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Friday, April 22, 2011

Open vs. Closed

When talking with people about adoption and my story one of the questions that is always raised is whether or not I have an open or closed adoption. I have many thoughts on the subject so I thought I would share some of those as it relates to me, the adoptive families, the birth father and others surrounding me.

When I made the decision about adoption I immediately had to make a "switch" in my mind. I had to somehow emotionally detach from the pregnancy. I had to convince myself that the baby that I was carrying was no longer mine, but that I was carrying that child for the AMAZING family that my parents and I had picked. I didn't know how else to get through the next month and a half. Because my story was unique in the fact that NO ONE knew about the pregnancy except for the father, I had spent most of my pregnancy in denial, trying to make that situation go away. But when I HAD NO CHOICE but to open up to my family and then the connection between me and the baby became very real. I had to tell my family... I was going to be giving birth and I needed help.

The Birth Father had already signed over his rights before the baby was born, when I was about 8 months along so as far as decisions, meeting with the adoptive family, coming to the hospital for the birth, telling his parents that they were "grandparents" all of those things that come with fathering a child were now not his responsibility. He has signed over his rights and was not longer responsible or had any say in what happened to that child. I, on the other hand was still carrying that baby. All the decisions about that little life that was growing inside of me was MY responsibility. I still had a choice....up until I signed the papers...I had a choice. I still made the decisions as far as my family was concerned, as far as the baby was concerned, as far as the adoption was concerned.

After ny son was born I signed the papers before I left the hospital....I was not longer responsible or had any say in what happened to him, his family or the people surrounding them. Unless you have experienced carrying a baby, giving birth, holding that baby and then giving it away you can't really understand the magnitude of signing over your parental rights. Knowing that you have a child out there..that looks just like the birth father, that is living this life that you know nothing about and playing with kids you don't know....and not having any say is a very weird experience...

I have come to a great peace and understanding that he is NOT my son any more...he was my son for the 3 days in the hospital when I was still responsible for him...and then as I have talked about in a previous post HERE....I am not the mother, I am just the woman that gave him life.

All adoption situations are different..depending on the agency, the private adoption, the family, the birth parents etc. There are MANY different aspects that need to be looked at.

*this was the situation with MY adoption

The agency in which my adoption took place assigned a case worker to deal with me and help inform me all of our decisions. I met with her once a week for 2 and 1/2 months until the baby was born. We talked about ALL of my options over and over. I made many decisions in regards to the child and then changed my mind about many decisions regarding the child...I had until I signed those papers to make decisions and change my mind. She asked if I wanted and OPEN or CLOSED adoption. She said that the family that I had picked was open the ANYTHING that I wanted or felt that I needed. I could NOT make that decision at that point. I didn't know what I wanted...and in some ways I still don't!!!

For the first 6 months after placement I was only allowed to have contact with the adoptive family through the adoption agency. If I wanted to send something then I took it to the agency and they delivered it to the agency in their area for pick up. If they sent something to me...I would receive a phone call from the agency stating that I had some mail and I was then able to go in and pick up letters, pictures, gifts or anything else that was sent. During that time all items of legal business were taken care of as far as the placement, the trail period in the home and the legal bonding between the baby and the adoptive family, including the issuing of a new birth certificate showing his NEW PARENTS names. I still have my copy of his B.C. with my name on it....but they named him from the beginning.

After that time it was left up to the adoptive family at that point if they were open to having contact with the birth parent(s). They showed great interest in an open adoption with me and from then on any contact that took place was dismissed from the adoption agency and all contact goes directly between me and the family. I am not legally allowed to release any of their information to ANY ONE..

There was a point, maybe 8 months or so after my placement that I sent a letter to the adoptive family stating that I did not want any more contact. They were required whether we decided open or closed to have contact throughout that first year, sending something once a month. As I approached that time I just didn't think that I needed it, that I wanted it....and AGAIN...I am still not sure what I think about it. I was then told that I was loved and that it was totally up to me...that it was going to be as open as I want.......

I have been so so so blessed to have an adpotive family that has been so supportive, respectful and aware of my feelings and my needs as well as protecting their son and family. Sometimes it is so amazing and great to have contact and sometimes it is one more reminder of all that I am missing on...all that I gave up....but in reality...he would not have those amazing things happening for him if I made the choice to go alone....NO MATTER MY AGE...I could NOT give my son everything he needed and would NOT HAVE been able to fill the shoes of a MOTHER AND A FATHER!!!!

Here is the thing.....regardless of what kind of adoption you have I pray that it is one of great respect for both parties! There is a bond that takes place between the birth mom and the adoptive family that can't be described....and even if the adoption is closed...the love that the adoptive family has for the birth mom hits them every time they look at their child...and every time a birth mom is able to do something and accomplish something she remembers that it is because of the adoptive family that she is able to do those things!!! There is a great love and bond that should not be messed with. I read an incredible blog written by an adoptive family that came across someone that was talking horribly about their birth mother...the woman that gave their child life. Here is a classic response...and you can feel the love that this woman has for their birth mom:

"let's get back to the issue of someone sending me a horrible comment about our birth mom.

Our birth mom means the world to us and I won't stop praising her just because an "anonymous" coward mentioned that reading about the love we have for our birth mom was "repulsive" to her. That's ridiculous. (There was much, much more to her comment, but it was pure tripe and I'm not going to expound on it.)

{And I say "anonymous" because it took very little effort to discover her first and last name, and she didn't stay anonymous for long. But she knows that now, and is fully aware of how I feel about her comment.}

Honestly, I wish I didn't have to write a blog post about this. But I figured that I should mention it so that hopefully it doesn't happen again.

Sending me a mean-spirited message about our birth mom was an embarrassing mistake. But everyone makes mistakes.

I'll try not to make them, if you try not to make them. Deal?

Let's all try not to be so harsh. "

You can read the whole post HERE.

I LOVE to see this love and respect!

For those of you that have closed adoptions....please have faith that you hold a special place in the hearts of your adoptive families...even if it is not public...it doesn't change the fact that you did what was the very best for the child and that is ALL THAT MATTERS!!!!!

For those that have an open adoption...be respectful of the boundaries that are set...be grateful for your time and don't let it keep you from moving on...don't let it keep you tied to the past...enjoy those moments and then let it speak to you as a SURE sign that you did what was best, find peace in the happiness that the family is experiencing because of you and find that same peace and happiness for yourself!

Adoption is an amazing, hard, frustrating, beautiful thing...OPEN OR CLOSED

I love you all and want you to know that I am so proud of the great strength that you all have...I learn so much from you every day! I am so honored to be surrounded by such Big Tough Girls!!

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