mother. But I have never felt that Dylan isn't exactly where he "should" be.

I can say that I have wondered what his life would be like if he was with her instead of us, and what could have or should have been different in her life to make it possible for her to parent him.

5. How do children ever cope with knowing they could not be kept? When they see their natural parents having more kids, what do they think? Who helps the child in this situation? Both sets of parents?

I don't know yet, but I hope it is both sets of parents. I know that how Dylan will feel when she has and parents additional children is something that concerns V.

I will say I hope we never use - or think of, really - the term "could not be kept" with Dylan. Yes, at some point, he will be mature enough to understand that his birth mom made the decision that she could not parent him as well as she felt he deserved. But I hope the focus, and the feeling, for him is on the love and courage that decision took, rather than on a sense of being discarded.

6. Can you say comfortably that some surrendering mothers could not cope with an open adoption or do you think that it should always be the standard?

I think that's actually two questions. Yes, I believe some surrendering mom's can't cope with an open adoption, but that's not because it's an open adoption. Like I said, it's complex, messy, and emotionally challenging, and not everyone has the support or emotional fortitude to move beyond it. But that is true of any of the options for handling an unanticipated pregnancy, right?

The second part of the questions is a bit tougher for me to answer. I guess I'll say "yes," it should be the standard that all members in an adoption - birth parents, adoptive parents, and children - have the option to maintain relationships with each other. But I know that there are lots of circumstances - particularly in international adoption - when that isn't possible. I say that I think openness should always be an option for a placing parent.

7. Is there ever a reason (aside from extreme/illegal behaviours) to close an adoption totally?


But of course, determining which behaviors are "extreme" can be a subjective thing...and that is why, I believe, many people "suck" at open adoption.

Now, go read what other people had to say!