Thursday, July 31, 2008

Open adoption

I've been thinking about open adoption a lot lately. What it means to the adoptive parents, to the first parents but especially to the adoptee.

Recently there has been another situation where adoptive parents have closed an open adoption for no apparent reason. The first mother is not a physical threat, she doesn't show up high, she isn't stealing from them. And even if she was, that wouldn't be grounds to close an adoption, at least in my opinion. Find a safe way to have contact, get a mediator, meet in public places. Sure! all good things to do, because yes, safety should come first. But you can still have safety and maintain an open adoption.

As an adoptive parent I cannot fathom having to look Liam in the eye one day and say "Yes, we had contact with your first family, but we decided it wasn't healthy for you, so we packed up and moved, didn't tell them where we went and stopped sending them pictures and updates." I suppose that the type of people who do close adoptions like this are also likely to be the type of people that can lie to their child too, so maybe they won't have this problem.

At a personal level I am dealing with the opposite problem. It is "K" who has chosen to "close" Liam's adoption. I'm not sure if I can even label the adoption as ever having been open. Yes, we all know each other's names (first and last), we've shared addresses and phone numbers and there was a time when the adults chatted fairly regularly with each other. But "K" and Liam have never met. Not when he was born and not since. He's seen pictures, even has one of her up in his bedroom. But does that really make an adoption "open"?

Open adoption is such a mine-field of emotions for everyone involved, that it's really hard to know what the right thing to do is. Liam is currently oblivious to "K" not being in his life, mainly because she never has been. But the time is coming, and soon, that he is going to question why that is. Why do we have a picture but we can't meet her? Whey do we send letters and cards and gifts but we never hear back? Why do "C" and "J" live with her and I don't?

When this time comes, I am going to have to pick sides. Obviously I will pick Liam's. As much as I would like to protect "K" from hurt, my first priority is to Liam. And if getting him what he needs hurts her in the process.... well, I'll deal with that as best as I can at the time.

My biggest fear is that one day it will be too much for her, and she will be the one to pack up and move and not tell us where. And I wil have to look Liam in the eye and try to tell him why. Why her feelings were more important to her then his. Why she could walk away. Why it hurts so much to be rejected by your own mother.
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