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question for those IN an open adoption relationship on dynamics

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

My dd is 1 year old and we have an open adoption relationship with her birthparents. I really like them alot and feel lucky to have the relationship we do.

 

That being said, I have some questions about how the dynamics b/w birth and adoptive families usually works out?

 

When we see BPs they are always respectful of our relationship with our daughter, but they also seem almost possesive of her in the sense that they spent almost the entire time we are together talking about how much she is like one or the other of them. Some things are relevant, of course, but others not so much and I feel like they almost spend all their time with her disecting every nuance of her and assigning it to one or the other and saying things like 'she gets that from her mom, or that comes from her daddy' etc.

 

The way I look at it is that she is our daughter, meaning theirs and ours, part of both sets of her parents; adoptive and birth. She is an amazing mix of their genetics and our environment. She has traits and characteristics from both sets of her parents and I happily acknowledge their role in that amazing mix and I just wish they would acknowledge ours.

 

They also seem completely disinterested in us as a family. I understand that their interest would be with their daughter, but she has sisters whom she adores and are a big part of her life. They don't seem want to know about what her home life is like or ever ask about our other children (even in relation to dd) when they picked us specifically becasue they wanted dd to have siblings.  In fact they had requested it just be us and them (with dd of course) the last time we saw them, purposely leaving our other children out. I look at us as being a family unit and the idea of meeting them without the rest of our kids adds a level of complexity to our relationship. Our original agreement was to meet 3 times a year, but last year we saw eachother 5. I don't want to make the relationship complicated, if that makes sense?

 

I don't want to sound like I am complaining about our daughters birth family or that I dislike them... in fact it is very much the opposite. I am grateful for our relationship and I enjoy seeing them, I just don't know what normal is and how other families navigate these relationships in the early stages. I want to make sure my expectations are realistic!

post #2 of 37

http://rebecca-hawkes.blogspot.com/

 

This is a blog that the adoptive mother is in an open adoption with her daughters birthfamily and is also an adult adoptee herself- I think you will find it interesting and insightful. Every parent looks for likeness in their child- you do it to....

 

 

post #3 of 37

I think it grows over time. In the beginning, DS's birth mother and grandmother were way more interested in DS (and his bio sibs) than my DD. Now, whenever we're together DD is part of everything. In fact, DD was in DS's birth mother's wedding along with her birth kids.

 

We're just starting our journey with DD's birth father. I'm not going to do anything that doesn't include ALL of us (DD, DS, and myself) so I would never agree to a family visit with all members of my family. I want him to come to know DD as part of our family and her relationship with DS is a big part of her life. Our visits will be at places like parks since I'm not comfortable having him in my home at this point. In DS's case, I'll host a visit at our house at some point. It just hasn't happened yet.

 

I KNOW that there is some of my in DS but it's amazing how much of his birth mother and each one of his bio sibs is in him. Appearance and interests.

post #4 of 37

From very early on in our foster care experience DD2's bio mom mentioned that my DD1 is her sister and she will continue that bond in some way. I didn't know then that eventually she would relinquish to us, but I think a huge part of it was she saw how close the girls were, almost inseparable.

Of course her bio parents are more interested in her, but they don't exclude my other kids. The last visit I only had DS stay for a little while. DD2's parents got all three of my kids gifts. They were only interested in holding her and playing with her but I knew it was because she is still a baby and they are still processing and we are still very new to the open adoption, so all just learning.

I try to encourage them and take pictures and share pictures of DD2.

It is hard to find a mutual place to meet where they can see and visit her and my kids won't be bored and they can focus mostly on DD2 which I think is important.

I don;t think there is a handbook and I am so new to it that I am no expert. I think you will need to step back and re-evaluate how you want things to go.

I don't see any issue in them commenting on how much she is like them, it may be a way for them to process their feelings. I try to see where DD gets what and from who. I have been caught just staring at them trying t see who her eyes come from, her ears, etc.

post #5 of 37

 

When we see BPs they are always respectful of our relationship with our daughter, but they also seem almost possesive of her in the sense that they spent almost the entire time we are together talking about how much she is like one or the other of them. Some things are relevant, of course, but others not so much and I feel like they almost spend all their time with her disecting every nuance of her and assigning it to one or the other and saying things like 'she gets that from her mom, or that comes from her daddy' etc.

