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. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them. 

Write a response at your blog–linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs–and share your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is fine; I’d appreciate it if you’d add a link back to the roundtable. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

We’ve written about siblings in open adoptions twice before. Now we’re going to look in the other generational direction: grandparents. While the legal processes of placing and adopting focus on the triad of first parents-child-adoptive parents, the reality is that adoption involves extended family, too. So this time we’re offering up a nice, broad prompt to reflect on the influence of, relationships with, and experiences of grandparents in our open adoptions (whichever grandparents you choose).

Write about grandparents in open adoption.

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Excerpts from the responses:

Monika (first parent) @ Monika’s Musings: “I know as the child of an adoptee that I’ve missed having access to a whole set of relatives I never knew. It’s not like I loved my grandparents any less knowing that my dad was adopted. I just knew that I was missing out on a possible relationship with more people. I translate that desire easily into Mack possibly wanting a relationship with her biological grandparents (and other extended relatives too) as she grows. But right now, we wait.”

KatjaMichelle (first mom) @ Therapy is Expensive: “When they ask for new pictures or information I want to hold out on them. I want to withhold their grandson. The grandson they are partially responsible for living 3000 miles away. I know my parents love me and Kidlet. Without a doubt. I also know they were being true to our family’s communication style (or lack thereof). I try not to hold it against them, but it’s hard.”

Cat (adoptive mom) @ Cat’s Litterbox: “We had just come home from the hospital with Gus (he was maybe two days old), and his Great Grandma Marge sent us THE NICEST email welcoming us into her life, telling us that she supported us completely, and she wanted us to know that if we needed anything, to just let her know. It was the more amazing way to start off our journey with open adoption.”

MommySquared (adoptive mom) @ The Journey to Parenthood and the Years That Follow…: “When we began our journey to add to our family our first discussions with Stefanie and her family were that, we Tim, me and Ally were a package take us all or not at all…Stefanie’s father and grandmother were more than thrilled to realize that they would be grandparent and great grandparent to not one but two girls! And our relationship began right then and there right in the hospital room where Ally hugged and kissed Papa Todd and Great Grandma Glade when first meeting them…”

Jessica (adoptive mom) @ Anderson Happenings: “I’m so, so thankful for the support our parents showed us when we were choosing adoption. Just recently, Colt began asking about who came from who’s belly. I knew that the adoption conversation would be just around the corner. While we’ve celebrated Gotcha Days, been to our agency’s Christmas parties, and read books…he still isn’t totally “getting it”. We talked to each of our parents individually to let them know that he’s talking about birth, and that we would start conversations about N. That they didn’t need to be nervous or hesitent to mention her name. They all smiled and seemed fine with it…we’re so grateful that they are.”

Racilous (first mom) @ Adoption in the City: “That feeling existed the first time I met them, I could feel the uncertainty. But then they started to get to know me. I bet it helped that I was calm, articulate, that I asked about their life, that I wasn’t too pushy and that honestly I didn’t fit into those stereotypes they feared – a woman biding her time before taking her child back or trying to co-parent. Once they met me I think these women realized I wasn’t an idea, I was a person, a person who loved this little boy and was trying to do the best for him.”

Susiebook (first mom) @ Endure for a Night: “Watching Joey really has helped me to understand at a gut level that more people loving your kid is a blessing, whatever else it brings. Watching Joey bolt toward the door at the end of a work day shouting ‘Oma, Oma, Oma!’ with his arms outstretched toward my mom? That is amazing. It seems unlikely that Cricket could have that even with support from his moms, but I wish that he could get a little closer.”

Butmom (birth grandparent) in the comments: “I met the adoptive parents and their 4 y.o. son. I was charmed. But still, I had reservations. How could I be a grandmother when all the milestones I had fantasized about were going by the wayside. I was going to be a grandmother, but not a grandmother.”

