When Heather put out the call for participants for an interview project
, I have to say I got so excited that I jumped right on that train! (Heather
is the person I want to be when I grow up!) I’m glad I signed up, as I was paired with a blogger, Valerie, at From Another Mother
, whom I hadn’t read before. Quickly upon reading, I learned that there are a few thing we have in common–both moms of 4-year-old boys (<3) who we love to pieces, and she’s leaning towards becoming a social worker. However, what made me want to eat up her writing, is knowing she is representative of two corners of the “triad” as an adult adoptee and first mother/birth mother. I am always looking to read from the perspective of my son and his mother, and appreciate Valerie’s overall positivity, even in hard circumstances. Here’s our interview.
(To see what she asked me, you can click here
How old are you? I’ve tried to glean it from your writing but wasn’t successful.
I am 23 years old. I was 19 when I placed my son for adoption.
What’s your current situation with your son’s dad?
Strangers. We went to college together in a town that’s now 200+ miles away for me. He’s still there. I saw him last May, and it’d been at least a year before that. We tend to communicate on Ian’s birthday, and sometimes for Mother’s or Father’s Day. Sometimes I stalk his Facebook page. 😉 Our breakup was really hard, and I hated him for a very long time for the choices he made. But there’s no longer any bad feelings between us (at least not for me). We may have made a child together, but that’s the only thing we share in common now.
How do you think your life as an adoptee impacted your decision to make an adoption plan for your son, if at all?
Adoption has always been apart of my life, and I think that made a big difference in my decision to place my son for adoption. I met my birthparents for the first time when I was three months pregnant with my son. That reunion really normalized MY adoption. I saw that openness was possible, and that it was good. Those realizations, timed as they were, helped me to see that this was what I wanted for my own son.
Do you think you would have made an adoption plan if open adoption wasn’t available to you? Why or why not?
That’s a hard question for me to answer, just because I don’t know for sure. I know that the decision would have been 10 times harder to make, if I had been faced with that blank wall that is closed adoption–never knowing how he’s doing, if he’s happy, if he knows that I love him and care about him. That was always the hardest part of being in a closed adoption myself, was never knowing my birth family, being left with all those questions. I look at what I have now–an open relationship with my birthdad and his family, an open relationship with my son and his family–and I can’t imagine doing it any differently.
What, in your open adoption, is going as you expected it would?
I enjoy how casual my relationship with Ian and his parents is. I mean that in a very good way–they’re like close friends who unfortunately moved 2000 miles away, so we don’t get to see each other very often. But I am very comfortable in my relationship with them, which is how I always hoped it would be, especially once I got to know them.
What, in your open adoption, is very different than you had imagined when you began making adoption choices?
Mainly, I don’t ever get to see them. I never really imagined them moving so far away, so that was a big adjustment for me. When I placed Ian for adoption, we lived about 200 miles apart–and they lived 10 minutes away from my parents. Very manageable. I imagined making regular visits, spending time together for special occasions. But then they moved across the country. I saw them last October, and it had been the previous August before that. I don’t talk about it much, because what can you do–but I really wish they were closer and I got to see them more often.
How did you choose your son’s parents? What were the “musts” that had to be there, and what were the issues that you were open to “negotiate” so to speak? How did they stand out among the many?
It’s funny, looking back. I wasn’t all that eager to make their acquaintance–we were introduced through a friend of mine and her sister, who was a friend of theirs. I was just getting to the point where I was looking at the profiles of hopeful couples, and not too sold on the whole thing.
I did look through profiles. I remember looking for things like ME. I wanted some trace of myself and the things important to me to be reflected in these strangers. I wrote a handful of couples, trying to get to know them better. But none of them felt right–except these friends-of-friends.
They never really “stood out”. But we started writing, and never stopped. Before long, Jen and I were writing daily “novels” to each other. We’d talk about our days. And she was the one person in whom I could confide the discomforts of my pregnancy. To be honest, she went through that pregnancy with me. She CARED about me, and about my baby. She wasn’t pushy, she wasn’t nosy, she was just funny and sincere and a friend to me. And eventually things worked out!
What, if anything, is still “unfinished business” between you and your birthparents? Does this impact the way you approach your relationship with Ian and his parents?
The main thing is that I have no contact with my birthmother. I met her once, and I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve heard from her since. I know that her husband doesn’t want me to have any part in their lives. Their children don’t know about me. I feel very strongly that she never processed her grief or other emotions after she placed me for adoption. I am deeply saddened by these missing relationships in my life. It only makes me all the more determined to make sure that my son knows how very much I love him and care about him, and to continue to have him as part of my life and in the lives of my future family. After the warm welcome I have experienced with my birth father and his family, I know which I prefer!
I think you were very brave and smart to spend those three days home with Ian after you gave birth…tell me a little bit about that experience and how it made things perhaps easier or harder to make your final placement decision?
My caseworker started talking with me about placement several months in advance. He told me about different things that other birthmothers had done, and I decided early on that I wanted to spend time at home with Ian. I knew that I needed that time with him, for my own sake. My parents expressed their concerns (and Jen told me later that many people in their family and friends expressed the same) that if I took the baby home, I wouldn’t be able to go through with placement. That I’d fall in love with that baby and never let him go. But I knew by then that adoption was the right decision for him and for me. I knew that Jen and Joe were supposed to be his parents. And I knew that for MY sanity, I needed time to love this baby and to say my “see you laters.”
Those three days were precious. They were filled with visits from close family and friends, so I could show off my beautiful visitor. They were filled with LOTS of pictures that I still treasure. They were filled with cuddles and snuggles and kisses and love. My mom made a little mold of his hand and little impressions of his feet. Basically we filled those days with as much love as we could. It did make placement easier. I knew that I made the right decision. That time spent with Ian gave me the strength later to heal and move forward with my own life, a stronger person than before.
Thank you, Valerie, for your thoughtful answers and openness during this interview! I’ll be seeing you more often! 🙂