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in the thread about hospital questions it seemed like there were several people here in an open adoption situation. i didn't realize there were that many here on mdc.<br><br>
i have some questions about your adoption experiences (for anyone - not just adoptive parents, i'd really like to hear from the birth mama's here, too).<br><br>
what kind of arrangement do you have (there are huge variety of adoptions classified as 'open adoption')? is there frequent contact? is contact usually via phone/letters/e-mail or through a 3rd party? is there anything you would have done differently? how have other people reacted to knowing you have an open adoption? do you live close by? are you in contact with extended family at all? any book recommendations (any good childrens books on the subject would be swell!)?<br><br>
thanks in advance for any insight! now that we are involved in the process i can't imagine doing it any other way.<br><br>
eta - feel free to pm me if you don't want to post anything on a message board.
 

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Most of our adoption journey is on my blog (if you care to read our history). Basically we have a very open relationship with our son's natural family but he will not be introduced or have any contact with them until he is older and mature enough to decide that is something he wants. I'm not saying he has to be 18 or anything like that. I just want that decision to be made by him.<br><br>
Adoptees have no say on if they want to be adopted and by whom they wish to be adopted by. It is our belief, my husband and myself as well as his natural parents that Jake should be allowed to decide if he wants to meet them and when. He will of course know that I communicate with his natural mom and that we would be supportive of him having a relationship with them.<br><br>
Jake's natural mom was really clear to me that she never wanted adoption to be the biggest thing in his life. That is one of the reasons we didn't want to have visits or push that upon him. I'm not judging anyone else and how they handle their adoption, but for us we feel like this is the most fair thing for him. I think in this day in age it is very pollitically correct to do the visits and a very open adoption but I don't think it is any healthier and I think in some cases, depending on the natural family and their stability, I think it is harmful. If our son wants to meet his natural parents when he is say 12-years-old and I know that they have changed their ways and are not upstanding type folks, I'll say no, not yet. I don't ever forsee that happening with his natural parents, but you get the drift of my reasoning.<br><br>
I love my son's natural mom and we speak at least once a week. She's doing very well, as is his natural dad! Grandma is a little sad but she's happy that he is with us and I send everyone photos and keep a web site (password protected) that is just for them.
 

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<a href="http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2006/03/08/open_adoption/index_np.html?source=salon.rss" target="_blank">http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/200...urce=salon.rss</a><br><br>
I really enjoyed reading this, by an adoptive mother.<br><br>
Her blog is here: <a href="http://www.thiswomanswork.com" target="_blank">www.thiswomanswork.com</a>
 

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There are some really good books. I think one is The Open Adoption Experience.<br><br>
It really depends on how you define Open Adoption. Many seem to group a large variety of situations into that now. Some say Open Adoption are only those that would include visits. Others say any identifying information.<br><br>
So....for us we have whatever we have. Basically our daughters birthmom choose us, we were there for the birth, and we took her home from the hospital. We have each others full names, addresses, and phone numbers. Nothing really has gone throug a 3rd party. She lives across the country from us. We agreed to pictures and updates, we didn't make any agreements about visits.<br><br>
The agency had us all sign their standard thing that stated pictures and updates (which can go directly to her or through them) at 1, 3, 6, 9. 12 months and then yearly thereafter. Our daughter is 9 weeks old. We've sent out 2 packages...one right after we got home and the other at the one month mark.<br><br>
In our case she really didn't want to pin down what she wanted afterwards in the way of calls, emails, etc. Understandably...she didn't know how she would feel. So she wanted things left open. Which was fine. We however didn't think about how we might feel afterwards (there was a LOT of stuff that went on after placement) and we really wish we would have had things much more outlined specifically. Right now we are feeling rather overwhelmed by the amount of contact and we are really wanting/needing some time and space. Prior we were so focused on her and we didn't think about that it may be a very intense process for us and that we may need some time to adjust. We didn't realize that it might be a tough transition from all the focus and attention being on her to shifting to the baby.<br><br>
Honestly, part of it is all the crap that happened. I'm sure we would feel differently if she hadn't done the things she did. Part of it is probably lack of sleep and all that goes with it. But it's just tough for us right now because we feel like we want our focus and attention to be on our family and over and over again it ends up being about her - on a weekly basis. Now mind you, I don't talk with any of our family members on a weekly basis. Even gf's ...sometimes we talk often and others we don't.<br><br>
But part of it too is the very normal and natural wanting to cocoon as a family. I felt very similar when I birthed children. I may not have as much hormonal stuff going on or physical stuff. But the emotional and mental stuff is the same. And I know I didn't really want people in my face so much then either.<br><br>
I've really questioned who open adoption is really for. Is it so much for the kids or the adults? I know that causes uproar. FWIW I'm an adoptee myself. I mean I absolutely think it's important for children to know their stories and have information and photos. But I'm also really clear that weekly (or more frequently) calls at this point are NOT about the baby. Especially when her birthmom never really talks or asks about her. I think open adoption is great in certain situations...I'm not so sure that it's the best thing in most situations though. I think there is a lot of emphasis these days on how that's the way to do it - it's THE way...I'm not so sure. I think it really depends on the people involved and their relationship.<br><br>
Anyway right now we are feeling like every time we start to get comfortable we get a call or email. So we are feeling rather intruded upon right now. She had originally told us that she felt like she may need some time and space which we absolutely respected. She ended up calling every day during that time though. Now we are feeling like we need that time and space. But it's been tough having her get that and respect it.<br><br>
Honestly, it's tough for us too because we really did NOT expect it to be this way at all. We went into it thinking things were and would be a certain way and found out that they were very different than we thought. So there is some grieving going on too. I'm sad, angry and hurt by some of the things she's done and while things will get better in time...they will never be what we had hoped for.
 

