March 1st, 2010
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Broadening HorizonsBella is my only first-hand experience with open adoption, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts on my experiences thus far. When we agreed to enter an open adoption, the decision wasn’t a difficult one in the least; however, we were venturing out to uncharted territory for our family.  I remain in very loose contact with Bear’s birth father, and we have absolutely no contact with either of Beauty’s birth parents in Guatemala. So what did I (do I, really) know about open adoption? In a few words? Not much.

Sure, I know all I’ve read, all the accounts I’ve followed so closely throughout the years through blogs, books, and so on. I consider myself reasonably educated in the area of adoption, but only generally speaking–the process aspect, my own experiences, and the like. Every individual’s experience is different, so really…aside from best and worse case scenarios, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So I went forth with no expectations of the situation, but definite expectations of myself–that our family would be all that we could be (whatever that meant) to Bella’s birth mom.

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So far, it’s gone really, really well. It helps that Bella’s birth mom is someone I would personally like even if we had no connection to one another. It helps that she’s so open to communication from us (even though I, like many other adoptive parents, worry I’m contacting her too frequently). It helps that her parents have been so enthusiastic and involved and remain as such. It helps that the common bond we share of loving Bella so intensely has served to bring us together from the word go.

Will it always be love and flowers and fluffy lambs? Maybe not. Perhaps this is our “honeymoon” period with one another; perhaps things will change in our relationship over time. And I can’t speak for Bella’s birth mom’s thoughts on our relationship so far; I can merely present a one-sided picture and share my personal feelings. While I haven’t blogged every detail of our life as a family of five, I did create a public photo-sharing site on which I post a new picture of Bella every day (and usually some extras each week, too–the “outtakes”). Bella’s birth mom checks quite regularly, so I really try to post each day, even though I’ve double-posted while playing catch up more than once.

Am I doing everything “right”? I don’t know. I do know, though, that I am both eager and hopeful when it comes to my (and our) relationship with Bella’s birth mom. I want so much for Bella, and when I think of my ideal out come, it involves Bella knowing–her whole life–how deeply loved she is from so many different directions.

Photo Credit.

One Response to “Broadening Horizons”

  1. Beth says:

    We adopted 34 years ago and followed the recommendations of the Children’s Home Society in Washington State. It was an open adoption. I did all the reading I could. I followed the recommendations given by the therapist as well as the literature. It was pretty simple -contact with the birth parents, information exchange etc.. I did not understand the problems that would occur.
    In hindsight, I would recommend very careful structure and limits with the birth parents. There is a reason a woman gives up a child. Many of those reasons have to do with problems that don’t end when the child is adopted. In my case, the woman had exposed my child to starvation and neglect. She gave the child up because she was marrying a chinese man who would not accept another man’s child or a white child or a girl. This is sad and it does not speak well of the man nor of the woman. This kind of decision transcends the relationship experience into other aspects of her life. Such as, in the open adoption experience she would call my daughter and make promises she had no intention of keeping. My child was heartbroken multiple times. It took me some time to question the literature and the therapist because when the harmful events were related to the CHS, I was told it didn’t matter, I needed to keep the contact without limits. They were wrong. My daughter suffered terribly as a result of the unreliable and invalid construct of open adoption.
    I finally confronted one of the major so called authorities in open adoption at a seminar. My confrontation was gentle but firm. I asked for evidence that “open adoption” was the only way for a healthy adoption. There was none.
    My learning experience is still painful. My daughter has yet to recover from what I exposed her to as a result of following the so called experts.
    My advice to all who are entering or in an “open adoption” is to set limits and know who you are exposing your child to. Giving birth does not give unquestioned rights to the child. I suggest checking out the background and finding out the truth behind the adoption. Whatever is there will be thoughout the person’s life and not just within the confines of the adoption.

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