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.
 
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spoken or unspoken promises …

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

v.tr.

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.

v.intr.

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.

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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.

a call …

It seems odd that as grown people we would have fear about a phone call?  Both of us professionals out there in the world talking to all kinds of people.  What would promote this fear in us?

The fear of the unknown, who is this person on the other line?  Do they know how nervous we are? What do we say?  How do we start this conversation?

Of all the things that may come to us through our journey to parenthood through adoption, this was our first biggest fear!  The first call!

When asked by the professionals working with us what we feared, we replied it would be the call or calls, how do we do it?  The concept of speaking with an expectant mom or their family member or friend about the possibility of an adoption placement scared us.  How would this conversation work, what do we say?

Luckily we had the wisdom of our facilitator in our ear with some advice:  just have a conversation, they are like a friend let the conversation happen.  You know what else she reminded us?  They are pretty nervous too on the other end!

Along with helping us see what to do she had some questions that would start a conversation should we find ourselves stumped as well as to see if the caller had true intentions.

And so it begins we did receive some calls right after our website went live and we found we didn’t have to fear a call, just take it like a friend calling and who knows what might happen the next time we answer our phone …