Thursday, August 7, 2008

Open vs. Closed

Today I overheard a conversation. Despite it causing me great distress I chose not to interrupt it. I found that strangers offering unsolicited advice to be annoying, although I'm sure they would have went "Wow, what a revelation, we are so wrong, and you have shown us the way." Or something similar.

There were four women talking. One complained that "cheap" agencies always pushed open adoption. They were not open to open adoptions because they did not want their kid to be confused as to who their mommy was.

My born of the heart children see their mama at least twice a month and talk to her on the phone almost daily, sometimes 10 or 15 times a day. They know her as "mama" but when they want their mommy, they want me. I don't think in most cases that this is an issue with the kids, but rather a fear of the parents to be. I had two grandmas as a child. I called them both "grandma" I had two very distinct relationships with them. It was not confusing.

Had you asked me five years ago, I would have voted for banishing the bio family and never speaking of them. I was so much smarter back then. Like it or not, we have an open adoption, but without the adoption part.

Ask me now, and my biggest worry would be that the kids not get to know her as a person. I cannot compete with the imagination of a child. I do not want the kids wo conjure up the perfect mama in their mind. One who is not the person that actually exists. I know a lot of families of divorce have to deal with the absent/Santa parent. They disappear for months or years and all of a sudden it's Disney World, then nothing again. I know the kids extend extra grace on those parents, not wanting to believe that their parent may be less than perfect.

So be warned mama, the kids will know you. They will visit you, we will take your calls. But you will be responsible for the information they get about you. If you love them, you'd better tell them. I cannot, nor will I speak for you. If you want to see them, you will be allowed for as long as they are safe doing so. I will take your calls when it's not interfering with our life, if it does, we'll call you back. If you call me and tell me that you can't call because you are in jail, when they ask why you aren't calling I will tell them that you can't call them from jail.

I can't decide for anyone whether an open or closed adoption would work for them, I would just like for everyone to really think about the unintended consequences of both options. Don't let fear of the unknown prevent you from a great thing.

1 comment:

Rebekah said...

Great post! Sounds like the strangers were speaking from ignorance and not experience. I am completely in favor of the agency trend that leans toward semi-open adoptions, at minimum. It's better for all parties involved and seems like it makes for a smoother, healthier process. My husband and I are nervous about a full-on "Open" adoption, but are willing to give it a chance if the birth mom has a desire. This adoption journey is all new territory for us, and the "unknown" can be scary. All we can do is take it a step at a time, while keeping open minds and open hearts.