Closing an Open Adoption – Adoption.com

ClosingOpenAdoption-052

Some people may think that closing an open adoption is okay. They may think that promising an open adoption is just a means to becoming parents and that closing it has no effect on the child. After all, closed adoptions used to be the norm, and open adoption agreements often aren’t even legally enforceable. I often hear people state that they would only close the adoption if the environment for an open adoption became unhealthy. And while I too am guilty of making this statement, I think the phrase “closing the adoption” needs to be looked at closer.

Here are some ways to look at your open adoption and get through the struggles that may be plaguing your relationship with the birth family before just writing off the relationship with them.  To read the rest of the article, please click here to visit Adoption.com.

 

 

The Right Foot

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Open Adoption, Open Heart

If I can give one piece of advice, it is that in all the training you will receive, you may not be taught that starting off the relationship on the right foot can never begin too early. When I say that, it means learning positive adoption language is a big deal. You may learn a few things like to use “created an adoption plan” over the dated version of “giving up for adoption”. There are many other situations though that choosing your words carefully can go a long way. But it really isn’t about just being politically correct, it’s about respect.  It’s about understanding people’s feelings.  It’s about willingness to learn.

Today with open adoption being the more normal route domestic adoptions are taking, starting that relationship off with respect is so important. As adoptive parents we are gaining something that we could not achieve on our own; a child. Imagine the heart ache and loss the expecting mother goes through every day leading up to placing her child and will likely feel every day after the placement. Respecting her as a human and the parent of that child shows you love not just her baby, but her as well. And don’t forget about the father, he may or may not be involved, but until you know otherwise, assume he is.

Remember, positive adoption language is not just about being politically correct, but respecting her. Moving forward in an open adoption requires respect. Respecting her for her decision and not just going after her baby and saying “all the right things” will create a lasting relationship that your future child can respect you for. There are many resources out there to ensure you understand positive adoption language. If it is not offered in your adoption training, seek it out for yourself, you’ll be happy you did.

Part of respecting her, is also respecting her story. Respecting that her story is also your future child’s story. People can be nosey when it comes to adoption. Some are genuinely curious about adoption, some just want to the juicy details. So decide how much you want to share with people and stick to it. People will ask all sorts of questions that you never dreamed of. IE. “Why is she giving him up?” “Is she on drugs?” “Does she know who the father is?” “Why doesn’t she want to keep him?” Etc. Keep in mind that what you share with people now, may get back to your child or give the inquisitive people less respect for the birth mother in the future. While you may have the best intentions of sharing the story with people, they may repeat it back at inconvenient times. If your open adoption ends up being like mine, we invite our son’s birth parents and other biological family over a few times a year for family gatherings. We want everyone to feel comfortable. They are all part of our extended family now. While a person may be at a low moment in life at the time of placement, often the reason for them creating an adoption plan is to not to just give their child a better life, but to also give them the ability to improve their own life.

I think that letting the expecting mother know that you will support her in any decision she makes is very important. It shows a great deal of respect. Yes, of course you want to be a parent and adoption is your goal in having this relationship with her, but her knowing that you will be ok if she decides to parent or picks another family over you, goes a long way in her trust in you as good people. But don’t just say it, MEAN IT! Get yourself in the right frame of mind before entering the relationship.  She is not there to make you a parent.  You are there to parent her child.

Starting off on the right foot with the expecting parents will help you in a lifelong respectful relationship that will be cherished by your child and all members of the adoption triad for years to come.

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Adoption and Holidays

family treeI hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  We were able to go see Ezra’s birth parents and siblings on Good Friday since Joe was home from Chicago and we all had some free time.  We all had our own things going on for Easter, so it was nice to spend a couple hours hanging out and catching up, plus we got to see their new house! We are all getting together again on Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate and I had a little gift picked out for T for Birth Mother’s Day to celebrate all 3 of her children, but of course, I couldn’t wait that long and gave it to her when we visited.  (She knows I am terrible at waiting!)

A year and a half into our adoption, new things are constantly coming up.  I am starting to think a lot more about how I will talk about Ezra’s adoption with him as he begins to understand what it means.  Holidays bring the unique relationship forefront.  Having an open adoption and often celebrating holidays together with all our extended family, brings a different dynamic to adoption.  Also, things come up between us and his birth parents now as we all try to navigate this process.  I LOVE how open J (Ezra’s first father) is with us about his feelings on the adoption. He is so honest and addresses things so respectfully.  He asked us on Friday what we would like for Ezra to call him and T moving forward.  Obviously Mommy and Daddy are reserved for me and Joe, and although J obviously longs for that title a little with Ezra, he also knows that it would be very confusing.  We tossed around a couple ideas and landed on just using first names for how Ezra will address them, but Joe and I will still talk to him about who they are.  Ezra also has biological siblings.  Isaac is Ezra’s brother as far as Ezra currently understands, but there will be a time where Ezra learns more about his biological siblings.  They are a couple years older than Ezra, so they already have a slightly better understanding of who he is to them.

