Words are just words or are they?

definition of word
noun \ˈwərd\

: a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written

: a brief remark or conversation : something that a person says

: an order or command

Overheard as our girls were preparing cards for J’s brother to go along with his gift he is MY BIRTH-BROTHER, not YOURS!  J’s brother was born about 15 months after her and S along with her husband are parenting him.  Our girls have known him from inside S’s tummy and when he was born.  We see him as often as we see S.

My husband and I sat and listened to our girls speak about who has sisters and who has brothers that don’t live with us but are still our family.  We wondered when voices rose should we step in to calm the fighting down?  Or should we just let them figure it out on their own?

They had it right in knowing that A has 3 sisters through her birth father and J has one brother from S and one from her birthfather.  It was interesting to hear them assert who belonged with whom to each other claiming their own brothers or sisters.

It is just words that they were using with the prefix of “birth” to claim their siblings.  What was so great about this discussion they had was how natural it was for them to talk about these siblings that live in other parts of our family like it was nothing out of the ordinary.

The words we have used to explain our family story are something they have taken in and processed themselves.  They know their siblings they know what part of the family they are part of, and to us that is what is important.  It is our girls who add the prefix “birth” when talking about their families when claiming their territory.

So while they fought over the wording and logistics it was comforting to us they understand who their family is, all of them.

OAR #51 Does it get easier?

The Open Adoption Roundtable 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.   This open adoption roundtable prompt #51 is … living in an open adoption, does it get easier?

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I have sat with this prompt for a couple of days before sitting down to write what my thoughts are.  I wondered since our girls are now 7 and 5 years old is our family life easier?

I wanted to look back and think about what our expectations were while starting our journey to parenthood through adoption, especially moving towards open adoption.  I think our exposure to other families already parenting children with connections to their families gave us a better sense of what it might look like in reality versus what you may read.  We were able to meet and see these families and get to know them.  We got to hear from them what it was like for them.  Through the facilitator we worked with, Ellen Roseman of Cooperative Adoption, we met a community of other families that would be just like ours.  The beauty of this was it just wasn’t families with infants, we also met families with children who could share for themselves what this meant for them.

So I think our expectation on our journey to parenthood in open adoption would be that it is relationship building and like any relationship it takes work and trust and communication.

So I have to say for us our open adoption family life is better and stronger.  Not only have our relationships with each of our girls birth mothers grown deeper but so have our relationships with their extended families.  At the same we have reconnected and developed relationships with each of our girls birth fathers.

Has it been easier now that our girls are 7 and 5 years old?  In some ways, yes!  It’s easier because we have all gotten to know each other better, it’s easier in that our girls are now developing their own independent relationships with their families.  It’s easier in that we see each other more readily as family (something that we wanted but had to adjust to in the early days).  It’s easier because we all wanted the same thing ~ a family relationship with each of us, not just our girls and their birth family.  We all are striving for the same thing ~ to be a family together.

Are their difficult times?, yes there are!  Do you have difficult times with any of your family members?  I bet you do!  It’s only natural in a human relationship to have good and bad times.  But it’s what you do during these times that will make or break a relationship.  Our mantra during a time that wasn’t that good is that we are family, family works through it and together we learn and we walk forward together hand in hand.

I want to be the shield to protect …

“Not every lesson in life can be learned–some have to be lived” ~ Arianna Huffington

As a parent you want to be the shield and protect your child/children from anything and everything.  This is very true and especially when you want to save their feelings of hurt or disappointment.  And as a parent living in two very open adoptions you want to do everything in your power to make certain your children are always happy and not touched by sadness or disappointment.

Life is full of things that may cause hurt or disappointment things that you cannot control.  All parts of life become some sort of life lessons; but for my girls at their young ages I want them not to know how it feels when someone disappoints you.  However this is not something I can control…the actions of another causing disappointment to my girls.

Life is not perfect and neither are people.  It’s just that  J’s birthmom suddenly and without warning sent a text early in the morning of our get together to cancel.  I normally don’t get in a twist but it’s J’s birthday.  The situation gets complicated from there which I’ll leave for another time to post.

At almost 5 years old this relationship between J and S is theirs to develop and build together.  Disappointment shouldn’t be part of this autonomous relationship in my opinion, not yet.

We wiped away the tears after sharing the news, we talked about our feelings of disappointment, sadness and how it’s okay to miss someone when you won’t see them when you think.

When she was younger we didn’t share when plans were scheduled as they could change without warning.  So in protecting/shielding our children from disappointment we wouldn’t let them know too far in advance.  However, we learned it’s not for us to be this over protective.  Instead we realized we need to be there to help them through their emotions of disappointment when plans change.

So now we move forward with our family plans to help J celebrate turning 5!  And although we didn’t see S we do have separate plans to see her birthfather and his family.

 

 

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.