Can we talk openly about adoption warts?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-14-2003
Can we talk openly about adoption warts?
66
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 9:44am

Warning: long and ranty, and possibly upsetting.


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 10:32am

I'm so glad you posted this, Tee. I often feel I'm sort of early in my motherhood journey to comment a lot on some of these types of topics, so I tend to reserve my opinions. But since you asked ...

I might not be in the best position right now to discuss openness. I think I'm currently in a state of grieving about the fact that Natalie's birthparents want a closed adoption, and I'm pure emotion where this topic is concerned.

This is so incredibly difficult for me. I/we don't want it to be closed. And due to some slip-ups at the hospital, I have lots of personal information about Natalie's BM that I probably shouldn't have. It would be quite easy for me to contact her if I chose to. It is a daily struggle for me to respect her wishes and not contact her.

The closed adoption is difficult for me as a person/woman. I LIKED Natalie's birthmom as a person - we had/have a lot in common and she's someone I would have liked to have in MY life.

But the bigger issue for me is how it will affect Natalie. She is only six months old, but I'm already laying awake at night worrying about her feeling unloved, unwanted or discarded by her birthmother. *I* know that she made the bravest, most selfless decision anyone could make, and that she did it out of unconditional love. But how do you explain that to a small child? Or even a teenager who can't connect to the emotions of maternal love? I can tell Natalie until I'm blue in the face that her mother loved/loves her ... but will she believe me when she becomes aware that this person who loves her so much is absent from her life? I have a desperate need for my daughter to experience the love of BOTH of her mothers.

YES, I am her mommy. But no matter how many diapers I change, no matter how many times I soothe her after a nightmare or sit in the chair rocking her all night while she's sick, I will never be the woman who heard Natalie's first cry or saw her take her first breath. And while I often wish I was there, I more often wish that I could share the miracles - big and small - of Natalie's life with her birthmother.

We have left the door open for contact in the future - they know everything about us and exactly how to find us. We pray every day that they will reach out. In the meantime, I'm trying to wrap my brain around the important task that we have as her parents - to make Natalie's birthparents REAL to her. We have lots and lots of information about them that we are already sharing with Natalie. We hope that we are already starting to lay the foundation for open, honest dialog. But I am terrified that her birthparents won't be REAL to her because they aren't physically present in her life.

I could go on and on but 1) again, I'm running on pure emotion here and 2) I'm crying at my desk at work. So I think I'll stop rambling. I'm very interested to read the dialog you've started here Tee. I hope it will help me better understand Natalie's needs as an adoptee.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 11:22am
Wow! That was long, but I made it!!! Yes, I think it is great to talk about these issues! It is so emotional on all sides that it is hard to talk about reasonably and respectfully. I like how the blog just reiterated that it is all about the child!!!! We are meeting with our daughter birth mom for the first time next week and I am nervous and I know it will be uncomfortable. If it were all about me, I would chose to just continue our openness with letters and pictures but it is not about me, it's about my girls. They deserve the right to know their birthmom. Don't get me wrong, if I thought that she would say or do something that would be harmful I would not be ready to meet her, but I am certain that she has made some changes in life and is now ready. this is not an easy thing, it will be very emotional and our girls may regress a bit, not feel quite as secure and be reminded of the pain and loss they have had but, adoption is full of pain on all sides, my daughters are learning and will continue to learn how to deal with that pain and how to help their birthmom with her pain. I can not put them in a safe little bubble and pretend that life has been and always will be "perfect" for them. That is not reality. Reality is there was a whole lot of pain surrounding how they became part of our family and we need to learn how to cope with that or none of us will be healthy!
So that is my take on it. I could say more but don't have time today! I think we really fall into a trap if we think that we are better then our kids birthfamily or we deserve the children more than someone else. All our children are gifts, brought to us by God, we thank Him every day for the privilege of being able to raise them!


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Th
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2008
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 12:19pm

Tee, you said everything I would say, so very well! I think for me the thing to remember when dealing with a PBM, is that the term Potential Birth Mother only applies to your relationship with her. It implies that she is potentially the birth mother that will place HER CHILD with you for adoption. For her, in her reality, she's not a potential anything. She's pregnant, and she is and always will be that child's mother. Nothing, not even a closed adoption, will change that for her. SHE IS GIVING YOU A GIFT! The most painful, heart-wrenching, beautiful gift. And as with any gift, it must be received with grace. A sense of entitlement to that gift before it is given, in my opinion, is inappropriate at best.

No matter the circumstances, no matter how much any of us adoptive parents have been through, whether this is the birth mother's first or fifth child, no matter her reasons for placing or not, her pain at this point in her life is much more than anything we know. She is deciding on the future of her child, and the future of her LIFE. The best we can do is be compassionate, empathetic, and kind. Because if indeed this is the woman that places her child with you, you want to have treated her with nothing but respect, if for no other reason than the child she has placed with you.

