Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Staying present in the open adoption equation…

A good friend and someone I have been privileged to aid on their adoption journey as a birth mother often addresses the issue of staying present or as I call it remaining ready for “duty” as a birth mother..she now has a fourteen year relationship with the family that adopted her son…. I respect them for how their open adoption “equation” came together.. I often ask myself and the birth mother what were the factors for this success especially when I read in so many chat rooms the number of birth mothers who were promised a relationship with openness and were let down and abandoned by the adoptive family…and  further will the birth mother and adopted child benefit  from this committment to maintaining the relationship… She said right from the beginning the adoptive  family opened the door to her..her initial reaction was to run and seek cover…after all as a birth mother wouldn’t it just be easier to avoid contact rather than having a host of  grief and loss feelings thrown into your face every time you had contact…  the families continued reaching out helped her to balance out the pain of the adoption with the joy that contact and building a relationship can bring….She took advantage of counseling and attended a support group monthly for years…and when ever called upon she would help to educate other families considering adoption whether birth or adoptive..She made a point to always respect the families boundaries and plan in advance for visits and contacts…. some times  a difficult task as the years went on and families schedules were busy… in addition they planned several rituals each year spending time together during the holidays and around birthdays and shared significant activities/events such as baptisms,  recitals, graduations etc.  within both their families…..she and the adoptive family involved their extended families  right from the beginning in the relationship ..they truly took the “it takes a village” approach in forming their relationship..and both subscribed to the idea that a child can not have too many people or “grandmas” to love them… she also maintained relationships with other birth mothers and worked her feelings out with them…when things became difficult she backed off  from the relationship for a while but never went for too long without contact…her birth son is happy secure and a normal 14 year old..She is and will always be someone that I respect and admire..I feel privileged that I’ve been able to see her adoption unfold… it has aided me immensely in my work with other women who are considering adoption.. … In  addition I’ve linked below to two sites the first is the groundbreaking  2002 University of Texas longitudinal study of birth mothers ,adoptees, and adoptive families…the study supports the idea that open relationships produce greater satisfaction and healing for birth mothers..the second link is to another hero of mine… birth mother Brenda Romanchick’s web site ..the article is entitled; “Can a child have too many grandmas?” click below to link. to these sites….good information for anyone considering adoption… adoptive or birth family….

http://www.utexas.edu/news/2002/10/07/nr_adoption/

http://www.openadoptioninsight.org/html/too_many_grandmas_.html

Connections are a right all adoptees are entitled too… a call for access to birth certificates

Each time an extended family gathers there are opportunities for connections to be made along with revelations and a sense of grounding….imagine not being able to feel this… to feel in some sense like a boat without an anchor… this is the way an adoptee in a closed adoption with no access to his birth family or even his original birth certificate described his life to me…. He loved his adoptive family and was thankful for the life he had with them but stated he sometimes felt a little different … This past weekend  my relatives gathered at my home …  we got to share, reminisce and make connections … perhaps this is something those of us who are not adopted may take for granted….we compared talents and speculated where and who they came from within our family …where the artistic/musical abilities came from…eye color…mannerisms…temperament..we parted feeling closer and we had a better sense of ourselves after sharing several hours of  connections/similarities …. a large number of adopted persons  in our country are denied this enriching experience of sitting around a kitchen table and connecting with biologically related “KIN” because their adoptions are closed and further sadly they have no access to their original birth certificates and are forced to go on an arduous journey of searching  in order to make these connections if their adoption was not left open and they wish some contact…..Not all adoptees seek or want contact…..  but it seems so cruel and counter productive to the intent of adoption to deny access to a birth certificate for those who do want information and connections… after all  wasn’t the intent of the adoption to provide stability, grounding and a fulfilling family life experience… an experience that celebrates honestly where a child comes from as well as where he is going with the love and support of his adopted  family..I have seen the joy that open adoption can bring along with the mental health benefits that relationship built adoptions afford an adopted child…  the opportunity to connect and to live a whole and full life with out shame or constant wondering or unanswered questions or loyalty issues…open relationships are challenging… they require trust building and risk taking… they need to be child centered ..sometimes birth or adoptive families are not ready to fully participate in a relationship but each should keep trying to reach out beyond their fears and establish connections or at least keep the door open for future connections…In today’s open adoptions identifying information is exchanged and relationships are hopefully established.. we can acknowledge a child’s roots by securing the original birth certificate for the adoptee and his family prior to finalization … once finalization occurs original birth certificates are sealed denying the adoptee access even as an adult …..Adam Pertman Executive  Director of the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute and a Pulitzer Prize nominee passionately writes in his blog about this issue, presenting an argument in support of the right for the 7 million  adoptees in this country to have access to their original birth certificates…Kinship posted a link to Adam’s blog which was posted on the Huffington Post  several days ago on our main web site… I feel that this is an important issue for all of us to be aware of so I’m linking again to Adam’s blog..please read and support any efforts to raise awareness… click the link below  and follow Adams link to the Huffington Post and read the comments….. it’s a controversial issue and days after the original posting comments are still being made on  the Huffington Post…

