Thursday, May 9, 2013

Open Hearted Adoption - Book Tour

Click HERE to buy the book on Amazon.

My friend Lori recently wrote a book AND got it published! I'm so very proud of her.  She even quoted one of my blog posts in her book.  Now we are doing a virtual book tour where bloggers who have read the book answer different questions put forth by other bloggers.  A big shout out and Thank you! to Melissa from Stirrup Queens for organizing things and keeping us on track.   Be sure to follow the link through at the end so that you can read everyone else's post.

1. The term “Real Mother” or “Real Parents” comes up quite frequently in an adoptee’s life. Lori suggests in her book that we see each set of parents (birth and adoptive) as “Real”. Do you agree? How would you personally handle this terminology? And are there other ways to effectively deal with this term if used by your child or directed at your child by another?

a. As both an adoptee and an adoptive mother, I very much agree that all of a child’s parents are REAL. As a child it really bothered me when people asked about my “real” mother, especially if my {adoptive} mother was there. The guilt !!

Now as an adoptive parent myself, I’m not personally offended if someone refers to my child’s mother as his “real” mother, but it is an area that I often feel compelled to correct people from outside the adoption circle when they use it.

 My child has tried to use the term “real” mother during a disagreement…. “My REAL mother wouldn’t make me clean my room”. Umm.. sorry buddy, but I’m pretty sure she would. I’ll be sure to ask her next time I send her an email….. the joys of open adoption!

2. My question concerns openness and pre-birth matching, which Lori covers in Ch. 1 (citing Luna's early match with her daughter's birth mother, at pg 20-21) and Ch. 7 (discussing the balance between hopeful adoptive parents feeling cautious and joyful when an expectant mother could still decide to parent, at pg 134-36). Pre-birth matching is common in open adoption. Some might argue that, due to the potential for even subtle manipulation with expectations on both sides, pre-birth matching is inherently coercive. Others suggest that pre-birth matching provides a chance to build a relationship and foundation for real openness after placement. 

Since both sides seem to have the child's interest at heart, what steps, if any, can be taken to ensure that expectant parents aren't pressured into placement in the name of openness AND have an opportunity to get to know the prospective parents, which may help inform their ultimate decision?

a. This is such a tough question. We had a pre-birth match with my son’s mother, long before I knew what to call it, or had ever heard of it being potentially coercive. I now look back and worry about whether or not Liam’s Mom felt coerced or manipulated. Did I do or say anything that caused her to make a decision that she would not have done otherwise? However, I also treasure the time that we got to know her and can share some of those moments with Liam. I feel much more connected to her then I think I would have otherwise. We had the opportunity to discuss parenting styles, outlooks on different topics and ideologies. I feel much more confident in my parenting choices knowing the little bit about her parenting choices that we were able to learn in those pre-birth days. I  hope that she was also able to take some comfort from getting to know us as well.

The rules here in Nova Scotia are much different then what I read about from American friends, but I still believe the underlying subtle manipulation and coercion can still happen. One of the steps that I think must be taken is that the expectant parents MUST have independent support from an adoption professional. Since adoption is not a for-profit industry where I live, that adoption professional can come from the adoption agency. However, in the USA and other areas where the adoption agency profits from adoption, I think that the support for the expectant parents should come from an independent outside source. This will give the expectant parents an unbiased person to talk to, share their fears with and have someone in their corner, helping them explore all possibilities – especially the choice to parent.

Of course the million dollar question is "Who pays for this unbiased professional?"  Short of removing money from the adoption equation completely (and using a model similar to what we have here) I don't have an answer for that.

 Please return to the main post to read more opinions on Lori Holden's The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption.


Liz said...

HA! Love this: "I’ll be sure to ask her next time I send her an email...the joys of open adoption" -- YES!

One of the joys of open adoption that still surprises me is how good it is for ME. Going in, I thought it would be good for our daughter and hopefully good for her mom. I didn't realize I would be so glad to not have to wonder what my daughter's mom might think, feel or want.

Congrats on being quoted in Lori's book! I love it that people are mentioning that, so I can connect voices from the interwebs with voices in print. :)

m said...

Wow. Kudos to you for your response to the Real Mom card. When I pulled that on my mom back in the day (closed adoption)...whoa, it was bad. It was a "just wait til your father gets home" bad. I can see this as just one of many perks that come with open adoption. What ifs are still there, but so minimized by open communication. What would my "real mom" do? How would that have played out differently if my mom had been able to say, hang on. Let's get her on the phone and we'll see.

Look how far we've come. Great responses.

Anne Bauer said...

