Saturday, June 26, 2010

Open Adoption Roundtable # 17

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Publish your response during the next two weeks--linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and leave a link to your post in the comments. Using a previously published post is perfectly fine; I'd appreciate it if you'd add a link back to the roundtable. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

This time the prompt comes from Susiebook at Endure for a Night
Are there any things that you don’t want the other members of your triad to know—or that you don’t want to know about them? I’ve heard first mothers talk about not sharing their birth stories with adoptive parents because those are for the adoptees and for themselves only. I've also heard of adoptees concealing their reunions from adoptive parents so as not to cause them pain. What don’t you want shared in your adoptive relationships?

Interesting question and one that I think I'll explore from my 2 sides of the triad.

For me the very first obvious thing that came to mind was coming out to Iris, my first mother.  We had not been in "reunion" very long, she had been very hesitant to have any contact with me at all and I wasn't sure how she would take to finding out that the little baby she placed for adoption had grown up to be a lesbian.  So I did keep that from her - at first.  I have been out as a lesbian since I was 19 years old, so the idea of any part of my life being back in the closet just didn't sit to well with me.  And in my mind, I was denying a very important part of my life, my partner Hilary, by not being honest and telling Iris about her. So I did tell her.  You can read about it here.

I never kept my reunion or the fact that I was searching for my first family from my adoptive parents.  They had always told me when I was growing up that if and when I wanted to search, they would support me and help me so I took them at their word.   Sometimes I have to rein my Mom in a bit and keep her from showing up on Iris's doorstep.

I can't think of a single thing that I would not want to know about Iris or anyone else in my first family.  Having gone 30 years with 15 lines of non-identifying info as the only things I did know, I thirsted for more.  I've kept every letter and every email that Iris has sent me so that I can pour over them again and again, analyzing, dissecting, reading between the lines for every tidbit that I can squeeze out of it.  I've even made notes after phone calls on things she has said so that I won't forget them.

Because of my experience of growing up with no knowledge of  my first family, I have developed the same habits on Liam's behalf.  I print off emails, I keep notes, I make sure that anything that I have or know about his first family he will also have and know.   And because his adoption has essentially closed, I thirst for more for him too.   I tread a fine line of respecting his mother's choice and making sure I have not failed Liam.  Again, I can't think of a single thing that I would not want to know - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Likewise, I love to share everything about Liam and our family with his first family.  I send updates at least twice a year, or more often if something big is going on, like when Liam had his tonsils out.  I could not imagine keeping anything from his mother.  That being said, I am struggling with how to tell her some things that are going on right with Liam right now.  I have the letter half written, I just need to stop procrastinating and get on with it!!  It's that fine line again... wanting to share with her but wanting to write things in a way that won't cause her any distress.

Be sure to check out everyone else's Roundtable answers to this great question.


Jess said...

This is extremely comforting to me because I've recently been called nuts for keeping old emails from my daughter's first family! Sure sure, from a non-adoption-involved person, but the "you're doing the right thing" is good to hear! :)

I am like you...I want to know more for our daughter, anything at all! I'm sorry you went to many years without knowing your first family.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were able to come out to your birthmom--I hadn't even considered huge things along those lines. I hope it went okay; I didn't see part 2 linked in your part 1.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment! I do the same thing - print off every email and re-read it over and over. Only difference? It's my son's first mom not mine. Its been just over 3 months, and it is a daily struggle - the pain I feel for her, her boyfriend, and my son's loss and the happiness of being a mother after all this time.

I appreciate your honesty on how you "thirst" after more information. I truly, deeply want my son (and us) have a good, open relationship with his birth parents. I don't want him to ever feel that we are not supportive of that, and we never want them to feel that we are uncomfortable with the situation. I really try my best to take in as much from adult adoptees so I can be the best a-mom I can.