With holidays, there is also the involvement of extended family and friends.  Whether it is on the child’s biological side of the family or the adoptive, when everyone get’s together, especially the first few times, it can be awkward.  The beauty is everyone is so in love with the child, there is that as an instant connection and bond.  Sometimes it can be a little strange though for people like me, who are ultra aware of other people’s feelings.  I am constantly over thinking, protecting, being cautious, and trying to stay politically correct or comforting.  So, I may fumble over the introduction when introducing Ezra’s birth parents to people.  Or I may feel uneasy saying “Come to mommy” to Ezra with his first parents right by me.  I may keep a watchful eye on conversations and interactions with different members of the family. With time, these fears are easing as our relationship grows.  We all love him so much and we just have to show Ezra that we are all willing to do EVERYTHING it takes to make his life the best we can.

This year’s Mother’s Day weekend cookout will be our third full family gathering.  A few people from my family that weren’t able to make it to the first events will be attending, so I am not out of the woods yet with my watchful monitoring, but I am sure it will go great.  I know new things will continually come up as we learn to navigate and understand open adoption, but I am glad I have support and amazing people in our journey to help us along.

So, there are a few things I would love your feedback on? Comment below.

1. What holidays are your favorites to celebrate with you child’s birth family (or adoptive, if you are a birth parent)?

2.  Have you ever had any hiccups between your family and the birth family at events? If so, what happened and how did you handle it?

3. What does your child call his/her first parents?

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I’m on the Radio!

Rodney Lear interview photoI went into the studio and recorded the interview for the Sunday Morning Magazine show yesterday, so now you have to do your part and tune in Sunday morning (April 13th)!

If you are in the Cincinnati listening area, you can tune in live on the radio, or if you are outside the station’s reach, you can click the links below and stream the show live.  I was super nervous, but Rodney did a great job putting me at ease and the conversation flowed naturally.  Tune in to the show for information about my adoption story and upcoming books!

Here’s the schedule for Sunday Morning Magazine with Rodney Lear 

Airs Sunday April 13th: (times are EST)

7:00 a.m. on WKRQ-FM (101.9)

7:00 a.m. on  WYGY-FM (97.3)

6:00 a.m. on WUBE-FM (105.1)

6:00 a.m. on WREW-FM (94.9)

Click picture to "Like" Sunday Morning Magazine on Facebook.

Click picture to “Like” Sunday Morning Magazine on Facebook.

A Look Back: Why were families so afraid to talk about adoption?

Cat-CatInBirthdayCakeYoureAdoptedI participated in a radio interview today and this question was one we weren’t able to get to, since we ran out of time.  I thought I would take it to the blog and address it here. I was a little worried about fumbling over my words in the interview on this question anyhow.

So, we’ve all seen the stories or had a friend or family member that didn’t know he/she was adopted until teen or adult years.  So the question is, why was the topic of adoption taboo?  I think this stems from a time of more closed adoptions. Adoption was a taboo subject for several reasons.

  • One of which is with infertility there is a bit of a stigma that is attached to it. Women have been placed in a role by society to have children. Men have a need to carry on the family name and lineage. With adoption their, so called, failure to do so is brought to attention.
  • Some people have the mindset that if God wanted someone to have children, He would grant that to them naturally, making it against God’s wishes.
  • Then there is the stigma of the child’s background. In closed adoptions, the adoptive parents were given very little to no information about the birth parents.  This lead to confusion or an inability to discuss the unknown.
  • Another reason adoption used to not be commonly talked about, was also the parent’s own insecurities of losing their status as “parents” to the child.  If their child ever questioned their biological roots, this may have made the adoptive parents feel inadequate or insecure and fear they may lose their child.  They may not have had many answers about the birth parents, so they avoided the subject all together. If or when the child learned of their adoption, then it was often awkward for all parties to discuss.
  • Often parents in closed adoptions also feared there was no “right time” to tell the child.  If the adoption wasn’t open, knowledge of the birth parents or a relationship with them wasn’t present, some parents may not have felt equipped to tell their child and answer the difficult questions, so they put it off.
  • Sometimes families adopted children from within the same family.  The adoption was kept a secret so there was not any confusion as to who the parent was.  The biological parent may have been a sister or close aunt or cousin.  So, while a relationship with the biological parent may have existed, the knowledge was withheld.

What other reasons can you think of that made the topic of adoption taboo or reasons why parents may have kept the adoptive status of their child a secret?

Sunday Morning Magazine Show

sunday morningI am so excited!  I am in Chicago this week visiting my husband with the kids while he works here for one of his clients.  He has been coming home on weekends, but since it’s Spring Break for Isaac, we decided to come to him and take in some of the city and things to do.  I have been trying to work on the blog here and there, but with also working and my boys coming down with colds, I haven’t posted.

