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 listed at Open Adoption Bloggers 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–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.
Adoption Round Table #33: “What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?”
I find this question a very fitting way on how to reflect on this past year. I could have reminesct on what I had done for the past year, but I had done that pretty much already with my holiday newsletter and we all know that there is much more to life than just vacations and school, to me.
So what did I learn about open adoption this past year? Well I learned that I need to get my gifts out sooner than later for when I send Kaylee stuff. I regret to say that her Christmas gifts are still sitting here in my house waiting to be sent out.
I learned that open adoption never gets any easier when it comes to emotions. I think that in the past almost eight years I have learned what my emotional triggers are, but there are some that will always pop up that I am not aware of. A new song will appear on the radio by an artist that will take me back to the time that I was in labor with Kaylee. I think that one of my favorite songs of this past year that really explains adoption is by Kenny Chesney. It is not a new song…but it is one that I heard several times through out the year when I least expected it. The song is “There Goes My Life“, which gets me teary every time I hear it. I normally would hear it on my way to work or to a social event and my make up would have to be touched up before leaving the car due to the tears that may have worked themselves loose.
I learned that it never gets any easier trying to explain to people about open adoption. Some people are willing to listen and some have their minds set on what a typical open adoption will or would always look like. I have met quite a few of new people over the past year. I have my adoption story posted here on the site and a link to it on my Facebook page. I forget sometimes that I have it posted until a classmate that I have made friends with says to me, “Hey…I read your adoption placement story last night and you had me in tears by the end.” But when the adoption comes up at a dinner table with a large group of ladies (which I love most of the time), it does catch me off guard. I don’t mind explaining my experience…but I do notice the facial expressions that people pass from one to another even if they don’t even realize they are passing an uncomfortable expression to the person across the table.
I learned from talking with other birth-mothers that the adoption plan that i have is very good. I realized this when I was at the Birthmother’s Retreat that was held in Charlotte, NC. I loved meeting women from all over the countries and hearing their stories. I learned also with doing the 2011 Interview project that a nomadic-birth-mom was very eeager to talk to another birthmom who had been down the road several years from her.
Lastly, I learned that even still…almost eight years later, open adoption was still the best choice I made at the time. I know that extended family members told my mom differently, but it was ultimately my own choice on what I needed to do. At that time and place, placing Lil Miss into an open adoption was the best thing I could have done considering I had no job and was living with my parents. I am grateful still everyday for D & N for caring for her and giving her the best home one could ask for!!
So that is what I have learned about open adoption this past year. I will be curious to see what I learn this coming year, for sure!!
The time has come to reveal who I was paired with for this years Adoption Interview Project which is put on by Heather at Production Not Reproduction. I have participated with different blog challenges from Heather before as she heads up the Adoption Roundtable discussions. This allows bloggers who are involved of all aspects of the adoption world to post their feelings about a certain chosen topic either once a week or sometimes once a month. This month is the Adoption Interview Project. If I would have known about this last year, I would have definitely participated as it was an incredible fun experience. Every participant was randomly paired. If one had special request such as wanting to be paired with a certain side of the adoption triad then that was taken into consideration. I had made a request to be paired with a birth-mother who hopefully I didn’t already know. I think next year I will not put in any request to see what part of the triad I am paired with.
This year I was paired with Rachel from The Great Wide Open. Heather is a nomadic birth-mother who blogs about her nomadic life, adventures of pregnancy and now open adoption. By just reading her blog tag line made me intrigued and kept me digging into her blog to see who she is. She likes to go to poem jams to express her feelings of adoption through her poetry. She currently lives and works in Singapore while enjoying being single. She enjoys the feeling of being single but is not opposed down the road of possibly meeting the “right” person to be a life-long companion.
While introducing ourselves to each other, Rachel and I found that we had quite a few things in common. We both love reading books that do not consist of textbooks, we both are actively with groups on Meetup.com, and we both wanted to pursue a degree in Social Work. She has a BSW but does not use it, and as we are all aware, I am in the pursuit to hang the BSW degree on my office wall someday in the future. She and I also love to travel.
