Monday, June 8, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable

I'm excited that Heather at Production Not Reproduction has begun to offer a writing prompt for open adoption bloggers. Like others, I want to write more about open adoption but sometimes don't know what to say, so these prompts are a great idea.

(However, we'll be seeing G, Evie's birthfather, this coming weekend, so I'll post about that soon after it happens.)

The first prompt is: What one thing about open adoption would you tell your past self, if you could? My response is below; for more responses, visit this post.

If I had to choose only one thing to tell my past self, it would be that open adoption is largely a state of mind. I think one of the biggest fears of adoptive parents is that an open adoption makes them less of a parent because they are sharing the parenting with a child's first parents. The reality is that open adoption only makes you less of a parent if you decide to believe that it does.

This particular fear, I believe, comes from the fact that many adoptive parents are entering into open adoptions after struggling with infertility. They have been working so hard for the goal of parenthood! Open adoption feels like being a runner-up. At first glance it means "yes, you can finally be a parent, but not 100%...you have to share the baby with this other family, too." This seems annoying, frustrating and scary. After waiting so long, we don't want to share anything with anyone.

The only parts of my experience that justified the fear of having to share, or co-parent, were the days we spent in hospitals literally sharing Lucy and Evie with their biological parents. In the first case, well, it turns out that M & T were sharing Lucy with us and not the other way around. In the second case, those long, tense 24 hours before R and G checked out of the hospital are now a distant memory. If I made a list of words to describe our relationship with R & G, co-parenting wouldn't be anywhere on it. Actually, there have been nights when I would have welcomed R and G to co-parent and help with feedings! Mostly kidding.

In the past 8 plus months, J and I have changed innumerable diapers, fed countless bottles, given dozens of baths and kissed Evie's scrumptious cheeks thousands of times. When we share Evie by letting friends hold her, grandmas bathe her and aunts and uncles give her a bottle, we do so with pride and generosity. We're happy that our friends and family love her and get to experience a little of the magic of our Evie Bea.

When we get together with R and G, we could feel differently. We could, instead, be jealous of them holding her and kissing her. We could feel annoyed that they are still a part of her life. We could begrudge them the time we spend keeping up their private blog and the gas we burn driving across town to see them. But we don't. We hand Evie to them each time and our eyes well up with pride and generosity. We're happy that they love her and get to experience a little of the magic of our Evie Bea.

Open adoption is a state of mind. It only makes you less of a parent if you decide to believe that it does.

18 comments:

  1. Make me tear up and cry, why dontcha! Beautifully said. I hope I can be as un-selfish as you, when it is my turn...

    ReplyDelete
  2. A beautiful post. I loved reading your blog today. It has been so much fun making new friends through the blog world. This is my fourth month to have a blog. I am amazed at all the unique and fun sites. I am posting about our recent Disney trip and have a couple more posts about our visit with the "Mouse" ....then I will have more than a few posts about a new "grandson" arriving in just a couple of weeks...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well put as always, Karen. Open Adoption is certainly a "club" and you help all of us sorting through this new club to give words to our feelings. Thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post, Karen. I had a lot of those same fears you mentioned. But now that I have my Elizabeth, I often wish that her birth parents would meet her, so they can know how beautiful and amazing she is. I'm surprised to find myself truly sorry that they have chosen not to be a part of her life at all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post! I completely agree. We're about to have our first visit with D0n0's birthparents since placement and I'm really looking forward to seeing them and for them to see and enjoy him!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just a state of mind.....I really, really like that.

    That is so awesome that you keep a private blog for them. What a wonderful way to stay close.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'll echo the others...simply beautiful and so true!

    ReplyDelete
  9. You're bigger than I am. I couldn't do it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "The reality is that open adoption only makes you less of a parent if you decide to believe that it does."

    My favorite quote. This is so true. Thanks for being so honest and open and sharing :) Look forward to following you and reading more!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very well written!!!!! I especially like the part about the infertility and us being scared. That is exactly how I feel. I'm debating on adoption or IVF and after seven years of struggle sharing is NOT what I want to do, but yes I want my child to know he/she is loved by everyone. I can't imagine being adopted always wondering if they loved me or cared for me. The way you are doing it makes them feel loved.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love this. Thank you. Will be bookmarking this for future use.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Open adoption is a state of mind. It only makes you less of a parent if you decide to believe that it does. "

    Wonderful post, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Popping in from the crème de la crème list.

    Very interesting post, food for thought.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Here from the Creme...This is a beautiful post! It is something I have thought about a lot when thinking about adoption. Thank you for putting a different perspective to it!

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! If you ask a question, I'll probably reply in the comment thread, and I try to visit the blogs of everyone who comments.

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog