My children are siblings we adopted through the state. I met birth mom once, at the DHS office following the goodbye visit when the Police had to remove our daughter from birth mom's arms and give her to me.....It was sooooo Hard to see this a deal with it! My daughter was five years old that day and little brother was one.
That was a little over 3 years ago now. There is a No-Contact order and an order of protection for the children. We do have a Lifestory Book with a few pictures of our children with their birthmother on visits at DHS..... We only have pictures of our daughter starting at about the age of 4.
My little girl remembers her birthmother and I have had to deal with this issue several times. I had originally been open to contact and possible visits but when our children were places with no contact in a closed adoption I had to re-think everything.
Knowing that openness can make such a huge difference for an adopted child--when things work out and are safe also means dealing with things differently if positive contact isn't possible. I decided I would research closed adoptions more and learned some helpful information.
- Answer questions as honestly as possible in an age appropriate way.
- Don't try to fill in any missing information--just let your child know that you don't know the answer to the question.
- Find the positive things about your child that are different from their adoptive family and occasionally make a remark such as, "You have the most beautiful brown eyes, just like your birthmother."
When our children ASK if they will ever get to see their birthmother again, I let them know that once they grow up there will be ways to contact her and I will be there to help if they want to look.
We also do have a semi-special honor day for birth mom (we don't know who dad is). On Birth mom's birthday we usually spend some time talking about adoption and the different ways children and babies are adopted. Because, my daughter remembers it all we also talk a little about the fact that their birthmother loved her children very much but had some "grown up" problems and wasn't able to take care of her children they way children should be taken care of.
We usually pray for birth mom now and then, but on her birthday we have done several special things..... The first year we let balloons float up in the sky with hugs and kisses, goodbyes and good wishes..... The second year we planted trees that will grow tall to the sky like "A's" birth children are doing.... the third year my daughter and I went out for lunch and ice cream and prayed that birth mom was doing better and that she would start making healthy and safe choices and take care of herself.
The KEY problem I see with closed adoption are when the adoptive parents treat the subject as taboo and won't talk about it at all with the child. Or worse, make up any kind of lie.
We may not be able to have an open adoption or any contact but, we can do our bests to help the children feel value in who they are no matter who gave birth to them.
My children have an older sibling and two younger ones now. 5 children in four different adoptive families--for me it has been more difficult not knowing where the siblings are, and wondering what my kids will feel about this issue when they are old enough to understand they are the LUCKY 2 who got to grow up together.