Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Disclaimer to Birth mothers and Adoptive Families....

I have recently commented on a few blogs that are adoption related. I was a little bit concerned about leaving comments because people can find my blog. If you read the archive, you will see that we have had a really hard time w/ our birth mother. I don't go into much detail (because it isn't necessary) but I think that at one point I call her crazy and say that I am glad we don't have to deal with her anymore. I would never want to add to the fears of any birth mother that an adoptive family would distance themselves from her or just decide to stop contact. This was not the case with us, and because all the details aren't public, it is hard for you to know that our decision was based on many, many issues that stretched over the space of many months. I am not talking about things like "birth mother wants to spend time alone w/ the child" or "she wants more visits then I do." I am talking about dangerous, disrespectful, illegal, and hurtful things done on the part of our birth mother. Most people would NEVER dream of treating others the way we were treated, let alone the family that they chose to raise their child. This decision was a last resort for us and was not made lightly. Please believe this.

I have been "called out" by several members of the adoption community (birth mothers and adoptive families) for having this story public. I am aware that this is the thing that most birth mothers fear the most. Open adoptions are not legally binding in most states and it is a good faith agreement. Remember that phrase--GOOD FAITH. In our case, the good faith totally broke down. For an open adoption to work, both sides must be very clear about what their expectation is. It is my opinion that a family that actively seeks to enter into an open adoption is usually interested in keeping the the birth family in the picture. The birth parent may not have the physical care of the child, but in an open adoption the birth family plays a part in the emotional and spiritual development of the child and the the whole family. Most people who seek open adoption are looking to add you to the circle of their family. They know that things won't always be perfect. They know that there may be painful things in the future, but they are convinced that openness in the relationships between all parties is the healthiest thing for the child and family. They are willing to talk things out and work through any issues that may come up because they believe in their choice. Those that aren't willing to do this usually choose semi-open. Ask questions and be honest with your families about what you expect. However, as a mother it is my duty to protect my children. Any person who causes my family harm is no longer welcome in our circle. PERIOD. If these things had been done by my own mother, my siblings or husband the action would have been the same. There are consequences for all of our actions. If you hurt my children, steal from me and cause severe emotional trauma, you are not welcome in my life. Birth mother or not.

I am sorry if this story is upsetting for others to read or adds to the fears of those of you considering open adoption. You should try living it. In many ways, we are experiencing the worst fears of an adoptive family. Our lives have been changed in more ways that I could have ever imagined and the hurt goes very deep. It will be many, many years before we are able to recover financially, emotionally and legally. Believe it or not, for me the worst part of this is the loss of the open relationship. I grieve for the fact that my son will no longer have contact w/ his brothers. I miss speaking with his birth mother. If I had a question about him or just wanted to share a funny thing he did, I could call her. I don't have that now. I am angry that someday I will have to share this part of the story with him. I am frustrated that the open relationship that we really, really wanted has been taken from us. It cuts both ways. We still love her and will always respect her choice to place Jacob with us. She will still get pictures and a letter once a year (that was the original agreement, we had been getting along so well it progressed from there to weekly calls, visits, etc). She will always be a special person to us for the reason that she brought our son to us. We are hoping that distance and time can heal the other stuff.

If you are a birth mother reading this, please feel free to contact me if you have concerns about the things I have written. I am happy to give details on an individual basis. Please let me be the first to reassure you that our situation is the exception, not the rule and it this was the absolute last resort. If you plan on treating your adoptive family with respect and love and honor the relationship that all of you share, you will have nothing to worry about. If you jeopardize the safety and happiness of the adoptive family, I would imagine that you would be cut off as well. That is just the way it is.

No one else's story will be the same as mine. I am sure that there are birth mothers out there that have been cut off from their adoptive families and didn't do any thing wrong. There are no guarantees in any of this. I am sorry that this has to be an aspect of it. I choose to embrace what has happened to us and not pretend it didn't happen. When we adopt again, we plan on having an open adoption again. We might be a bit more guarded, but we don't plan on punishing the next birth mother for the actions of the previous one. In fact, we are even MORE hopeful for an open relationship next time.

As I reread this I am afraid that it seems like this is something I am defensive about or dwell on. It isn't really. I don't really think about it as much as I used to. If you notice, my blog does not center mostly on adoption. It is about my life and my family. Adoption is a part of that, but a very small part. My days are spent enjoying my children (or not enjoying them so much on some days), spending time w/ my friends and their children and trying to keep the house picked up and the laundry done. It is the same with my son. The adoption aspect of it only really comes up when someone makes a comment or I get a comment about this blog. Adoption is not a part of our daily conversation. Jacob is my son first. He is charming, funny and sweet. He is all of these things to me before he is my adopted child. My daughter is beautiful, sweet, smart and a little bit of a pill these days before she is my biological child. I am responding to the comments and requests that I have gotten as a result of this blog. I also want to be fair to those that come to this blog and may not understand the whole story. Almost everyone who reads this blog is someone I know, but lately there have been visitors that I don't know and I want to present an accurate picture. If you are unhappy with the way I choose to do things, that is fine. Live your own life differently. If you feel the need to comment, I guess that is OK too because we are all entitled to our own opinion. I only ask that you be respectful of my decisions and I will be respectful of yours. Discussion is fine, opinions are fine, asking questions is fine--hurtful words, inflammatory comments and disrespect is not. I am always happy to answer questions or offer help. I am a huge fan of open adoptions and feel that our story on how it didn't work out can be as helpful as the ones where it is a roaring success.