I had a fun time thinking of questions to ask Rachel. When I had thought about sending these fun questions, I failed to save the document on the computer (one disadvantage of not using pen and paper!), and so I had to recreate the questions. I hoped that Rachel wouldn’t think that I was sending random questions, and she stated that I had a great variety of questions. Heather never placed a limit on how many questions we had to ask our partners. Rachel and I both sent each other fifteen different questions. To see the answers that I gave her you will have to click over on her page to read all about them.
Below is the interview that I conducted with Rachel. I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I did.
1. Out of all the different places you have lived what has been your favorite? What place would you go back to? What was your least favorite place?
That’s such a hard question, but so fun to think about! I have had the opportunity to live in lots of beautiful places, but hands down, the place closest to my heart is Zion National Park in Utah. That place holds magic for me, and it was a huge turning point in my life in many different ways. During the time I was there, the fall seasons of 2005 and 2006, my heart healed and changed in ways that were so unexpected to me, and my life has never been the same. I lived in the employee housing at the bottom of the canyon close to the river, surrounded by red rock walls on all sides. I could go hiking at midnight on a full moon and see everything clearly. I could borrow a friend’s hammock and tie it up by the river and listen to the water and my life go by. I could go running on trails that took me under waterfalls, through small cracks in the walls and between fallen boulders. The people I met there are people who have had a lasting impact on me, taught me invaluable life long lessons, and showed me what life could really be if I let go of grudges, rules, preconcieved ideas of what was expected of me, and all of my notions of ‘truth’ I had so strongly held onto in the past. I became more free to be myself there than I had ever been in my entire life, and I feel like Zion was a springboard for everything I’ve learned since then. The other places I’ve lived have been beautiful and filled with wonderful people for sure, but I don’t know how anything could top the monumentous change for the better that Zion produced in me. Recently, a friend was showing me his new galaxy tab, and as the background for the main page he had a picture of a red rock wall that looked like it had been an ocean wave frozen and sculpted in time. I couldn’t focus on the conversation anymore, all I could do was transport myself back there to those red canyon walls, feeling the dry, gritty sandstone on my finger tips, running my hand along the wall. I was in amazement all over again, even though I was looking at it on a small touch screen on the other side of the planet. So yeah, Zion will always have a place in my heart, and I definitely want to go back there some time.
2. With currently living overseas, do you feel that it is easier for you to heal after placement, or does it make it worse?
I’ve wondered that question myself. In one way, I think it has helped me to heal. Before I became pregnant I had already been traveling around for the past 5 years, but it was all within the United States. When I went to Thailand on vacation, it was the first time in a few years that I had been outside of the US and I was really excited about the adventure. Little did I know when I was making those plans what other little ‘adventure’ life would take me on! It was there that I found out I was pregnant, so from the beginning of Reed’s life I was exploring new paths. I was already in that mindset, and maybe that helped guide me towards my decision to place. After Reed’s birth, it just seemed right that I would go somewhere else, somewhere exciting. The opportunity to teach in Singapore came up rather suddenly, and though it was hard to think about being so far away from him when he was only 4 months old, it just seemed right, it seemed to fit the path I had chosen to travel on, it seemed to be an obvious continuation of my life. So in answer to your question, I guess what helps with the healing most is not what location I’m in, but if I’m doing what’s right for my life. I rely a lot on prayer, heart, intuition and gut feelings in making my big decisions. If I had chosen to stay in the US just to be closer to him, I don’t think it would have helped with the healing process if my heart was telling me to go to Singapore. On the other hand, if my heart were telling me to stay in the US, I don’t think it would have helped to run as far away as I could from him. I went where I felt led to go, and I believe that is what has helped the most with the healing.
