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  • Adoptive Mom Feels Left Out at Son’s Reunion with Birth Mother

    Dawn Davenport

    159
    Adoptive Mom Feeling Left Out

    Adoptive parents are humans and sometimes we feel left out and maybe just the tiniest bit jealous of our children’s relationship with their birth mothers.

    I get a lot of questions from folks and usually either jot off a quick reply pointing them to a Creating a Family resource or I request that they post the question on the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group and I respond over there. But every once in a while a question comes in that haunts me. I mull it over while driving, running, and cooking. I feel it pecking at me demanding my attention until I finally write a full-blown blog response. Such was the case with the following question:

    Adult adoptive son (age mid thirties) wants us to embrace his birthmother whom he met recently and join them in a huge birthday celebration of their 1st child. We have never met them by choice, and now they want us to meet at this celebration. I thought that was a lot to ask of us adoptive parents. Perhaps we should meet first before the big party. I know it will be an emotional thing for me (adoptive mom) and husband. It looks as though this is going to be an ongoing thing the rest of our lives. Any thoughts? It is very hard for me right now as I feel our upbringing is second fiddle to his new find. We feel very left out. ~Other Mother

    Other Mother, it sounds like this reunion has thrown you for a loop. I can totally understand that. You adopted at a time when openness between adoptive and birth families and between adoptees and birth families was not a part of adoption; in fact, it was often actively discouraged. You`re now being asked to adapt to a new world with new expectations, and that`s hard.

    Walking in an Adoptee’s Shoes

    It is difficult for us non-adopted people to understand the situation adoptees face. I want you to try something. As best as you can take your son and your hurt feelings out of the equation and try, I mean really really try, to put yourself in an adoptee’s shoes. Imagine never knowing whom you look like, who else in the world has your weird laugh or strangely bowed legs. Imagine wondering and fearing every time the news reports another disease with a genetic link that maybe you have those genes. Imagine something as seemingly “silly” as wondering what you will look like when you`re older. If you were able to imagine even one of these feelings, you get a glimpse of what many adopted people feel. The desire of an adoptee to find their biological family has nothing to do with the love they feel for their adoptive family.

    If We’d Only Done a Better Job of Raising Them

    The desire to search does NOT reflect on you or the way you raised your son. I suspect it has a lot to do with innate temperament. Some people are just inherently more curious than others. As a very curious person, I get it. Perhaps your temperament is different, but the job of a parent is to understand and encourage the temperaments that our children came with. For many adoptees, making these biological connections completes them, and what loving parent would want their child to go through life feeling incomplete?

    While your son’s desire to find his birthmother does not reflect on his dissatisfaction with you, what does reflect on you and the way you raised him is that he wants you to meet his biological family. One way to look at it is that he wants you to embrace his birthmother. Another way to look at it is that he wants you to be a part of this new phase of his life.

    How unbelievably wonderful is that – your adult son cares so much about you and his relationship with you that he wants you along on the journey! Think about it–you are living my dream! Your son trusts you enough to ask this. I pray that my sons and daughters will feel the same about me when they are all grown up. Adult children don’t have to include us in their lives, we are only allowed in by invitation, and he’s inviting you. You must have done a great job raising him.

    Feeling Left Out

    What is causing you to feel left out? Could it be a touch of jealousy? I can understand that, truly I can. But jealousy implies a limited supply of something, and the fear that you aren’t going to get a fair amount of that limited something. What is that “something” that is limited in this situation? Love? Time? Both?

    Love isn’t limited. If your son is married, he already loves his wife. If he has children, he loves them. If he isn’t married with children, I assume you want him to experience these loves some day. His love for other people doesn’t diminish his love for you, regardless whether they are his wife, kids, or birth family.

    While love isn’t limited, time is. Is your son spending less time with you now that he has met his birth family? At first this might be natural, but I would be very surprised if it continues. If it does, have an open conversation with him, making sure to use “I” phrases. “I miss you and I’d love to see you more”.

    Where to Meet the Birthmother

    I don’t think it matters where you meet your son’s birth mother. Meeting privately for the first time allows for an in depth conversation and the expression of emotions. Meeting at a large party allows you to be more of an observer. Both ways have their advantages. If you’d rather meet your son’s birth mother before the party, then simply suggest it. If you meet for the first time at the party, make sure to schedule a time later to meet privately.

    Before You Meet

    Before you meet your son’s birth mom, spend some time trying to imagine her feelings right now. She probably has a mix of emotions, just like you. I can almost guarantee that she is probably feeling afraid of being judged; feeling regret at what she missed; feeling intensely thankful at all you’ve given her son; and maybe, just maybe she’s also feeling jealous of you and left out as well.

    Think of all the joy and experiences you’ve had with your son. What might you say to the woman who made this all possible? Do this for you, do this for her, but most important, do this for your son. You’ve clearly done a great job of raising him, don’t stop being a great mom now.

    P.S. Another question that haunted me and demanded a response via blog is Who Has A Rightful “Claim” On Our Kids: Insecurity In Adoption. It is related in some ways to this question, and I still think about this woman and this question.

     

    Image credit: jon.swanson

    04/03/2014 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 159 Comments



    159 Responses to Adoptive Mom Feels Left Out at Son’s Reunion with Birth Mother

    1. jean Robertson-Molloy says:

      He’s telling you about it. There you are lucky. And so is his birth mother–hugely lucky, that you have brought him up able to find her without feeling guilty and able to tell you about it. She will never replace you.
      I am a birth mother and wish my daughter had felt able to tell her adoptive parents early on about meeting me and allow me to meet them. it might have helped.

    2. Other Mother says:

      Thank you all for presenting different angles to the situation.

    3. Vivian says:

      Lets, be honest. When I see my daughters pictures on her birth mom’s Facebook with the caption “this is MY daughter” really I hate it.

      • Vivian, does she highlight the word “MY”? If so, I can understand why it would feel like she was trying to hurt you or diminish the importance of your role in your daughter’s life. However, if she simply says “this is my daughter”, then it likely isn’t an intent to diminish your role, but to acknowledge her role. Your daughter is her daughter too–adoptees have two moms, and both are relevant and important and real.

    4. Julia says:

      My 40 year old adopted daughter has gone to spend 1 week with her birth mother who she just met Before she left she talked about how much this woman loves her and never wanted to give her up but was made to. Our relationship has been rocky with serious issues. I have all but raised her daughter who is now 18. I am exhausted and hurt and I have always known this day would come and I have thought I would have done it long ago if I were her. She has had a habit of telling me off and yelling at me and I should have never put up with it. I have a feeling I must hear some more. Her daughter will graduate soon and I will have a party for her. Things will be tense and I am afraid I will finally tell her to leave me alone, that I have had enough. I should have done it long ago. How should I handle this tomorrow

      • Julia, I’m sorry you are going through this. Your relationship with your daughter sounds like it is pretty complicated and tense, regardless of the visit to her birth mother. You truly might benefit from seeing a counselor to help you create a healthier relationship with her. I personally wouldn’t make the focus about her desire to know her birth mother. Good luck and hang in there!

