Category Archives: reflection

Open Adoption Roundtable–Better Late than Never!

Okay, Okay…I’m lame at this whole blogging thing. In my own defense, I’ve been battling laziness, potty training a three year old, working full time, going on fabulous beach vacations (well, just one), laundry, various family events, and elderly in-laws—one of which just had knee replacement surgery yesterday morning a county away. Oh, yeah, and facebook 🙂  Forgive me?

And, because I’m lame, I missed the deadline for Heather PNR’s inaugural Open Adoption Round Table discussion topic, but since I am somewhat of a rule follower, and want people to like me, I’m going to go ahead and submit a post.

This whole blog started because we were not really in an open adoption when we began. For some, the fact that Woob’s firstmother “chose” us via profile and phone discussion, that we all actually MET in person and spent two days together following Woob’s birth, and that we started out writing letters and sending pics to Woob’s grandpa would constitute an open adoption. But to me, the fact that his firstmom stated she didn’t want contact after we left the hospital (but were welcome to keep in touch with her dad) meant that the adoption was very closed, indeed.

I had such anxiety leaving that hospital, especially after getting to know N. and her mom and dad, thinking that we would never be friends, that Woob might never know his biological family—especially siblings that might come along (and two did come along!). Looking back I guess I don’t know exactly what I though our imaginary future open adoption might look like for sure, other than I just KNEW it would be lovely, and satisfying, and ideal for everyone involved. 

And so things went for about a year, and BAM! the following spring, we hear from N. and everything changes!  We started having visits, emails, and occasional phone conversations.  I was going to get my lovely, satisfying, ideal-for-everyone adoption scenario after all!  Um, reality can be hard sometimes, folks.  Now that you have the quick background, we can get to the given assignment. 

What would I tell my “then” self about open adoption now that I’ve lived in it awhile?

  • Even though it may very well be lovely, satisfying, and ideal-for-everyone sometimes, there are also times that it is none of those things, a combination of those things, or true for some people in the party but not others.
  • There is no way you can actually picture the way the relationships will flow from day to day, week to week, or month to month.  We all will have things going on that do and do not relate to adoption that impact what we’re able to focus on or give at any given time.
  • You will have insecurities about things that you don’t expect, and will feel secure in things that you thought you’d feel insecure about.
  • When you let another person, or people into your heart, you have more people to worry over–this has its problems and its blessings.
  • This thing called open adoption is a privelege, certainly not a right, and should be handled with care.
  • Trust your heart.  Despite all that’s involved, for our family, this will be a GOOD thing.
  • As much as you’d like them to, and try to help them, some people in the world will NEVER understand open adoption, nor do they apparently want to…that’s their problem and not yours.

Bottom line:  our contact comes and goes, we parent differently, we make different kinds of choices, lead different types of lives.  We care about one another and our families.  We celebrate the growth and accomplishment of our children.  We care what happens to one another.  My son knows who his first mother is and can see her and learn from her and know who he comes from and who he looks like.  He gets to know his great grandad was in a barbershop quartet and his grandma was in the Army.  He can play ball with his grandpa if he wants.  He can curl up on N.’s lap to read a story, or go chase after his sisters.  Our open adoption offers him far more choices in how he can pursue his relationships and definitions of family as he grows.  It doesn’t mean its easy for us or will be easy for him.  We just all feel like its the best thing we can do for him and for his sisters.  Someday (WAAAYYYY down the road!) all of the sets of parents will be gone, and he’ll be able to keep a sense of his past and share the future with family without having to struggle to hunt it down and make sense of it.

I believe that its one of the biggest gifts we can give our son.

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Filed under adoption, birthparents, motherhood, open adoption, reflection

THREE.