3. Naming of Reed, where you involved with the naming process?
Yes! I love the story of how Reed got his name. At first, I told Doug and Maura that they could choose the name for him, but they said they wanted Bill and I in on the decision. I always liked the name Max because it’s my brother’s name, who is a man of character, faith, intelligence, sincerity, integrity, and is one of the men I respect most in this world. So when I was carrying him in Alaska I started calling him Max, and so did Bill when we would talk on the phone. When Bill and I both arrived in North Carolina for the 3rd trimester, we would still call him “little Max” when it was just the two of us talking about him, even when we knew his name would be Reed. Doug and Maura thought it was fitting to keep that in his name. William seemed an obvious choice too, since it was both Bill’s name and Doug’s father’s name. The name Reed came from Maura’s side of the family. Her grandmother’s name was Elizabeth Reed. When Doug and Maura were going through adoption procedures, Elizabeth Reed was already aged and didn’t have a firm grasp on the present day and didn’t remember much. But Maura’s mother told her about the adoption and that they were going up to Alaska to meet me, and Mrs. Reed held on to that. She would ask Maura how the adoption is going, and even remembered my name. She passed away shortly after their trip to Alaska, and was a loss to everyone in their family. So his name is Reed William Max Dotson, and we all had a say in it.
4. Some people get tattoos as a way to remember their child. Have you ever thought of getting one if you don’t have one already?
I don’t have any tattoos, but I love them on other people. If I were to get one it would have something to do with Reed, but I haven’t been struck with something I want permanently on my body yet. I still think about it at times, and I’m not opposed to it if anything strikes me. My sister, who already has a couple of tattoos and who came to North Carolina for his birth, got his birthdate tattooed on her foot.
5. What initially inspired you to start blogging about your adoption?
There are a few reasons I started blogging about my adoption. I guess the first one is that I wanted to read what other birth moms were saying, but I couldn’t find anything. I later found out that I just didn’t try hard enough because there are lots of birth mothers (well, ok not lots, but a handfull) who blog about their side of the adoption story. I wanted to put a voice out there. Another reason is because I wanted my open adoption to be… open. I assumed that most people are like I was, that they don’t have a clue about what open adoption is besides the quick reference that was made to it in the movie ‘Juno’. I didn’t want my adoption to be a secret, I didn’t want it to be a hidden part of my life that I acted embarrassed about. The fact that I am a mother, that I have a son, is a huge part of who I am, and I don’t hide it or ignore it and I’m definitely not embarrassed or ashamed of it. I don’t regret any of the decisions I made, I don’t think I ‘made a mistake’ by getting pregnant, I was making responsible decisions but sometimes things happen anyway but it doesn’t mean I made a mistake or have anything to regret. Reed was never a ‘mistake’, he has always been a blessing. I guess that’s why I started blogging, because people wonder why a relatively stable 32 year old woman would give up her child, especially when that woman is a friend, family member, old classmate, traveling companion, etc. I want people to be free to talk to me about Reed, to ask me questions, and for me to be free with them. So I put it out there, to add another level of openness to our adoption.
Besides that, I journal quite a bit on my own, so writing about things comes pretty naturally to me. It does help with the healing for me to blog about it, to brag about the good things and mourn openly about the hard times. It helps me to sort things out; ideally I’d have a professional or a support group or someone I could talk to, but with my traveling that hasn’t worked out too well, so I just puke it all out all over the internet. So to all who read my blogs, thanks for being my stand in therapist.
6. What is the dynamic between you and the birth-father, Bill? Are you still in contact with each other? If you are, do you sometimes wish that you would have stayed in one place to try and parent Reed together?
