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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Comments

chris

I couldn't agree with you more.

Hope all is well and those babies are hanging in there.

Take care.

chris

I just read her memorial site. Honestly, my heart goes out to this woman. She was obviously troubled, to leave two sons who needed her.

I can't help but think that the adoptive family may have been aware of her issues and wanted to limit contact for that reason.

alex

So well said...

When we were considering adoption we chose international because of these issues. I personally would not want an open adoption because I would be the one cleaning up puke, giving kisses at night, and staying up late nights rocking the child to sleep. I understand why some would want open adoption and I support their decsion.

I am not sure that many birthmothers would have chosen me as the adopter.

The emotions all the way around are intense.

Damn infertility sucks...treatments and adoption. Can you imagine just getting knocked up one night after too many glasses of wine in the bedroom...who does this?

Glad the babes are hanging out still.

Melissa

Well, you may not win Miss Congeniality for this post, but I don't disagree with a word of it. Of course I feel sympathy for birthmothers that feel "used," but it sounds to me like that's a problem of properly understanding their role in adoption, not a problem of nasty adoptive parents.

chris

Where have you been? Having babies?

Inquiring minds really do need to know.

Dawn

Except that many agencies are not honest with women who are making adoption plans. Or they don't give them all of the information about how things are after.

Think of it like an arranged marriage -- sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes everyone loves each other and then the honeymoon period wears off.

Also, birth parents and adoptive parents need to work together to CREATE (using Melissa's term) "[birth mother's] role in adoption;" it's not like that looks like the same thing for all adoptive families.

Ultimately the adoptive parents have all of the power and they don't have to even so much as *consider* the wishes of the birth parents. Can you imagine how difficult and painful that must be for a woman who wants more contact than she originally thought she might want? How is she supposed to know how she's going to feel about the loss of her child until she loses that child? Really, negotiations should be loosely agreed to before the adoption and then a mediator should help afterwards to make sure that all parties are working together.

And personally, since we have all the power, I think adopters ought to be more flexible; we have NOTHING to lose in considering the feelings and wishes of the women who gave birth to the children we are fortunate enough to be raising.

Julie

Thank you Thank you Thank you for writing this well thought out and powerful post.

Enough Already

I have to disagree with Dawn on a couple of points. First, adopters do not have all the power. During the initial stages of the adoption process, it is the "birthmother" who has all of the power. Its all an issue of supply and demand. Prospective adoptive parents must compete with one another for a limited amount of "desirable" infants. The birthmother is in the position to pick and choose among the ones who will meet her demands.

Because of this, she should firmly nail down her demands at that time. Placing an infant with the agreement to be worked out later could have disasterous results. What if the birthmother and adoptive parents can't come to a mutually acceptable agreement? What then?

If the birthmother underestimates the amount of contact that she desires during the negotiation, that is unfortunate. You can't punish the adoptive parents because of her error. The birthmother should assume that she wants the most contact possible in order to avoid that situation.

Finally, some people do not feel the same as Dawn and feel they have a great deal to lose; namely the love and affection of the adopted child to the birthmother. I personally would feel very insecure as an adoptive mother if there were a birthmother waiting in the wings to shower the child with her own love and affection. You may speculate on what that says about me as a person, but I do not think I am unique in that.

KT

Coming out of lurkdom to say that this was a marvelous, intelligent blog entry. I speak as a person who has an adopted sibling. My brother is 11 months older than I, and was adopted at the age of 2-3 months in 1958, when all adoptions were closed adoptions. In our home, there was absolutely no distinction between my older brother and my younger brother and myself. This was driven home when we were teenagers...my parents were at a black-tie affair where the other women were comparing labor stories. My father turned to my mother and said, "I remember how it was with Karen and Bob, but did you have a hard time with Rick?" She replied,"No, he was the easiest of all!" Yes, my dad had completely forgotten that my brother was adopted. My point: I have difficulty imagining that such a family unit would have arisen in the context of an open adoption in which the birthmother wanted to have continued communication.