    5. Beth says:

      I NEVER feared a day that my son would want to meet his bio mother, until it happened. It was because if HOW it happened. I tried to reach out and be kind to her, our son was only 18 and encouraged by his “friends” to find his REAL mom. He trashed me to her for a while, she believed him. I would have had no problem loving her and her children had this been done with mutual kindness and respect and LOTS of positive communication. No such like. I’ve endeavored to be gracious but the pain I’ve gone through is indescribable! Our son never seemed to care about building a relationship with her. But he opened a can if worms and she is very needy. Without my faith I have no idea where I’d be.

    6. Erin C Erin C says:

      Love your response to this!

    7. Christie V Christie V says:

      Marilyn, Wow – that’s it! I believe that wonderfully sums up a very complicated matter. I have to admit when I saw another comment on this post my 1st thought was, “I can’t remember what the initial posting was about as so much has gone on.”

    8. Janettee M Janettee M says:

      Meeting my birth mother was the scariest thing in the world, and dealing with her hasn’t always been pleasant. I would have LOVED to have had an adoptive parent to fall back on for support, but that wasn’t something I had. Although, I did let my foster mother know, that I still considered HER my MOM… This woman was the one who gave me life, but she wasn’t there for all my moments, my tears, my achievements, my foster mom was. My foster mom was there when I “became a woman”, when I got joined the military, when I got married, when I became pregnant, when I was homeless, and is still here any time I need her – and even just when I want to visit or share good news.

    9. Janettee M Janettee M says:

      A suggestion of an alternate way to look at this….

      Think of it as a child wanting a relationship with two parents who are divorced. Although the parents are certainly within their rights to say “No I won’t attend your graduation/wedding/child’s christening (etc)”, the likelihood that this will cause the child pain at feeling a need to choose, is high. The same feeling applies to adoptive/biological parents, IMHO. Would said parent object if this were their divorced spouse? Or would they suck it up and at least TRY to “make nice” for the sake of their child? Would they attempt to make it about them? Or would they accept that it’s NOT ABOUT THEM and do whatever their child needs them to do to make it a pleasant experience? If the child is inviting the adoptive mother to be a part of it, chances are it’s because they’re longing for their support during something that’s emotional and scary for them, too.

    10. Steffe L Steffe L says:

      I agree that I probably would have been to immature to maintain that relationship when I was younger. It has to be something they want for it to be meaningful. Some people never desire that contact at all. Some people might need it later in life. I was too focused on myself when I was young. I honestly didn’t think of my birth family unless someone else brought it up. I sometimes would forget I was adopted. It doesn’t really define who I am very much and I usually don’t feel the need to mention it to people I meet because it usually is followed by a bunch of questions.. lol

    11. Steffe L Steffe L says:

      Its hard to say for sure what I wanted. I was very accepting of my adoption and I didn’t ask questions…not that I recall. I put up walls to protect myself. I’m not angry at my APs for anything they did or didn’t do. They did their best and I had a fabulous childhood as far as I’m concerned. I do wish they had wanted to gather some info for me rather than forgetting they had this envelope of pictures for 20 something years. It just shows me that they made no effort to encourage me to learn about my biological family. Even now my amom is not very comfortable with my reunion and is still trying to protect me from them. I’m a big girl! I can protect myself.

      Kudos to you for taking the initiative on behalf of your children. I know they will appreciate it when they are older. :)

    12. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      Steffe Lynne, thanks for sharing your thoughts. As an AP of 2 very little ones, I appreciate hearing your voice. Right now, I maintain the relationship, mainly because both are under 2 years old. But I’m working on a book that will share their story for them, pictures of their first parents and siblings (all except 1 who’s adopted family I don’t have contact with). And my thought is that as they grow, I’ll let them choose what we share, what we don’t, and how much contact/sharing we have. There is currently drug use but not in a way that would cause a true safety concern. But I’ll want that either to be not in the picture, or make sure that it doesn’t appear during visits before I can allow personal contact between them. I’ve tried to catalog and keep every scrap of info I can get for them when they want it. My mom always said I could meet my dad when I was old enough. To her that meant that I wasn’t going to start a relationship and then walk away, hurting him, because I was too immature to maintain it. I think that’s a little more than I want to ask of my kids, but I do think, that at some point, and not just when they’re an adult, they should be able to begin driving that relationship. Is that more of what you were wishing you had experienced?

    13. Steffe L Steffe L says:

      I knew at a young age I was adopted, but had very very little information about my bio parents until recently. I knew the first name of my bio mom who had me at age 18. and that my bio dad died in a motorcycle accident. That’s it. I wish I had the pictures sooner.

    14. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Claudia, wow… again I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for your son too, and thankful that my reunion did not happen that way because if my parents had done that I wouldn’t have felt very good toward them and it could have damaged or ruined my relationship with them as a young adult. I have to hope that at 18 my mom would have shared with me about the letter even though it would have been hard for her (I was adopted in the 60’s so even more in the past). Your son’s mom and dad did something wrong out of great fear I think, and they could have ruined an otherwise loving relationship with their son because of their fear and their actions. as well as hurting you. I have to think that they were blinded by fear… possibly fear of loss of their family or fear of losing their son to you, or fear of him loving you more or feeling more of a special connection to you, or fear that you could take his mom’s place in his heart or him not feeling that they were his ‘real parents’ any more, etc. I can relate to those type of fears as an adoptive mom, I think mine are will they not feel that I am their ‘real’ mother anymore or will they love their birthmother more than me when they really understand about adoption? Part of that fear stems from the discussion we had earlier about all adoptees being different, and you don’t know how your child is going to feel or respond to adoption. My adoptive brother and I grew up in the same family and felt and reacted differently about being adopted, and if there was one of us who could have possibly rejected their adoptive family after reuniting with their birth family, I would have been the one that people would have thought that about. It didn’t happen that way for me, meeting my birthmom didn’t take my mom’s place… I now had two mothers, but they very different and had different places in my heart. (In your situation, your son’s parents could have feared how their son would respond to a reunion with his other mother and were terrified of what might happen, and responded badly out of that fear…unfortunately hurting both you and your son because of fearing that your new relationship might hurt them or their family.) So sad, most of all for your son. but I’m glad that you are able to have a good relationship together with him now. :) I too support openness and open adoption, and your story is a example of the heartache that closed adoption can cause to everyone in the adoption triad.

    15. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      I assumed she meant about the adoption. That the b parents and a parents never told her she was adopted until her ’20’s.

    16. Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Steffe, what were you kept in the dark about?

    17. Claudia D Claudia D says:

      Thank you Steffe Lynne! ::blush::

    18. Steffe L Steffe L says:

      Also Claudia, your blog is awesome. :D

    19. Steffe L Steffe L says:

      I was commenting under the Handle ‘Jugatsu’. I really appreciate all of your efforts to show Kay the light, but it seems frivolous. Kay, you will be sincerely disappointed if you choose a closed adoption for personal reasons. As an adoptee, I am disgusted by your responses, assumptions, and downright poor attitude and unwillingness to listen to those who have experienced this first hand.

      I’m happy to join this group and offer my perspective as an adoptee. I had an ‘open’ adoption, but it was only open communication between my birth family and my adoptive family. I was kept completely in the dark until my early 20’s. It isn’t fun to be lied to. It isn’t fun when people whom you care about are making decisions for you without even asking. It frustrates me to no end. So while I love the concept of open adoption, I wish it were truly open to all parties involved. Unless the child’s well being is at stake (which I don’t believe it was in my case) then there is no reason to pursue a closed adoption. It literally benefits NO ONE in the end.

