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I've been lurking here for a little while, but wanted to come out in the open with an intro and a question! We are <i>really</i> just getting started on the adoption journey! Our Sweet Pea is 13 months old, and we were planning on spacing children a bit farther apart (hopefully 3 years, or so.). So, the only thing that we've done so far is start saving a bit of money every month specifically for an "adoption fund" in the future. My fervent hope is to domestically adopt a newborn and adoptive breastfeed, and I'm planning on maintaining my milk supply to try to make re-lactating a bit easier (although Sweet Pea is taking care of that 100% for me right now!). My body responded really well to pumping when he was in the NICU, and created a full supply, so hopefully that's a good omen!<br><br>
My question is a pretty preliminary one, I think, about open and closed adoptions. I've noticed that lots of people have open adoptions here. My only personal experience with domestic adoption (that I know of) is with a friend who is a bmom, and their adoption is open. To me, it seems like open adoption would be really difficult - that I'd always feel inferior, like I wasn't the "real mom." DH and I have said in conversations that our adoption would be a closed one. After seeing how many people here have open adoptions, though, I wonder about this.<br><br>
Can anyone share their experience with open or closed adoption, or the way you (and DP, if applicable!) came to the decision for one or the other?<br><br>
(Also, since I'm new, please excuse - and correct! - any lapses in terminology. Intention is not to offend, and I'd love to have anything that is offensive corrected so I don't make the mistake again!)
 

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We were told that it's pretty much up to the birth mom to request one or the other. For a lot of bmoms it seems it helps to be able to check and make sure their baby is doing ok.<br><br>
For me as an adoptive mom, I love it. But it was a process for me to get where I am in my attitude towards it. I never felt threatened, but I was worried about logistics. Hubby was worried that bmom would not be safe, and in some cases that might be true, but not ours.<br><br>
It helped me to talk to other adoptive moms and bmoms about it, especially those who had BTDT and made it work. It also helped meeting the potential bmom and getting to know her, to put a real face on it. I began to think what it would be like for me to have to allow someone else to raise my bio kids and how I would want to see for myself that they are safe and happy.<br><br>
As an amom, I think open adoption is great. My son has more people in his life to love him. He can have his bmom tell him she loves him. She is there if I have medical questions. But I am his mom, his "real" mom. As my friend and mentor says, it is shared information and love, not shared parenting roles.<br><br>
The hardest part is being sensitive to her grieving process and knowing how much to say or to share. I am sure I'll make mistakes and not do it perfectly, but I still like having her and her family in our lives.
 