M de P (adoptive mom) @ Reservado Para Futura Mamá: “Apparently my grandfather made a snide comment about the fact that she was adopted – or maybe adoption more generally, I’m not sure – which really set my dad off…While I feel sad about the way the relationship between my dad and his father ended up, I also think of my dad as a bit of a hero to stand up to him like that, in defense of this little girl that he loves so fiercely.”

Elly (adoptive mom) @ The Wonderful World of Ciaran shares a letter from her mother (Elly’s note: “I want to point out that when she talked about ‘birth parents’ early on, she means as in those raising their bio-children, not birth-parents-in-adoption.”

Gondola Queen (adoptive parent) @ My Life–With Bugs, Brat and Monster: “As for C’s family, it was scary for them I have no doubts about that. They didn’t know C had signed the adoption papers for almost four years after it had been done. C’d been afraid of their reaction. So, she decided not to tell them. She wanted to let them see that nothing was changing, and that they were still his family before telling them about the legal change in their relationship status. When they found out, they were shocked. And hurt. And angry. And scared. But maybe there was a glimmer of hope- because we’d shown them that we had zero interest in letting them out of the family.”

Robyn C @ Chittister Children: “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.”

Venessa (adoptive mom) @ Journey of Love: “We all become tied together by the love we share for a tiny soul. And this little person should definitely be granted the opportunity to know all the persons in his/her family if it is appropriate to do so. But, life doesnt always present itself in a neat package.”

Danielle (first mom) @ Another Version of Mother: “Your grandchild is just that, your grandchild. You can pass the puck to anyone you want, but at the end of the day, it is your daughter who created that life, and thus, forever, and ever, that child within her will be connected to you, even if the paperwork says otherwise.

Coley (first mom) @ Living the Bittersweet Life: “When I was pregnant and making an adoption plan I didn’t really think about how my relinquishing Charlie would affect my family too. I was so busy worrying about how it would affect me, what I was losing and would be grieving that I neglected to think about the loss my family would also feel. But now I have realized there is a loss for them as well. Not only did I lose my everyday motherhood to Charlie but they lost the ability to be his grandparents in the traditional sense.”

Prabha (adoptive mom) @ Baby Steps to a Baby Dream: “That email started a chain of communication going back and forth exploring family trees and sharing life histories. Being a grandparent freed them from wondering who held the balance of power in this equation. They openly talked of their love for the children and shared so much of themselves asking so little in return.”

Infertility Licks (adoptive mom) @ Life of the Barely Sane: “Then we introduce step parents and the rest of the “steps” that come along. Again, in this day and age, it’s an easy picture for most people to wrap their heads around, although we tend to view them at a distance. But what happens when we substitute the word “step” and insert “birth” or “adoptive” and ask people to think about how that looks? Yup, we get met with blank stares or eyes wide with fear. Why? Because they just can’t get past those original pictures from Norman Rockwell paintings that show us the 1950′s version of a ‘perfect’ family.”

AmFam (adoptive mom) @ American Family: “Nainai is the family we thought we would find. She is unreachable and foreign and distant. She drifts around the periphery of our understanding of L’s family. She is the person who would have cared for L if she stayed with her family, but we don’t know if she has any concern for L at all now. She is absent from L’s life but central to her siblings’.
Nainai reminds me that despite this reunion, we haven’t even scratched the surface of all that L lost when she left her family.”

Luna (adoptive mom) @ Life from Here: “Grandparents are pretty special people. This girl has five grandmothers, three grandfathers and a great grandmother in her life. Does she think that’s unusual? She knows no different. All she knows is how many special people love her so much. And that is a pretty cool thing.”

Meg (adoptive mom) @ God Will Fill This Nest: “Then there is the darker box, the one I try often not to mentally open, which is the one that contains E’s paternal grandparents. That one sentence, uttered once in passing by a caseworker, causes me to choke up when I think of it. ‘They are not in agreement with the adoption.’ I think of how much our parents love E, and the joy he brings to all of our lives. I can’t imagine knowing some girl is expecting your grandchild, and you never get to meet him, and your son signs off his rights.”