A couple days ago I woke up and was checking my email, as I do every morning upon waking up, and I had an email from Rodney Lear at Q102 (WKRQ Cincinnati).  Mr. Lear was inviting me to be a guest on his radio show to talk about adoption!  After I read the email like 4 times, forwarded it to my husband, texted my husband saying READ YOUR EMAIL NOW, I responded that I would love to participate!

The interview segment is prerecorded, so I’ll be going into the studio on Thursday, April 10th.  He said he expects the interview will air on Sunday, April 13th.  I am sooooo nervous and yet, so excited!  Obviously adoption is something I am passionate about and I hope that this will really open some doors for people to understand adoption more!

For all you out-of-towners, don’t worry, the show is also streamed online.

Here’s the schedule for Sunday Morning Magazine with Rodney Lear 

Airs Sunday April 13th: (times are EST)

7:00 a.m. on WKRQ-FM (101.9)

7:00 a.m. on  WYGY-FM (97.3)

6:00 a.m. on WUBE-FM (105.1)

6 :00 a.m. on WREW-FM (94.9)

For everyone that can’t listen, I will do my best to get a link or file to upload to the blog as soon as I can after it airs.  Thank you so much for your support!

cincinnati

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Authors Needed

logo-theme1Hey guys, I wanted to let you know about a project I am helping a friend with.  Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart and Open Arms, was asked by Adoption.com to gather stories from domestic adoptive parents for a book they are putting together.  This book will feature about 25 chapters, each telling a story and giving one piece of advice about adoption that you would give someone just entering adoption.  Each author’s submission will be a stand alone chapter.  If this is something you’d be interested in doing, please see the criteria below:

  • Must be an adoptive parent or potential adoptive parent through domestic adoption.
  • The entry cannot have previously (or if selected, in the future) posted to any blog, article or book.
  • Must be approximately 1500 words.
  • Must lend “one piece of advice”.
  • Can submit using real name, pseudonym or anonymous.
  • Permission from anyone named in the submission, otherwise change names or use generic terms like “my son, birth mom, husband, wife” etc.
  • Due ASAP, we are behind schedule.

This is an unpaid project that will serve as an educational piece to help future adoptive families through Adoption.com.  Time is of the essence for this project.  It is behind schedule and we are looking for 5 additional entries to quickly complete this project.  Please email me your submissions to 1grewinmyheart@gmail.com

If you are interested in Russell’s books about adoption, please visit my book review’s page to see a description and a link to purchase his books.  Thanks!

The Thing I Love Most About Open Adoption

mineA few nights ago I realized my favorite part of open adoption. It is sharing my proudest moments with someone else that is equally proud! I just LOVE when my son does something new and I can share it with his birth mom. Sure I can say it to my family or post it on Facebook. It may even get a bunch of likes and comments. But other than his birth parents, no one is quite the same level of proud of him as we are. That is a very special bond.

My husband has been away on business for a few weeks.  He has luckily been given the ability to come home for the weekend to spend time with us (and because he teaches a Saturday class at a local college).  This weekend we tried basking in as much family time as possible.  Friday after we picked up Isaac from school, we went out to dinner and since the weather was perfect, we headed to the outlet mall to get the boys some new gym shoes.  When we returned home, the boys still wanted to be outside (Ezra loves being outside and is constantly running to the door saying “side”).  Joe and Isaac were tossing the football around and Ezra was just cruising around the driveway and the yard in his new Nike’s.  Of course, like any proud mom with an iPhone, I was snapping pictures.  Then I remembered that T, his birth mom, had asked if he was starting to run yet.  So when he was chasing the dog, dad and brother around the yard, I switched the camera to video mode and recorded a little one minute clip of him running around and “playing” football.  I couldn’t wait to send it to her!

Her response was pure joy!  “Look at him run.  I love it.  It almost looks like he’s been running and walking for years!”  I typed back “he’s a pro!” and her next message was when it hit me… she said “I’m so proud.”   It is those moments that I know that no matter how many likes a picture gets on Facebook or how many oohs and ahhs grandparents, friends or other family members give, no one else in the world shares the same love for him with me and Joe as his birth parents do.  They’ll never tire of seeing pictures that look exactly the same as the ones I took the day before.  They’ll never think I talk too much about him.  They’ll never think “Gosh this woman is obsessed with her baby.”.  They get it.  They are still his parents too, even if they aren’t parenting him.  They are proud of him.  They love him.  They take joy in his happiness.

So many people are still scared off by open adoption, simply because they don’t understand it.  Open adoption is not co-parenting or fearing that my status as “Mom” is at risk.  It is sharing the joy of a child that is loved by many.  Imagine depriving them that joy of knowing how he is doing, that would be a terrible heartache to be responsible for causing.  Being able to share with him their love, well that in itself is very special.  He will know he is precious, loved and cherished.

“He is mine in a way he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.”

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