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Our baby is 14 months old. She came to us as a baby born situation. I started nursing her at 6 hours. We have an open adoption. We wanted an open adoption because we felt it would be better for the baby to have contact with her birthfamily as she grew up. It wasn't a deal breaker, but it's what we hoped for.<br><br>
The bmom initially wanted a closed adoption. She didn't see the baby in the hospital per her request. So we had a pretty easy experience--walk into the hospital at 6 hours, get a private room where we ate Thai food and our son met her, me spend the night with her (rather than take her home at 12 hours) so I could bond with her without our son present, go home the next morning, and get on with our lives once TPR was signed.<br><br>
Then the bmom decided she wanted to see the baby before TPR. She and her mom came to our house on day 3. I'm sure they were at least as nervous as we were. They were such nice people. I got a 3 generation photo in case our daughter never got to see them again. I saved everything that had anything to do with the bmom--crib card from hospital, paperwork from the attorney, everything. I wanted our daughter to have it. We told bmom she could contact whenever she wanted and see the baby when she wanted. She didn't think she'd want that. We told her she could still contact us whenever she wanted.<br><br>
A week before the adoption was finalized she sent an email sharing some medical info and asking how the baby was. That is the only time I've ever felt anxious. I knew she had no legal standing and that her contacting us before the finalization was a coincidence, but I was still nervous. I emailed her and sent pictures as she asked. She thanked me for them.<br><br>
She contacted me at 6 months. We'd been a family long enough that I felt secure in my role as mom. This baby was bonded to ME and I had no worries. Bmom had hidden the pregnancy from her other kids who had just learned about it. She wanted to know if they could come by. That was weird thinking about what the kids knew. And the visit went really well. Grandma came too. Once the kids realized we were just normal people and that we had rabbits, they went about kid stuff. The bmom held the baby for a bit. Then handed her to me and told her, "You go to your mom."<br><br>
We've had them over twice since. I send her photos and update once a month. Sometimes she answers, sometimes she doesn't. I'll invite them over for Christmas. They came for her first birthday party. We gave bmom a wax casting of her hand as a baby's birthday present.<br><br>
They are nice people. Circumstances were such that she felt it was in the baby's best interest to place her. However, I have a photo from the birthday party where the baby is playing with a gift from bmom. Bmom is looking on with such love and pride. How could I steal that photo from my baby? She will look at that photo and will not be able to question if her bmom loved her. It is so evident.<br><br>
Regarding adoptive nursing. My son was 18 months when we decided to adopt and I started pumping to keep up my milk supply. (I'd previously donated to another adopted baby, but then I only pumped once a day.) Since we were hoping to have a baby within the year I saved all the milk. Then I discovered I had high lipase and my milk was safe but undrinkable. That put a psychological damper on pumping. I dropped from three times a day to once a day, though over the months at times I could make myself pump three to five times a day. It was 11 months from decision to adopt to getting baby. Pumping that long is hard (especially since I'd pumped for 17 months before that for my son and for donating.) To build up my supply I ended up needing to take domperidone and goat's rue, plus supplement with frozen milk. We had a freezer incident and I lost 75% of my milk to a thaw. I got donor milk from <a href="http://www.milkshare.com" target="_blank">www.milkshare.com</a>.<br><br>
As your biobaby ages, your milk supply will naturally drop. I've heard this is the hardest time to try to relactate. Your body is determined to decrease supply because your baby doesn't need the milk. So, pump a lot. Since you want to wait so long to get a baby, donate the milk for the next few months. Then save every drop. I found that at first I only needed an ounce or two a day, so big 4 or 6 ounce bags were a problem. They're too hard to break off pieces. The little 1/2 ounce bags that frustrated me (because my supply had dropped that low) turned out to be more useful.<br><br>
Note that I am, alas, not a cow. Even when my son was little I could only pump 2 ounces at a time. I had enough milk for him, but little more. My daughter has only had 2 ounces of formula in her life. I am grateful I made most of her milk and thankful to the 4 donors that provided the extra I couldn't make.<br><br>
Sorry if this is disjointed. I need to go do something and don't have time to edit.
 

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I thought I'd come back and mention that I am still tandem adoptive nursing my 14 month old and my son who will be 4 in December. It's a lot of hard work in the early days because of supply issues and a toddler that is used to getting as much milk as he wants. And even now it has its demands. But I am really grateful I've been able to do this.
 

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I'm really not a fan of the term "real" mother. I think both the adoptive and birth parents are real. Just in different ways.<br><br>
My son's adoption is open and my foster daughter's will be too (with her birth father.) We see him birth mother and grandmother a couple of times a year (usually around holidays or birthdays.) I'm glad that he can have that connection to his birth family. We see his two sisters (adopted by other families) throughout the year.<br><br>
We'll probably see Polliwog's birth father (and his relatives) two or three times a year. At first, we'll probably do park playdates. Then we'll see what happens.<br><br>
My kids are loved by many families and it just enriches our lives. I'm secure in my role as their mother, but know that they are connected to other families in a real way.
 