Bill and I are still in contact with each other, we try to keep each other updated on our lives. I’m so thankful that Bill has been involved as he is. When we separated after first meeting in Colorado where we were both working, we knew that our lives were going in different directions, but we didn’t know I was pregnant at the time. Bill was the first person I told after I took the pregnancy test (I sent him an email from Thailand with the heading, “I hope you’re sitting down for this…”) and was the first person I talked to on the phone the moment my plane landed back in the US. We talked on the phone regularly while I was working in Alaska and he was in Colorado, and he sent me boxes filled with homemade cookies, treats, books, teas, and anything else he could think of that I might want or need. He finished his summer job in Colorado about the same time I finished mine in Alaska, and he spent the next 6 months in NC with me, cooked all of my meals, rubbed my back and feet, went to birthing classes, and held my hand the entire time I was in labor. I cried my eyes out when I left him to come to Singapore. I love Bill with all of my heart and he will always be family to me, but there has never been a time when I have wished we had decided to parent Reed together. We would have had to force a lot of things into place to make that happen, and it didn’t seem right. Adoption on the other hand, seemed right to me from the beginning, and Bill and I are now both continuing on our own individual paths that we’re meant to be on. We have talked about how we want to always keep up a positive relationship with each other and we would like to visit Reed together for years and years to come, but with us living so far apart it’s hard. But mine and Bill’s continued friendship allowed us all to visit Bill in Colorado this past June, and will hopefully allow many more reunions with all of us together in the future.
7. Since you are out of the States quite a bit, what are the US things that you miss? What are some of the things that you MUST always do when you are in the states visiting?
Oh now THAT is a question to think about! What do I miss? Good Mexican food. What must I do? Eat good Mexican food. Haha!!! In all seriousness, there isn’t a whole lot about American culture that I miss.
At the moment, here are the only things I can think of (keep in mind though that Singapore is a very Westernized, cosmopolitan city):
*The price of wine; a cheap bottle of Woodbridge that costs $6 in the States is considered high end and costs about $30 in the supermarket here. Very high alcohol tax in Singapore.
*A clothes dryer that will shrink my jeans back into shape
*Shoes that fit my size 10 feet and clothes that fit me that aren’t labled XL
*Service at restaurants that’s based on tips; the service here is ok, but nothing like the wonderful service I get at restaurants in the US when the waiter knows he/she has to work for my money. I reward generously.
But give me a good burrito and a margarita on the rocks that doesn’t cost $20 and I’ll forget about everything else.
8. How often do you get to see Reed?
He’s only just turning two in December, so we haven’t established a regular routine, but so far I see him twice a year. With my schedule working with the school here in Singapore, my vacation times are pretty rigidly set, so I can plan on making a short trip for about 5 days in June, and for a week in December. I have a two week school holiday in December, so I use the rest of the time to spend with my family in TX. Doug and Maura are really great about communicating with me what works for them as far as my visits. They are always welcoming, but we all know that there are boundaries and lines of respect. We all consider each other family, and I stay in their extra room at their house when I visit. Maura is also really good at sending Bill and I monthly updates, always around the 13th of each month which is his birthdate in December. She’s very descriptive in what he’s learning, new tricks he has, and ways his personality is developing. On my end, I keep them updated with the ins and outs in my life, and I send Reed a post card from every place I visit. Maura has gotten him keepsake box where they keep all of my letters and cards to him. In the future, when I leave Singapore to go somewhere else (who knows where), we’ll have to work out another plan for my visits, but I hope to always be able to spend a good week with him at least twice a year.
9. What days are the hardest for you to deal with? Holidays and Birthdays? Or just random days when something will trigger a memory?
Actually, holidays and birthdays are some of the easiest days for me to deal with. Those are times for celebrating, and I love celebrating Reed’s life, my life, and everything rolled into them both. It’s the random moments that hit me hard, like one day when I saw a little boy sitting on the bus in his mother’s lap. They were both just staring out the window, not doing anything cute or entertaining, but her pinky finger was stroking his ankle and he was absent mindedly twirling her hair between his fingers. They seemed to be such a part of each other, and I had to take deep breaths to keep from losing it in the middle of the crowded bus. I know I made the best decision for the both of us, and there are times when I look at my life and think about how much I love it and wonder if I ever come across as cold towards Reed because I’m so thankful for the direction I’m going because of my decision not to parent him. But make no mistake, there are days when it is hard. When I feel his absence so strongly and I cry so much and so hard that it feels like even my knuckles and my knee caps are about to turn into tears. These times aren’t often, and they are never accompanied with regret or remorse, but when they do come, it has been when I’m walking along a beach, sitting on a bus, or just thinking about him alone in my room.
