Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I received a comment on old post the other day.  It has me thinking about open adoption, as well as adoption in general. 

Open adoption is "sold" as better for those adopted as well as the natural families.  But.  Is it?? 

It would have been so wonderful to have been able to know that Christopher was alive and well, healthy
and happy.  I used to fantasize often that I had been able to find his parents and write letters back and forth with them.  I often wished that I could have seen him throughout the years ~ been a bug on the wall to see what he looked like, to hear him laugh and talk.  However, for myself, I really don't think I could have participated in a fully open adoption.  I wanted to be a mom to my son.  Since that wasn't possible, I had to completely shut myself off from my motherhood to survive life without him.  If I had been told that I could not choose adoption without it being fully open, I would have chosen to raise my son.  There is no way I could have been a part of his life yet not fully be his mother.  A fully open adoption would have been like rubbing salt in an open wound.  I can't imagine how much worse my anger at my parents would have been ~ to see the son whose life I was missing out on because I refused to raise him in that house.  To have it in my face what my life could have been like (as a mother) if I had received one ounce of love or support (emotional, not financial) from my family.  Of course, I will never know what the reality of open adoption would have been ~ maybe it would have been better...   Who knows...

I can't speak for the adoptee side of open adoption.  Chris' comments make me think about the reality of open adoption on the child growing up.  Just as with everything in life, people react differently in similar situations.  While I know there are some children thriving in their open adoption situations, there are also other children suffering, as in the case that sparked my post "First Family and Forever Family".  There are probably just as many possible downfalls to open adoption as there are benefits for those adopted.  There are just so many variances in experiences, so many differences in the natural and adoptive families, so many things that can change the effects of one open adoption to another.   Open adoption is only as good as the natural and adoptive families work together to make it.  And yet, (this post) shows that even with great relationships between the families the reality can be painful for the child. 

I don't think the question of open adoption being better or worse for the child growing up will ever really be answered.  The problem isn't about which is better.  I think the question needs to be "Is adoption truly necessary in this case?"  Before it even gets to the point that a decision for open or closed adoption is necessary, every effort should be made to first help keep the original family intact.  If a child is being born into a loving family safe from abuse or neglect, they don't need another family ~ they already have one.  Ad
option should not be looked at as an answer to temporary problems.  Adoption should not be sold as "a loving choice" to mothers who love their child deeply and would give their right arm to raise her child, but is made to feel "less than" because of age, money, marital status, etc.  "First Family and Forever Family" is a great example of adoption being a permanent solution to a temporary problem. 

I'm not the only one blogging about open adoption today.  For an adoptee's view on open adoption, go visit Amanda.  

I had a moment of panic when I first saw the comment from Chris.  I still worry that my son may find this blog one day and think that I have this horribly depressing life because he was born. 
That is far from the reality of my life.  I do not write here because my life is all "woe is me, I gave my son up for adoption".  I write here now mostly to advocate for family preservation.  In advocating for family preservation, I am not saying that I would deny my son one moment of the life he has lived.  I am so very lucky that he has had a great life with a wonderful and loving family.   I probably laugh much more in the course of one day than I am saddened by adoption loss in an entire month.  The only place I "talk" about the effects of adoption in my life is here on this blog, and in the blogging/adoption forums.  So of course if you only know me by this blog, you would think that adoption loss is my life.  It is not.  Despite having adoption in it, I have a wonderful life ~ with more blessings than I can count.   

I never dreamed that anyone would want to read my rambling thoughts, my "therapy" of getting all of this out of my head.  The therapy part of writing about adoption in my life was the main reason for starting this blog, but I also want this blog to be a place where an expectant mother considering adoption can find information regarding the truth of adoption loss and family preservation so she can make a fully informed decision for or against adoption.  




  1. IMHO...

    The biggest issue with open adoption is that it is hailed as a "cure all" for all of the problems in adoption. As a result, people...

    1. think that adoptees in open adoptions will never have any problems.
    2. think that closed adoption constellation members have experiences and opinions that are of no comparison and irrelevant and thus, a large amount of people there are to listen to and learn from are being ignored.
    3. open adoptions do not solve all of the problems adoption presents and people don't understand this.

    and lastly....

    4. that open adoption presents issues of its own.

    The other huge issue with open adoption is lack of data. Open adoptions were not prevalent until the 90's and many of those adoptees are just now emerging into adulthood, or have not yet become adults, and we have not heard a great number of their voices yet.

    As a closed adoption adoptee, I won't pretend to know what it is like. I can only say my life has been bettered by reunion and the integration of my two families. It does seem as though open adoption, specifically the information sharing part and the adoptee's ability to see pictures and have questions answered, does help a lot of the problems closed adoption presented.

    But I can imagine that it would present all new, unique problems of its own as well.

  2. "There is no way I could have been a part of his life yet not fully be his mother. A fully open adoption would have been like rubbing salt in an open wound."

    I totally get this. (My son was born May 19, 1979. Just recently sent a first contact letter and have heard nothing from him, but that's another story.) Right after i signed the papers, his family's attorney offered me their contact info (as we stood in the hallway of the State building) I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. I turned him down because i knew that one day I would park myself in front of their house and wait to see him, couldn't trust that I wouldn't try to get close to him. Thought it would be better for him if he had a clean life slate to start with. Knew that I couldn't handle the emotion of seeing him and not being his mother.

    BTW, I've been reading your blog for quite a while and have never commented before. Just wanted to let you know that you inspire me.

  3. lolokey ~ thanks for your kind words! I hope that you hear from your son soon, the waiting is pure torture.