    20. Beth C Beth C says:

      Kristine Dawn Sandy You all make my point for me. Not everyone is going to feel the same way. I think most birth parents, adoptee and even adoptive families are going to be thrilled and happy to have a reunion. But we make an important mistake when we assume most equals all. Sandy in your study 85 people wished to have not contact. That is a very very small percentage. But it is still 85 people who wish to have no contact. What happens when those that don’t want contact are contacted? For me it comes down to privacy. When is okay to over rule an individual’s right to privacy? National security? Biological lineage? I don’t know the answer but I think it is an important question to consider. I also think timing is extremely important. Reunions bring out complicated feelings. Our ability to handle those feeling will change as we mature. What happens if as a teenager you want absolutely nothing to do with your birth family but as an adult you do? Contact at the “wrong” time can jeopardize a future relationship. I think it is extremely important for an adoptee and a birth family to know each other. Which is one of many reason I think open adoptions are best. However when that was not the situation we need to be careful about how to proceed. Also I think a reunions can strength the relationship of all involved but only if all are involved in the process. Claudia thank you for sharing your story. I think it is wonderful and I look forward to reading more in your blog. I’m so sorry that you’re intentions have been questioned (that is also wrong on so many levels) and that your sons family had such a negative reaction. But I would hope that if they had found out a different way or was more involved in the process their reaction would have been different. Maybe if the timing had been different and they had had some years to think and process their feelings things would have been different. It sounds like your son was the one that choose to leave his adoptive parents out of the loop. That probably was a result of immaturity and insecurity with his relationship with his parents. Timing can be everything.

    21. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      Get it girl

    22. Claudia D Claudia D says:

      Wow.. ok look what I miss when I have a migraine!
      Kay.. yes it was a closed adoption. When I relinquished in 1987, there was no other kind of adoption offered. However, adoption is NOT a contact. Never has been and never will be because the adoption relinquishment is only that: an adoption relinquishment consent form. You see, if it was contract, then it would fall under contract law. Then minors could not sign, and the papers could not be signed legally while mothers are still in hospital and under the influence of pain killers. The relinquishment consent form simple states that a mother relinquishes her parental rights and responsibilities of the baby – and not even to the adoptive parents. I relinquished care to the adoption agency who then allowed his parents to have custody until they finalized the adoption.

      Furthermore, before I even GAVE birth, I had already signed the waiver allowing him to have my contact information when he was 18 despite the fact that MA law continued to keep his OBC sealed.

      Now, when I did contact the agency and they got in touch with his folks, he was almost 17. I was told to write a letter to him and to them. THEY choose to not tell him and not give him the letter I wrote. They stated that they thought he was “not interested” but though perhaps later, “when he was in college”. If they had ASKED him, even if they had lied to me and just said that they asked him, I would have sat tight, but at that point I had already been involved in the adoption community for years and KNEW that adoptees prefer to make their own choices. So while I honored their initial statement, I did not agree with it nor believe it to be the healthiest way to go about this. There was no direct request to wait until any time, but just their beliefs.

      And yes, at that point I did believe that IF my son would ask about me, they would come forth with the letter.

      I did not STALK him. Rather, at times, would google and check for new pictures. Hardly STALKING especially when I already knew their names and where they lived.

      On the day I found him ( 4-4-05) and contacted him directly, I found that MySpace offered a new filter where one could look at people via their high school. I checked out that new feature and found his profile. And no, I will not lie, He was not yet 18. I had a decision to either wait until he turned 18 on Nov 14 that year or let him know I had found him. Again, based on what my many ADOPTED friends had said, looking at this profile for the next 7 months would feel “icky” and more like stalking TO HIM. I contacted him when I found him because THAT is when it happened. The one thing I have learned from adoption is that we really do NOT have the ability to pretend that life is happening the way we want it to. I was a mother at 19 because that is when it happened whether or not it fit societies requirements. I contacted my son 7 months before he was 18 because that is the truthful time of when it happened.

      There are NO laws about that and I had NO agreement with them. And you know what? His folks weren’t thrilled when they found out, but they aren’t thrilled at age 26, so I doubt their feelings would be any different if I had waited 7 months. The important part to me was that HE was happy and his first words written to me were ” Holy smokes… mom?”

      Did I like that they did not know? Not at all and felt terrible for putting my son in that position. I begged him to give me permission to contact them and let them know because I was the adult and I had made the choice to contact him. He did not want me to and I choose to respect his wishes at first, but knew that as a parent, I would be rightly upset and hurt if I found out in a round about way. My son was so thrilled that he was telling his friends and his GF even wrote me a message thanking me. I had visions of some kid telling his folks and my son’s parents finding out about contact at a track met or school function and I worried for them. So since he was about to turn 18, we decided that “he would search’ and start asking about me; then as the info was available, he could contact me and no harm no foul! Yes, I was very worried about THEIR feelings.

      So he started talking about me, started asking questions. And you know what? THEY choose NOT to tell him that they had a letter waiting. And when I sent him a gift ON his 18th birthday, they called the agency to complain. They told the agency that “he wasn’t interested” even when I knew full well that he WAS ASKING ABOUT ME.

      So that’s how they found out. He came from school on his 18th birthday and sat his parents down and asked for the gift I had sent him.

      Nope, it’s not the way I wanted it and I am sure they didn’t want it like that either, but it is what it is. Life isn’t perfect and we do the best we can. The main thing is that HE was put into a position that he shouldn’t have been BY BOTH PARTIES. And I count myself in there too, but I will NOT take full blame no matter what you might want to assume.

      But please, not matter what mistakes I have made, or learn from the mistakes they made.. do not think for one second that a closed adoption will prevent contact. If you cannot image the idea of any child you adopted wanting contact with their biological family, then perhaps adoption should not be the avenue to take. The reality is.. adoption equals TWO families and accepting that is healthiest for your child even if it means it is harder for you.

      And on a personal front, yeah. I don’t appreciate the assumptions that I am somehow dangerous to my child or that he was removed from my care. My only “crime” was being young and fertile.. and then believing the wrong folks whom I trusted. Of course, if you Google “Crack whore birthmother” my picture comes up, but that’s something of a joke inside the birthmother community. And yeah, there are MANY people who DO know me personally after 12 years in the community and I do trust and appreciate them speaking up for me. Now if you do have any more questions I suggest you go to my blog where i have been writing since 2005 or better yet, ask ME directly rather than assuming or thinking the worse about my story or my motivations and intentions. I don’t hide at all or hide anything at all.. http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/

    23. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Thank you Dawn for sharing too, you and Sandy have probably met more adoptees than I have. :) I have also met adoptees online like Sandy who are pro-adoption reform and other adoptees who are anti-adoption, and that can be hard for me. On another site an adoptee posed a question to the other adoptees if they would ever adopt themselves and the response was mostly no, and some of the responses were hard for me to read. I don’t know what percentage of adoptees have adopted themself, I would be curious to know?

    24. Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      I’d just like to second what Kristine said. Adopted people are a very diverse group-some are intensely interested in connecting to their bio family, some don’t care at all, and some fall somewhere in between. I might also point out that adoptive parents are also a very diverse group–some feel very threatened by their children connecting to their birth family, some welcome it with open arms, and some fall somewhere in between.