10. If you could only wear one pair of shoes for an entire year, what would they be?
My Teva Kayenta sandals. They are comfortable, cute, waterproof, have traction, slip on and off easily, and look good in shorts, jeans and skirts. The perfect shoe for living on a very hot and rainy equatorial Asian city where you have to take your shoes off several times a day! Unfortunately they aren’t made anymore, so the pair I have now I had to order used off of ebay.
11. Tell me about your family. Did you grow up in the States in one home for your entire childhood, or were you in a family that moved around a whole lot?
I’m the middle child of 5 children, one boy and all the rest girls, and we definitely didn’t move around! From the age 4-10 we lived in a huge, white, beautiful, Victorian style house in a very small, rural town in Texas. Then my dad’s oil business went under, as did the businesses of many oil men in the 1980’s, and we lost everything and moved into a huge, old, gray, tired farm house a few miles outside of the same little rural TX town. I was there mostly with just my mom and sisters until I went to college. We barely had enough money for food, so traveling or vacationing was out of the question. A big splurge at our house involved a two liter bottle of soda and a gallon of ice cream. We all had jobs when we were 16 if not before, bought our own cars, and paid our own way through college (or are still paying for it). Travel for me didn’t come until much later in life, when I realized that, just as I don’t have to be tied to the idea of making enough money or not having enough, I don’t have to be tied to the idea of being poor and thinking that I have to miss out on everything.
12. With you being nomadic, what caused you to want to live this way?
I guess it just happened. Like many people say of their carreers, I kind of fell into it. I had started leaving TX during the summers to teach pottery at a girls camp in NC, and had done that for 3 summers. At the end of the third summer, I was 27 years old, had a degree but no job, was drowning in debt that I couldn’t pay off, had just spent a hellaceous year in gradschool that I wasn’t going to be returning to, and felt my life was in shambles. The only thing I felt that I had going for me was the amazing friends and family I had back in TX. While I was still at the summer camp, when I thought about going back there I would get a nauceous feeling in my stomach. I compared my life at summer camp with my life in Denton; I didn’t have to cook, clean, drive, pay rent, buy food, have a nice wardrobe, furnish a house, pay bills (new ones, anyway), and I could just do my job, have fun, while living in a beautiful place, and got a paycheck at the end of the summer. I started wondering if I could find something else similar to that, and my search led me to Zion National Park in Utah. Once I got there, I met other people who had been living this kind of lifestyle for months or years, and I loved it. I had lived my whole entire life worring about money, stressing about things I needed to do, how to fit everything into the little free time I had. Once I started traveling and working, my stress crumbled away, I was able to make money and pay off my debt, I didn’t have to rely on things like a car and insurance and a house, I met new and interesting people, and things in my life that I hadn’t even realized had become stale suddenly became revitalized. I realized how much I had been trying to do what others expected of me, or at least what I though they did, instead of trusting my own faith and my own heart. After a few months in Zion, I went back to TX, took everything out of my storage unit, had a big garage sale where I sold everything I had, and then left with two duffle bags to go to Hawaii to work on a cruise ship. From there I went back to the summer camp, back to Zion, back to the cruise ship, back to the summer camp again, to San Diego, to a ski resort in Crested Butte Colorado, to Denali National Park in Alaska, to a lodge on the beach near the Hoh Rainforrest in Washington state, back to Colorado, back to Alaska, and then finally to North Carolina where Reed was born. The nomadic lifestyle fits me like an old pair of jeans. It’s not for everyone, in fact very few are comfortable with it for any extended period of time. But it works for me, and I have yet to find a reason to stop. Living in Singapore for as long as I have, a year and a half, has been a huge change for me since the longest I’ve lived anywhere since starting my travels in 2005 had been 6 months. I do love it here, but my traveling feet still get itchy. Thankfully, Singapore is an easy springboard to travel to the many beautiful surrounding countries, and my job gives me enough time to make good use of the central location and cheap plane fares.
13. You mentioned that you are involved with Meetup.com, what kind of groups are you involved in? Are you a member of groups that are all over the world or just in the local area that you currently live?