Three short years ago, there was really no way to comprehend how full my heart would be with being a mommy to our little Woob.  As I’m writing this at just a little after eight in the morning, I realize that only the following had yet happened:

1.  We were called to show up at the hospital around 5 a.m. to wait in a little waiting room off the emergency. 

2.  We were called just prior to 6:30 by N.’s Dad who was in the delivery room.  We had not yet met him, but he called to say the baby had been born, and “wait a second…”  We waited, and a few seconds later, we heard the first cry of the baby who would become our son.  What a gift.  I am still in awe that he thought to do that–he didn’t have to.

3.  We met Woob’s grandparents for the first time on the hospital ward.

4.  We saw the naked, squalling, newborn through the glass, getting his vitals checked and all the poking and prodding that’s involved with coming into the world.

And that’s it.  By this time on that day, we had not yet met N. in person, not yet held our son, talked to his family about his history and their wishes, met with tiresome attorneys…given first baths, baptized, heard first words, watched first steps, taught first words, taken to daycare, rocked to sleep a thousand times, fed solid foods, giggled, cried, pulled in a wagon, pushed on a swing, climbed on a slicky slide, gone to the ocean, taken to the zoo, played in the snow, and on and on and on…and all of the other miracles that came along the way till now.  How could we have possibly known the joy we’d feel?

Woob, I love you with all my heart and still can’t believe you are with us.  I pray every day that I succeed in doing right by you, in giving you what you need to grow up healthy and happy and strong.  May the sun shine on you today.  You’re THREE! (That means you get to go roller skating! 😉  )

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Filed under adoptee, adoption, birthdays, birthparents, motherhood, open adoption, reflection, things that make me smile

And then there’s the other side of things…

As I discussed earlier, things are going along pretty smoothly with Woob’s birthmom and our contact.  (I know, give me a month and I’ll be moaning and complaining again about lack of contact or something).  But there will always I think, be a struggle a little bit on OUR side related to the openness.  Its one that’s always been there and it has changed a bit over time, but as new things come up, out pops the issue.  What I’m talking about here is the contant need for us to educate, explain, justify, defend not only our own choices and actions within this adoption, but also those of Woob’s first family.  We have countless times had to explain our choice to adopt, defend our choices related to how much contact we have with N and her family, how we choose to talk to Woob about his adoption and origins, etc.  People somehow believe that although we should talk to Woob less about adoption related things, that THEY somehow should be privy to all the nitty gritty details, AND be able to give commentary about those details.  BLECH.

What spurs this little rant of mine is conversation with my mom yesterday.  Erm…seems that I forgot to tell her that N. had another baby.  Maybe I didn’t really forget so much as avoid the topic and forget that the conversation never took place.  But can you blame me?  Its not a topic that just comes up easily, especially when you know you’re going to get the whole “OMG-anotherbaby-what-is-she-thinking-and-how-will-she-ever-take-care-of-them-who-is-the-father-and-why-isnt-she-on-birth-control-and-cant-she-just-stop….”  Its not just from my mom, but that’s what got me going yesterday.  Woob and I were telling about our visit and that Woob got to meet his new sister.  “Huh?  NEW sister?  When was she born (does the math in her head)?  But J was just born a year ago! (does more math) That means she had three babies in three years! (Bravo, mom, you can count to three!).    And this isn’t really a “oh, wow, that must be hard for her…” kind of reaction, but more of an “are you kidding me?” kind of one.  Um, and Woob in the meantime is right there in the back seat.  And later as she brings it up again while we’re at the mall, I refer to Woob’s sisters as his sisters.  “He really has no idea what that means, you know.  Everybody else who has sisters lives with theirs.”  Me:  “Yes, but if we don’t talk about it now, then he’ll NEVER understand. <sigh>”  And so it goes.   And later, when my dad was around, she says “Granpa, Woob has a new sister.  A NEW BABY SISTER.”  To which he replies, “Hm.”  He was raised to say nothing at all if he had nothing nice to say. 