    25. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Beth, as Sandy shared adoptees are not all alike :) I have known and met some personally in my life, and also met some in online groups. Some adoptees are close to their adoptive parents and not interested in reunion with their birth family or having an ongoing relationship, some are like Sandy and I who wanted to have a relationship with both of their families, and I have also encountered a couple of adoptees who met their birth family and then left their adoptive families (one of them was a guy who had a adoptive father who didn’t treat him very well). I can relate the most to adoptees who feel like I do and who love both of their families. I have felt protective toward birthmoms when a couple of adoptees expressed some thoughts about their birthmothers to me that I thought weren’t sensitive, and have also felt protective toward adoptive parents when I hear about some adoptees leaving their adoptive families or feeling that they just “never connected” or had anything in “common” with them because there wasn’t a biological connection or the connection that they felt with their birth family. I don’t think you “have to” have things in common to be a loving family, my adoptive mom and I couldn’t have been more different in some ways and I feel blessed by God to have had such a loving and devoted mom. I also am very much like my birthmom in some ways (she feels more than her other two daughters that she raised) and I love her, but I’m glad that she didn’t raise me.

    26. Beth C Beth C says:

      Kristine Acevedo Thank you for your beautiful words. I was beginning to wonder if I was wrong and all adoptees really did think and feel the same way. (sorry too much sarcasm?) :)

    27. Beth C Beth C says:

      Sandy Blais I didn’t mean that the too situation are at all even remotely similar. You said that you one can “force” you into something my point was there are a lot of things in life that can not be forced that may seem that way. I should have said you one can force you to buy a used care either but there are a lot of used car salespeople that will sure try. :0

    28. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Sandy, I sent you a PM and it went into your ‘other folder.’

    29. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Beth, what you shared about “If you were an adult and you did not want a relationship with a birth mom but your biological mother contacted you, could you really say no? I mean after all this women gave birth to you, how can you say no to that?” was something similar to what I felt. I’m not saying that I ‘didn’t’ want a relationship with my birthmother, but I think I would have possibly been too nervous to search because of possible rejection and I don’t know if I would have searched or not. In my personal situation, my birthmother found me when I was in my early thirties and I don’t think I would have wanted to hurt her by rejecting her (even if she was someone that I didn’t really like). She was my mother and unless she was a really mean or cold-hearted person, had already been through hurt placing me for adoption. My birthmother is a caring person, but our reunion was hard at times for awhile and sometimes still can be when we are together for a solid week when she visits, and even so I don’t think I would have wanted to hurt her feelings by telling her that I didn’t want to have a relationship with her at all anymore. I feel protective toward her and also toward my adoptive mom and feel blessed that I had them both in my life. I think that was so sensitive of you to feel that an adopted child would have a hard time rejecting their birthmother if she reached out to them. :)

    30. Beth C Beth C says:

      No one can “force” someone into an adoption plan either but you and I can both agree there are a lot of ways that come too close

    31. Beth C Beth C says:

      No you can’t force, but if you put enough pressure on someone it can sure feel that way.

    32. Lisa S Lisa S says:

      We have two girls who are now 7 and 5 both entrusted to us at birth. As we educated ourselves on our journey to parenthood through adoption we met adults and teenagers who had a hole in their identity not knowing who they looked like, acted like, etc. since they did not have any birth family contact due to how placements were made at the time. That for us was something we realized early on in our journey we did not want for our future children. With that in mind and some other information/education and meeting families living in open adoptions, we realized that for our children this is what we would want. We have been blessed in that through both of our girls’ families have seamlessly added to ours to one family! Our girls know and have relationships with each of their birth parents and their siblings. For us it wasn’t about how we would feel (obviously if it was an unsafe situation things would be different) it would be about how our children would feel and what they would need. These relationships have blossomed over the years. I believe that it is fear that stops some from opening their families to include their child’s family. These relationships take trust and love something that is how we handle all relationships just that these type of relationships are not the “norm” for some so they have no way to see how it works. Fear of the unknown, fear of whose love the child will take and give freely. For us it is how our family has been from the start and our girls know no different. For us our relationships started before our girls were born and have evolved over time. I hope in time those who are too fearful now to be involved in a reciprocal relationship with their child’s family that they open up and allow them to enter and be a family together it is so worth it!!

    33. Beth C Beth C says:

      Whew what a thread. My daughters are 7 and 4. But already I see glimpses of their personalities that tell me they will respond to adoption as adults in very different ways. They both know who their bmoms are although they live out of state so we haven’t “seen” them for several years. My oldest is my shy insecure one. I can imagine that as an adult she would have no desire to reach out to her birthmom (assuming she didn’t know who she was which she does). And I can see her feeling uncomfortable but not confident enough to say NO I don’t want a relationship with you. My youngest however will be shouting from the roof tops about her family. She is one social butterfly and not afraid to stand out. But my point is there may just may be a valid point in all this. If you were an adult and you did not want a relationship with a birth mom but your biological mother contacted you could you really really really say no. I mean after all this women gave birth to you how can you say no to that? But what if you really don’t want to met her? I think it can and does leave the child (everyone agrees that should be the center of attention right?) in a very awkward position. This is why I am totally and completely and overwhelming sold on open adoption. Lets just eliminate any awkwardness from day one. But I am NOT in favor for of forcing any of the adoption triad into a relationship they don’t want. Its the same argument for why I don’t think adoptees should be able to see their birth certificate. It then forces the birth mom into a relationship. If someone you gave birth to you found you could you say No? What if you didn’t want to meant them because you still haven’t resolved some very complicated emotions yet and you want to make the best impression? Putting someone in that position is not okay. Do I make sense?

    34. Lori L Lori L says:

      Sandy, great resource. Timely, too. Thank you.

    35. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Dawn, I don’t think it is really fair for people raised by their biological parents to say what’s the hype with “who I look like” and “where do I get my smile from, etc”. That person can’t really understand and they probably have also been raised hearing things like that about themself and their family members their whole life! My husband said something to me before about how our children just look like ‘themselves,” in other words not liking or I guess wanting to put significance into seeing resemblances with their biological family that we know. I know he means well and I think he is just trying to say that they are a special person (exactly like no one else), but he is not adopted and doesn’t understand. And in his family I’ve heard them talk about who looks like who and that he reminds them of his dad in mannerism and appearance! I know with birth family… with my birthmom and with my children’s birthmom/siblings they like to see biological connections and personalities, interests, talents, etc. in common with the birth family, I think it is their way of feeling connected to the adoptee.

    36. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Mandy, your pictures are so funny lol!

    37. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Kay hi! I don’t know if you know me yet, I’m an adoptee (from a closed adoption) and also an adoptive mom in an open adoption with our childrens’ birthmother (which I wanted). My birthmom also found me when I was in my early thirties and it kind of rocked my world as they say (and my mom’s world)! That’s one reason that I don’t think you want that a closed adoption, but there are other positive things about open adoption for adoptees and adoptive parents (and birth parents too). Also, I wanted to share with you that expectant mothers in crisis pregnancies in the past when I was born didn’t have any choice about open/closed adoption, closed adoption was the only kind of adoption that was done and it was really sad for the birthmoms back then…sometimes they were not treated very well by their families, agencies and society. A good book to really understand their experience is, “The Girls Who Went Away,” it takes you back in time to what it was like in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s for girls in crisis pregnancies who placed their baby for adoption. I think open adoption started in the 80’s, but it was new so moms in the 80’s probably didn’t have the benefit of choosing the way we do now. I don’t think it was wrong of a birthmother to contact her adult child, once the child is an adult things are different and it is between the child now and both sets of his/her parents. However, if you are nervous about a reunion situation happening with your adoptive child (which I don’t blame you, and can be hard for the adoptee, adoptive parents and birthparents and I personally didn’t want to experience that with my children as an adoptive mom either), having a closed adoption does not help prevent that from happening, having an open adoption does. A closed adoption is what causes that situation. Please feel free to PM me if you ever want to :)

    38. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      I don’t understand Mary’s comment about “enough”. What exactly are you expecting, Mary? A gold medal? A signed waiver saying your child loves no one else? Knowing you loved and helped a child should qualify as “enough” of a reward. I don’t know why that would not be enough…the child has the right to know where they come from, whose womb they came from. That doesn’t lessen the impact the adoptive parents have on the child’s life (whether positive or negative, which I’m starting starting to see that for some it will be negative).

    39. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      Recent comments bring up a good point: openness can have immediate benefits. Even before the child comprehends adoption they have need for a family health history. For instance if our adoption were more open we may have been able to predict my son’s speech delay, fine motor delay, sensory processing disorder, corn allergy. It would have saved him from vomiting, diarrhea, eczema, hives, hyperactivity, itchiness, and maybe he would have gotten therapy earlier. By the time he went into therapy he was 6 months behind in fine motor skills and 8 months behind in speech…he was throwing several tantrums a day because he had no words to tell me what he wanted. One little health form or phone call from b mom could have stopped all that.

    40. Lori L Lori L says:

      Kristine, this is a really good point: “not having to worry about a knock on the door.” I think part of my desire to maintain contact after our first child’s birth was, in part, to avoid surprises. It turned into so much more.

      Your viewpoint is so helpful.

    41. Kristine A Kristine A says:

      Lori, that was one of the reasons that I wanted an open adoption too… to not go through as an adoptive mom my child’s reunion with their birth family, because my reunion with my birth family as an adoptee overwhelmed me and in the beginning I wasn’t focused on my mom’s feelings and how it was affecting her and I was really focused on my birth family for awhile after the reunion. (I also didn’t search, my birthmom found me and I’m not sure if that made it harder or easier to be the one who was surprised.) A friend growing up who was also adopted in a closed adoption searched and found her birthparents (who married each other and lived in the same town with her two full brothers!) shared about it with me, and I remember her telling me that if it hadn’t worked out it would have killed her! Aside from open adoption benefiting the adoptee in positive ways, it also benefits the adoptive parents in different ways… two of them being not having to worry about a knock on the door like my mom did of the birthmother wanting her baby back (which eventually happened in a way with the letter that came to her house from my birthmom wanting to reconnect with me) and having the birth family be just a normal part of your child’s life with no reunion drama later on with the birth family that is involved in the open adoption.

    42. Lori L Lori L says:

      Also, Kay, I’d like to make the distinction between contact and openness as you envision what your family may one day look like. You can offer your child one or the other, you can choose neither, you can try to offer both (if the birth parents are on board, too; not all want contact).

      The important things is that you try to look at each scenario from the baby/toddler/child/tween/teen/adult’s perspective (I’m must pointing out that they grow up to become their own people) and consciously choose how you’d like to parent.

      http://lavenderluz.com/2013/01/open-adoption-grid.html

    43. Lori L Lori L says:

      Kay, I think I understand where you are coming from because I was there at one point, too. The fear of reunion between the child I raised (then hypothetical) once s/he grows up and his/her birth parents, is a huge one. Would I be kicked to the curb when the mysterious and thus powerful birth parent came into the picture someday?

      I’ve observed that not all adoptees will want to search and possibly reunite. Some will, some won’t, but you don’t know which you may get. I think it’s an internal thing, the desire to do so, not from anything the parents do or don’t do. So you might get a child who’s curious or yearning, and you might not. I believe that the more emotional charge YOU have around search and possible reunion, the more emotional charge the child will.

      Which is why we need to do all the self-examination we can to find our triggers and buttons.

      Before I ran some errands (the thread has exploded and I haven’t had a chance to get caught up yet) I wanted to tell you that *I* ended up seeing OA as the *solution* to my problem, not the cause of it. Openness-with-contact from as early as possible (safety being an assumed state, which may not always be possible in some foster adoption situations) was a self-centered decision *I* made to avoid possible search-and-reunion when my then-hypothetical child was grown. That scene at that time, I though, would gut me.

      Why not, I reasoned, why not avoid search and possible reunion altogether by choosing to remain in contact with the woman (and man) who made a conscious decision to make me a mom?

      More: http://lavenderluz.com/2011/04/why-im-anti-anti-open-adoption.html (read the Confession section).

    44. Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Mandy, you’re pictures are perfect and are cracking me up!

    45. Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      I think we can assume that Claudia waited until her son was 18 before she reached out to him. She did try to work through the adoptive parents first, but when they refused when he was a little younger, she likely had every reason to believe they would refuse again, so she sought him out on her own. He had the right to say yes or no at that point. Clearly he said yes. I don’t know if he told his parents, but many adoptees keep the fact that they’ve met their birth family from their adoptive parents, and that makes me very very sad. I want my kids to know that I willing to support them, if they want me to, on this huge step in their life.

    46. Kay B Kay B says:

      please stop forcing your beliefs on me, I do not agree with you. Use emotional reasoning on someone else

    47. Kay B Kay B says:

      even if you know her personally you can still be biased and not know all the facts

    48. Kay B Kay B says:

      you don’t know that for sure

    49. Mandy D Mandy D says:

      This conversation is no longer productive so let’s move on.

    50. Kay B Kay B says:

      I’m not assuming it’s an abusive situation, I’m saying it might be though so we shouldn’t jump conclusions and say what she did was a good thing when we don’t know all the facts. Maybe the AP were protecting the child bc they love them.

    51. Dina L Dina L says:

      I have no reason to put words in your mouth Kay Bear I am trying to state every situation is different and there are good and bad on all sides. Assuming the situation we’ve been discussing is an abusive situation that the adoptive parents hid the child from is not right. You insinuated in your post as much maybe not exact wording.

    52. Dina L Dina L says:

      AGAIN I’ve put no words in your mouth. No not every birth mom is a victim that is putting words in others mouths as you’ve accused me.

    53. Kay B Kay B says:

      ^ see this is what I mean. This group only cares about BM’s

    54. Kay B Kay B says:

      I never said that. Again you are putting words in my mouth

    55. Dina L Dina L says:

      and not every birth mom is an abusive drug addict

    56. Kay B Kay B says:

      it doesnt matter if it was a CPS case or not, it still could have been a bad situation. She could have been on drugs during the pregnancy, she could have been abusive or homeless you don’t know. Not every BM is a victim.

    57. Kay B Kay B says:

      Not true bc they had a baby as well

    58. Kay B Kay B says:

      it doesn’t matter if this is her first born, it still could have been a bad situation

    59. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      You are equating a foster care situation with infant adoption. Not even close to the same thing.

