The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.
How did you talk to your extended family about open adoption prior to adopting/placing? How did they respond? For those with non-receptive family members, were you able to have more successful discussions with them post-adoption?
The one adoption conversation that sticks out in my mind like no other is when we told my in-laws that we would be adopting. My mother-in-law wasn't excited. At all. We didn't make it that night to the idea of an open adoption- i'm sure of it.
I think the conversation about open adoption developed more slowly then the "excited" conversation we had about our plans to adopt. First there was the profile book that we had each of our siblings and parents complete a page in. It allowed them to realize that a birthfamily would pick us. In the end D nor J ever saw our profile book but we were presented verbally. I dont think anyone in my family knows that fact. I know that some of my family read the books I recommended about adoption. I also sent out a letter explaining "adoption friendly language." I then posted about our familys reactions to the letter. The letter was written because it was clear that people were still uncomfortable with adoption language- my MIL forever said things like "adopted grandchild." I pray for my BIL and SIL that she doesn't refer to their children as her "vaginally delivered grandchild" whenever their time comes. All joking aside I dont recall any discussions specifically about open adoption prior to baby girls arrival.
I have discussed our letters to D and J. I know I've mentioned the birthday gifts we sent baby girls birthsibilings. I try to keep in casual- its just part of life as an adoptive mom. My Mother-in-law ironically seems to be the one I have talked most extensively with about the openness of our adoption. I know she once commented on a blanket baby girl had and I said "Oh yeah thats from Baby Girls birth grandmother Mom-Mom." I could tell it was awkward for her to hear that. I'm not sure because she now knows we have a special name for her birthgrandmother or if its because she liked something her birthgrandmother had given her.
In October my MIL asked had we heard anything from D and J. I shared with her that we had not. We had heard from her birth siblings and birthgrandparents but not D and J. She was quick then to ask "well does that mean then you dont have to you know visit and do things like that?" I told her no- we would continue to do things as we had because although not legally binding I gave D and J my word. I want Baby Girl to know that her words mean something and if you promise something you do it. It was not long after that conversation we DID get a letter from D. I also know that J has contacted the agency around Christmas to ask if he could send us something- though it has yet to arrive.
I know my family knows our plans to visit PA in April to see Baby Girls birth siblings and birth grandparents on D's side. I know I told my aunt that D wont be there because "she wont be available." None of them know she is in jail and that is why she wont be at the visit. J was offered to visit with us but never responded. Just this past week I read his application which stated when Baby Girl is 18 he would like her to reach out to him. So maybe that relationship will just wait until then- we shall see- though in each letter I have sent I have encouraged him to respond. For my family its best to describe Baby Girls extended family as if I have two sets of in-laws- Dh's extended family and Baby Girls extended family. Its not surprising or shocking that we would talk to DH's family just as its not uncomfortable or weird that we would want to talk to Baby Girls family.
My hope is that as Baby Girl grows up comfortable with who she is and who her family is that my in-laws will grow comfortable with it as well.