Some days I feel like carrying around a card with all the answers on it:

  • Yes, it must be difficult to raise two young babies without being married/without the support of the daddy
  • Actually, she is quite smart, and continues to work towards a degree, despite lots of hardship
  • No, I don’t know/care how many guys she’s slept with/what type birth control she uses–I’ll ask her those questions if you tell me all about your total sexual history so I can pass it on to her.
  • We actually are quite fond of her/like her/enjoy knowing how she’s doing/like talking to her
  • Eh, no, she isn’t going to try to reclaim Woob.  Why would she?
  • Eh, no, she isn’t going to give us her other kids.  Why should she?
  • We/she would appreciate your prayers for health, safety, and security for her family as opposed to your criticism.  They take the same amount of time.
  • She is one of the hardest working people I know. 
  • She is one of the bravest people I know.
  • She is one of the most honest people I know.
  • She’s my son’s mother.  Have some respect.

I’m sure there are many more responses, but time is running short.  Back to convo’s with my mom.  I really feel like we have to have these conversations even when they’re hard and when I’m defensive and protective to keep slogging through it all.  But, Oh the Frustration!

And all these things cause me to hold back on our end.  Here’s the thing:  we have been welcomed into N’s life and introduced to family and friends from the beginning.  That has to be SO hard for her/them to do.  We have welcomed N and her family into our home and our immediate family, but we’ve been reluctant to pull her into our bigger family/friend circle because of the judgment, because people obviously don’t really know how to “behave” around us.  I fear for what it would be like for her if she were in their midst–would they “behave” around her?  Would they ask her stupid/embarrassing questions?  Would they ignore her for lack of anything better to do?  It saddens me that I even have to ask these questions.  It saddens me to keep her at arm’s length.  It saddens me that I’ve felt the need to distance myself from long-term friends because of things like this.  I’m sad for her, for Woob, and for us. 

But we’ll eventually work through it, probably sooner than later.  Because the last thing my mom said on the subject yesterday?  “I’d like to meet her someday.”  But we’ve got more work to do first.

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Filed under adoption, birthparents, growing family, motherhood, open adoption, reflection, vent

Open Adoption: The Destination

This post is in honor of HeatherPNR’s brilliant  idea to compile an open adoption blogroll (see the pretty hot pink button on the right of the screen?  You can have one too!). 

I’ve started to write it a few zillion times from a few zillion angles, and several drafts still sit in my draft box all lonely and dusty.  And here I sit again, for some reason struggling to write out our journey to open adoption.  Why am I struggling with this?  Maybe its because in the beginning, openness wasn’t our primary destination?  Because we feel a little sheepish about that?  Because the only real NEGATIVE feedback/comments I’ve gotten on this blog, came from a very difficult, but honest post in which I outlined some of the harder things about our particular open adoption?  I don’t know.  So I’m not going to write out our journey, but maybe be able to outline our intentions. 

We are a week out from our visit with N. and her girls over the weekend.  It was nice.  It was relatively easy and stress free.  It was short (but necessarily so, what with all the muchkins needing NAPS!).   This was the first time Woob and we met his newest baby sister, who, by the way, is just a tiny little cute baby bug.  Very snuggly and pink 🙂 .  Big sister J., was gorgeous and charming–batting her eyelashes over her big beautiful green eyes and following Woob around wherever he would go.  Smothering him with a tackle  toddler hug.  So sweet.  We got to catch up with N. and her dad, and have a quick word with N.’s mom as well.  After a what seemed like a long draught from contact with N., we had been able to pick up a little more over the past few weeks, so were a little bit better caught up than usual.  That made it easier to just sit and enjoy the kids.  It has been way too long, though since we got together.  All the growth of the kids makes it seem all the more rushed to try to show off new tricks and skills and personalities in such a short window of time.  One thing that seemed a little different about this time as opposed to the others–it seemed like N. was more able?, or willing?, or comfortable???  focusing on and interacting Woob.  It seemed like there was less distance there, which I’m so happy about.  She’d had a chance to talk with him briefly over the phone a few times in the last week or two.  Before, he would refuse to talk to anyone on the phone.  But now, he’s able and willing to have a fairly coherent conversation with someone, and I think N. was amazed that he’s becoming this “real person” as opposed to a little baby, and the fact that he was interacting with HER directly, back and forth, really warmed her heart.  It was also pretty cool that N. and I are able to sit and talk as parent peers as opposed to first mom/adoptive mom.  Talking about milestones, discipline, and “what did you do when this came up?”, or complaining about sleep issues…its all so NORMAL and nice to be able to relate to one another that way.  And Woob spent time sitting on her lap looking at books and pictures for awhile until something else caught his eye.  All in all, a really great day.