Meetup.com is a site I found when I first moved to Singapore, didn’t know a single person here, and was looking for something to do and ways to meet people. As I was thinking about what I wanted my new life here to look like, one thing I decided was that I wanted to read more, and that it would be cool to have other people to talk about books with. For the past few years I had been trying to read ‘the classics’ whenever I happened across one in a give-away pile where ever I was working, so I had the idea of starting my own book club to read through some of the books that are considered the best of all time, books that have shaped and influenced cultures, books that any well-read individual should have under their belt. I thought maybe a few people would be interested and that we could sit in a quiet little corner of a cafe and chat and talk about the book we had decided to read. But now, a year and a half and 16 books later, there’s over 500 members on our online site and for the upcoming meeting for this month there are almost 45 RSVP’s. Yikes! Where do I find a place to hold a meeting of 45 people?!? The good news is that not everyone shows up, so it will be more like 25-30, which is still a lot. It’s one of my favorite things about being in Singapore; I always have a good book to read while I’m on the train or sitting waiting for someone, and the discussions are great. I’m amazed at how much I learn from other people, how much we all learn from each other, and the deeper appreciation and understanding we have about the book after the discussions. Besides my own book club that I started, I’ve also joined some social groups and wine tasting groups. It’s been a great way to meet people; I met my best friends here through a wine tasting meetup. I don’t know how much it’s used in the US, but it seems to be pretty popular in Singapore.
14. Did you attend college after high school? If so, where did you attend and what was your focus?
Immediately after high school I went to the University of North Texas in Denton, a suburb of Dallas. The first two years I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I just took the minimum amount of basic courses. Finally I decided on a degree in Social Work, but at the same time I got involved in my ceramics classes. I ended up with a minor in ceramics, but I spend so much time in the studio there that everyone thought I was an art major. I’ve never used my degree, except as just a piece of paper that says I have one (which can be useful, like when I had to have it to get this job in Singapore), and don’t think I will in the future.
15. If you could go anywhere in the world that you have not been yet, where would you go?
For some reason, I’ve always wanted to go to India. I’ve heard a lot of the good, the bad and the ugly; the crowded streets of the big cities, the filth, poverty, etc., and it all makes me want to go there more. As it stands, my plans are to spend a few months there after I leave Singapore at the end of next year, but plans often change and I never know what will happen. I am going to try my best to get there though.
So as you can see…we both had fun with this project as being the interviewer or the interviewee. Please post your comments as I know that Rachel will be checking this post as well! In addition to the interview questions here are some pictures of Rachel.
The adoption blogger that I follow from Production, Not Reproduction is calling for anyone who may from time to time blog about adoption. Since this was me, I was all ears! She is inviting anyone who blogs about adoption to participate in the 2011 Adoption Interview Project next month. November is Adoption Awareness Month. If you are one who follows Adoption blogs you may have already known about November.
I would love for you all to participate in this project as well. I will post the link to the directions on how to sign up and all!! Click here for more info.
One of the adoption blogs that I read from time to time had this old posting which is about Four things that she thought and or have learned adoption. After reading her response it got me thinking about my own experiences or previous thoughts on this topic. I have been wanting to post this for awhile, but with school taking up quite of my time, I have not posted this until now. If you want to see the original post head over to Production, Not Reproduction. If you are an Adoption Blogger or somehow linked in the adoption world, consider yourself tagged. I would love to see what your responses are. If you participate in this please post a link to your posting as a comment area of this post!
Four things I thought about adoption when I was a child:
There were a few movies about the topic of adoption, one that always came to mind was “Annie.”
That parents who could not take care of their children gave them to a family who could.
I had several friends who were adopted and saw that they were just like me.
I was glad that I could look at my own parents to see which attributes I got from my mother and father.
Four things I’ve learned since then:
Most items that are shown on television shows, movies, or depicted in books may not be the full truth on what adoption really is.
Not all parents who place their children into an adoption are drug addicts or irresponsible people.