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I think what you're feeling is really normal and many if not most pre-adoptive parents start out that way. The feeling that you won't ever be the "real mom" is so common, and I started out that way myself...in fact, I used to have a really hard time with the term "first mom" because to me it implied that I was second-rank, or lesser. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
I can't speak to domestic adoption, because we adopted internationally. What I can say is that, once you are raising your child, the fears of not feeling like her real mom will go away. FAST!<br><br>
With our daughter, we're really hoping to move from a closed adoption to an open adoption, but that's in the hands of our daughter's parents, not us. Once we saw our daughter, met our daughter, I knew that my fears of "sharing" her were so small compared to the larger need she might have someday to know her birth family, or be raised with the benefits of an open, loving relationship. And once we saw a picture of our daughter's mom, I was actually grateful for how quickly my feelings changed....yes, I consider her my daughter's mother, but I am too, and there's no awkwardness in the thoughts or feelings, no competition...it's a very comfortable place to be. I never would have guessed that, but I'm thankful for it!<br><br>
I would read more about open adoption. I really like this book: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2F0762408014%2Fref%3Dox_ya_oh_product" target="_blank">Sacred Connections: Stories of Adoption</a>. I'm sure there are better books out there, but this one tells the true stories, told by people in the triad, of all kinds of adoption. After reading it, I felt sure that, in most cases, open adoption is the way to go. (Plus it's only $4 if you buy it used, so really...why not?)<br><br>
Best of luck to you!
 

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We adopted DS from China. Placing a child for adoption is illegal in China so babies are left where they will be found with no information about who their parents are.<br><br>
I did not fully realize how sad it is that DS will almost certainly never be able to find his birth parents or know anything about them until after he had come home. Now that he is home and old enough to discuss adoption (he's 6), it has really hit me how very sad this is. He's only touched on it once, asking if his birthmom is sad. I answered honestly that I think she is. He hasn't brought it back up but I'm sure it will resurface.<br><br>
We are pursuing a domestic adoption now and prefer an open adoption, although I have some concerns about visits. We are currently matched with a birthmom who does not want visits, but does want e-mails or phone calls and pictures.<br><br>
Catherine
 