You know what?  Three years ago, this is not exactly what we envisioned when we were headed for this adoption.  One year ago (four days before Woob’s birth!), we hadn’t heard from N., directly or through our agency worker.  We were just told to trust that things would work out the way they would work out.  We were trudging through our lives with the goal of bringing home a baby we didn’t even know yet.  At this time three years ago, we only knew N. through one single phone conversation a month before.   We couldn’t have imagined the day, not really, where we would share visits at one another’s homes, chat via text or myspace or email, get acquainted with new siblings, give or ask for advice on parenting, and so much more. 

Our open adoption relationship?  Its by no means perfect, but it feels so right that we are working through it.  Woob knows his family, we all get along, he is loved by all, he can play with his sisters reasonably whenever he wants to, he will know his family history, he will know exactly who he looks like, and someday, he will be able to go straight to the source when he needs reasons for why he was placed.  Its something we’ve been talking about a little more often lately, N. and I.  She worries that he’ll hate her or have problems or what have you…I make no guarantees that he won’t be angry or act out behaviorally, but because we’re able to talk, I can reassure her of what WE’RE doing to make sure that doesn’t happen.  We’ll be able to work some things out now, so Woob won’t have to do some of the hard stuff later–he’ll be able to concentrate on some of the more important issues related to his adoption instead of searching and finding and worrying about first contact. 

So there you have it.  Our adoption journey landed at this previously unknown destination–its a place we’re very happy to be.

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Filed under adoption, birthparents, Blogroll, open adoption, reflection

Seeds of Doubt

These open adoption relationships can be so tricky sometimes.  In my own situation, its like there is a continuing cycle:  things are good/we’re talking/I’m confident —> things get quiet —> I start to doubt myself, the relationship, what her expectations are, and what my expectations are, did I do/say/send something wrong? —> some form of contact occurs —> confidence returns.  (Its often VERY akin to how I felt as a high school girl trying to understand and navigate the world of boys and dating).  And, sadly, as I was telling a friend last night, at some point it always comes back to being about ME, and I have to put things back into perspective and realize again that its not always about ME, soemtimes its about HER and what she’s going through, or not going through, or just sometimes its not about anything, it just IS what it IS.  Yannow?

It really helps as I read from other members of the triad, that many of them go through the same kind of cycles from their own perspective as well.  I can’t KNOW that M. has some of these same thoughts/concerns on her side of  the fence, but to think that just MAYBE she has some insecurities too helps me to not feel so silly and neurotic.  (Note:  I don’t wish insecurity upon her–I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone!).

I just know that on MY part, I want to do a few things:  (1) be a good partner in the relationship for the betterment of my son; (2) be a good partner in the relationship in any way that benefits N.; (3) not be a pain in the rear by pushing too hard to achieve (1) and (2).

So…It’s obvious that I’m rambling here about all this, but its really on my mind, wondering the best way to achieve our goals together without overstepping boundaries–including the unspoken or unknown ones.

Readers?  How do you navigate the waters here?  Feel free to share your thoughts/experience on this regardless of which perspective you’re coming from.  Feel free to share your opinion on what I’ve said here.  I think I need some dialog on this one!