    60. Kay B Kay B says:

      I’ll give you all an example. A woman I was ministering to came to me and said how evil the state was for taking her grand daughter away. And I started to feel bad for her. Then a bunch of red flags came up and she said that her grandson saw a needle in his moms arm, that her other grand daughter was killed in a parking lot, and how all this terrible stuff was going on. Guess what? The BM is NOT the victim. The children are! And whoever adopts those poor kids I hope protects them forever from the BM

    61. Kay B Kay B says:

      Mary Jolynn Harrison just got it <3

    62. Mary H Mary H says:

      Kay Bear-I PM’ed you. Hope you received it okay

    63. Kay B Kay B says:

      I understand you have a personal experience in this, but that doesn’t mean we should apply it to the majority. Not every reunion is a good situation. Sometimes kids come from abusive homes and the AP is simply protecting the child

    64. Lori L Lori L says:

      Kay Bear: Many adoptive parents who first tried to become biological parents know that biology matters. We DO want to look into a face that looks similar to ours and our beloved’s. We WOULD be pleased to see another generation that swims in our gene pool. These pulls are normal for humans.

      But laws in many states prevent biologically-related people separated by adoption from knowing about each other, as records have historically been sealed “to protect the child.”

      Hence the need for “stalking” when one acts on that normal pull. People who can’t get what they need legitimately will go around ill-conceived and outdated laws.

      We would have to ask Claudia’s son if he felt stalked, or if he was happy to be found. After all, the adoption was all about him, right?

    65. Dina L Dina L says:

      I’ve put no words in your mouth. I simply stated my opinion as you have on this and other posts.

    66. Kay B Kay B says:

      I never said that. Please don’t put words in my mouth. But we dont know all sides of the story is what I am trying to say

    67. Dina L Dina L says:

      Kay Bear I feel sorry that you have a view of adoption that seems to vilify birth families.

    68. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      I give up – I support all sides of the triad. You however seem intent on defending every action of an AP in spite of they are human too and make mistakes.

    69. Kay B Kay B says:

      thats why I’m saying this group supports BM’s not AM’s. No one has asked the side of the AP yet

    70. Kay B Kay B says:

      it doesn’t matter if it was infant adoption. There still could be situations where the AP are protecting them

    71. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      This was an infant adoption not foster care. Come on now, be real. This was most likely just fear on their part. Plain and simple fear. fear of losing him, fear he would love her more.

    72. Kay B Kay B says:

      according to the government at 18 like I already said many times above. Please get a new question

    73. Kay B Kay B says:

      that was in 2004 before he was 18. And you have no idea if there were bad situations that the AP are trying to protect the child from. I mean, lets be real

    74. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      Here is what she said “In 2004, through the agency contact was made with his family and they updated me on his well-being and sent a half dozen photos, but decided to not tell him about my inquiry.” At that point, she didn’t have any choice but to go behind their backs when he became and adult. This has happened to way to many adoptees to act like it’s an unusual thing.

    75. Kay B Kay B says:

      no it never says they didn’t tell him. It says they didn’t want to meet up or have contact. Those are two diff things

    76. Kay B Kay B says:

      well I disagree with that decision. But at the same time, they may have told him but he didn’t want to know her. I mean we are only hearing one side of the story here. And I still don’t think it was ok to go behind their back against their wishes.

    77. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      Actually it does say they decided not to tell him in her post. That’s where I got that.

    78. Kay B Kay B says:

      well I totally agree that it would be wrong if the AP didn’t share that the birth mom was trying to contact him. But it doesn’t mention that in her post

    79. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      I don’t see why you think the APs would have given the info to the adoptee. They didn’t share that she had tried to contact him and was open to contact. As an AP, if I refuse contact for my kids, then it’s my own fault if they go around me or behind my back to get to know their first families. And I know without the info that I have, it would be very difficult for them to find their first families. The first families often have more information than the adoptee does especially if the APs aren’t sharing information.

    80. Kay B Kay B says:

      I mean we are just going around in circles and I keep answering the same questions. Obviously its not hard for them to find each other as she did it so easily. Also the adoptive parents knew the biological moms info so if the child asked for it, I’m sure they would have given it. That’s diff bc then the child actually wants a relationship. We have no idea if the child wanted that in this case bc she violated the trust.

    81. Kay B Kay B says:

      at 18 but the child can contact them if they want. Not be stalked online

    82. Kay B Kay B says:

      when she contacted the adoptive parents, they didn’t feel comfortable and she went behind their backs. We aren’t gonna agree on this so you all know where I stand. I’m bowing out

    83. Mandy D Mandy D says:

      I think it is completely normal for biological parents to seek out their adult children that have been adopted in a closed adoption. They spend their entire lives thinking about what that child has become. It’s unnatural to not want to have any connection to your kin so they wait it out until the child is an adult and then try to make contact.

    84. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      Kay, I went to her blog. It states that she placed him in 1987, so in 2004 when she contacted his parents he most likely was 17. She didn’t contact him directly until 2005, presumably after he turned 18. At that point it was no longer their decision. It was between adults.

    85. Kay B Kay B says:

      apparently she had no problem finding him. I don’t think it would have been that hard if he really wanted to.

    86. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      And back then the papers wouldn’t have said closed adoption. They would have just said adoption.

    87. Kay B Kay B says:

      so when you sign the papers for a closed adoption she was jk

    88. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      When you sign those papers you are not promising to protect your pride or defend your emotions or keep eternal secrets.

    89. Kay B Kay B says:

      according to you there is no right and wrong. But there actually is a right and wrong. If he wanted to find her he would have. She went behind the parents back and that’s not ok

    90. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      He was old enough to write her back knowing who she was. That means he can make that choice. I think it is also noteworthy to mention that if you reject a child’s biological parents you are sending a message of rejection to the child himself. After all s/he is their flesh and blood. That child can suffer major psychological damage (on top of adoption which is trauma to begin with). By telling a child that they and their family are not good enough you are doing irreparable harm. If you can’t see that, it may be time to rethink your plans. Adoption isn’t about you or your feelings. It’s about the child.

    91. Kay B Kay B says:

      yes but that’s not what happened here. The child DID NOT CONTACT HER. She broke her original agreement and contacted the child knowing it was against the parents wishes

    92. Rachael S Rachael S says:

      Kay I think most of us adoptive parents AND bio parents don’t side with anyone other than the child…once the child is old enough to understand the adoption and wish to see their bio parents we need to respect the child’s wishes. Adoption is not “buying”. The child is not your property. And the child may well have feelings that differ from yours in regards to meeting their bio family. If you love your child (and I know you will) you will learn to let them make some choices for themselves. If the child is old enough to write legible letters and understand who their bio family is then it’s really not something you can or should control. And a while ago there were no open adoptions. Adoptions were adoptions and they were all closed with no other options.

    93. Mandy D Mandy D says:

      And it really does depend on the circumstances surrounding the closed adoption… things that we don’t know. What this does though is show how difficult it must be for someone adopted to have no ties to a biological family. And all the more reason, opposite to Kay, why open adoption appeals to me more.

