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 up to Open Adoption Roundtable #42.
Think about a time when your child has been injured or sick (or for adoptees, when you have been injured or sick). Did adoption change or complicate that experience at all? Did you share it with others in your adoption constellation? You might write about an actual experience you have had or think about what you ideally would want to have happen.
At first, I didn’t think I had an answer. Then I remembered the day Cassie tried to eat the coffee table.
It was in July. Cassie had just gotten her two bottom teeth – the only teeth she had. She was pulling up and cruising. I was folding laundry on the couch. She pulled up on the coffee table and started to chew on the edge. I said, “Well that’s not a good idea” and started to get up to pick her up. She fell backwards. Crying ensued. So did bleeding. A lot of bleeding. I brought her to the kitchen where Max and Jackson were. I gave her to Max while I got a washcloth to stop the blood. Her front right tooth was hanging out of her mouth. It was horizontal. I pushed it back in, wiped up the blood, and got out an ice pack. I called the dentist.* It turned out, Cassie’s tooth was fine. It’s just really crooked. It won’t affect her adult teeth. I did the right thing by pushing it back.
I didn’t tell Laine or Harris until I sent them their updates. I couldn’t bear it. I mean, Harris’s rights had just been terminated, and here I had damaged the baby. OK, the baby damaged herself, but I watched her. Fortunately, neither Laine nor Harris mentioned it. I still felt awful.
Adoption is often painted as the adoptive parents providing a better life for the child. (Whether it’s better or just different is a topic for another post.) When Cassie hurt herself, I felt like I had somehow failed in that, even if just for a moment.
On the flip side, Jackson has an older (half) brother, Iggy. When he was just shy of 3-years old, Iggy had an 8-minute seizure that resulted in him losing his sight, as well as permanent brain damage. He is epileptic and possibly autistic. Both S and I waited for Jackson to turn 3 with bated breath. We were both concerned that Jackson might turn out to be epileptic as well. It didn’t happen.
That’s one place where openness is really necessary: Medical information. I think it’s so important to have access to any medical information my children’s birthparents can provide. I hope that we have access to medical information from Jackson’s birthfather someday, and that all of the other birthparents will keep us updated with their families’ medical issues.
* This was a weekend, so I called the emergency number on the dentist’s office voicemail. It turns out, it’s the main dentist’s cell phone. She called back several hours later, because she was on vacation in Washington, DC. Don’t you think, if there are multiple dentists in your practice, and you’re on vacation, you might put someone else’s cell number on the voicemail? Anyway…