Talking about open adoption has become a "specialty" for me. I have talked and worked with hundreds of birth mothers, adoptive parents and adoptees on navigating their open adoption relationships, learning to not let fear dictate their forward movement and how to put their own insecurities aside to allow room for honoring and respecting the other parts of this complex triad!
Open adoption is NOT for everyone. Well, lets be honest...Adoption is NOT for everyone.
*this post is specific to a domestic open adoption
If you have come into adoption thinking that it will be easy, thinking that you can anticipate all the emotion and grief and shift that takes place, if you think that you can love unconditionally with no drama, expectation or insecurity then you can join the club of misguided and misplaced love.....I think it is amazing how much for me has shifted over the years, how much I have learned, how much has changed in my opinions, in my advocacy and in my own journey.
One thing has remained true for these past 10 years.
I believe that open adoption can be helpful and can be done well if you can do 3 things.
This is true no matter what side of the triad you stand....
1. Get over yourself.
3. Respect each other!
Now I came from 5 years of closed adoption to now 5 years of open. Truly a decade of shift and change and adjustment. I have seen almost every situation imaginable. I have done a lot of things wrong to learn how to do things right. I have studied behaviors and grief and trauma and relationships. I have watched families destroy each other or build something very special and amazing.
If you are a birth mother and you are making demands, if you think you are owed because of what you have "given" if you think you are entitled, if you are stepping over the blurred lines of open adoption and co-parenting(this is NOT visitation)....shame on you.
If you are an adoptive mother that is harboring thoughts of jealousy, if you are letting your fear dictate your decisions and using your child as an excuse to not honor your child(ren)s birth mother because of your insecurities, if you are not opening your heart to acceptance and love for who SHE is....shame on you.
The amazing boy that I placed for adoption is now 10. He has a voice. He has a say. He is old enough to process feelings and emotions, to understand a little deeper what all of this means in his world. He now has his own questions and his own desires. He has things he wants to learn and figure out, he wants more time with me to deepen that understanding!
If openness is not done well, if open adoption is taken off the table, if openness is blocked from two mothers then HE suffers. Then our son doesn't get to learn, grow, understand or have peace.
We say we did this for HIM. I say that I placed my son because it was the best for HIM. She said she would adopt this baby because it was best for HIM. If we really believe that, if we really want what is best for HIM then we take his lead. No matter what we are feeling, no matter our issue we put that aside for him. We allow him a space to grow and learn and understand. HIS VOICE MATTERS and we can't pretend that we know what he needs or what he doesn't need.
Yes as mothers we "know what is best for our kids". But in adoption there is more to think about, more to let go of and more to allow.
To pretend that this is just like any other family, any other child, any other situation is dangerous and very misguided. You can pretend all you want that he is the "same" as the biological children but he is not. He is adopted, he is different, he has MORE available to him, more for him to love and more to love him. He will have a deeper understanding of who he is and where he comes from, he is special. He is biologically connected to one and forever family connected to another. That is a lot for a child. That is MORE for that child. That is different for that child.
Open Adoption is complex and beautiful and amazing and can be done well!!! It can be done right. You can learn to communicate with each other, to love and respect each other, to honor each others needs.