Open Adoption Roundtable #35: Grandparents

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. We’re now at Open Adoption Roundtable #35.

Write about grandparents in open adoption.

I’ve known that I wanted to adopt since I was 13. My mother was one of the few who never said, “You’ll change your mind” with a knowing look. Originally, I wanted to adopt from Romania. It closed. Then, we looked at Russia. They wanted the mother to be the picture of health. So, we were looking at other countries, like Ethiopia. I asked my mom how she would feel if her grandchildren were Black. She said, “I don’t care if they’re Black, Korean, or blue, as long as I’m Grandma!” She was amazing with Jackson, and spoiled him rotten. When someone at the Senior Center expressed disapproval at the fact that my mom had a Black grandson, my mother put that racist witch in her place.

However, my mother never did like to hear about S. She didn’t think we should be talking to her or sending her pictures. I learned not to mention S in her presence.

My grandmother once told me, somewhat out of the blue, that she thought it was “just wonderful” that we were adopting. She grew up in the foster care system. She has 15 great-grandchildren now, and she very clearly loves them all. I think she loves whomever the baby is the most. I don’t think she cares one way or the other about the children’s birth families. She doesn’t ask about them, but doesn’t make comments when we bring them up.

My in-laws expressed some concern over whether they could love an adopted grandchild the same as they would a biological one. I guess they’ll never know if it’s the same (Max is an only child), but I can tell you that Grandma Sandy loves both Jackson and Cassie very much. I’m not sure if I saw Sandy cry at her Dad’s funeral, but she cried when she had to  leave after visiting Jackson for the first time. Grandpa Clyde hasn’t met Cassie yet, but he was taken with Jackson when they first met. Now, he’d do just about anything for the boy (including, if we would let him, buy the boy a dog).

I don’t think Grandma Sandy thinks very highly of our children’s birth parents, but again, we don’t talk much about them with her. I could be wrong.

On the biological side, the grandparent with whom we have the most contact is Jackson’s birthmother’s mother. I think I’ve called her “Greta” the few times I’ve talked about her on the blog. (Her real name also starts with S, so I can’t just use her initial. Besides, names are so much nicer, even if they’re not real.) At first, I thought Greta hated me. She might have, at first. But in the years since, and especially in this last year, we’ve gotten a lot more friendly. I think Jackson is a big part of that. He now cares about his birth family and wants to know them. For the first time, he got a birthday card from Greta and her husband (not S’s father). He was very excited about it. He wants to know that they love him, and the card  and phone calls show him that they do. For a long time, I kept our relationship with Greta because she was our link to S. Now, I feel like keeping our relationship with Greta because of who she is and how much she loves Jackson.

We met Cassie’s birth grandfather, whom I’ll call “Corbett”, while we were in Louisiana. Laine lives with him. He’s a good guy. I don’t know how much of a relationship we’ll have with him, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

As for all of the other grandparents? Well, my Dad is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” He dotes on Jackson, but doesn’t say much about how he feels. Jackson’s birthfather has chosen not to be a part of his life. We met S’s father, but his presence in her life is on again, off again. There’s potential for a relationship with Cassie’s birthfather’s family, I think, but it’s too soon to tell.

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