What the Baby Veronica Case brings up for me ….

Everyone’s story and journey to parenthood is different, ours changed from trying to get pregnant to not needing to be pregnant to become parents and then deciding on the family-building option of domestic open adoption.
 
From the outside looking in our adoption journey was seamless and painless, but that is not always the case.  We made tough decisions along the way and when our second daughter was born there was more than those on the outside looking in were aware of.
 
Our journey to parenthood was guided by the late great Ellen Roseman of Cooperative Adoption Consulting.  Her guidance and wisdom were with us throughout our journey as well as the education she provided on openness in adoption and not leaving anyone out in the family especially expectant/birth fathers.
 
It was this aspect of the process that reminds me part of our journey to our daughter J and the decisions we were faced with after her birth.  We met J’s birthmother 10 days before she was born which truly was not enough time (in our mind) for her to make a permanent placement decision.  We had begun talking about her parenting after the baby was born and she turned this discussion into our sharing parenting as she works through her thoughts and feelings for what decisions were ahead for her.  The plan became about her taking the baby home from the hospital and then passing her onto us with S’s time becoming less and ours more if she decided that adoption was going to be her plan.  Then on top of that when my husband contacted the baby’s expectant father he went from first thinking our adopting his baby was a great idea, and hours later he didn’t.  We realized at that moment we might have to walk away from S & J.  Heartbreaking to say the least but we knew we had no place to fight him if he really wanted to parent his daughter and this was something he and S were going to have to discuss.  Their relationship was long diminished before this and that is why he was not initially part of her decision to consider adoption for their baby.
 
During this time, S wasn’t still completely sure what she wanted as far as parenting or entrusting her daughter with us.  We had to step out of the conversations at that point as it was not for us to be involved it was between them.  Ellen was there with us along the way and guided us through. 
 
It was hard, very hard but we knew we weren’t part of this discussion and we couldn’t be, it wasn’t our baby to fight for even though our hearts felt otherwise.  We had our two year old daughter to be parenting at this time so we had to still be there for her while all this was going on and she was to stay our focus.
 
We waited and waited to hear what the final outcome might be.  We heard from Ellen and S that the baby’s birth father had in fact consenting on the adoption placement. 
 
To this day we don’t know what brought him/them to this decision.  This last December we reconnected with him and his son (J’s brother) in beginning to establish a relationship as a family together.   At first he wanted nothing to do with J and us as a family.  We always left the door open knowing someday J would want to know him.  Then just like that last October he commented on a photo on facebook (we had become friends even though we didn’t communicate).  From that initial re-communication we planned on getting to know each other in person.  Our first in-person meeting was in December 2012.   Today we are planning another get together in honor of J’s birthday.
 
So yes from the outside looking in no one would suspect what had happened on our second journey to parenthood … I can still remember it like it was yesterday and reading and following the story of Baby Veronica it brings back these feelings and memories.   I don’t fault the prospective adoptive parents in how they may be feeling, but I really feel when the father of this little girl started fighting for her when she was an infant they should have bowed out.  Now there is an almost 4 year old girl whose life is turning upside down yet again.  This case and others like it bring to light the non-ethical professionals in adoption as it appears from the outside looking in in my opinion that they are not being correctly guided … very sad for all involved.
 

an engagement of sorts

You might say we agreed to an engagement with C after her visit … engagement you say?  What does that mean?

You see, during our journey to parenthood one of the many things that we learned and agreed was that family-building through domestic open adoption was similar to getting married.  How you ask?  First you meet, kinda like dating, then while continuing this relationship you are asked by expectant parent(s) to be the parent of the baby, it’s like becomming engaged and when the baby is born your relationship becomes like a marriage, family!

We enjoyed our visit with C so much!  It was so great to be together in person after months of communicating from a distance.  She stayed at our home, saw the nursery we had been setting up (prior to even meeting her).  We all attended a group gathering of the monthly support group with our facilitator.  We toured around together, and through this only deepened our affection for each other.

To our surprise and pleasure she also invited us to visit her in her home state, come to a doctor’s appointment and join her for birthing classes.  We were thrilled to say the least and this trip would also give us the opportunity to meet the baby’s father.  Her baby was due in July.  It would be May when we visited … so much to do and so little time as it was already the end of April!