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deannak -<br><br>
i actually have read a good amount of your blog. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> thanks for taking the time to blog things down (although i'm sure you're not just doing it for my sake).<br><br>
if jake wanted to meet them at say age 4 or 5, would it be out of the question? is this an agreement you worked out with his birth parents before his birth or placement, or was it just left up to you guys to figure out what you wanted to do?<br><br>
feel free to say you don't want to go into it. i know some of these questions might seem probing.
 

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clothcrazymom Said
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Honestly, part of it is all the crap that happened. I'm sure we would feel differently if she hadn't done the things she did.</td>
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All the reasons you listed is why I'm scared of agreeing to open adoptions with visits. You just don't know what is going to happen after placement. I would hate to agree to something that I wasn't able to do once the child was with us. I'm sorry your child's birth mom is intruding on you.<br><br>
aja-belly Said
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">if jake wanted to meet them at say age 4 or 5, would it be out of the question?</td>
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Yes, that would be totally out of the questions because I don't think a 4 or 5 year old or even a 10 year old has the maturity to understand the importance (or future importance) of that relationship.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">is this an agreement you worked out with his birth parents before his birth or placement, or was it just left up to you guys to figure out what you wanted to do?</td>
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We decided before we even met his natural parents that this was the way we intended to handle any adoption situation that came our way. I had to turn down an adoption situation with a potential birth mom who wanted once a year visits. (the story is on the blog under the birth mom category). She was a great girl and I'm sure whoever adopted her child is a lucky family. But we have to do what we feel is right for our child and when a birth mom places her child for adoption... the child and his or her emotions and upbringing is the responsibility of the adoptive parents. We knew before we adopted how we intended on raising our children.
 