I think everything has to be set contractually in stone prior to the adoption, so that each party has a clear understanding of the expectations. If the birthmother later decides that she regrets the terms of the contract, I do not think she should have any recourse. You reap what you sew.

Pam

Mothering is not lawyering. You think you can simply "nail down" the emotional details of these complicated relationships and then everybody simply signs off on the very notion of a birth mother? Yikes.
Tough luck if she has complex feelings that ebb and flow?
Tough luck if your kid has complicated feelings about her birth/bio/egg mother/maternal DNA connection?
You all are way too sharp for me to believe this harsh talk. Maybe being pissed off at the birth mothers (I am not one nor have I adopted) makes it easier somehow? Is it class bias? Making them entirely other helps you in some way? What's in it for you (and commenters) to be so angry with these women? I'm genuinely confused.
Didn't you use donor eggs? There is a part of her in them. I know it's different from adoption, but it will certainly come up -- earlier and more often than you can imagine. I hope you find some peace and empathy before you get hit with those questions. Empathy gets us all where we need to go. Rage and judgment don't.
Infertility, adoption, birth mothering, it makes us all powerless in the grand scheme of things. Parenting gives you the greatest sense of powerlessness. Why turn on each other?

Enough Already

Pam:

I have nothing against birthmothers as a class. My post was in response to criticism lodged by birthmothers against adoptive parents and the adoption process in general. While I agree with their view that the process is far from perfect, I do not agree that they are powerless victims used as baby makers for the highest bidder.

I have empathy for the plight of women who are pregnant with children that they can not adequately take care of and the grief that they suffer when relinquishing those children to adoptive parents. But it is not realistic for a birthmother to expect to be treated as a "favorite aunt" or "best friend" of the adoptive parents in her role as birthmother. In a perfect world, yes, it would be great if we could all just get along. But adoptive parents have complex feelings too that ebb and flow.

While a formal written agreement can not address all the emotional details of these complicated relationships, it is the only fair way to balance the interest of the parties. Also, written agreements can be amended at a later date by mutual agreement. If there is not mutual agreement, however, each party will have deliver on their earlier promises. I agree it is not a perfect solution, but if you have any better suggestions on how to protect the interest of the parties, i'd love to hear them.

lorrie

As an adopted child, and adoptive parent, I give you TWO THUMBS UP, WOMAN! I wrote a post entitled "Defending Adoption" after reading some of those blogs. Unbelievable!!

Shevon

Amen, sister.
I would never adopt a child through open adoption. It is obviously not my cup of tea.

Dawn

1. Before the adoption happens (before the papers are signed), it's true that birth parents have all the power because they aren't yet birth parents. They are PARENTS and it's THEIR BABY.

2. The whole "I'm afraid my child will love his birth mother more than me" just doesn't fly with me. It's as insane as grandparents who compete to be the favorite grandparents. There is no first place with a kid; it's all just different. Besides which I don't parent my kids because I want them to love me best. I parent them for the privilege of parenting them.

Shevon is right -- open adoption is not everybody's cup of tea. If you don't like it, don't do it. Don't go bashing birth moms who are angry about the inequities of a system that still needs an awful lot of damn work.

Christine

"Open adoption is not everyone's cup of tea"

I'm crying. Literally crying, at the ignorance pouring through this page. It pains me that mothers can be so utterly selfish.

It's not about you. For Pete's sake - IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

Car seats are inconvenient and can be a big pain on a daily basis. Yet, they are the best thing for our children. So, we use them. We educate ourselves as parents on how to help our child in a vehicle. We weigh the cost. We make the sacrifice.

Open adoption isn't even as intrusive as a car seat, but it is the best thing for an adopted child. You remember ... the child? Seems we all forgot to talk about the children. What is best for them?

I know I'm being harsh. It's hard not be. I used to feel the same way until I educated myself. So, I'm begging you ... read a book on open adoption, talk to an adoption professional who works in open adoption, and get to know a family PERSONALLY in an open adoption. THEN, you can float my way and blast the crap out of me.