 

 

OAR #43 Talking with Family Members about Open Adoption

Open Adoption Blogger hosts The Open Adoption Roundtable.  Which is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to be a showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community.

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?

While we were beginning our journey on the path of adoption to family, we started talking to our own families of what we were hoping to do.  That being continuing a relationship with our future child/children’s family as part of our family.

Becoming grandparents was one thing, but sharing and have many different sets of grandparents might have been another thing.  We shared some of the literature that had been recommended to us.  We sent it ahead prior to a trip giving them some time to read and have questions for us during our visit.

Both of our parents knew families that had adopted and these children now adults did not have any connection to their birth families.  And so we were needing to share with our own families as we embarked on our path to parenthood what this would be like from what we were learning and the families we were meeting along the way.  Our parents supported our decision but like us they were learning as we went.

For us seeing other families and becoming part of a community of families built through open adoption helped us to ‘get it’ and what it would mean for our future children.

When our first daughter was born, like us C had some education through her pregnancy of what an open adoption would be and we all had a similar vision of what we wanted after the baby was born.  It was her parents and family that we had to share what this open adoption relationship would be like and how they would be grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.  Early on I think they weren’t too sure if we would follow through (they never said) but we were from CA they lived in MN and had only met us the week the baby was born.   So it was through our actions early on and our continued family interactions now that our realtionship developed into the family relationship it is today.

When our second daughter was born S had already met our other daughter and knew from us what our relationship with C was.  She too along with us had a similar vision of what we wanted after the baby was born.  We shared with her dad and grandmother that they would be the grandparent and great grandparent of S’s baby girl but also for our first daughter.  They knew this was the right way for them to extend their family too!

My mom told me in the last year or two how she now really understands why we reached out for the relationships we have with each of our daughter’s birth families.  During her visits with us she has met some of their birth family and could see our girls’ interactions with them.  She knows that we are all family and that for our girls there is never too much love for them.

We were lucky in that no one was dead against wanting us to adopt and for us to  have continued relationships with our child/children’s birth family in an open adoption.  I think some of their  early skepticism was based on what they may have read or heard or seen on television.  Like us not knowing any other families who were living in open adoptions made it hard to realize at first.

Our girls are now 6-1/2 and 4-1/2 years old.  We know how blessed we are to have had our families expand so seamlessly.  Along with how we have become family we are witnessing our girls develop independent relationships with their birth families and that makes us truly very happy for all of us!

You can read others responses to this writing prompt at Open Adoption Bloggers.

 

 

 

taking the next step …

The adoption information night gave us hope that we will move forward on our journey to parenthood and that we will become a Mommy & a Daddy.

Why you ask?  Because we could see it happening from what we are learning.  We have talked and decided the best path for us is through domestic open adoption.  Not only did we attend the info night then we went on to sign up and attend an 8-week education support group about adoption.  Again through Resolve.  Through this group we met other families who had adopted and were living in open adoptions with their children and their families.  We met adult adoptees who longed to know their birth families and how important it was/is for them to connect and we met birth parents who had made the choices to place their child for adoption.

It was through these meetings and subsequently working with a well-known facilitator in open adoptions, that we knew this was how we would become a family.

Along the way we were recommended books that we found very helpful to us in our process.  First and foremost we were told we needed to look at ourselves and see where we were with our own grief and loss for not having a genetically tied child.  One of the books recommended to us and that we both read was “Adopting after Infertility” written by Patricia Irwin Johnston.  It helped us find a place to allow our grief to happen but to move forward without forgetting where we came from.

Other books recommended to us and we thoughtfully read were

  • “Dear Birthmother” written by Kathleen Silber
  • “The Open Adoption Experience” written by Sharon Kaplan Roszia
  • “Lifegivers” written by James Gritter
  • “Hospitious Adoption” written by James Gritter
  • “The Children of Open Adoption” written by Kathleen Silber
  • “Attaching in adoption” written by Deborah Gray
  • “The Third Choice” written by Leslie Foge
  • we subscribed to Adoptive Families magazine right away too!

These books unfortunately are not readily available in your local bookstore.  Through Amazon Books and Tapestry Books  we were able to find them and more!

These are books that helped us to develop our sense of what being a family through adoption and having an open adoption might be.

Reading and finding a community of support helped us to feel we were making the right decisions along the way…and so we began moving forward on our journey to parenthood through adoption.