When I was pregnant, and I was imagining what this adoption experience would look like down the line, I could have never imagined what has transpired. It’s not that I thought it would be wonderful; to some extent maybe I did. It’s just that I wasn’t given the information, the real insight I needed to know what “real adoption” looks like. Maybe, if I had someone telling me what it did look like, rather than having me only focus on the months leading up to those days in the hospital, I might have been more prepared. Perhaps there would have been less grief. In fact, some people in the adoption community argue that those of us, myself included, who struggle with their adoption journey, just didn’t know enough to understand what they were doing. That’s why we’re sad they say; we haven’t accepted what adoption has done for us. The gift, the blessing, the life it has given us.
I’ll agree with one thing: Adoption is a life all of it’s own.
You see, adoption isn’t fantastic, but it isn’t wicked, or horrible. When rights are honored for all involved, especially the child, it can be an incredible thing. There are families out there, who make open adoption look like it can work, when everyone is in it for the best reasons possible. How do you make this sort of partnership work? Is there some magical key between those of us who function in amazing open adoption relationships, and those of us who have been closed out?
I don’t think there is. As I’ve struggled with my own closed adoption, I’ve realized that when we all initially come to the table, the adoption table, everyone needs to lay out their expectations. They need to be honest with each other, but more importantly themselves. For instance, I spent most of my pregnancy with my son dreaming of ways I could keep him. Because I was pushed around by those in authority positions in the beginning, I stopped being honest with everyone. I pretended to be the Perfect Birthmother, and I lied to myself, to my son’s adoptive parents, and even friends. I did what I had to do, given my circumstances, but it didn’t set up the right atmosphere for a healthy open adoption.
There’s no way I can speak to the intentions of my son’s adoptive parents. Of course, I have my theories, and my opinions. I’d hazard a small guess that they weren’t entirely honest with me, or with themselves either. So all of us, sitting there, our son between the three of us, and none of us were really putting down what we expected. We weren’t being honest that as life goes on, it changes, and the adoption would too. We didn’t take into consideration that one day, that baby, would have his own opinions, needs and expectations. Thus, we set off on a path that would eventually lead to a wall because, when honesty isn’t an expectation at the beginning, even when you say it is, you’ll hit a dead end.
If there is ones magical way to make these adoption dynamics work, I assume, it’s in honesty. It’s a theory I haven’t had the chance to test, but I really believe that in this sort of intimate relationship, a joining of a family, that if we’re not all being honest, we have to ask ourselves if we really should be sitting at that table.