Monday, April 11, 2011
Case in point, my reaction to comments here on my blog.
I love blogging because of the incredible network of people who reach out and offer advice and words of encouragement. Even if they are not someone from the adoption world.
I love that.
With the good comes the bad. And fortunately I have had very few negative comments here on my blog. I know I am lucky.
However, even comments meant to be supportive of my position sometimes stir up a response of defensiveness in me.
This time it came in the form of defensiveness about "my" adoptive parents.
Yes, I lament about wanting more of a relationship with them. I express hurt and pain. But just like a parent is protective of their child, I find myself becoming very protective of my a-parents too.
Almost all comments on my blog are lovely and supportive of both me and the parents of Brit. But occasionally one creeps in here that is not complimentary.
When that happens, my initial reaction is "Hey, don't you say negative things about my a-parents, you don't know their intentions or their heart!" Yes, I know, ironic considering this is the place where I speak longingly of how I wish they would reach out to me more.
But I love them. I love what they do provide to my child. I love who they are as people. I don't believe they do anything out of ill intentions. They are just like me. We are human, just trying to do the best we possibly can. We are Christians looking for God's guidance with a situation we don't have any experience dealing with.
They did not deceive me to get my baby. Their actions all make perfect sense. They are up front with me about why they feel like they do and why they act like they do. I don't have to speculate, because they have been honest in all communication with me and the BF.
They do not do one thing and say another. The unmet expections that I have had with them stem from the grey area that we left undefined prior to Brit's birth. I should have been more clear. When I said I wanted for us to have a family visit before the end of summer, I should have confirmed with them that they would be willing to do that. Instead I assumed that since they didn't say no, it would happen. But even if we had agreed to the visit, I still don't know if it would have happened, based upon the emotions they were feeling at that time.
We just didn't know what an adoption relationship would be like. And the strong feelings we would all have to work through.
To clear up some details, we had no formal agreement. Every interaction between Brit's parents and me is by our own free will. We had a private adoption with no agency involved. No social worker. No plan.
So we are navigating a path that none of the four of us know anything about. Both Brit's mom and I read lots of books before the adoption. Only speaking from my perspective, but when I read them, I found myself thinking, "That doesn't apply to US. We are all good friends. We can figure this out."
For the most part that is true. We still communicate. And I firmly believe we all love and respect each other. We simply see open adoption differently. I see it as an active relationship. I would describe their perspective as a passive relationship.
We just didn't know what it would really feel like when we all got home from the hospital. I would never ever judge Brit's mom's actions or reactions because she had just become a first time mom.
I remember what that was like and it is alot of guessing, crying, little sleep and an overwhelming feeling of love that you never even knew existed.
But what I don't have any experience with is what that would be like coupled with the knowledge that my joy came with the grief of another mother.
If the adoption would have been closed she would not have known. If she didn't care about me, it wouldn't have bothered her. She would have just been able to focus on her child.
But Brit's parents are good people. It did matter to them that my heart hurt. But they also needed to protect their own hearts. They had to deal with their feelings and emotions just like I had to deal with mine. Unfortuately, the way that they dealt with their emotions made mine worse. I don't believe they knew that. Neither one of us could read the mind of the other.
One of the comments I received talked about how adoption relationships take work, just like other relationships. The difficult part about adoption relationships is that there are few resources to help us navigate through them. Very few of us have ever seen an example of an open adoption (until we enter into one ourselves and we seek those out here in the cyber world!). Global Librarian was right on the money with those thoughts. So very true.
I also appreciated the comments from Faith about how we shouldn't judge the a-parents just because I want a relationship that looks a certain way, and Brit's parents might not.
She is also very right to that point.
They have every "right" to feel like they do, just like I have every "right" to my own feelings.
I think it is very encouraging that we all can say how we are feeling to each other. I am so glad I don't have an agency that we are working through. Sure, maybe it would have been easier sometimes, but I want a REAL relationship with Brit's parents. And that means having easy and tough conversations directly with each other.
If Brit's parents were to ever contact me or BF and say that they have decided that they want one visit per year and quarterly emails with pictures, then I will honor that decision. I will wish for more, but I chose them as the parents of Brit. They get to decide. Just like Brit will get to decide later if she wants to continue to have a relationship with me and BF. I wish I could be part of that decision, but as we all know, birthparents have no legal recourse. By design. It is unfortunate, but I understand completely why it is this way.
I recognize that my situation is a bit unique. Most birthmothers are not over 35, parenting other children, financially sound and without addiction issues. I am not the stereo-typical birthmom. However, I have found that there are others like me. Birthmothers can be your neighbor.
I believe that a very open adoption relationship would be very healthy for all of us. We live close. We are all stable adults. We share the same faith. And from my research, children in very open adoptions are well adjusted and are less likely to describe their adoption situation as a negative experience.
I don't want Brit to ever have negative feelings about the way her family was created. I want her to feel special. We chose her parents so she could have the very best. I want to be a part of her life so she doesn't wonder and so the story is always clear. I want her to experience knowing both families her entire life.
I believe this would be the best situation for Brit, but what makes me the expert? I think I know what would be best, but maybe I don't. I certainly believe that not all adopted children in closed adoptions harbor ill feelings or will be poorly adjusted adults. My first husband was adopted in a closed adoption relationship and he has no ill feelings toward any of his parents.
But I must trust that God's hand is in this relationship. If it weren't such a personal story that belongs to Brit's parents, I would share how they came into our lives and how perfect God's timing was in both Brit's parents journey to become parents, and our journey to find parents for Brit. There are no coincidences here. God orchestrated something that we could not have planned even if we tried.
I am fortunate to have chosen parents who I know have a faith in God like I do. They do not make rash decisions. They prayerfully consider what is best for their family.
So here is the peace that I have come to. This belongs to God. Brit is loved and cared for. I have absolutely nothing to worry about. And my desires to have more connection to her and her family are for Him to orchestrate once again.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
PS - Thank you everyone for the comments both positive and negative. It is so good for me to hear and see differening perspectives on this topic. It has made me more understanding and increased my compassion for everyone in the adoption triad. I appreciate each comment for the value it adds.