http://adampertman.com

Something was not asked and something was always missing…

Each month I’m given the privilege of running an open adoption support group… it’s an eclectic group of birth parents/birth family members and adoptive parents in various stages of their adoption journey….we learn and grow from each other and often shoulder the pain and loss inherent in adoption as well as celebrate the joys that adoption can bring….tonight a birth mother who placed 25 years ago in what she believed was an open adoption shared her pain and unresolved grief. .she said she was sent pictures and was allowed one precious visit when her son was two at a park …she was never acknowledged during that visit and was only allowed to view her son from a distance and was not allowed to interact with him…..she marvelled at the degree of openness that some of the couples in the group were sharing that they had with their birth parents or their birth parents families…one adoptive mother spoke of a recent visit she had with her son’s birth mother and birth grandmother. ..she said she watched as her son and his birth mother rolled around on the floor laughing and tickling each other..the adoptive mother said it gave her great joy and comfort to see this ..she said it didn’t take away from her role as mother or make her feel jealous but that it actually made the bond between she and her son stronger … it thrilled her to see how loved her son was by his birth mother…. another birth mother spoke of her journey and  remembered being counseled at the time of  her adoption… she said her social worker spent a great deal of time asking her questions about parenting and talking to her about how she could parent..she said she really appreciated that her social worker helped her and insisted that she explore parenting… she reflected thankfully  that she was given the time and the option to do that as part of her adoption journey  …she chose adoption and  now has a  loving 14 year relationship with her birth son and the adoptive family who over time have become her family…the other birth mother in attendance spoke up and said if only 25 years ago someone had asked her that one question “do you want to parent” and as  part of her counseling had  said” you can parent”..  it’s an option..”lets look at how we can make that happen”…..would things have been different for her?…she described being told at the birth not to hold the baby  or she’d become attached …  I reflected …no greater attachment than the umbilical cord … pregnant women are attached and should be….she remembered stroking his head and ear once or twice at the hospital and then he was gone…fast forward to 25 years later ..she has since reunified with her son but still experiences the pain and unresolved feelings of loss and what she missed out on… pictures and letters helped but they didn’t take the place of a real  relationship..the birth mom with the 14 year relationship remarked how thankful she was that during the 14 years of her adoption journey that  the adoptive family kept reaching out to her and inviting her into the relationship ..she said if they had not done that she more than likely would have drifted off and dropped away from the relationship because at times it was painful to be involved..if adoptions must take place these questions have to be asked and explored ..relationships should be built that benefit and support the child and the stability of the adoptive family as well as the birth family… these relationships are powerful and healing and can help to balance out the pain and loss in adoption with the joy that adoption can bring….. prior to closing out this posting I received a google alert and read a story published in a Nevada newspaper…  I want to end this posting with it …the title of the article is ” Long awaited family”… I love the words the adoptee used to describe his experience .. basically saying his adopted life was good but there was “always something missing”… link to this bittersweet story…. and what ever side of the adoption equation you see yourself on birth or adoptive… keep your heart open to the possibilities of what relationship built adoptions can hold for you and your child if an adoption must take place…link below..

http://www.theunion.com/article/20110106/NEWS/110109869/1001&parentprofile=1053