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I can completely understand your concerns and fears.<br><br>
I think I/we go against the general grain in saying that we are not looking for a fully open adoption for our next child. Of course as with anything else there are personal and circumstantial reasons why we choose the paths we choose.<br><br>
My second dd/first adoption is completely closed. This was not our choice, it was her bmoms choice. We have absolutely nothing... not a picture, a name, no medical history, no ethnic information, no way or hope of ever finding her.<br>
I know this will be hard for my dd as she grows. I wish there was a way to contact her and have some picture/letter exchanges. I know this extreme is unusual.<br><br>
We are in process with our second adoption which will be domestic newborn. We are hoping for pictures/letters/emails and no visits, however we will concider one yearly visit. Again this is deeply personal and what we feel is right for our lives and family. I guess what I am trying to say is to try and be open to keeping the lines of communication open. It doesn't have to be so extreme in either direction. We meet an adoptive family who saw the bfamily constantly (like several times per week) and they babysit for their child, had holidays and festivities together, etc. Then there is my dd's situation with absolutely nothing. There is lots of in between there... so my advise would be to take that middle ground idea and think about what works for you and your family. It seems that no two open adoption situations are alike, and you definately have a say in what your level of comfort is, as does the birth family.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>RedOakMomma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14533865"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think what you're feeling is really normal and many if not most pre-adoptive parents start out that way. The feeling that you won't ever be the "real mom" is so common, and I started out that way myself...in fact, I used to have a really hard time with the term "first mom" because to me it implied that I was second-rank, or lesser. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br>
. . . .What I can say is that, once you are raising your child, the fears of not feeling like her real mom will go away. FAST!</div>
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Yes, all this.<br><br>
We have both: an open adoption and a closed one.<br><br>
I would say our particular type of open adoption would be the most difficult possible circumstances under which to have an open adoption, so if we can testify on behalf of open adoption...folks in all kinds of situations should, IMO, at least consider it.<br><br>
Our open adoption began as a foster-adoption, and our son's first parents-- in particular his first mother-- fought to raise her child. Thus, she was clearly not supportive of the adoption from the very start. She also doesn't have the cognitive and emotional capacity to accept her failings and limitations, so she will probably always struggle to understand the *reasons* her rights to her son were terminated. To her, it will likely always feel like her son was stolen from her. This was at the very foundation of our relationship.<br><br>
Our son came to us as a newborn, 1.5 days old. He never knew his first mother as a mother. Her rights to an older child had already been terminated, and for a number of reasons it was clear that it would be dangerous to "give her a second chance" with ds. So the state immediately put him in our home for foster care. He didn't come home from the hospital for a week after his birth, but we stayed with him in the special care nursery 24-7 except for a couple hours each day when his first mother would visit.<br><br>
While we weren't allowed to visit with the mother in the hospital (the situation was too volatile and the hospital to delicate a setting), we met her soon after at her first supervised visitation with ds within a week of him leaving the hospital. Over many months of supervised visits, I enjoyed getting to know ds' first parents and their families (ds' birthgrandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.). And I really began to care deeply about his first mother, despite everything.<br><br>
When ds was around a year old, his first parents reluctantly voluntarily relinquished their rights, as ds' mom was pregnant again and fighting for two kids would have been pretty much impossible due to their limitations. Later ds' first mother had an abortion (fairly late in the pregnancy), but that is a different story. It was a painful and difficult thing for them, and I watched with a heart full of sadness and compassion even as I was glad we were going to be able to keep ds safe. We volunteered to sign an open adoption agreement with them at that time, but it was really only a semi-open arrangement we were agreeing to per the state's recommendations about our particular situation. We agreed to send them a picture and a letter each year, and they agreed to keep in contact about their whereabouts.<br><br>
In actuality, our commitment to them has always been much bigger. We have visited with them frequently, at parks and children's museums and libraries and all kinds of places. We moved cross-country unexpectedly when ds was a couple years old, due to health issues with dw's parents and two great job offers I received. It was hard to say goodbye, but we did commit to regular emails, phone calls, and visits whenever we could make them.<br><br>
We know that it is best for ds to have the opportunity for this type of relationship with them, and while over the years we've had a few tricky things to deal with (needing to put limits down, for example, when ds' birthfather put pictures of ds up on his My Space page that also contained tons of really inappropriate content...a place where he was "friends" with folks involved in seriously questionable activities...limits we were in the end able to successfully communicate), I can't imagine feeling right about doing anything less than having this relationship with them. That wouldn't have been right for anyone, most especially not for ds or for his first parents.<br><br>
Sure we've had to talk all together about terms that we're comfortable using, and so forth, but it has never been a question who was ds' parents. We were, are, and always will be. And the truth is the balance of power is always weighted more heavily on the side of adoptive parents than anyone else in the adoption triad (except prior to relinquishment, though even then sometimes there can be a power dynamic). The least I think I can do is use my power compassionately.<br><br>
As for dd, hers was also a foster-adoption (she came to us at 6 months from another foster home but had spent some time in her first mom's care), but in this case, the state did not feel it was safe to have any level of openess, and dd's birthmother gave up any chance of convincing them otherwise through some things that happened during the process despite my pleading that she help me make the case for openess. We have some information but no contact with dd's first family. dd is getting old enough to talk about her adoption, and I can see such a difference in the access she has to different ways of processing her feelings from the access ds has to different ways of processing his feelings. ds can, just as one example, go to his photo album and see pictures of him and his birthfather together. dd doesn't have that. Her options are limited, and it is so sad.<br><br>
There was a whole era where closed adoptions were the norm, and as far as I can tell, this left a trail of many hurting people. It's not to say that a closed adoption can never be good. I have a friend whose adoption was closed, and he genuinely doesn't have an interest in anything else. But for the majority, I suspect, closed adoption protects only adoptive parents and harms more than it helps anybody else.<br><br>
If there is one thing I have learned as a mom, it is that life is not about me. Kids are going to feel many things about their adoptions, and we don't stop that by closing off the adoption. If my child is going to grow up feeling like I am not her "real mother," it certainly won't make a difference that she has not seen her birthmother in years. She'll long for her anyway.<br><br>
To adopt, we have to be comfortable with this...with worst case scenarios and the fact that other than doing our best as loving parents, we can't control most anything. But it's not about us and our feelings. This is about kids, and we have to be adults about it and put their interests firsts. Assuming birthparents are willing, I think open adoption is generally best for kids.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Sierra</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14535319"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Sure we've had to talk all together about terms that we're comfortable using, and so forth, but it has never been a question who was ds' parents. We were, are, and always will be. And the truth is the balance of power is always weighted more heavily on the side of adoptive parents than anyone else in the adoption triad (expect prior to relinquishment, though even then sometimes there can be a power dynamic). The least I think I can do is use my power compassionately.</div>
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This was really, really well put.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>RedOakMomma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14535516"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This was really, really well put.</div>
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Maybe...except the grammar/spelling error <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">.
 