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I agree with you Deanna. We were not willing to agree to anything we might not be able to follow through with. As weird as it may sound to some...we looked at what if the very worst case scenarios were to happen down the road? What would we be ok with doing...no matter what. We felt like we would always be ok with some sortof update and photos even if that meant through a 3rd party and so on.<br><br>
I have an older child who many years ago told me - look I do NOT want you sending HIM (his birthdad) my pictures and he has no right to know my business! At some point...it does become up to the child. But often times we have made agreements that don't take some of these things into consideration. In his case there wasn't an agreement and it was very simply told to his bdad that it was this way and he understood. It's a much different type of adoption situation. We talked to him about things before we made any agreements with this adoption. He voiced various concerns. I mean I wonder if she may be upset with us at some point because we sent out all sorts of photos and information about her - it could happen. We felt ok with that though.<br><br>
Our post-placement agreement with our daughter isn't a legal agreement. But I would go by whatever it was that we agreed upon, whether it was something that would hold up in court or not. I think the only way we could make a legal agreement for post-placement is that it would have to contain provisions for things like this. I can't imagine those who have things set up in such a way that they might have to force a child to do things.<br><br>
FWIW...my bdad showed up when I was about 10 and I was able to see him. As mature as I was, and as much as I had been through in life, and as much as I understood how things were....it was TOUGH. He was around for a time and then I had to tell him I didn't want to see him...it was just too much for me to deal with...all of it. I went looking for him again when I was about 16. Then it was basically to get my questions answered. We ended up having a strained relationship and have stayed in contact ever since. We are much closer now.<br><br>
Oh Aja - you may also want to consider in any sortof agreements - what is the birthmom's agreement? I know when we were thinking about a situation and setting up the agreement we included that we wanted updates and photos from their side too.<br><br>
I think the biggest thing is to think about the child. I think often times we are concerned about the birth parents and what it will be like for them. Think about as a child - what is it for them. Because the truth is ...they are who really matters!
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Think about as a child - what is it for them. Because the truth is ...they are who really matters!</td>
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YES! That is exactly what I have been preaching. So often adoptive parent guilt leads people to do things that are best for the natural parents, or what is best for the adoptive family becuase of insecurities, not what is best for the child. My goal in our adoption journey was to explain to the natural parents that doing right by the child's needs is the best thing, even if it hurts. Being a good parent, natural or adoptive means putting your children first.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">As mature as I was, and as much as I had been through in life, and as much as I understood how things were....it was TOUGH.</td>
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Your situation is a perfect example of why I think it is important to wait until a child is ready. 18-years-old might not be a mature enough age but it will be out of our hands at that point. It all depends on the child, his or her needs, the level of their maturity and the stability of the natural family.
 

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We have an open adoption with our son's birthmom and a semi-open adoption with our dd's birthmom.<br><br>
Our open adoption is one where we have exchanged full identifying information, and we contact one another directly, but we don't have a lot of contact. That is per his birthmom's wishes. She asked us a year ago to only exchange letters and gifts on his birthday and not at any other time. She has since married and has another child, and she and her dh want space for their own family. We do send a letter to his birth grandma at Christmastime, and I sometimes will email photos to his birth grandma. We have had two visits with his birthgrandma--one when he was 2 years old (a quick visit when she had a layover in our city), and one when he was 3. His birthmom has never had a desire to see him; I think it would be too hard for her. She seems to deal with things by having more space, although we have a friendly and warm relationship. We just got a package for his birthday, and she wrote a nice, chatty letter and sent him a really nice gift. OUr contact has been through letters and emails.<br><br>
I think my ds would be fine with meeting his birthmom at his age (4). I really don't think it would be a big deal for him. If we had the opportunity for a visit, I'd do it in a heartbeat.<br><br>
When we started this adoption, our agency had a policy that prior to finalization the adoptions were semi-open and correspondence went through the agency, but after finalization the parties could open things if they wished. Since then our agency has changed that policy and they will facilitate open adoptions from the beginning of both parties want it. Anyway, we had six months of getting to know our ds's birthfamily in that manner before making the decision to open the adoption, and in some ways that was nice because we knew more of what we were getting into (it also helped that they live in another state). His birthmom chose us, we met before birth, at placement, and once a week after the birth.<br><br>
I would have preferred to have a <i>more</i> open adoption with our second one, but when we were matched it felt right, so we went for it anyway. Our recent adoption (dd is 4 weeks old) started out totally closed, but with the agency's influence it has become semi-open, and we correspond through the agency. We got to be at the hospital and spent a lot of time with her birthmom. I highly doubt we'll ever hear from our dd's birthmom again, though. The agency's suggestion, which we are following, is that we send weekly letters and pictures for the first 3 months, bi-weekly for the second three months, every three weeks for the third three months, and then monthly until the first birthday. I am finding it a real challenge to keep this schedule of letter-writing while trying to parent two children, one of whom is still a newborn. It really is hard to take care of a birthparent while trying to adjust to a new baby. It is a high priority for me, though. We have been lucky in that both of our birthmoms have been very respectful of us. We have had very positive experiences.<br><br>
A few months ago we were approached by a birthmom who wanted an extremely open adoption. She wanted us to commit to monthly visits for the first while. (The caseworker told me that she had actually wanted <i>weekly</i> visits, but her worker informed her that no adoptive family on the planet would go for that.) I was kind of relieved that she didn't pursue us. She ended up not placing at all, and I think that was for the best. I don't think she was really wanting to place but was getting pressure from family, and pursuing open adoption would have been an attempt to try to place without really placing, if that makes any sense.
 

