Our List: OAB Roundtable #13

This fortnight’s question for the Open Adoption Bloggers Roundtable is hosted by Andy from Today’s the Day!. It’s something that doesn’t affect us every day anymore, but is still a sensitive topic for me (and job security for my therapist). Here it is:

We often hear about open adoptions where the two sides don’t want the same level of openness. First mothers who don’t get updates as often as they would like, or not as many visits each year. Or adoptive parents who want to include their child’s first mother in his life, but she is not ready.

But what we don’t often discuss is when people on the same side of the triad can’t agree on the level of openness in an adoption.

* It could be a wife who wants a fully open adoption but the husband only wants to send letters once a year.
* Or a first mother isn’t ready for an open adoption but the first father wants to be part of the baby’s life.
* Maybe a spouse isn’t supportive of their partner entering into reunion with their first mother.
* Or a partner who came along after the adoption and isn’t comfortable with your relationship with your placed child.
* And the classic Hallmark movie of the year scenario: Your mother-in-law is convinced that the baby will be snatched away from under your nose if you have an open adoption.

How would/do you navigate these situations? Does your current relationship impact the type of open adoption that you have? How does this affect your current relationship?

we have a mostly-but-not-quite-all-the-way-open adoption at present. School Girl’s first mother and her family have had what most people would call an open adoption arrangement with us from almost the beginning. By “open” I mean we shared identifying information (not everything right away; that’s what happens when you listen too much to other people), we sent cards, letters and pictures (to be honest, we shared pictures on a reciprocal basis only with M’s parents; the only time School Girl receives anything at all from M is when she feels able to visit), and the at least annual visit. We have only met School Girl’s paternal aunt and have no information at all about her first father’s family other than his first name, a brief autobiography, and two brief meetings with him around the time of School Girl’s placement. Anyway.

Our extended family and our social worker were…less than enthusiastic about sharing identifying information with School Girl’s other family. We were told by our social worker to not write our names on sent mail, only our return addresses. We were also advised not to give out our home phone number, which would show our names on their Caller ID; only to meet at neutral locations, preferably with a “uninterested third party” present at all times during the meeting; and never ever to invite them to our home. In short, we were discouraged from opening up our adoption at all. Being the contrarian I am, it made me both determined to open our adoption further and scared as hell to do so.

Our family…I’m a little more reluctant to talk about our extended family and their responses to our adoption. Suffice it to say that there have been very few instances of actual support for adoption in general from certain people, and even less support for any attempts at closeness with School Girl’s other family. Having said all that, I can tell you that my sister has been the one person who has been the most supportive about adoption in general. While she still has questions about our relationship with M and C, she’s at least willing to educate herself about open adoptions. I’ll leave it at that.

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3 Responses to Our List: OAB Roundtable #13

  1. andy says:

    Thanks for participating! and as an adoptee, thanks for being contrarian (great word by the way!) and sticking up for OA!

  2. jesspond says:

    I have to half roll my eyes and half shudder at the discouragement of sharing identifying info. I can say that I can imagine a FEW instances in which that might be “good” advice, but let’s just say they are NOT normal and should be treated as so, not the other way around. Geesh.

    Glad you have a more open adoption now!

  3. Batty says:

    Thanks for posting this, it’s very interesting. I’ve often thought about the ramifications of adoptions that don’t have anything to do with the child being orphaned. It’s such a complicated situation.

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