As we’ve walked through the adoption process, 2 topics tend to weigh heavily on people’s minds, money and openness.
There are a lot of misconceptions about open adoption, helped along by TV and movies, and the occasional horror story given lots of airtime on the news. Think about that for a minute. Would you watch a story about a basic, smooth adoption with no real crises or snags? Most people wouldn’t. Just like you wouldn’t call the Better Business Bureau to report an excellent online transaction. We humans like to complain.
So, open adoption. It can range from semi-open, which usually means cards, letters, or pictures passed through a third party like an attorney or agency, to fully open, where both parties know each others last names, and meet in person on occasion, to any variance in between those.
We initially were more comfortable with the idea of semi open. When Tristan’s birthparents asked to meet us, prior to his birth, we adjusted to that idea, and spent a few hours with them. Once we were face to face, everything changed. These were real people, real parents trying to make the best decision for their child. In reality, we fell in love with them.
I went into that meeting armed with some understanding of a couple of things that matter to women making adoption plans for their children:
1) Post-adoption, they want to know the baby is okay. They want to see he is accepted and loved and safe.
That doesn’t mean they want weekly updates, or they want to watch your house from the street. It means, simply, that the child they kept alive for 9 months+ still matters to them, and it makes them feel like they made the right decision when they see a picture of him in his new family.
2) They want his name, his birthname to be honored, to some degree.
That doesn’t mean they want to be in control of what you call him. It does mean they want to give him the gift of a name; that he matters enough to them to call him by name.
No adoption is the same, and so every one will have different elements that matter, different traditions. For us, we met Tristan’s birthparents and extended family for our initial meeting, and then later on I went to an ultrasound and to lunch with them, and brought my preschoolers. There were awkward moments, and more than once I felt like a predator looming over her womb, but I know for their family, it was healing to see us, to know us and to imagine the future, their child with us.
Next, we met at the hospital, were in the delivery room until the real birthing began, and then spent 2 more days together, meeting in NICU hallways and getting to know their extended family and friends. Our ongoing relationship will develop with time. Currently we email and text infrequently, and I post cute pictures on a blog I’ve set up for them. We plan on meeting again, in person, at some time in the future.
I’ll write more about this, but this is already a long entry. In the meantime, tell me: what are some questions/concerns you have about open adoption?