    94. Dawnmarie O Dawnmarie O says:

      Kay, their wishes only apply until he’s an adult. At that point, it’s no longer their choice whether to keep it open or closed. It’s the adoptees. She did respect their choice and contacted him later as an adult. It sounds like you are making this all about the parents but adoption should be all about the child. In my situation, when my kids get older they get to decide – do they want less info sent, do they want to pick what I share? Do they want more contact? It will be their choice, because the relationship with their first family should be up to them. I know they’ll have enough love for both of us.

    95. Mandy D Mandy D says:

      Gonna have to support Kay, here. We are missing some information. It does not say what age her son was when this was all occurring.

    96. Dina L Dina L says:

      if it is a mutual decision for closed adoption what gives one side the ok for contact over the other? I just don’t understand that. How can it be ok for the adoptive parents to change the mutual decision but not the birth family?

    97. Kay B Kay B says:

      I still think she is violating and going back on her word. I don’t think it’s ok even if he’s an adult. If HE wanted to find her then he would have.

    98. Kay B Kay B says:

      is fine and great

    99. Kay B Kay B says:

      you don’t have to do anything. If you are going into it as a closed adoption, then it should be 100% the adoptive parents choice to make it open. It’s not ok to violate that and go back against your word. If you wanna do an open adoption that

    100. Kay B Kay B says:

      sorry where does it say in her post that she waited until he was an adult? I must be not seeing it

    101. Emily says:

      I appreciate reading all the comments so far. My husband and I have been blindsighted by our adoptive adult daughter. She has invited us to attend a Dinner honoring she and her husband for philanthropy in our area. After she invited us reluctantly and we accepted the dinner invitation, she indicated that her birth Mom and Sister would also be attending. We have been aware that she found her birth Mom and sisters 20 years ago. At the time her bmom indicated she didn’t want to build a relationship with her. We supported her finding and expressed a desire to meet the bmom; we also met and welcomed one of her bsisters during that time. What’s troubling is that we had not known that our daughter had been building her relationship with her bmom over the years. And, now without any previous discussion, we will be meeting her bmom (oh, by the way) at this fancy dinner. I am not sure how to explain my feelings, except to wonder why it is that this bmom relationship comes as a surprise to us the aparents. Any comments — Is it a reflection of our upbringing? We are full of fear and puzzlement. What’s happening? We don’t know if the bmom even wants to meet us.

      • I don’t know why your daughter hasn’t told you. I completely understand why you would feel hurt that your daughter has not mentioned something that obviously is so important to her.

        I took a day before I responded to you to try to put myself in your daughter’s position and imagine why I wouldn’t want to share this info. These are some of the ideas I came up with:
        • Maybe she was embarrassed, rejected, and disappointed when her birth mother didn’t want the relationship 20 years ago and wanted to try again without anyone knowing to spare her future public embarrassment.
        • Maybe she sensed relief from you or her dad when the first reunion didn’t take and wanted to spare you the second time around.
        • Maybe it happened very gradually. At first it didn’t seem like a big deal, but then it actually developed into something and it became too big to just casually mention.

        Or it could be many more reasons or a combination of reasons. You didn’t mention why your daughter was “reluctant” to invite you, but I wonder if it was because of the weight of this secret.

        And few of the reasons are reasons to cause you fear. Fear of what?

        But all this is just speculation. Why not ask her, but do so in a way that shows compassion for her struggles. “I know that establishing a relationship with Susan was important to you in the past, so I’m so happy for you that it has worked out. I can’t help but notice that you haven’t mentioned it before now and I wonder why. Did you worry that I wouldn’t be supportive? Or did it just feel awkward to bring it up? It troubles me if we have given you any reason to feel the need to keep this a secret. In any event, I want you to know that we are happy for you and that you can share this part of your life with us.”

    102. Greg says:

      cb,

      I don’t think you’re weird at all nor do I think it’s all you. I completely understand where you’re coming from and it makes sense. The reason I ask was not so much to see if an adoptive parent can make a child’s hurt go away but to see if they can help create a more open supportive environment from the adoptee perspective.

      It sounds like you are suggesting that the adoptive parent initiating the conversation can help but ultimately there still could be some hesitancy on the adoptee side of things no matter what.

      Thanks for the feedback.

    103. Kristine A. says:

      Marilyn, I think too that adoptive moms can struggle with not with not being their child’s only mother. because while it is common for a mother to have more than one child, most children have only one mother. I use the term ‘mother’ because for me as an adoptee, I have two mothers but only one ‘mom.’ So the sharing aspect of being your child’s mother with another woman who is also their mother can be difficult and make us feel less of a mother than other mothers who also gave birth to their child. I heard a birthmother also share similar to you about how a birthmom and an adoptive mom are each a part of motherhood for their child (I can’t remember how she phrased it and am using my own words), but while I understand what is being said and it makes sense, I feel like seeing it that way diminishes them each to only being part of being a mother. I don’t think a birthmother and adoptive mother are each just a part of their child’s mother, I think they are both mothers but with different roles in their child’s life.

    104. marilynn says:

      Dawn I think you gave a nice response to her. One thing I thought about was the plenty of love no need to be jealous statement you made and I have heard it before but I don’t know that analogy really works when it comes to a woman and her adopted child.

      “But jealousy implies a limited supply of something”
      No not really it implies a desire to have something or someone all to oneself. It is a desire for exclusivity in possession of either a person or an object. In a monogomous relationship one has the expectation that they are their partners only lover. When they find out they are not their partner’s only lover they get jelalous – precisely because there is all kinds of love to go around. Since nobody gets more than one mother or father, a person who is a mother or father has a reasonable expectation that nobody else can occupy that position, if someone else comes along and tries to play that roll then feelings of jealousy come up because there is an expectation of exclusive right to that position. A mother can love all of her children and always has enough love for more but the nature of being a mother is that each of her kids have only her to call mother where she has many people who each are positioned in the roll of child in relation to her. Husbands and wives are in a one on one position unless specifically agreed to otherwise and its a fur to manage open relationships.

      So an adoptive mother who has spent years forgetting the “adoptive” nature of her relationship is now very jelous because there can’t be just two moms. She will have to be the plain mom and the new one can be the birth mom is probably something she is thinking. She will have to grapple with all that and figure out how to best stuff it all down and not make it anyone else’s problem. They are not positioned to him in the same way they are separate relationships they are not really overlapping. Sadly each one did something the other was unable to do for him, something that they both long for to make them feel their motherhood experience was whole or that they fulfilled the duties of a mother in total. But they are a relay team it took two people to get the job done. One could make but not raise, the other could raise but not make and together they got the job done. They could not have done it without one another really given the bind each of them was in. Neither can have the whole motherhood experience all to herself, they split it up it would be so helpful to him I’m sure if they could sit down and and have a cup of coffee and admit that they really are jealous of the fact that they could not do both parts and just thank one another for pulling together and giving him all the things a kid needs from a mother only he has to look to two women for that and now that the rearing is over their roles are going to be not relay but tandem. If the A mom does not want to become like the jealous fish wife that gets snuck around on she’d better realize that she knew it was not an exclusive 1 on 1 relationship when she got into it. She knew there was another woman and she wanted to be with him anyway so she needs to get communal. The jealousy is easy to understand though because she wants to be the only mother.