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Wow Laurel! That is a lot of updates!<br><br>
I've talked with sooooo many potential adoptive families. I know that many of them prior to adoption (especially those where it's the first child) don't realize how once a week or even once a month can become rather overwhelming when we are in the middle of babyhood. Sometimes we are just lucky to be able to take a shower and brush our teeth!
 

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I guess with us it's also just what it is...<br><br>
Our goal was to not have some fairy princess who would let them do whatever they wanted if only...<br>
I believe secrets hurt and that the parents who gave my DC life are a part of our family. If they were toxic I would be more reticent, but they see toxic people all the time with us there to buffer them and set boundaries...<br><br>
anyway, this is what my answers are for our family at this time <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><span style="color:#FF0000;">what kind of arrangement do you have (there are huge variety of adoptions classified as 'open adoption')?</span><br>
both life moms have all our contact information and when they want a visit we arrange it.<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">is there frequent contact?</span><br>
no<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">is contact usually via phone/letters/e-mail or through a 3rd party?</span><br>
phone and email mostly for DD's lifeparents. DS's lifemom broke off contact about a year ago<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">is there anything you would have done differently?</span><br>
no<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">how have other people reacted to knowing you have an open adoption?</span><br>
MIL was afraid and then after seeing how weel things went with DD's, said we were lucky and shouldn't do it with DS's <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: Everyone else is mostly curious<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">do you live close by?</span><br>
DD's are a couple hours away; DS's was 14 hours away at last contact<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">are you in contact with extended family at all?</span><br>
no<br><span style="color:#FF0000;">any book recommendations (any good childrens books on the subject would be swell!)?</span> I've enjoyed every book I've read, even when I didn't like the content.<br><br>
To be clear; we do have visits with DD's lifeparents and their other two children. There will come a day when DD spends the occasional weekend with them and her sister will spend time with us as well. There isn't any awkwardness at all and we really care about one another. We really are family and DD and her sister adore each other and bond instantly every time they meet. The visits are only once a year or two right now, per lifeparents' requests.
 

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ok I am the birthmom here.<br><br>
Mine is an open adoption... they live about 5 hours away, and we talk all the time. I talk to him on the phone but I am just Jessica. If he says he wants to know who his BM is, they will tell him and I would love to have a relationship with him if he wants one with me. I have sent gifts and letters and even made him a little scrap book with pics of me with him, me and his parents, and my family. I also wrote him a letter telling him why I gave him up.<br><br>
Lots of times when I call to check on him I can talk to him on the phone and its great but makes me cry every time.<br><br>
He had to have a sugery at the end of June and it was something thats congenital so they sent me his med records incase I ever have another boy.<br><br>
We are close and I consider them my family and I know they feel the same way about me.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>clothcrazymom</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Wow Laurel! That is a lot of updates!<br><br>
I've talked with sooooo many potential adoptive families. I know that many of them prior to adoption (especially those where it's the first child) don't realize how once a week or even once a month can become rather overwhelming when we are in the middle of babyhood. Sometimes we are just lucky to be able to take a shower and brush our teeth!</div>
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It is a lot of updates, and it is rather overwhelming right now. My baby is very fussy and wants to be held and nursed all the time, and my older son is wanting tons of attention too, so it has definitely been a challenge to keep on top of contact with birthparents. I don't think it was as hard when my ds was a baby, even though he was a fairly high-needs baby himself.<br><br>
Last Friday the secretary at our agency called and said that dd's birthmom had left town unexpectedly and therefore hadn't received our last two letters, so could we please send them again and re-send all the pictures we'd sent. I had to order all the pictures online again, and it cost me about $20 (it was all the pictures from the hospital and placement, so there were tons of them). I then realized that I was supposed to mail that weeks letter that day, and I hadn't even written, and now it seemed even more urgent to get it out that day, so I basically dropped everything and wrote the letter in between nursing my dd. But my 4-year-old pretty much got neglected that morning, and he was extremely unhappy about that. I felt so guilty and so overwhelmed about how to balance the needs of not only my kids but birthparents as well.<br><br>
However, I think it's important to remember that this time of huge adjustment for us as parents just happens to coincide with the time when birthparents' grief is most acute and they need the most contact from us. That is just one of the realities of the situation. I remind myself that this mother (dd's birthmom) has just lost her child, and I think that it is extremely important that she get these letters and pictures. I feel that as the adoptive parent, the one who actually has a baby in my arms, I have the greater responsibility to sacrifice and make sure our birthmom has what she needs to get through this. With that said, though, I don't think it's wise for the adoptive parents to be the birthparents' primary source of emotional support. In both of our situations, we have not been even major sources of that kind of support. Our only job has been to make sure that each birthmom can see how her child is doing and knows that we are thinking of her.<br><br>
It would be interesting to be in a more open situation, with visits, and see how that would change the dynamics of our relationships.
 