 

I am not sure what to call the relationship DS3 and DD's bmom has with us. Its "open" in the sense that we do have contact, but right now she doesnt have contact with the children. Im not sure when/if she will. But i did set up a facebook page to share pics and whatnot, and about every month she will make comments. I know what you mean about the comments. It almost seems a desperate way to assert their place in the child's life. At least that is the way it feels to me with my kids' bmom. Like she doesnt want me to ever forget they are REALLY hers, and the proof is in the genes. Whereas i'm always trying to be careful to not be too in her face about being "the mom" (like, i would never post something like "oh the kids made me a cute picture for mothers day!" or "ds said mommy you're the best mommy in the whole world, isnt that cute!" But i can't worry about it too much after all she doesnt have the kids, and i do, and so if thats what it takes for her to get through her days so be it. 

 

DS2's relative is just the opposite. When we were having visitation (very briefly when my son was a baby, just a handful of times at the agency before TPR) he would always ask how my family was, my mother, my other son. He barely seemed to ask about the baby. Which i found kind of confusing. But it was fine. I think he probably wasnt sure how to handle the whole situation.

 

Right now i'm trying to figure out how to open up things more with maternal relatives. DD hasnt seen them in more than two years, and she wants to, but i am unsure how to go about doing it. Do i just call them up? I've only spoken to them maybe twice at the agency. DD used to live with them and they disrupted the placement. She's much more stable now than she was then, but i dont want to do anything that would set her off and cause behavior issues. Hmm. not really sure how to handle that. I'm also afraid if bmom gets wind of contact with relatives she will start pushing for contact too.

post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

 

I KNOW that there is some of my in DS but it's amazing how much of his birth mother and each one of his bio sibs is in him. Appearance and interests.



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by christophersmom View Post

I don't see any issue in them commenting on how much she is like them, it may be a way for them to process their feelings. I try to see where DD gets what and from who. I have been caught just staring at them trying t see who her eyes come from, her ears, etc.



thank you both for responding and sharing your experiences with me!

I absolutely agree that there is lots of things dd gets from her birthparents. I don't try to deny that, nor do I think I should. what I am saying is that it feels like what her bps are doing is sort of like laying a claim to her, more than the normal 'wow she has your eyes' Its a constant 2 hour stream of analysing dd and what parts of her she gets from whom, down to the smallest detail. It makes me uncomfortable, and I think when dd gets older it will make her uncomfortable too. As something of an adult adoptee myself, the idea that we are ONLY the sum of our genetics is disturbing to me. As I said, I feel like dd is a mix of both of our families, and while I have never excluded them in their importance in her life, I feel like they are doing just that with us.

post #7 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom31 View Post

http://rebecca-hawkes.blogspot.com/

 

This is a blog that the adoptive mother is in an open adoption with her daughters birthfamily and is also an adult adoptee herself- I think you will find it interesting and insightful. Every parent looks for likeness in their child- you do it to....

 

 



Thank you, I will definately bookmark her blog page :)

 

While I agree that we all look for likenesses in our children to some degree, it can be taken too far, which is what I am worried about here. I have both bio and adopted children, and I can honestly say I never gave the desire to see myself in my children too much thought.

 

post #8 of 37

Hmmm.... interesting- cause it seems to be very common. I know for one my dd has curly hair and everywhere we go people want to know where she got that beautiful curly hair from.  She got it from my birth mom.  And since I just found my birth mom's birth family I found that they all have curly hair to- how neat.  My adoptive mom on the other hand- swears that my ex husbands brother had wavy hair as a baby- and maybe thats where it came from( since the thought of me or my children looking like my bio family was very hard for her to accept.)  She still states that I look just like her great grandmother....

 

so if looks don't matter to you at all- then why does it bother you that they do matter to this birthmom?  You can share many things with your adoptive children but genes and dna is just not one of them.

Sesa- you were adopted by family correct? So this would mean that you grew up with familial resemblance- which is a different experience then not having any relatives that resemble you.

 

I believe you that it does not matter to you.  You may be the only one I know personally who feels this way- but if it's how you feel it's how you feel. Just don't expect it not to matter to your adopted child.

I don't quite get how it can be taken too far?  Unless say the daughters hair is black, the moms hair is blonde and they go on and on how they have the same hair color or something. It's neat as a parent to see yourself in your kids.... looks wise- personality, likes dislikes etc. 

post #9 of 37

To me, they just sound young and/or immature.  I am a birthmom and anytime I see my kids it fascinates the heck out of me how much those kids are turning out to be just like me, despite the fact that other families are raising them.  However, I have enough tact to keep the majority of comments like that to myself.  I have been around the adoption world enough years now to know that it's bad manners to go on and on about such things in front of the adoptive family.  Other birth parents might not be as privileged to have that kind of information.