Thank you for taking to time to understand where I am coming from.


more caffeine, please said...

I found your blog through Jenny Eckton and I support your story - and your actions. I myself was adopted by my dad and my birth father isn't the greatest. Glad to know of him (no false expectations), more glad he's out of the picture. I have six first-cousins who are adopted (3 international), 3 open-adoptions. Two of the open adoptions have worked out great, one of them sounds very similar to your experience. YOU are the mother, that is what adoption is about. So good for you!

Bek said...

Thank you!! I just really felt that I didn't want to scare any birth mothers away or have them make a judgement based on less then the whole story. I wanted them to know that our situation was a little different. I also didn't want to delete stuff, because it is my reality and it is what really happened. When I found out some of them were reading my blog...I felt bad. I really appreicate your comment. I will ALWAYS take good comments!!

I have read your blog too (guilty lurker here) and I found YOU via Jenny Eckton!! I loved the pink, but the new blue is cool too. Your son looks JUST like you! I also know CJane's brother and his wife. Oh what an incestious blog world it is!!

Thanks again for your support. It's nice to hear it. I am also happy to hear about other open adoptions that work. Most of them do...I am curious though about how your cousins feel about it? You don't have to answer here, but it makes me wonder at what point I let the child make the choice about contact....hmmmmmm.

kim.kim said...

If you don't mind me knowing do you have link to the original post about the breakdown of your relationship or can you explain what it is she did that was dangerous and crazy? I am sorry this happened it must have been awful for you all.

more caffeine, please said...

My two aunts have done pretty well with handling the adoptions. The first one has two girls from Korea who are teenagers now. She took them back to Korea this summer and they went to the orphanage where they were found. It was very humbling for them to see where they came from and how poor the people are in the village the were born in. They don't know their birth moms and after that trip, they feel they don't really want to. She also has a son from Guatamala who is 14 and doesn't want to know his family. (Mom had 4 kids she kept, he was the 5th, dropped him off to the LDS missionaries and told them to give him a home where his dad wouldn't beat him). He suffers effects from fetal-alcohol syndrome as well so he's pretty ticked off at his real mom and doesn't want to know her.

As for the two others, their open adoptions have gone well, with pretty minimum contact as one's real father is in prison and, how wierd is this, his birth mother converted to the church after my brother (so her son's cousin) unknowingly taught and converted her on his mission in Ohio. How wierd is that?! These two are 8 and 12 and they kind of make fun of their birth parents. As bad as that sounds, they do it lightheartedly as they know how much better off they are. Obviously they know they're adopted since they are black and our family is not, so I think my aunt and uncle have just let them take the lead on how much they want to know becuase they feel pretty confident that their kids will realize that they are in the family they are supposed to be in, and are much, much better off. :-)

Christy said...

I really don't have anything to add to your post. I just wanted to say thanks for posting that.

cyndi k. wren said...

hear, hear bek! well said.

LuckyRedHen said...

I just read this post and COMMEND you for your honesty. Too many people live with rose colored glasses on believing in fairy tale endings.

My birth father left my mom and I when I was 1; mom remarried when I was 5. I never had contact with the-guy-who-spermed-my-mom-to-get-me (they were married) until I was 25. I figured might as well so I won't ever have to wonder what he looked like, talked like, etc. I wasn't looking for a replacement for my daddy but there was a curiosity and being an adult made it easier because I wasn't doing it for revenge. I did ask my dad first, to make sure his feelings wouldn't be hurt and he said, "You'll love a lot of people in your lifetime and I know you will always love me no matter how many there are." Dang good dad. When I met my bio-dad he shook my hand and said, "Nice to meet you." I said back, "Nice to finally meet you." That was it. No Sally Jesse Raphael moment. It was lovely and I'm glad we met because he is a good man now (back then when he left he was an alcoholic, so it's good he left), his wife is AWESOME and my kids have another set of grandparents to love them. I asked him why he never contacted me growing up and he replied, "It wasn't my right to interupt your life and mess it up." He waited until it worked for me. I am glad it took that long because I don't know if I would've been in the right place emotionally to handle it earlier. By 25 I was independant and confident in my place in the world.

I don't know why I just spilled all my beans to you, but as a partially adopted child with an absent bio-parent I feel responsible to share my experience to the benefit of others than could us it. So for what it's worth, good luck and keep on keepin' on!