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I get painted as an all-or-nothing open adoption advocate but this isn't true. I think that families should be *open* to openness and then proceed carefully while respecting everyone's wishes. As it turns out, for us this means a fully open adoption with regular visits and phone calls. Our daughter's first mom lives here in town and we do visits on a casual, no-planning-needed basis. It ends up being about once a month and we talk via phone maybe once a week. Our daughter is two and it was bumpy at first (as my essay in Salon attests) but we've settled into something that works for all of us, including my daughter.<br><br>
We have also met and had visits with our daughter's extended maternal birth family. However we have no contact with her paternal birth family and that's unlikely to change.<br><br>
I did want to say that there's a huge, huge difference between a birth father showing up when a child is ten and having an open adoption. Openness should be more organic than that, growing into something that meets the needs of the child. It is NOT the same as reunion later because the child and the parent(s) have already been forging a relationship.<br><br>
I personally don't see a reason to limit first family contact (given that they are not harmful to the child) before the child is old enough to give consent. I would not limit my children's contact to, say, my sister or brother or mom until they could agree and I see no difference in birth family. It's not like I'm going to wait 'til my daughter can say, "I want to visit my grandmother!" before she can hang with my mom, for example. It SOUNDS like empowering an adopted child but I'm not clear how it actually IS empowering him/her. Now if that's the way the adoptive parents and birth parents want to do it, ok but I gotta wonder if it's really about the rights of the kid unless the first family is considered a danger to him/her.<br><br>
Dawn
 