 

So they aren't saying anything that other birth parents aren't thinking.  It is really normal and doesn't necessarily mean that they feel possessive over the baby.  How you deal with it is up to you.  You can kindly ask them to stop.  However, that may end up being awkward or uncomfortable.  Or you can wait it out for a while and see what happens naturally.  The baby is going to be young for quite some time still and isn't picking up on what is going on.  The birth parents may just naturally calm down and stop saying so many comments like that when they visit.  Visits will also probably decrease anyways as the baby gets older and all of your lives move on.  This really just isn't something that I would stress over (yet).

 

Not asking about the rest of the family doesn't mean much either.  They may just be a little self absorbed, or they may not want to seem rude or nosy.  It is hard being a birth parent.  You are always afraid of crossing lines and getting yourself into trouble by saying or doing the wrong thing.  As the adoptive parent, you are in the position of power because you can call off visits or contact whenever you want.  I think that every birth parent knows that and worries about it somewhat.  My advice is to cut them some slack for now and just wait and see.  I bet it will get better with time (and age).

post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom31 View Post

Hmmm.... interesting- cause it seems to be very common. I know for one my dd has curly hair and everywhere we go people want to know where she got that beautiful curly hair from.  She got it from my birth mom.  And since I just found my birth mom's birth family I found that they all have curly hair to- how neat.  My adoptive mom on the other hand- swears that my ex husbands brother had wavy hair as a baby- and maybe thats where it came from( since the thought of me or my children looking like my bio family was very hard for her to accept.)  She still states that I look just like her great grandmother....

 

so if looks don't matter to you at all- then why does it bother you that they do matter to this birthmom?  You can share many things with your adoptive children but genes and dna is just not one of them.

Sesa- you were adopted by family correct? So this would mean that you grew up with familial resemblance- which is a different experience then not having any relatives that resemble you.

 

I believe you that it does not matter to you.  You may be the only one I know personally who feels this way- but if it's how you feel it's how you feel. Just don't expect it not to matter to your adopted child.

I don't quite get how it can be taken too far?  Unless say the daughters hair is black, the moms hair is blonde and they go on and on how they have the same hair color or something. It's neat as a parent to see yourself in your kids.... looks wise- personality, likes dislikes etc. 



well.. it does matter to me, (resemblences that is) but only a little :) Yes, I was raised by my paternal grandparents, so I met my birthmother when I was 16. I went with my best friend to meet her, and when we walked in the door she hugged my bf and told her how happy she was to meet her after all these years! LOL! I did not, however, look like anyone in my home. My fathers side (who raised me) is hispanic and my bmom is very white. I look like her... and did not resemble the family who raised me. That aside, I do understand it is a different situation than an adoption in which you don't know either of your birthparents. 50% of the puzzle is better than 0% .

 

Looks wise, I am the first to point out that my dd has her birthmothers eyes and her birthfathers smile. I have told this to complete strangers many times because I admire her bparents and I can't even pretend to take credit for something that isn't mine to take credit for. I'm talking about things like whether she likes bananas or enjoys being read to. Its not her looks... its more her personality if that makes sense? I almost feel sometimes like they don't see her as a person just the bits and pieces of themselves. I don't know if this will be hard for dd as she gets older and I am only wondering if this is standard? Like I said, I look forward to visits and phone calls with dd's birth family. I don't know how the navigation of these relationships work and I want to make sure everyone is comfortable and they are not acting this way becasue they aren't, you know?

post #11 of 37

If she is anything like me.... she will be doing what they do- looking for all the bits and peices she is like them....  it seems to me that the parents are doing what most parents do-

I am more like my birth family then my adoptive family personality wise- much to the dismay of my adoptive family.

Looks wise I look enough like my adoptive family I did not stick out- personality wise- it was like "where in the world did this child come from????starting around age 9-10when I was developing my sense of self"  at age 20 when I found my birthmom- I sure found out!

thats not to say I don't have similarities with my parents- there are some ... I just can't name any for you at the moment....let me think on it.... but I can tell you a lot about how I am like my bfamily- cause it is interesting to me- since I was not raised by them- and I felt weird my whole life being different- to only find out in my twenties- there was nothing wrong with me- I was just not like my aparents and that is ok- I am more like my bparents- what a relief- I am not ":bad": just like my bio family and not as much like my afamily.