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We don't have a preference, I don;t think. Well, I guess DH would be more comfortable with closed. But realistically, I can't see how closed would be eaiser or better. Each would come with plusses and minus' of some sort, I guess.<br><br>
I feel so much compassion for the bmom, and knowing that having closed, how hard that might be on her. I dont know. I can't see giving birth and then having a closed adoption with zero way of being able to contact and just "check in" on things. Even from distance. It pains me to think of anyone out there wondering how the baby/child might be doing <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this thread - we've had a busy time with pretty much all of DS's teeth (well, 4) coming in at once, so it's been difficult!<br><br>
I wanted to respond individually, but it looks like that's not in the cards for me at the moment. All of your responses have been so helpful! It's great to hear about other peoples' experiences as we start out on this path. I'm also glad to hear that this is a fairly normal concern. I was a bit worried that wanting a closed adoption made me a bad candidate for becoming an adoptive mother. Now I feel a bit more understanding of why I would think a closed adoption was the best option for us - basically, that I was concerned about never feeling like "real mom." I'm so glad to be reassured that feeling like Mom is never going to be a problem, once Baby joins us <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">!<br><br>
I am struck by the compassion that everyone has for bmoms, which is a lot of the reason that I joined MDC. In the mainstream (or, at least, in my experience with adoption in the media and the opinions of others offline), it seems like bmom's needs get ignored, and that's just not right! Giving the baby you carried a family who will love them doesn't mean that you DON'T love them and want to check in on them from time to time. I know that I would. Right now, what seems like it will be easiest for me is an adoption with a bmom who wants emails or phone calls but not visits. I don't want to deprive my future son or daughter of finding his/her birthmom when/if they want to (wow, there's a lot of / in that sentence!).<br><br>
I think something that I need to realize is that it is NOT the same as having a biokid - I know the love and bonding will be as fierce and strong, but it is simply not the same situation! It was a lot easier for me to get happy after DS was born prematurely when I accepted that our situation was NOT going to be the same as having a homebirth. The emotions would be different, the trials would be different, it just wasn't the same. And, you know what? Lots of amazing people came into our lives through the NICU that wouldn't have otherwise. I'll bet our child's adoption, if it ends up being an open one, will be the exact same way.<br><br>
Thank you so much for helping me to be more open to the idea of open adoption!<br><br>
PS - Does anyone else have book recommendations? I will definitely be getting Sacred Connections: Stories of Adoption when I've got a little more time to read!
 

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Here's a great book that takes you step by step through the process of domestic adoption. It's very enlightening and quite funny. BTW, it's a family with 2 dads.<br><br><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FKid-Happened-Boyfriend-Decided-Pregnant%2Fdp%2F0452281768%2Fref%3Dsr_1_1%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1256261595%26sr%3D8-1" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Kid-Happened-B...6261595&sr=8-1</a>
 
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