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oh boy! I'm really surprised that an agency encourages that frequency of updates.<br><br>
Well I agree with what you've said Laurel. But I think we need to be aware too about priorities. And while there absolutely is concern about the birthfamily...the children need to come first. And it's not ok for the needs of the birthparent to be placed ahead of the child. It's not ok to sacrifice the needs of the child(ren) for the needs or wishes of the birthparent.<br><br>
In our case...I realized that things were effecting me way too much. Our latest plan of how to deal with things didn't work. She now has tried to call and/or email every day and she won't pick up calls from our adoption team. Last night we sent a long email to her letting her know that we need a break....and we really need to stick to the agency's plan that they gave us all. I actually went back over some of our old correspondence and found that she clearly had said that she would not want frequent contact and that she fully knew that we would have a new baby and be adjusting and taking care of the other kids and all of that. She has a daughter she's parenting - so she knows what it's like to have a new baby. Obviously she couldn't know then what she would want to do later. But we also all agreed based upon the things that were stated at that time.<br><br>
In our case she does have this real need to try to lean on us completely (and beyond actually - part of the yucky stuff after placement was calling and complaining about financial issues!). She just flat out refuses to accept help from other sources. And we just can not be her source of support...it's not good for anyone. She has an extreme need for attention. We didn't realize this until after placement. We found out that prior to the placement she was depending on her family members and basically had burned them out. So she tried to transfer that to us.<br><br>
It's just really unfortunate because there really isn't so much about how do you deal with things AFTER placement. So much is about the birth and all that goes with that...but not so much about the transitions and the shift in focus and attention.<br><br>
I have to wonder if that amount of contact is really helpful in healing though. I guess that would depend on the individual. I know one birthmom we've talked with said she feels like lots of contact in the beginning is like pulling a scab off over and over again. It's just too much - people need some time and space. But again, every person is different.<br><br>
And while we as adoptive families can be compassionate and sympathetic to the birth parents experiences, we can't fix their lives for them. We aren't responsible for the choices they have made or the circumstances in their lives. I see over and over again where aps feel an extreme sense of obligation to the birthparent(s) and that can be really unhealthy.<br><br>
Oh and btw sorry but I don't think it should be your responsibilty to resend those packages! We went through something similar. In our case she wasn't picking up the packages and they would get returned. Well not to be harsh but then it becomes something that is not our responsibility. People need to be responsible for the choices that they make.<br><br>
I realized early on that I had been spending WAY too much time doing the photos and updates. So I gathered some information from other aps and birthmoms about how they handled their pictures and updates and was given lots of good ideas that were very helpful and made things much more managable.<br><br>
Oh in ending this book here...I had forgotten the question about extended birthfamily. We spent quite a bit of time with several of the other family members and they really wanted us to send photos, etc which we would have been happy to do (basically just send out when we send our other family members things) But her birthmom later told us she didn't want us doing that! So then we had the issue of who really has the right of deciding that? Just some more control and manipulation issues.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>clothcrazymom</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">oh boy! I'm really surprised that an agency encourages that frequency of updates.</div>
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And see, I thought that was entirely typical. I was kind of surprised when you mentioned your agency's guidelines, because it seemed like so little contact at the beginning. I guess it's all a matter of what you're used to, huh?<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">It's not ok to sacrifice the needs of the child(ren) for the needs or wishes of the birthparent.</td>
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I agree with you. One thought I had is that most parents aren't practicing attachment parenting, and unless they happen to have a really fussy or colicky baby, they probably <i>do</i> have more time to write letters. Many of my friends who have adopted have described the first weeks as quite easy and blissful. Well, they have calm, content babies, and they have no qualms about leaving them in swings or bouncy seats, and they're not inducing lactation so they can share the feeding with other people. I'm just saying I"m not sure I"d get a lot of sympathy from my agency because they wouldn't be looking at parenting quite the same way I do.<br><br>
Yeah, I was a little ticked about having to resend the packages, but at the same time those pictures were the <i>only</i> pictures of her with dd (in the hospital), and I couldn't bear that she would never have them. The letters were not bg deal because I could easily print them out on my computer, but the pictures cost me a pretty penny to have developed again.
 

