I’ve been thinking long and hard about sharing some wise words from an adoptive mother about open adoptions here on the blog. All week, I’ve been trying to find the right words to share this post from Dawn over at This Woman’s work. In her post, she really lays it on the line about some issues surrounding open adoption, adoptive parents and responsibility. I’ve wanted to share these words with our readers here because I feel that they are so vital to so many.
But I’m a birth mother.
It’s fine for Dawn to be in-your-face about responsibility in adoption because she’s an adoptive mother. But me? I’m just one of those birth mothers. I need to walk on eggshells when I talk about responsibility because, well, as someone once questioned on the forums, what kind of boundaries could a birth parent possibly want or need to set? Birth parents aren’t ever supposed to speak up and say, “Hey!” No matter what the hey refers to, we’re supposed to be quiet about it and accept what is given to us.
Well, ignore my birth mother status for a minute and listen to what Dawn has to say. Because it is important.
Here’s my unasked for advice. If you adopted a child in a closed adoption or semi-open adoption and your child finds or is found by his or her first parents, get thee to a reunion support group. Call up your agency, your lawyer or a local agency or lawyer and ask them — is there a reunion support group around here? Talk to first parents, adoptees and adoptive parents who have lived through [reunions]. Read some books.
If you read through her whole post, she is talking about a birth mother who has been found by her teenage daughter. (Not vice versa, mind you.) Her (adoptive) parents found out and, to put it mildly, freaked. I feel a kinship kind of bond with this birth mother (that I have yet to contact because I’m so behind on things this week) because she is, from Dawn’s account, pretty awesome and also the everyday mother of two boys. Background information aside, I think Dawn’s words really need to be heard, loud and clear, across the triad.
In fact, in the paragraph immediately following that one, she urges adoptive parents to be prepared prior to reunion. Do the research. And realize that you cannot be replaced.
And, I’ll now chime in as a birth parent in open adoption on that last bit: you, the adoptive parent, cannot be replaced. By and large, that is not the goal of birth parents in open adoptions, semi-open adoptions and those entering reunion. We don’t want to replace you or negate all of the hard work you have put in and continue to put in with your child(ren). As a parent myself, I know what it is like to sit up half the night with a sick child (and then continue to function the next day!). Instead, we just want to know our relinquished children. We want them to know, at their very core, that they were always loved. We can love our children in our way while you love your child in your way. Too much love simply doesn’t exist.
And so, please go read all of Dawn’s words. Ignore the fact that a birth mother pointed you to them. For a moment, just see me as nothing more than a mother. Maybe then it will seem less threatening.