So, I meant to post this a really long time ago. And I think it’ll end up being a multi-part post…
We have ventured into new waters as adoptive parents this year. We are finally discovering what an open adoption means/looks like to us.
Long before we adopted any of our children, we were asked if we’d consider an open adoption. And, honestly, it was a tough choice for us. With many open adoptions, it’s the biological parents that have initiated the adoption. They’ve made the choice to give their child a better opportunity and have asked the adoptive parents to remain in the child’s life. In this situation, I think an open adoption is an easy choice. It makes sense. But, with kids who are being adopted through “the system” the situation is a little different. There’s no innocence on the part of the biological parent. The biological parent didn’t make the selfless choice to give up their child, rather the biological parent made choices and did *something* that caused the child to be removed. In some situations, the child went through very little (the case of our Bean, for example, she was exposed to drugs in utero, but has shown no long term effects at this point). In other situations, the children will wear the physical scars for a lifetime. And, sometimes the children will face a lifetime of emotional and behavioral issues because of the actions of the biological parent.
It’s really easy to hate the biological parents for what they did to your child.
That’s not a pretty side of foster care and adoption, but it’s a real side.
So, it’s hard to think about letting the person who did anything wrong to your child continue to be a part of their lives… even in a small way.
However, I like to think that B and I matured and grew in our time fostering. Through meeting biological parents, through taking foster parenting classes, through seeing the ins and outs of the system and the families, we changed. Yes, there is still a part of me who hates the people who would even think of causing any harm to my boys or my daughter. But, I also know that no matter what choices or decisions were made, those people will always be a part of our lives. There is no denying the fact that my kids all have 2 moms.
More than that, we love our children. And we needed to make a choice about an open adoption not for the biological parents or for ourselves, we needed to think about our kids.
Ideally, we’d love for them to grow up and never give their biological families another thought. I’d love for them to just always think of B and I as Mom and Dad and just view us as family–not adoptive, just family. But, I don’t know that that will happen. And it’s selfish to think that that is the only way that things will/should go. More likely, my kids will at some point have questions. They’ll want to know who they look like. They’ll want to know about what medical issues are in their families. They’ll be curious to know about their biological families.
So, we have, in our own way, tried to create a history for them.
Back in 2007 we got a P.O. Box at a local post office. And we’ve given the box number to the biological families of all of our children. We’ve received a few things through the years from various members of the biological family of our boys. That’s pretty much the extent of where things have gone on that end.
Bean, is a different story. Before her biological mom relinquished her rights, we entered into a formal open adoption agreement. Each open adoption is different. They can be very limited–only letters once a year, for example. Or, they can be very involved with the biological family having visits and being involved in the daily life of the child. Our agreement was more on the limited end.
Another really important thing to note is that in an open adoption, the adoptive parents are still the parents and they’re the ones that get to make the final call. In our agreement it states that if there’s a point that we feel that the open adoption agreement isn’t in the best interest of Bean, we’re free to break the agreement. I think that this should be in every open adoption agreement (and, to my understanding, it’s very standard).
The rest of this story/post really has to do with what has happened in that open adoption over the past year. And I think I’m going to have to continue it tomorrow. Because 1-just writing up to this point has brought me to tears a couple times and 2-it’s time for me to do my real “job” and get my kidlets to bed.