Adoptive families are no different any any other “blended” family that may consist of step-children or half-siblings.
Adoption is a very personal choice on all levels.
Four silly things people have said to me about adoption:
“You don’t look like a drug addict who can not take care of her children.”
“You should have to deal with your own mistakes rather than have someone else take on your burden.”
“I want to hear about your life, but not about the child that you placed for adoption.”
“Because you gave your child away, you will probably be punished and never have any more children.”
Four things that are hard about adoption:
Convincing people that I am not a bad person for making a very personal choice that I made at the age of 23 years old.
Full-well knowing that my little girl sees me only once a year due to living across the country from each other.
Birthdays and holidays which remind me what I am missing.
Wondering what she may think of me when she is a teenager, but she will understand why I made the choice that I did.
Four ways my adopted child/placed child has surprised me (or how your adoptive/first parents have surprised you if you’re an adoptee):
She tells me that she misses me every time I see her or talk to her on the phone.
She is excited to see me every time we see each other, and we pick up where we left off from before.
She likes telling people (mainly her teachers) that she is adopted.
She is a spitting image of myself when I was her age.
Four things I wish everyone knew about adoption:
Placing a child into any type of adoption is one of the hardest things that any woman can do in her life.
A person who places her child (or children) into an adoption are not always a bad person. The person may be choosing the better option so that the child can be raised in a healthy home.
Not every birth-parent is going to come back and wanting the placed child back.
Birth-families have feelings, too. I have been very blessed with the adoptive family that I chose to parent my child.
Do you have an adoption category/label on your blog? Consider yourself tagged!
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 listed at Open Adoption Bloggers 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.
This prompt is inspired by Lori of Write Mind, Open Heart, whose friend Joanne of a closed adoption posed the questions I’ll answer below. These address the impact of contact agreements (or not) in open adoption.
1. Can the adoptive parents really go back on their word after the adoption has been finalized and do whatever they please in regard to updates and pictures?
In some states, the open adoption contracts are not legally binding, which in that case adoptive parents can do what they want. I have heard many different stories from birthmothers where the adoptive parent(s) have stopped contact. My heart aches when I hear stories like this. In my case though, Oregon is one of the states that has a legally binding contract. With this being in said, I am to have pictures and letters 3-4 times a year and a visit once a year since my daughter is now over the age of five. I do think that life gets in the way and people’s lives get busy. An adoptive parent can and will probably forget from time to time to send pictures or an email. I know that I should email more often than what I do, but I just get busy. It is no excuse, but it is life. I believe that with the social media world (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) that someone sitting down to write a quick note to put in the mail or send a quick email is dropping off.
2. Who is the go-between for communication with most Open Adoptions: the case worker, the placing agency, or the lawyer handling the adoption?
There are many different forms of communications for open adoptions. In the open adoption agreement that I have with Darrin & NaeDean is that we communicate directly. I have never had Open Adoption & Family Services (OAFS) be the middle man in any type of communication for the most part. The only time OAFS acted as the middle man was when I was still considering placing and looking for possible adoptive parents for my unborn child. After the first meeting with Darrin & NaeDean, we quickly just used email and phone calls to communicate. Other adoption agreements though may have a case worker, adoption agency or lawyer handle any or all communication for all parties. If you are a prospective adoptive parent or someone who is considering placing a child into an open adoption this is something you really want to consider. Do you want to have a go-between person for communication or would you rather communicate directly?
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages for each of the above contact persons?
I have a problem with this question. In my eyes, an open adoption is when everyone knows everything. If each party involved is not fully open to this idea then open adoption may not be the correct choice for them. By having a go-between for communication is really for people who may want to have a semi-open adoption where items such as contact information, last name, and so on are held from each other. If I were to place another child again, I still would not have a third party act as the go-between and/or if I were a person looking into adopting a child I would not want to have a go-between. One of the main disadvantages in having a go-between is that the information being sent could take awhile to get to each other. Another disadvantage is the possibility of the go-between closes its doors due to a number of different reasons. Then what is one suppose to do? In this case I feel that the birth-parent is the one who gets screwed.