DrSpouse (adoptive mom) @ What am I?: “My mother has been incredibly nosy, and I am afraid I react badly to that. She has asked various questions which are either a) no-one’s business but ours and Baby Spouse’s (e.g. medical issues) or b) something I could speculate about and will do with Mr Spouse but not with anyone else (e.g. why he was premature) or c) something we could share in limited amounts but we will do ourselves at a point when Baby Spouse has already been given the information (e.g. birth siblings).”

Cindy (first mom) @ Another Crazy Christian: “When I told her that I already had a plan, and that the plan was to still be in my son life, her response was incredulous, she could not believe that I said that I wanted to do adoption AND still know my son.”

Betty Anne Davidson (first mom) @ Betty Anne & Scott: “If I had to name one person who was impacted as heavily as I was by placing my daughter, Chloe, for adoption, it would have to be my mother.”

Jenna (adoptive mom) @ sparklejenna: “As we drove away from the park I thought about how the relationships formed through adoption are truly unlike anything else. You could see they felt an innate connection to Kai and at the same time he doesn’t really know them. There seems to be this delicate balance between respecting each others space and doing what we can to foster a relationship that is meaningful.”

Ashley (adoptive mom) @ Modern Mommy Magic: “It’s these little stories that I tuck away to remind the girls of frequently. Such as ‘Lorelai, when you pout like that you remind me of the story your grandmother told me about how L* used to do the same thing.’ Or ‘Logan you look just like the baby pictures of C* that her mommy showed me.’ It’s allowed us to be able to share so much more of their biological identities with them.”

Alexa (adoptive mom) @ Conley Family Extension: “We know that A’s life will change as she gets older and she may not always be able to, or want to be involved with Gaby. We are happy that L’s close relationship with us will allow Gaby to have a constant connection to her birth family even if it is not with her birth Mother.”

Other Mother (first mom) @ Letters to My Baby Boy: “Baby Boy is part of something beautiful. Grandparents are grandparents whether their grandchild is ‘biological’ or adopted. Blood doesn’t change love. Grandparents love their child and when their child is hurting because they find themselves pregnant and not married and no longer in a relationship, or their child is desperately wanting another child but, for whatever reason pregnancy just isn’t happening. Grandparents love their child and their child loves their child, and grandparents love their grandchildren.” *auto-music plays*

About the author:
A mother by open adoption, Heather Schade is the founder and editor of Open Adoption Bloggers. She writes at Production, Not Reproduction.

31 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #35: Grandparents

  1. I was astounded when my told me that he was going to be a father. Then I learned that the baby was going to be adopted, in an open adoption. Uh huh. This kid was going to be brought up by a family that I didn't know, were of a different religion, and, lived on the other end of the continent. It wasn't a good intro to open adoption.I met the adoptive parents and their 4 y.o. son. I was charmed. But still, I had reservations. How could I be a grandmother when all the milestones I had fantasized about were going by the wayside. I was going to be a grandmother, but not a grandmother.Fast forward 6 months: I am compiling a brag book of both boys and have shown their pictures to relative strangers. They are handsome, smart, and talented, of course. I revel in each new accomplishment, which their parents inform me of. I am a "bubbe" (Yiddish for grandmother) in the fullest, and richest, sense of the word. [I haven't had the opportunity to spoil them yet but that is coming…] And as an added bonus, my son has come to see me as knowledgeable. Whereas once I didn't know which end was up, now I am a fount of wisdom.Bravo, open adoption. I am a believer (probably trademarked by the Monkees, which gives you an idea of my age)!

  2. I started blogging again… yikes right??lOOk-y herehttp://anothercrazychristian.blogspot.ca/2012/03/oar-35-grand-mothersand-not-much-else.html

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