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 #48.
Why has or hasn’t openness worked for you?
If you are in a healthy functional open adoption, why do you think it’s working? If it doesn’t work, why do you think it stopped working? Do you think the success or failure was about education and expectations going in? Do you think it was that your personalities matched or clashed? Do you think there is something you do or did during the relationship that kept it going or was there a certain point that it changed the relationship from bad to good? Was it a mixture of all of these things?
I’m going to start with the easiest relationship. We don’t have a relationship with K, Jackson’s birth father. K didn’t want anything to do with us. From time to time, he pops back up in S’s life. Apparently, the last time, he asked S if she thought we might want to talk to him sometime. But that was months ago, and we haven’t heard anything from her about him. In that relationship, openness hasn’t worked, entirely because of K’s attitude.
I haven’t heard from Harris, Cassie’s birth father, since January. He was very much in favor of open adoption – well, as in favor as one can be when one didn’t really have a choice about adoption in the first place – and he would call or text and ask for pictures and updates. However, he didn’t meet up with us in Baton Rouge, and I still am not 100% sure why. I have sent him a few pictures via text messages, but have not received a response. Openness isn’t really working here. I’ll keep doing my part, and hope that he will come around.
For the most part, I’d say that our open adoption with S and her family is successful. I think if anyone is the stumbling block in that relationship right now, it’s me. (Sometimes it’s S, but not now; now it’s definitely me.) I’m friends with S, her sister, and S’s daughter’s father’s mother on Facebook. S’s mother sometimes calls and chats. I’ve been less than timely with my photo and letter updates, but I hope S knows that she can always call, text, message me, etc. to know what’s going on. Jackson has recently expressed a desire to visit, and I hope we can accommodate that next year.
What makes the open adoption with S and her family successful? Perhaps because we both believe in it. I know it’s better for Jackson. Perhaps because we’ve known each other for so long. I don’t feel as strange about calling S’s mom now, when, in the beginning, she scared me. (Long story. I may have written about it. I’ll have to look.) Perhaps because S is a really upbeat person, who really does try to make lemonade out of life’s lemons. The prompt talks about education. I read The Open Adoption Experience when we were matched with S, and I gave her a copy of the book too. I’m not sure if she read it. However, that was the only education either of us had, pre-birth, about open adoption.
Our open adoption with Laine is harder to talk about. I definitely feel that I am not living up to Laine’s expectations. We’re Facebook friends. We chat and text. I suppose, on paper, it’s successful. Laine can and does ask for photos and updates in between my “official” ones that are late. She lets me know where she’s at so I can send the updates. She sends me pictures of herself and her children. We’re just not that close yet. I’m hoping that comes with time.
I definitely feel that Laine and I are very different types of people, where S and I have more in common. That’s sort of funny, because Laine is much closer in age to me than S is. Certainly, it’s easier to have relationships with people when you have more common. However, people without much in common have decent relationships too. My point is, personality probably plays a part in open adoption relationships, but it’s not the only part.
I really just think that believing is the key. But, how do you get someone to believe? That’s another topic entirely.