I participated in Mel's Barren Bitches Book Brigade this month. We read "The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption" by Lori Holden (http://www.amazon.com/Open-Hearted-Way-Open-Adoption-Helping/dp/1442217383).
My husband and I have been in the process of deciding if we should adopt a child for a lonnnnnng time and I had gotten to the "let's shit or get off the pot" point. I know this is a big decision - HUGE - not one to be taken lightly or decided on a whim. But I mean, we'd done the research, listed the pros and cons, thought long and hard, found an agency we loved, slept on it, etc, etc. And I recently told him that I just needed to KNOW. We needed to actually make a decision. I felt like I could deal with the outcome either way, I just needed to KNOW so I could move on with my life. And then I saw the book club selection and thought "this is a sign." Not necessarily a sign that we should or should not adopt, but that we should DECIDE and move forward. So I signed right up, ordered me a copy from Amazon and read it all in one sitting the day it arrived. That's how I roll.
What did we decide? Shall I keep you in suspense? Or should I tell you that one week and one day from now we will be attending our agency's workshop to sign a contract, work on our birthparent letter and get started on the home study? WOO HOO! I'm so excited. And scared. And so many other things. But that's for a later post (many later posts I'm sure...)
Here are my responses to the questions:
Lori refers to the relationship between adoptive parents and birthparents as similar to an in-law relationship. Does thinking about the relationship as an in-law relationship influence how you approach open adoption?
It did influence me. To be honest, the part of open adoption that makes me the most uneasy is the relationship with the birthparents. It's the unknown. The fear of lack of control. The wondering what it will actually be like, what it will look like, how it will feel.....But thinking of the birth parents as similar to in-laws makes sense to me and makes it feel less scary. It makes me feel like, I can possibly relate to this new relationship in some way. That I have some experience to pull from, that it's not completely new or unknown. I happen to like my in-laws and don't find them scary at all, but the analogy works regardless ; )
I know finding my parents' receipts related to my adoption stung when I found them. And I lashed out hard. And I was old enough to not be so reactive (this was just a few years ago) but was despite myself. Like adoption, any type of assisted reproduction has money changing hands and sometimes several. How have you, or will you talk about this with your child/ren?
I hadn't thought about this one from that perspective. The money ultimately doesn't matter to me. Our son was conceived through fertility treatments which cost a lot of money. Adopting our second child will cost lots of money too. And of course, I wish we didn't HAVE to spend so much money to have kids. I'd rather go spend it on a fabulous vacation or save it to buy a house....but at the end of the day, its worth it to me. I'm not sure how I would talk about it with my children. I don't think its something I would bring up. But if they asked questions I would tell them what they wanted to know. I'm not ashamed that I had to spend money to have children. That's just the hand we were dealt.
The term “Real Mother” or “Real Parents” comes up quite frequently in an adoptee’s life. Lori suggests in her book that we see each set of parents (birth and adoptive) as “Real”. Do you agree? How would you personally handle this terminology? And are there other ways to effectively deal with this term if used by your child or directed at your child by another?
I agree with her. Birth parents are REAL. Adopted parents are REAL. We are all real live humans. I like the way Lori talked about dealing with it saying "we are both real - let me pinch you (although I'd want to say punch you) to show I'm not fake." Again, I'm not totally sure what I'd say, but I think going through pregnancy loss and infertility has given me some experience with well-meaning, but awkward questions and comments.
I thought the book was WONDERFUL. I'm sure I will be referring to it many times over the next weeks, months, and years. Lori's approach makes sense to me - what's best for the child is the most important thing. I am already a mother to my son so I know to my core what it means to put your child first. I can do that. There are definitely pros and cons to open adoption. There are things that I am apprehensive about. But if open adoption is what's best for my child, and I believe that it is, than that is what I will do. "Open adoption is a process, not a process in time." I think Lori's book is a great resource for navigating the process. Just looking back and rereading some of what I highlighted helps me breathe and focus as I answer these questions and think about the difficult or uncomfortable times that may lie ahead on our journey.
I feel like I could have written long, rambling page-long answers to each question but I've been busy making some big decisions this week! And I have forms to fill out! And episodes of The Voice on my Tivo!
Please return to the main post to read more opinions on Lori Holden's The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption.