Today I am linking up with No Bohns About It Adoption Talk Linkup. Please take a look at their blog if your life has been touched in any way by adoption; they post some good stuff!
The topic of their linkup is Maintaining Birth Family and Cultural Ties.
Anyone following my blog knows how important Paige and Payten’s biological family is to me. (Please see my prior blog about Adoption Terminology for more information about my adoption terminology choices.)
Open adoption can be anything from direct contact to a yearly Christmas card to having the biological family’s health history with the possibility of future contact. What open adoption looks like is different for everyone. It has changed in the 6+ years since we started to travel down this road, and it will surely continue to evolve.
Having an open adoption with my daughters’ biological family has been an eye-opening experience. It has enriched my life and has given me firsthand knowledge of their biological background. For example, two members of the girls’ biological family have had severe reactions to steroids, and it is something we should not give them unless it is a life-or-death situation.
But I think the most important part of open adoption gives my girls something that I know that I cannot: A connection to their biological roots.
- Where do I get my nose?
- Why can I sing in perfect pitch while the rest of you are tone deaf?
- Who did I get my eyes from?
- Why do I have natural mechanical skills whereas you can’t put things together, even with instructions?
These questions are easily answered if there is a connection to the biological family.
- Here’s a picture of your biological parents; you have your biological father’s nose and your biological mother’s eyes.
- Your biological father had a degree in mechanics; that’s probably why you learn better hands-on.
- Your biological uncle can play the guitar so maybe you got your musical genes from him.
Then the more complicated, hazy gray questions will come out as they get older:
- Why was I placed for adoption?
- Why couldn’t my parents get clean – didn’t they love me?
- How did my parents meet?
- And the inevitable, most painful one for an adoptive parent to hear: How can you understand? You’re not my real mom/dad!
I will have to take a deep breath and ask God for guidance:
- Your parents loved you and wanted you to have your very best chance in life.
- Addiction is an illness. It’s not your fault and it doesn’t mean they didn’t love you.
- I don’t know how they met but your grandmother does. Let’s call her right now so you can ask.
I don’t know how I will respond to the last one.
If I am a mature adult, emanating God’s love, I will say: I understand as much as I can, having been your age once. And I will choose to ignore the second part of the comment.
But if I get caught up in myself like a child does, as I often do, it may sound more like this: I AM your real mom; I’m the one who took care of you while you were sick, walked you to school, taught you how to tie your shoes, and loved you through it all while I mended the damage you inherited from the years with your “real” parents. Understanding you has NOTHING to do with genes; it has to do with the XYZ years I’ve raised you!
God, help me speak from your mouth and not mine.
We have tried to have an open adoption with the girls’ biological parents.
For a time we exchanged letters and pictures with their biological father while he was in prison. But then he stopped responding. He has been in and out of touch a few times since then. What we know of him currently is in this blog post: Back to Insanity and Jail.
We knew the girls’ biological mother before our adoption journey began. (Born in My Heart: A Bittersweet Adoption Blessing contains information about our adoption journey, including how we met the girls’ biological mother.) We kept in touch with her on and off, including on Facebook. We shared pictures and updates with her. She, in turn, asked us to give her a chip at a couple of her Sobriety Birthday Meetings. However, she relapsed (which we could deal with) and lied about it (which we could not work with), and we severed ties. We have had contact with her on and off since then; the last time was two years ago.
I am sad they aren’t involved with us on any sort of consistent basis.
BUT, I have faith that someday we will meet again. When we do, I will welcome them with open arms and a heart full of love.