:)

Hugs!

cluttergirl

Hmmm. I suppose some places in the world where there are no ressources such as welfare, no birth control, no abortion, women are stoned to death for sex out of marriage etc, that women may be forced into "being babymaking machines" against their choice. But I agree that if someone decides to make an adoption plan, they are making an adoption plan. They are voluntarily giving up parenting rights and responsibilities of their child. It seems strange to want to give up all the legal rights and responsibilities, yet have the child be as available to them as they like. My understanding of open adoption is that there is open files, up to and including open communication (photo, letter) and sometimes visits. It seems that any involvement beyond that is draw of the luck, like making friends with anyone else in your life whom you are not obliged to welcome into your family. That is what adoption is, vs babysitting.

I personally am probably going to fosteradopt domestically. By definition (unless the parent is so abusive that contact is judicially forbidden), the child belongs to the birthfamily until relinquished... and thus it is an open adoption. Is this good for the child? Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes the child is placed back into the care of an abusive parent, and then put back into the foster home multiple times. Sometimes the birth parent may tell tales to the child ("wouldn't you like to come live with me forever? Mommy will stop drinking and take you back home"), and the child may be very conflicted over whether they should "choose" the birth parent or the foster parent who provides more love and stability. Heck my own father played us against our mother when they divorced and it was very damaging. I have been reading the blog of cubbiegirl, whose 9 yr old daughter was moved back and forth 15 times because of the birth mother neglecting her, taking her back etc in cycles. This is not "two mothers who love you". It is hurtful, unstable and confusing.

I will work my best to not say anything against the birthparents of my child, to listen to his hurt and sadness about being taken from his family of origin, to support any connections to birth siblings and extended family etc, as I DO believe it is best for a child to know their family, or at least know OF their family.. the "who am I". But that does not mean accepting the birth mother into my home and my child's life on an ongoing continual basis if I adopt. Even fostering, the child may visit the parent if deemed by children's aid, but unless I become friends with the birthmother, I don't see welcoming her as a second mother into my home.

Our society does not force women to bear children, nor to give them up unless they have failed to parent. They are not kept in farms, inseminated against their will, and have their children torn from them at birth to satisfy the whims of rich people, which is what "baby-making machine" would suggest. If a birth mother relinquishes parental rights they have given them over to the adoptive parents. They are a blood family member to the child, but in my family, blood family members have the amount of contact desired by all parties, they cannot insist to see my birth child if for instance they are my child's grandfather. Just my opinion.

oh, and I disagree with Dawn. As an adoptive parent, the only thing that has made me feel nearly as not in control was infertility. But at least to be treated for infertility, no one questioned me to judge my sex life, my fire escape plans, how I planned to discipline, or my lifestyle. And "what do they have to lose"? Well, most domestic adoptions take up to 6 months to be finalised. The adoptive parents can lose the child. Good blog.

Christine

Again ... learn all you can. Soak it up like a sponge. Here are some places to start:

http://www.openadoption.org/
(scroll straight down and start reading the info in the links - including how birth mothers are prepared for open adoption)

A book on all reading lists for reputable open adoption agencies:
The Open Adoption Experience by Lois Ruskai Melina

To start to find out about birth parents/families in open adoptions, check out my agency:
www.buckneradoption.org

OH! And here is my email address: christinemoers@hotmail.com

We have three children. One of our children is in an open adoption (before her adoption, we spent a year preparing for open adoption in a foster child situation - that, too, can be done, with training). We are also foster parents to newborns who are awaiting their open adoption. I maintain contact with their birth mothers while the babies are in my home.

You see, open adoption is ANYTHING but "my cup of tea"! It's everything at which I stink! I was terrified at first. My reasoning all came out of utter selfishness. I had to go through a process of learning ... and growing, as a parent.

I'd be happy to answer any questions or address any fears.


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