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Haven't read any of the responses yet but I as I am an adoptive parent in a very open adoption I thought I would answer aja-belly's questions before reading on. this will be long, but our situation is unusual and I think might offer some insight.<br><br>
Our adoption was very non-traditional in that it was a private arrangement that kind of evolved. At the time DH and I weren't yet actively searching for a child -- but knew that we wanted to adopt eventually. We did already have a 3 yr old son [bio]. But the birth mom knew us in our community and had been going through a rough time and we helped her out some and got to know her and her 3 children [the youngest -- who we are currently adopting -- was 5 mo old at the time] At first we just took care of her infant in a respite care arrangement while she tried to get her life together -- but the whole time she spoke about our adopting her. And then she kind of freaked and changed her mind and took the baby back and we didn't hear from her for another 8 months. When dd was 18 mo, she called us again and asked us to take her "for good." Which we did with open arms. Over the next year we had dd -- completely unofficially from a legal point of view. We all made tentative steps toward making the arrangement legal, but dd's first mom was still going through a lot of life-stuff [homelessness, ill-health, trying to take care of the other 2 kids] and couldn't make the emotional or mental space or time to deal with making the adoption legal.<br><br>
Then --after dd was with us for a year -- first mom freaked again and took her back. [Most of the freak out had to do with wishing we were AA like dd] It was a real tragedy for our family and we grieved dd's loss like a death. However, 4 mo later, first mom called us again -- firmly convinced by dd's own behaviour and words, that she needed to be with us. DD has been with us again for 6 mo now; first mom has filled all the paperwork out and signed the consents, and all we are waiting on now is the court to make it official.<br><br>
To say that this has been an excruciating process is to put it mildly. But the OPEN aspect of it -- even with the craziness of her changing her mind -- was <b>not</b> the problem. The openness has contributed to a sense of security and continuity for DD. And because dh and I are white and dd and first mom are AA -- I feel that the connection is doubly important. Additionally there are other half-siblings [all have diff dads] who dd is bonded to as well. We expect our relationship with DD's first family will be a life-long one.<br><br>
DD is almost 3.5 She has very clear memories of living with MamaR and of living with us before. This could be extremely confusing. Instead, because we are open and honest and matter of fact about it -- and because she continues to see MamaR and her half-siblings once a month -- we have been able to normalize the situation for her -- and for ds who is now almost 7. We <b>all</b> refer to first mom as MamaR______. And despite how ugly the relationship between first mom and us got at times [MamaR has not always been emotionally/mentally well] we made a conscious decision that whenever the kids heard us talk about her it would be with affection and respect. Whenever the kids see us interact with her, we are loving and kind and respectful.<br><br>
We signed an enforceable post-adoption contact agreement that specified that MamaR would have visitiation monthly on the third Sat of the month and the 4th of July holiday. We also agreed to make conscious, specific efforts to ensure that DD would not be racially isolated. [MamaR's major concern with the adoption was the transracial aspect of it]. At this point the monthly visits are family visits -- both families get together and go to a park or something -- and we all spent the 4th of July together. In fact MamaR invited us to a huge family BBQ hosted by her aunt and we met the extended family for the first time.<br><br>
Our lawyers told us that while the contact agreement is technically enforceable, even now as DD's temp legal guardians [until the adoption is finalized] no one can force us to act outside of DD's best interest. If we start to think that contact with her first family is hurting her, we have every right to stop and the only way the agreement is enforceable is for MamaR to hire an att and bring it to court. So we are comfortable that our parental right to put DD's well-being first is intact.<br><br>
It can be harder than I ever imagined to have this kind of open and on-going relationship with DD's first family. It takes a great amount of emotional strength and commitment at times for DH and I not to let our fear, pettiness, insecurity, anger etc... take over and allow us to poison the relationship. Especially since the first mom is not always operating from a position of emotional well-being or strength.<br><br>
But there are a couple of things that really keep us going:<br><br>
- one is the other siblings. we adore these kids as well and they are all fairly bonded with dd and also connect well with our ds. seeing the kids together is very rewarding and we know we are offering them all a bond/relationship that will serve them their entire life. And while MamaR has never considered offering the other siblings for adoption, we care about them deeply and any way that our presence in their lives can be a source of stabilty and strength is a blessing for us all.<br><br>
- another is the race issue. DD is AA; our family is completely white and we live in a very white community. Being close to/intimate with AAs is important for the well-being of DD -- and in fact for our whole family. Who better to connect with than DD's first family?<br><br>
- the fact that -- despite her failings and weaknesses -- we believe in the basic goodness of MamaR and her intentions.<br><br>
- the inescapable fact that MamaR was DD's first, primal attachment. And that even though she knows with all her heart that we are her mommy and daddy [and that when she was back with MamaR for 4 months, she kept asking MamaR "when are my mommy and daddy coming to get me?"] -- that first attachment is still a powerful one. I see it every time we visit and she climbs into MamaR's arms and takes a deep sniff of her essence. Yes, it's hard not to feel threatened by that. But the reality is that when it is time to go -- DD knows where she wants to be and in fact gets nervous if she thinks we are not going home together.<br><br>
- and finally, we feel a sense of obligation to our DD is the future. When she is 10 and 15 and 18 and 25 -- WE are the ones who she will hold accountable for how we treated her first mom and her siblings. People she is clearly attached to. So out of respect for our DD, we will always treat her first family as family.<br><br>
Yes it's hard. Yes I sometimes have fantasies that the first mom would kind of just disappear. Yes it's more work than I would like.<br><br>
Do I think there is another option? No. Not for us. This path is not an easy one but we deeply believe it is the right one. Ethically and in terms of DD's ultimate emotional well-being and sense of self.<br><br>
I apologize for this being so long. But I think this is an incredibly important issue. And it's so hard to get info about **Really** open adoptions, I thought it was important to share our experience...
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>clothcrazymom</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Honestly, it's tough for us too because we really did NOT expect it to be this way at all. We went into it thinking things were and would be a certain way and found out that they were very different than we thought. So there is some grieving going on too. I'm sad, angry and hurt by some of the things she's done and while things will get better in time...they will never be what we had hoped for.</div>
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Just wanted to give you some hugs.<br><br>
I *so* understand that mix of feelings. Things probably will get better with time -- and who knows? With time to process and grieve and mature, the birth mom and the contact she ends up offering might exceed your hopes. Try not to be too pessimistic.<br><br>
From what I have read, it's not uncommon for the birth mom to use the adoptive parents as a source of emotional support. Which can be unexpected and taxing for them. I am confident that you will be able to "wean" her off this with time. Try to think of being there for her as a gift you are giving the universe -- and in some way -- even your baby.<br><br>
Again, hugs to you all.
 

