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.
Earlier this month I was at a workshop with other open adoption participants (first parents, adoptive parents, and waiting adoptive parents). Part of the speaker’s talk focused on maintaining an open-hearted attitude even when interactions or circumstances make us angry/sad/fearful/etc. Some folks expressed very real fears and hurts they have had to push through in their commitments to open adoption–something those in the room agreed was not always an easy experience, but always worth it. Toward the end of the evening a woman in the front row raised her hand. “Does it ever get easier?” she asked.
I didn’t know any of this woman’s story beyond the fact that she is an adoptive parent. But her question took me right back to points in my own experience, particularly in the early years, when the emotions of navigating first family relationships and confronting my insecurities as an adoptive parent felt overwhelming. And it sparked an interesting conversation in the workshop that I thought would be worth having here in our virtual space, as well.
How would you answer? Does it get easier?
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Excerpts from the responses:
Lori Lavender Luz (adoptive parent) @ Lavender Luz: “Maybe our open adoptions have gotten not easier but better.”
CindyG (first parent) in comments: short answer : “no, but you get used to it and it starts to seem ‘normal’”
ebrookslivingston (pre-adoptive parent) @ The Littlest Brooks-Livingston: “We hope – no, we know – it’ll get easier. It’s just pushing past this bump-in-the-road and learning how to become our own best advocates that is proving to be our current challenge.”
Robyn C (adoptive parent) @ The Chittister Children: “The relationship aspect gets easier, but the observation aspect (I can’t come up with a better word) never does. I can’t live another person’s life for her, nor would I want to. But I can’t do all that much to affect it, either. People are going to make their choices and live their lives, and the people around them just have to deal with that. That’s the part that never gets easier.”
Racilous (first parent) @ Adoption In the City: “I am lucky enough to have other members in my open adoption that are evolving in the same way I am and looking for the same things I want and so in that way it does feel easier. And it feels just as hard, just as emotional, but I’m more used to it now.”
Kim (first parent) @ These are the Days: “Open Adoption is about relationships with and communication between people. It’s fluid. It’s delicate. And it’s real. Therefore, it’s subject to the same flurry of emotions and uncertainties as any other relationship.”
Dawn (adoptive parent) @ Building Family Counseling: “And just like any other relationship, we get better at them if we work at it. Birth parents and adoptive parents can’t control what happens or what other people do, but we can get better at maintaining healthy boundaries and loving people through change. We learn how to trust the love between people even if we can’t always trust their choices. We learn how little control we have over how other people choose to live out the relationships with us and with our children.”
MommySquared (adoptive parent) @ What Makes a Real Family?: “Has it been easier now that our girls are 7 and 5 years old? In some ways, yes! It’s easier because we have all gotten to know each other better, it’s easier in that our girls are now developing their own independent relationships with their families. It’s easier in that we see each other more readily as family (something that we wanted but had to adjust to in the early days). It’s easier because we all wanted the same thing ~ a family relationship with each of us, not just our girls and their birth family. We all are striving for the same thing ~ to be a family together.”
Kris (pre-adoptive parent) @ Adoption Love: “So when it comes right down to it, I don’t know if our relationship will be difficult, get easier over time, or if we’ll all be best friends and live happily ever after. I do know that l look forward to being open with a select loved few instead of everyone and their grandma!”
Momo (adoptive parent) @ Momosapien: “As a person who identifies as queer, I’ve always appreciated the It Gets Better campaign … I sort of wish there was a similar campaign about open adoption getting easier – but I’m not sure I would believe it. I don’t know that relationships of any kind, but especially those that occur within open adoptions necessarily get easier – I think they shift and grow and get more familiar, or more estranged, or more complicated, or more predictable, or more known. But easier? I’m not so sure.”
Psumama (adoptive parent) @ Wenrich Family Adoption: “So what’s my answer to the question, ‘does it get easier?’ I would say as you face each awkward and challenging situation, you learn from it. You stretch, you get uncomfortable, and you grow. You find a new normal.”
Betty Anne (first parent) @ Betty Anne & Scott: “So this part of the open adoption relationship hasn’t necessarily gotten easier. Figuring out how to relate to your child that you gave birth to but are not raising? There’s no manual for that. Nobody can tell you how it should go in your circumstances, taking into considerations the individual personalities involved. Now that I think about it, no manual exists for more traditional parent-child relationships either. Good, we’re ALL flying blind here.”
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.