Love your kids for who they are.... all of it.

post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post



Thank you, I will definately bookmark her blog page :)

 

While I agree that we all look for likenesses in our children to some degree, it can be taken too far, which is what I am worried about here. I have both bio and adopted children, and I can honestly say I never gave the desire to see myself in my children too much thought.

 

You see your kids every day. If something happened and you had to be separated from them for long periods of time (especially while they were very young,) you might feel differently. Maybe not.

 

There's always the chance that they don't know what else to  talk about. Since your DD is little and can't hold a conversation, they might just be filling time. And since your oldest DD has special needs they might be a little uncomfortable with that.
 

 

post #13 of 37
Quote:

Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post

I have both bio and adopted children, and I can honestly say I never gave the desire to see myself in my children too much thought.

 



I am an adoptee, and never realized how much of a desire I had to see myself in the family that surrounded me until I held my first biological child in my arms.

 

Biology may be the only way these people feel like they truly connect to your daughter.  I agree with Melaya that some of it is that they've not learned to shut up in front of you, but everything I've ever read about birthparent/adoptee reunions (even unsuccessful ones) seems to point to a lot of people fixating on the physical/biological common ground until they feel secure enough to get to know each other beyond that.

post #14 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom31 View Post

Hmmm.... interesting- cause it seems to be very common. I know for one my dd has curly hair and everywhere we go people want to know where she got that beautiful curly hair from.  She got it from my birth mom.  And since I just found my birth mom's birth family I found that they all have curly hair to- how neat.  My adoptive mom on the other hand- swears that my ex husbands brother had wavy hair as a baby- and maybe thats where it came from( since the thought of me or my children looking like my bio family was very hard for her to accept.)  She still states that I look just like her great grandmother....

 

so if looks don't matter to you at all- then why does it bother you that they do matter to this birthmom?  You can share many things with your adoptive children but genes and dna is just not one of them.

Sesa- you were adopted by family correct? So this would mean that you grew up with familial resemblance- which is a different experience then not having any relatives that resemble you.

 

I believe you that it does not matter to you.  You may be the only one I know personally who feels this way- but if it's how you feel it's how you feel. Just don't expect it not to matter to your adopted child.

I don't quite get how it can be taken too far?  Unless say the daughters hair is black, the moms hair is blonde and they go on and on how they have the same hair color or something. It's neat as a parent to see yourself in your kids.... looks wise- personality, likes dislikes etc. 


It really bothers me when i hear adoptive parents insist their children look just like them. I mean, if they DO fine, whatever...it would be neat to point that out. (I inquired once on a little boy that looked SO MUCH like my bio son, they totally could have been related, and it was kinda cool to think about them looking so similar) But some adoptive parents mention "she looks just like me!" on and on all the time, and i never understand the point. Sometimes when i read that i think the parent isnt really secure in the adoption, or they really had wanted a bio child and this child is a substitute. I dunno. maybe i'm reading too much into it. Of course i'm speaking as a mother whose bio child looks little like me. He's fair, got red curly hair and freckles. He burns in the sun, as a child i'd just get tan. I didnt find out til he was born with red hair instead of the dark hair i expected, that there was redheads on both sides of the family. Go figure. But i always wondered how it would feel to have adopted a child that looks nothing like you (but is not obviously adopted) and have people ask on a daily basis the things we got asked *every single time* we went out of the house ("where'd he get that red hair?" "Does that hair run in the family??" "does his father have red hair??" sheesh!)

 

post #15 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom31 View Post

If she is anything like me.... she will be doing what they do- looking for all the bits and peices she is like them....  it seems to me that the parents are doing what most parents do-

I am more like my birth family then my adoptive family personality wise- much to the dismay of my adoptive family.

Looks wise I look enough like my adoptive family I did not stick out- personality wise- it was like "where in the world did this child come from????starting around age 9-10when I was developing my sense of self"  at age 20 when I found my birthmom- I sure found out!

thats not to say I don't have similarities with my parents- there are some ... I just can't name any for you at the moment....let me think on it.... but I can tell you a lot about how I am like my bfamily- cause it is interesting to me- since I was not raised by them- and I felt weird my whole life being different- to only find out in my twenties- there was nothing wrong with me- I was just not like my aparents and that is ok- I am more like my bparents- what a relief- I am not ":bad": just like my bio family and not as much like my afamily.