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I did this little survey thing on a couple of adoption sites....I was wondering what was "typical" as far as contact went post placement. I did it back in January when we had been approached with a different situation.<br><br>
It seemed that many would do once a month for the first 3-6 months, then every 3 months, then 6 and then yearly or 2x a year thereafter. Some only have them do contact for the first 2-3 years. I don't get that. And I'm not really sure why there is such a huge difference in contact from one year to the next. I guess maybe because babies change a lot? Who knows. This just seems to be what many were doing. We have an ap list and we've talked about it on there and it's really something to see what differences there are in what people have set up. Some send 5-10 pics at a time, others 20, some 80 or more! Some write down just about every detail possible. Others write more general information - very similar to what we might write to any other relative or friend.<br><br>
In talking with our consultant - who is also a bmom and is not part of the agency. She said that in watching what people have done over the years with arangements when they have done things totally on their own, they will often call or contact in some way to say - we got home ok everything is going ok type thing. And then there usually is some time before contacting again. Which surprised me. She was saying that often all parties just need some time to breathe and settle into their lives. Which I can understand!<br><br>
Dawn - I would agree with you. Of course I didn't go into my whole story...heck I took up enough room already! My bdad was around until I was 3, I had photos and such of him, I knew who he was. I just didn't have any direct contact from 3-10. Which actually...unfortunately seems to happen a lot now with open adoptions of today.<br><br>
Obviously there is sooooo much that plays into all of this. It's such a highly individual thing. I'm quite sure that if things had been differently and our daughter's birthmom hadn't pulled some of the things she did after our arriving home (and some of the things that were found out that we did NOT know priof) - we would probably feel very differently about many things.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>DeannaK</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Jake's natural mom was really clear to me that she never wanted adoption to be the biggest thing in his life. That is one of the reasons we didn't want to have visits or push that upon him. I'm not judging anyone else and how they handle their adoption, but for us we feel like this is the most fair thing for him. I think in this day in age it is very pollitically correct to do the visits and a very open adoption but I don't think it is any healthier and I think in some cases, depending on the natural family and their stability, I think it is harmful. If our son wants to meet his natural parents when he is say 12-years-old and I know that they have changed their ways and are not upstanding type folks, I'll say no, not yet. I don't ever forsee that happening with his natural parents, but you get the drift of my reasoning.<br><br>
I love my son's natural mom and we speak at least once a week. She's doing very well, as is his natural dad! Grandma is a little sad but she's happy that he is with us and I send everyone photos and keep a web site (password protected) that is just for them.</div>
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It sounds like you have a very healthy relationship with your son's natural family. Especially since you are all on the same page about how to approach this. I hope I don't sound too defensive -- but the comment about "politically correct ..." and it maybe being "harmful" came off as a bit judgmental. Every situation is <b>so</b> unique. <b><i>The bottom line has to be weighing the needs of all parties and then keeping the interests and well-being of the child first and foremost.</i></b> So to me there shouldn't be any knee-jerk, boiler-plate arrangement. Each one has to be worked out in it's own way. Just my .02.
 
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