Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's all perspective

This blog is written by a birthmother who wants a fully open adoption.

Therefore many of my followers are birthmothers or adoptive parents who support open adoption.  A few are adoptees who help me with perspective.

Irregardless of your role, you are all so good to me.  You have supported me through really tough patches.  You encourage me.  And many of you pray for me, some daily!

Thank you dear blog friends.

But today I feel a heavy conviction on my heart about defending Brit's parents and their character. 

I hope that I have never written things that would make them seem like bad people.  Because they aren't.  I chose them to parent my child.  I picked them because I thought they would be awesome parents to my daughter.  Since the adoption happened, things have changed.  Things I desperately wish were different.  Things that I continue to think will change with time (hopefully less time rather than more).

So today I am reminding myself (and sharing with you) why I chose Brit's parents in the first place. 

When we were choosing parents for our precious child, BF and I had a few things that were important to us.  They included:
  • A married couple who had not yet had or adopted any children (Although we hoped they would be able to adopt more children some day). 
  • We wanted them to be youthful so they could enjoy being a first time parent with an active child. 
  • We wanted them to live near us.  (That was an ambiguous term because we weren't sure how close, but we knew we wanted them to be within a drive). 
  • I absolutely had to choose a Christian couple.  This was non-negotiable to me.

Some of the reasons we chose them specifically to parent our child included:
  1. They are a Christian couple with an active faith.
  2. They love each other and seem to have a strong marriage based on faith and mutual respect of each other.
  3. They were young and full of energy to devote to a child.
  4. They are a couple of average financial means.  Not wealthy.  Just working middle-class.  Like Brit's BF and I are.
  5. They live geographically close (really close) to me and Brit's BF.  This was important to us because we wanted Brit to grow up having similar experiences as her brothers.  We felt like living in the same community would give them all commonality.
  6. They have a strong tie to their families.  Brit's father's parents live down the street from them.  Close enough that Brit can walk to grandma and grandpa's house.
  7. They seemed to share similar parenting philosophy with us.  Easy going about most things, but with loving guidance.
But more than all of that, when we met them and talked to them, we liked them.  They were people we wanted to be friends with.  They are funny.  They were real around us.  It was like meeting a new couple that you hope you can stay friends with because the guys get along and the girls get along.

I felt that when we were with them.  I wanted to share the rest of my life with them.  Which I knew was what would happen when they adopted our child.  We would be forever connected.

Adoption happened and things changed.  Our relationship disintegrated because we didn't know how to navigate through open adoption once we were faced with it as a reality and not a concept.

But I do not believe their character changed.  I still believe that they are good people who truly believe they are making the best decisions for their family.

You all get to hear my inner thoughts on a routine basis.  Brit's mother doesn't.  (Unless she reads this blog, which I hope she does.)  So I don't know if she truly understands how badly I long for a relationship with her and with Brit. (I would like to think I have been extremely clear about this, but I will again give the benefit of the doubt.)

We all act and react using what we know and what we believe to be the best decision based on the information we have. Sometimes we make decisions based on what hurts the least.

I think this is where they are at.  I don't know.  Adoption was harder than they expected.  I get that.  I am living those feelings too.

But here is some perspective I have been trying to give myself lately. 

What if I had been a birthmother who needed space and didn't want to have any interaction with my daughter's adoptive parents right now because it was too hard?

Should I have been expected to have visits with Brit, even if my pain was so great that I didn't think I could live through it?

I would guess most people would say no, I should have had the option to wait until my heart had healed more. (I would hope that many of you would have also said to me that I should reconsider that decision. Even though I might have felt like a relationship and/or visits would have been hard, it would be worth it for the sake of my daughter's long-term well being.)

So am I extending enough grace to parents who might be feeling the same way?

I would like to think that I am.  Some days better than others.

Truthfully they have not cut me out of her life.  They do send monthly emails with pictures and stories.  That is a blessing.

We are two couples with a difference of perspective on open adoption.  They have even said to me before that while they know I believe a more open adoption would be beneficial, they know other people who think they are being more than generous by including me in Brit's life with what they do provide. (I promise I did not scream out loud when that was said to me - just in my head.  I did cry a little harder after it was said.)

They are hearing things every day too.  Apparently we are not listening to the same people.  So the information they are using to base their decisions of openness on are nothing like the information I have from those of you who are living beautiful (not necessarily easy) fully open adoptions.

I get the impression that they see open adoption as information sharing.  I see it as a living relationship.

I sure do wish there was a way to get all the hurt and pain out of the way here. I want us to come to a place where all of our action put Brit's relationship with both of her families, birth and adopted, at the forefront of the adults decisions.

Now, how to get everyone on the same page?...


A Life Being Lived said...

Even through the difficulties of navigating the relationship "post-adoption" you still manage to keep an open mind and positive outlook. I so admire you! It is so clear that your wants and desires are 100% what is best for Brit. I really hope some time and understanding can bring you all closer together! You share such a special little girl together.

J said...

It's hard, as an outsider (admittedly outsiders don't have close to all the information there is) -- to understand how this changed the instant they had Brit.

Like you said, her mom never accepted your friend's request on Facebook, surely the people in their lives voiced their opinions about open adoption while they were supporting you throughout the pregnancy? If it's difficult, why won't they attend therapy sessions geared towards navigating your relationship as 4 parents to one little girl?... It doesn't sound like they want to even try to make this any other way. They know they can always withdraw again if it goes badly, they've withdrawn before.

I'm sure they have many wonderful qualities too, it's just really, really hard not to see the relinquishing parents (and the kiddo) as the victims in these types of situation.

Katelyn Shaw said...

I'm a birth mother and adoptive mother. I have an open adoption with the child that I placed and a closed adoption with the child that I adopted. Most of this wasn't by choice but by force. I understand their side as well as yours. I commend you for defending them. For remembering why you decided to place with them. I commend you and BF for standing your ground and keeping your end of the deal. Adoption is a road of communication. When the communication breaks down things can happen we aren't really prepared for. I believe they are doing what they feel is best for Brit. I've read time and time again people comment and say that they are doing her a huge disservice.... The things is... they clearly believe they aren't. I'm in no way saying they are right. I believe open adoption is best for both the birth parents and the child. Living both open and closed adoption is hard. I'd love to change it. I don't really have much choice.

ms. marginalia said...

I keep thinking about how adoption is *supposed* to be about making things *better* for the child, and parents are supposed to make decisions based on the child's best interests. I was that child, in a closed system. I hate closed anything. I don't think secrets are good in any way, shape, or form because children internalize them, no matter what the parents say, and take them t mean that there is something wrong with *themselves*.

I am sorry that the open adoption you wanted didn't end up being the village of your dreams. That is unfortunate, because it probably would have been the best option after keeping her and raising her yourself. I wish I knew what their parental reasons were for keeping her sheltered. I am sure they have their justifications; maybe they are finding Christian reasons for them. I hesistate to suggest what those might be, however. Are they worried that you were an unwed mother? Seriously? I cannot even begin to figure it out.

As you said, perhaps prayer and time will soften their ways. Maybe not. But eventually Brit will be an adult and able to make up her own mind. I hope change will come long before then. In the meantime, the pictures and e-mail are something for you. Not enough, by any means, but something. It sucks.

Adoption leaves wounds, and we carry them with us forever. They eventually scar, but they are with us. At some point, we cannot lament what we've lost anymore, just enjoy what we have going forward. I am sad that I lost 42 years with my first mother, but as she says, there's nothing we can do about that now. Let's enjoy the little things today. She and I are are so alike, and no one can take *that* away from us.

Anonymous said...

They are not good people.