prom·ise (prms) n.
1. a. A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; a vow.
b. Something promised.
2. Indication of something favorable to come; expectation: a promise of spring in the air.
3. Indication of future excellence or success: a player of great promise.
v. prom·ised, prom·is·ing, prom·is·es
1. To commit oneself by a promise to do or give; pledge: left but promised to return.
2. To afford a basis for expecting: thunderclouds that promise rain.
1. To make a declaration assuring that something will or will not be done.
2. To afford a basis for expectation: an enterprise that promises well.
As you know our family was built through domestic adoption. Along the way of our journey to parenthood, we learned what it meant to parent a child entrusted to us. The promise of placing a child to you to become a mother or father comes from great love of the child by the parents who made that child and for whatever reason cannot parent and care for that child. In return to promise whether spoken or unspoken to the birth parents an ongoing relationship is a selfless act as it is really to the child that this promise is made.
Not everyone has had the opportunities that my husband and I had along our journey. The opportunities to become informed and seek education. The community we found and maintain as friends of other families like ours, built through adoption. We sought this out because we did not know what it was to become parents through adoption. We knew we needed to understand what it was before we took the leap onto the path that would make us parents. I wish for so many who take this journey to parenthood that they become informed and educated before becoming parents to better understand what the relationships can be like and to choose if that is how they want a family.
Looking back we can say that this is what helped us become the family we are today. We were able to decide what path was the right one for our family to be; that we wanted an open ongoing relationship with our child’s birth family … not just for us, but for our child and what it would mean to them.
Over the years I have met both in person and through cyberspace, many women who have made the loving decision to place a child born to them to be raised by another. But for these women the promises spoken or unspoken have been broken. The families that they met and chose to parent their child have walked away or at least closed the door just enough not allowing a relationship between the child and birth parents to grow and blossom. It is so sad to watch from a distance to see the affect this has on these individuals. And to think what will become of these children kept from their birth family not by their choosing. When they are older will the have to secretly seek out their birth family?
We met many young people and adults who had been adopted in a system that did not allow an ongoing relationship after the child/baby’s placement. Those in charge thought it best for the birth mother/family and the child to not know each other for a variety of reasons. What did we hear from these people? How much a piece of them was missing … they loved the families they were raised in but somehow couldn’t find their whole selves … some were able to try and reach out to birth family with the help of their parents and some had to do it in secret because they knew their parents were afraid of what would happen when a reunion happened that choices might be made to love birth family more than the family they knew.
In today’s world or at least where we live, it is more common in a domestic adoption to have met and create a relationship with the birth mother/father and extended family and become a family as one with the child as the link to all of them. It is this belief that our family was made.
And so it is with a heavy heart that I read or hear how an adoptive couple close the door just enough not to allow an in-person relationship between the child and their birth family. I have seen and heard the fear of adoptive and hopeful adoptive couples at conferences or in chance meetings. I don’t understand their fear … how can you turn your back on the family that chose you to be the parents of their child? How can you close the door to your child and not allow them to know all of their family?
As we are learning as our children grow from babies, they begin to understand more and more of their story when you talk about it (and hopefully you are sharing with them their story of their life). There will be questions of why this or why that? You will see the strong physical resembelance of your child to their birth family … relish in it! Our daughters now 6 and 4 years old brighten and smile when you share with each of them some action they’ve done or said that resembles their birth mother or father. Don’t steal this from your child it will help make them whole!
I have no answers for these broken-hearted families who have no or very limited access to the child they so desire to know and have in their lives.
I wish for all hopeful adoptive parents and adoptive parents to think twice before they speak or infer a promise to get a baby that the ramifications will be great and the hurt greater. If you cannot fathom an ogoing relationship don’t pretend that you will, be honest with yourself, be honest about your family. Don’t hide your true feelings to get the end result… a child … in the end you will be doing harm to this child who may never understand why you kept them from knowing their family.