I had someone inappropriate recently ask me once why I would ever want to tell my child that she was adopted, or why I would want to have contact with "that woman". I told them that I'm not interested in starting the most basic relationship in her life with a lie. The story of her birth, her birth mother and her family, is not mine to hide, take away, diminish, or try to erase. It is her relationship that I have been given for safe-keeping until she is old enough to maintain it or make decisions about it. Until then, she will know her birth mother as much as possible and I will do everything I can to keep her in our lives. Yes, she should have a general respect for our schedule and the demands of our life, but so should anyone else who is in our lives. We have a big family, and had to set up schedules for grandparents and other family so we're not overwhelmed, and birth mothers are capable of understanding this concept as well.

Tee, you and I have talked about our grief in adoption, but I think we both understand that our grief must come second to what's best for our children. Even after adoptions are finalized and people feel like the birth parents should be grateful for the contact we allow them to have, I still feel like it is us that should feel gratitude. Always.

Even when it seems like we "hold all the cards" so to speak.... It's not a competition. Children have an immense capacity for love, and they can love all of their parents without diminishing anyone. The only one who can truly diminish your role in your child's life is you. Being a better adoptive parent I think means truly embracing every part of your child, including their birth parents. What that looks like is very personal, but we can be better parents, better people, if we can remember to put ourselves in both the birth mother's, and our future child's, shoes.

Okay, this is longer than I thought it would be, and my sleepy child is waking up. Needless to say, this is a soapbox issue for me as well :)

Thanks Tee (forever my adoption angel xoxo)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 1:32pm

This is a great topic, Tee.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 1:32pm

Tee, you hit the hammer right on the nail. I could go on and on as well, but you really stated many of the things that have gone through my mind of late.

I have 5 little ones in my home right now. 2 of them are finalized, 2 are in the works of finalizing (should be within the next couple of months) and one we are in the early stages of his case. This makes 5 birth families. NOT EASY! BUT .. I DO IT! I call, I visit, I talk nicely, the works. for my KIDS

my children each came into my home due to abuse or neglect. I specialize in drug exposed babies. Drugs is the main reason most of my kids have ever been in my home. and it hasnt been just minor use or what not ... its been hard and bad. there are many reasons, due to that, for me to want to grab these children, and run as fast and far from their birth families as I can. but I dont. why? because they are my childrens family. good or bad, they made my children who they are.

Yes, for now, I have not said a thing to my children as to WHY they have come into our family. when they are old enough they will know. for now, my story is "Mommy's tummy is broken, so you grew in "auntie XX's" tummy so you could live with us." (we call their birth mom's auntie "first name") we only talk fondly about our kids' birth families to them. yes, granted, there are times when its honestly HARD to find something "GOOD" to say (sigh) but we find it and say it.

I have a very VERY strong love for my kids' birth families. sometimes it is love/hate, yes. sometimes I just want to shake them and say "what the HECK are you THINKING!?!?!" but I dont. I show them, and my children, only love and respect. because ultimately, its all for and about my children. period. my kids should never EVER have to "choose" who to love. their birth mom's gave them life to live, I am giving them "a" life to live. one of a few that "could have been". do I think I am giving my kids a better life? Well, honestly, YES, because of the reasons behind why my kids joined our family. but that doesnt mean I can brag about it, or hold it over anyones head. no way.

G-Anna's birth mom is about to sign relinquishment papers on Aug 12. yesterday when I talked with her about this, she said that she wants to remain a part of G-Anna's life. wants to be a "FAMILY" . . extended family. she wants G-Anna to be able to know her big sister (who is also not living with mom) .... I "COULD" have just said "yes yes yes" to all of that, and then keep my fingers crossed behind me. but no. I am honestly able to say that I want the same thing. I want G-Anna to know who her first mom is. I want her to know her older sister. and so help me, Im going to make sure that happens.

anyways. I have gone on and on. I could continue, but lol no.

















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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-22-2008
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 2:20pm

Jenn - you and I are on the exact same page!


I'm sure there's lots of others too, but I just wanted to say we would've been a good 'match' lol! Luckily Leighton's parents are on the same page as us too! :)



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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 2:21pm

BEAUTIFULLY said Jen!!

At the same time that I worry about Natalie not having contact with her birthparents, I also worry that MY grief about not having contact will prevent her from having her own feelings or making her own judgments about her birth family. It is helpful to remember that my emotions and needs are not what matters most.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2008
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 3:17pm

I mostly lurk as I have yet to adopt (hopeful

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 4:24pm
Thank you so much for sharing!! It was very meaningful for me to read your perspective.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-29-2010 - 4:56pm

Thanks Justine and Bree for the kind words

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