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Filed under adoptee, adoption, birthparents, open adoption, parenthood, reflection

What Could’ve Been / What Is

And here it is…my would’ve been due date.  It didn’t really sneak up on me, as its always kind of in the corner of my mind, but I haven’t really allowed it its full impact for awhile.  There will be time for that on my road trip this afternoon, if its going to get me today.  Its hard to believe that nine months have passed…

And as always, within this space of time, life has gone on in so many ways.  Friends and co-workers have gone on to adopt, become pregnant, give birth to children.  Just today, an online friend is going in for a frozen egg transfer (fingers crossed, Emily!!).  I’m so happy for them all.  But when things like that fall so close to my own datelines, I can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to be going to the hospital today for a final checkup, or be in labor, or going in for a C-section.  I will always wonder what those things would have been like.  I don’t feel selfish about that, just feel like its a natural thing to do, to wonder, to daydream, to grieve. 

Of course, some things can make it a little harder along the way…recently me and Woob were out to eat with a close family member.  Woob was being a little stink.  Family member was chuckling and said, “Just think, if your IVF would have ‘taken,’ what you would have to deal with!”  Haha, yes, so very funny (NOT).  FYI–the IVF did ‘take,’ and for a short period of time, there was a baby, our baby, growing inside me.  It was very real.  And I would have taken the responsibility very seriously.  And we would have been just fine, thank you.  Financially strapped and sleep deprived and irritable and happy and fulfilled.  Just fine.  People just don’t think sometimes. 

There was a time when I would’ve tried to keep the infertility stuff on the other blog, but its long since been abandoned and unloved.  And I realize that the infertility stuff and the adoption stuff are so interrelated, that its silly to separate them right now. 

Like the other people in my life, things are moving forward for N. as well. As I was approaching my never-to-be-realized due date last week, I found out that we will, in fact be adding to our extended family once again.  N. is expecting.  SOON.  Woob will again be a big brother to a little sister.  The little girls will be almost exactly one year apart.  We had been so out of touch lately, and when I found out the news I immediately panicked about the whole situation with the baby’s dad (outlined in a password protected post).  Once I was able to get more info, the panic melted away, and I’m in a better place with it.  And I’m also relieved in another way.  I initially was having trouble deciphering whether my feelings about this pregnancy were my own jealousy, grief, etc., spilling out onto N.  Overall, I don’t think so.  Once I learned that N. and babies would be safe and provided for, everything evened out for me.    Among other things related to adoption and infertility, both certainly lend themselves to a lot of second guessing about my own feelings and their origins, and it can get rather tiring.

So that’s the state of the union today…a baby that wasn’t to be, going alone on a road trip away from the baby I have, and a new baby on the way.

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Filed under adoption, birthparents, grief, infertility, adoption, motherhood, open adoption, reflection

Ten Years Ago…

Marci “memed” me last week, and I never got past the first question, “What were you doing ten years ago?”

Wow, was I in a different place, on so many levels.  In the fall of 1998, I had just started my Master’s program.  I had been married for five years, had been working for six years in my chosen profession, five years at that place of employment.

You see, we had been “trying” on the baby front for, say, three years by that time.  And just beginning to realize that something was really wrong.  I remember very clearly several months earlier saying to my friend/supervisor, that if the baby thing didn’t happen by “x” then I’d be applying to grad school for the 1998 cohort.  Of course, as we all know NOW, the baby thing didn’t happen by the ascribed date, and I had backed myself into the grad school corner that I never thought I’d ever do.

And you know what?  It was good.  It was hard.  But my focus was on school for the most part, and I made connections, and got (a little bit) smarter, and I grew so much professionally.  Graduation came and went in 2000, and it allowed me to move almost immediately into a new, way more fun for awhile job, which led me to where I am working today.  THIS job, has offered me the benefits of flexible time and good pay that I needed to explore areas of my infertility, but most importantly, our adoption. 

Maybe it would have eventually happened anyway, in another way at another time, but I really believe that 10 years ago, there was a decisive moment that brought me to this place where I am a mother.

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