The unbiased adoption professional for the birth-mother is a great idea and I agree the only problem with it is who pays for this service? I personally feel that prospective parents should not be paying for birth-mother expenses until afterwards, if necessary. My reasons are for protection on both sides. For the birth-mother: she will not feel obligated or coerced or feel in debt to the adoptive parents. Her decision to place will come from her own personal reasons. For the adoptive parents: they should not pay any expenses related to a child that is not legally theirs yet. I feel this practice is unethical and takes advantage of the prospective adoptive parents because many times the mother does change her mind (decides to parent the child) and benefits by having all of her bills paid anyway. To me, this is a crime. I too don't have answers as to where to get the money from either to provide this type of support during the pregnancy.

Kathy said...

Great post! I am here via Mel's book tour and am joining the chorus of people who love Lori's book The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. Though my connection to the Adoption Constellation is further removed, than some participating in this tour, I am the aunt of two children who were adopted, I still really appreciate all that I have learned from reading Lori's book, her blog and now this book tour discussion.

Thank you for sharing your perspective as an adoptee and adoptive mother. I also appreciate that you chose to answer the second question, as though I didn't discuss it in my post, I did think about it after reading it in the lists of options to write about.

My sister Meg (who is also quoted in the book) and brother-in-law had a pre-birth match that ultimately did not lead to the baby being placed with them. I know that their relationship with and choice to help the birth parents out during their pregnancy, made the birth parents decision to parent that much harder for my family to accept. But I understand now that ethically anything that happens before the baby is born should be done with the child's interests at heart and not in order to coerce.

I don't believe most people who are involved in a pre-birth match are trying to coerce, at least not intentionally, but I recall thinking and feeling that in some ways the birth parents "owed" my sister and brother-in-law something for all they did. I see now that and was able to come around to the idea, even then, that birth parents do not "owe" adoptive parents anything, whether or not they decide to place their child with them.

All this said, I also appreciate what you shared about what you gained from your experience with the pre-birth match with your son's first mother. I see what you mean and how that helped to build your relationship and set the stage for your relationship after your son was born and his first mother chose to place him with you.

Thanks again for participating and sharing your thoughts and experience!

luna said...

I love your reply to the first Q, and M's comment above. how different things would have been indeed!

thanks for answering that 2nd Q, it was mine and IS a tough one. I agree that independent support is critical. as for who should pay, ideally it would be provided by professionals with no interest in the outcome.

as a hopeful adoptive parent who worked with a highly ethical consultant, we were encouraged to place funds in an account for an expectant parent to use specifically for independent counseling. I agree it's not ideal, but ensuring the availability of that support was paramount.

like you, though, I am so grateful for that time we shared with our daughter's birth mama before birth. it really did help us build a bond that serves our child well now. we learned so much about each other and our comfort level grew. we made sure she knew she owed us nothing, and that she'd still have to revisit her decision after birth. she had options. we said if she decided to parent, then that was the best decision for her baby. but she wanted to know that we were committed and excited, that we were willing to open our lives to her involvement, etc. she said matching early gave her peace of mind. still, she was urged to seek counseling for the support she might need without us in the way of her decision.

thanks for participating! as always, I love reading your perspective as an adoptee and adoptive mama!

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Oh, Andy. If you hadn't provided material for the book's proposal (in the same way Luna did), there might not have been a book. I am grateful for your ongoing contributions to my understanding of how it was to grow up as an adoptee and how you use your experience to be the best mom you can for Liam.

So glad you participated in the book club.

Alicia said...

Hi from the book tour!

I love that you are able to take the use of "real" by your son and laugh at it. This made me less scared of if/when my baby daughter does this to me!

Your perspective is very unique, as both an adult adoptee and an adoptive mother. I think it must provide a lot of insight into parenting your own child, as you have personally felt many of the bumps and bruises that likely came as a result of your situation.

I am a fellow Canadian (from Alberta) and our adoption agencies are not-for-profit as well. I *hope* that our daughter's birth mom never felt coerced as well ... I don't know if it's possible to eliminate this completely as once a relationship is formed and commitments discussed, it's hard to back down (from both sides, really). I tried hard to let J's birth mom know that this decision was always about the baby and her and that my husband and I were last on a list of importance. But who knows. I may have said things, done things to make R feel coerced. I hate even thinking that.

On the other hand, I really think R needed to know that my husband and I were committed to her and to her daughter. That we were going to love this little girl as much as she obviously did/does. That we weren't going to back away when things got difficult. When J was born, R needed to see me happy. It was obviously important to her.

So, it's a really fine balance isn't it?

Great post!