4. How can case workers be involved in Open Adoption as well if DHS are already so understaffed and the budgets are maxed out for the thousands of forgotten children lost in the system?
Once again this is why I would prefer complete open communication with all parties. When DHS comes to mind for adoptions, I think more of foster parenting and/or closed adoptions. The children are taken out of unfit environments due to several reasons that one may never know. I have not looked deeply into this, completely.
5. Is there an incentive such as money for the adoption agency to be still involved indirectly and indefinitely for an Open Adoption? Does it cost the prospective adoptive parents more money upfront for it to be an open adoption?
This is something that I would not now since I am the birthparent. I know that it is expensive to adopt through a private agency verses DHS. The comforting thing about placing or adopting through an agency is that if either party has a problem or issue in the first 18 years of the child’s life, the adoption agency offers counseling services for all parties involved as well as mediation services. That is one reason why I chose to place through an adoption agency due to the huge support and connections at the adoption agency.
6. If the contract is legally binding, what happens to the adoptive parents if they don’t follow through? Is there really any legal recourse for both parties that are clearly spelled out?
If the contract is legally binding like in Oregon, there could be legal recourse for both parties if one does not hold up to the agreement. I don’t think either party ever gets to the point where legal recourse is needed, but if it has happened then it is on the very low percentage.
7. What deters the birth parents from coming to your house unannounced?
First off, stop watching Lifetime!! Second, you must be reading the birthparent hate blogs if you are thinking this question. What deters a birth parent like me to going to NaeDean’s house unannounced…this is laughable. I would never just show up unannounced, even if I lived in the same city or town as them. That is just rude. It would be the same case as if I showed up at a friend’s house unannounced. I live in Ohio and the adoptive parents live in Oregon. Kind of hard to just show up with out saying anything. NaeDean is very accommodating for when I do come to town once a year. Even when I lived in Oregon, the thought of just showing up is appalling. Would it cross a person’s mind? Probably…but that is why I chose a family that was a couple hours from me. I didn’t know how I would feel walking through the grocery store and seeing them. I do think that birth parents respect the privacy of the adoptive parents. If you are a birth parent, you almost have to think of yourself being more like an aunt or uncle to the placed child.
8. Do you know if there are any court cases where it’s obvious that there are loopholes in Open Adoption that need to be addressed?
This is something that you would have to do research on. I have not looked into this.
9. Just like there are issues with closed adoptions and we have the outspoken activists’, etc., are there any Open Adoption opponents or vice versa that are working to be the voice for the birth mothers as well as the adoptive children and their best interests?
Adoption is a very personal choice that should not be taken lightly. If one is looking into placing a child into an open adoption, then one should know the good and bad. One of the things that the American Adoption Congress (AAC) tries to do is increase the public awareness about the realities of adopted life for birth and adoptive families.
10. When is the adoptee old enough to choose if they want contact or not? What if they are the ones who want to break off ties with the bio parents?
I would say the adoptee is old enough to choose when they start asking lots of questions. Kaylee is only seven and a half and so at this time I do not see her wanting to close contact with me. I think though if a child has not been introduced to their birth-parents then maybe around the age of 10 or so would be an ideal age. In an open adoption though, the child knows who their birth parents are at a very young age.
11. Are there any support groups/legal aids for birth mothers where they can get honest answers with their concerns for open adoptions?
I do not know of any actual legal aids for birth mothers. I am actively involved with Birthmom Buds which is a non-profit online organization to support birth families. There are also numerous different online support forums and groups through yahoo groups, Google groups, and even groups on Facebook that one can get into for support. Some adoption agencies will offer a local support meeting once a month for birth mothers. Depending on what city the birth parent is in they may be able to find a group on Meetup.com to connect with others in the adoption world. If one is looking for actual legal advice, one should look at contacting a lawyer who specializes in adoption. To read other’s responses head over to: Open Adoption Rountable! When a blogger answers the questions then they will go over OAR and post their link to share. Feel free to read, comment, and share!
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