Love your kids for who they are.... all of it.

 

The first bolded part makes me so sad for you!

 

Its hard, because its not easy being the "black sheep" in the family. Its also not that easy parenting a child so different from you, sometimes its hard to relate! My family (meaning, parents, sibs, etc) we are all very similar. Late risers, slackers, not sporty, not joiners, not religious. I dont think its just a matter of environment, i really think genes play a huge part in this. I always thought if one of us had to grow up in a more typical "all american" type of family we would have been really unhappy/misunderstood. That being said...my daughter is NOTHING like me. She is super outgoing, social, wants to be involved in everything. Loves sports. Not intellectual, not into having deep/interesting conversations like my oldest was. Given the other issues we have, its like one more struggle...i think if we had even ONE thing to bond us (a love of something similar) it would go a long way in helping our relationship. greensad.gif  I do my best to support her interests though.

 

on the other hand, there is DS2 who is such a quirky weird funny kid with strong opinions. We all just LOVE his flair and unique perspective and support him in all his differences whether its wearing nail polish or insisting on no socks or refusal to swim. He's super introverted. He likes what he likes and can't be swayed from it. I shudder to think what would have happened to him had he gone to a more mainstream home. He really fits in here.
 

 

post #16 of 37

We haven't had visits yet in our OA because of distance, but we talk on the phone and skype frequently.  Ironically, J doesn't really look like his birthparents right now.  He definitely doesn't look like us either.  They will comment on the fact that he doesn't look like them though.  He does have some resemblance to his bio-sister, but not really to his bio-half brother.

 

When we skype, they of course want to mostly see J, but I have a five-year-old who wants (and deserves imo) a little attention too.  They give it to her, and if they asked to not see her, I would have a problem with that.  She is J's sister and a huge part of J's life.  That will not change.  When they call, they always ask about J first, but then they follow up by asking about my dd too.   FWIW- J's b-parents are relatively young and immature to a certain extent.  They have said things that have shocked me, but they are understanding and kind enough to know that our dd is an important part of our entire family. 

post #17 of 37

I think it's sort of interesting the position that birth parents are put into here.  In general (I know there are exceptions), birth and adoptive families are not all that close.  Sure there are visits and phone calls, etc.  But generally the only common bond is the child that was adopted.  Us birth parents really have nothing to do with your other children.  We are generally not related to them, we are not invited to big events in their lives, we don't get many updates about them, etc.  Yet we are supposed to pretend to care as much about them as we do our own bio kids in your family because otherwise it will offend you.  So to continue to earn visits and to stay in your good graces we have to go through the motions of pretending to care about kids that we may or may not really even know, just to keep the adoptive parents happy and feeling like everything is fair.

 

I am a birth mom who actually really does care about the other kids in my birth kids family.  They feel like nieces or nephews or something like that to me.  But they are not my nieces or nephews.  Really, they are nothing at all to me.  So it would be pretty insulting if I were to have to act as if I were equally as interested in them as my own bio kid...if I really wasn't.

 

This might not be a very politically correct rant.  But I just hope that some adoptive parents might stop and think about it from the birth parents perspective.  If we aren't invited to your other kid's parties or dance recitals...then we probably aren't close enough to have much to say to you about them during visits.  It doesn't mean that we are shallow, immature, or uninterested.  There just isn't any personal relationship there to comment on.  No matter how close the kids are as siblings.  Sorry, but it's just how it is really.

post #18 of 37
Thread Starter 

I do not expect our dd's birthparents to think of my other children as equals to the child they placed with us. But I do, to an extent, expect them to realize how important those other children are to their daughter, to us, and not to purposely exclude them.

 

I always ask about their other children. I would never dream of asking them not to bring them along to visits (they have not, but I would most certainly welcome it) even though I have no connection to them. I think its only fair to expect the same.

post #19 of 37

really- fair.  that was a very very very poor choice of words.

post #20 of 37
Thread Starter 

Why?  I have never denied our daughters birthparents anything they have wanted. Our lives and home are open to them, they are welcome to call or visit any time they would like. They have full control over the kind of relationship we have. I don't see why 'fair' would be a poor choice of words.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom31 View Post

really- fair.  that was a very very very poor choice of words.



 

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