    105. marilynn says:

      Dawn can you ask Debbie if she’d mind contacting me and give her my email? I know someone else in Australia that is working on changing his birth record and maybe she and he could exchange pointers. Also I’m trying to garner interest in the idea of adopted people and donor offspring and anyone whose birth record is not biologically accurate going and asking for it corrected under Hippa here in the US but also in the UK and Australia. Asking to unseal the original records and asking for donor info to be released at 18 just is not equal to what everyone else has. They have not tried asking to just be treated the same yet just don’t change the original birth record don’t mess with their identities. Just put the donor’s name on the birth record and make them act like normal bio parents. All the rule bending is unnecessary and complicates these people’s lives. So they should just ask for the record to be corrected. Thx

      • Marilyn, we don’t give out emails and unfortunately don’t have the time to contact people individually to secure permission. If she sees this comment and wants to share, she can post it or suggest a way for you two to switch via a social network. Sorry.

    106. cb says:

      Btw Dawn, are you trying to limit replies to you “Dear Birth Mother Letter” post? It says one has to log on via WordPress to do so.

    107. cb says:

      “C,

      While you’ve stated that your mom always supported you, there is the aspect that you felt you had to wait for her to bring up your birth family rather than you feeling comfortable enough to initiate it. My question is there something she could have done to make you feel comfortable enough for you to initiate it?”

      Greg, in one aspect it is just my natural self – I did feel comfortable at first because it was “new” but after a while, I tend not to bring things up, I tend to wait until someone else initiates the conversation, because I don’t like to be thought of as “going on” about things. It is the same with my bfamily, i.e. at the start, I asked a lot about my bmom but now I wait until someone else mentions her name. This isn’t just an adoption things, I tend to be like that about a lot of things. I’m just weird :)

      I have also found that after being on forums for almost 4 years that that has also contributed to making me more reluctant to share because I worry that deep down, she might be like some of the APs that I’ve come across on forums and might not really be as willing to hear as she might seem on the surface. So when she initiates the conversation, I then know that she is feeling comfortable.

      In fact, she has been pretty good and I know I am lucky :) She seems to like the sound of my bfamily (who are quite close) as she says they sound like her own family growing up and she feels sad that with her living overseas, she doesn’t see them much. Dad’s family was more selfcontained and very insular and in a way we ended up a bit more like them.

      Btw she hasn’t met anyone in my bfamily yet but that has more to do with distance and her inability to get around. I am sure it will happen one day but even I don’t see them in person that much for the same reason – I tend to be in contact with them more by email/FB.

      So, the short answer to your question, Greg, is that in most ways it is “me” not “her”.

    108. Greg says:

      C,

      While you’ve stated that your mom always supported you, there is the aspect that you felt you had to wait for her to bring up your birth family rather than you feeling comfortable enough to initiate it. My question is there something she could have done to make you feel comfortable enough for you to initiate it?

    109. ecsma says:

      As an adoptive mom in a completely (wide) open adoption for over 20 years I am touched by this story. Bottom line – the adoptee, whether a child or an adult, needs to be in the center of the equation. His feelings are paramount. I agree with 99% of the original, thoughtful blog post. The adoptive parents should take a deep breath and be secure in their role as parents and their parent/child relationship – embracing this new one in their son’s life will only bring them closer. I disagree with two things on the post … jealousy is not the right word to describe how adoptive parents feel about Birthparents in our child’s life. As it was suggested, it’s really about feeling like we’re “not enough.” But sincerely that comes with the territory of adoption – our child came from others, so we will never have all the answers, have all the physical attributes, or all the love our child needs. Parents need to come to terms with that BEFORE adopting. Secondly, this introduction should most definitely not be in a crowded room with others – it would be far more honorable and respectful to all parties to do it privately and ahead of time. Allow them the time and space for hugs and tears and words of thankful appreciation on all sides. One thing a birthmom told me that always resonated … “My child was not a gift to the adoptive parents, my gift was giving wonderful parents TO my child.” Allow them the space to express their common love of their son and gratitude for the validity and importance of all who contributed to who he is today — without others looking on.

    110. Anonymous says:

      I believe that open adoption can be a wonderful thing for all members of the adoption triad, but it can only work if ALL parties treat each other with respect. In light of this, I must raise a strong disagreement to all those who are so unconditionally supportive of Ms.D’Arcy. I have read Musings of the Lame (Ms D’Arcy’s personal blog), and I find that the attitude that Ms. D’Arcy holds towards PAP’s, AP’s and those who suffer from IF to be extremely disrespectful and derogatory towards those who seek to pursue adoption as a family building option. I understand that since this is Ms. D’Arcy’s personal blog, she is free to say whatever she wants on this blog in whatever way she sees fit, but I must admit, after reading her extremely negative views of adoption and those who seek to build their families through it, if I were her son’s AP’s, I too would be hesitant to open myself to any kind of a relationship with her. I do not know the AP’s of Ms. D’Arcy’s son, but I would not judge them too harshly for putting distance between themselves and someone who sees them and other AP’s in such a negative light. And I do not feel that it is fair to judge the AP’s for keeping their distance in light of such realities-it would be hard for anyone, regardless of how they felt about openness in adoption, to feel safe or respected in the presence of someone who held such negative views of how their family came to be, and who saw herself as a victim of injustice in the whole scenario. I don’t blame Kay B for having misgivings after hearing Ms. D’Arcy’s testimonial.
      Speaking of feeling safe, I am a little disappointed that Musings of the Lame is spoken so highly of in this and other forums, and that it is so highly recommended to PAP’s/AP’s/and IF persons as a place where we might find more information about the expectant/birthmother perspective. I have sought the blog out for just such a reason, and I have found it almost abusive in its attitudes towards PAP’s/AP’s/Persons with IF-both in the blog postings and in the comments sections. It certainly falls under the category of derogatory and discriminatory information. And before anyone accuses me of being too sensitive or not having come to terms with my own IF or my identity as a PAP or a future AP, I do not feel that just because a person is IF, a PAP, or an AP, that that makes them any less worthy of common decency or respect in a forum like that-especially if you are hoping to reach them in an effort to educate in the name of change (which I am sure is the ultimate goal of such a blog). Respect always has to be a two way street, and it is hypocritical of a birthmother like Ms. D’Arcy to demand respect from the prospective parents and actual parents on the other side of the adoption triad without showing any sense of respect in return. If forums such as this are going to uphold blogs like Musings of the Lame, it is my hope that you would include a disclaimer that would warn persons with IF/PAP’s/AP’s that such forums might not be a safe place for them to find their information-no one deserves such abuse, no matter how they might choose to build their families, and those of us in that position deserve to be kept safe from such disrespectful attitudes.
      If expectant/birthparents are going to demand respect in the quest for open adoption, they have to be willing to respect the ways in which ALL people choose to build their families, even if they don’t agree with some of them on a personal level. Yes, all adoptees have two sets of parents, but the biological parents have to accept and respect this reality just as much as the adoptive parents do. Yes, a birth parent is a child’s mother or father, but so is the adoptive mother and/or father who raised them-both must be respected by the other. The respect cannot and should not be all on one side, and it’s time that we all accepted that. Thank you

      • Anonymous, to the extent that this discussion has come off as a judging Claudia’s son’s adoptive parents, I agree. We haven’t had their input here and we don’t know their side of the story. I am uncomfortable that Claudia contacted her son before he was 18. I suspect, but don’t know, that if she had to do it over again, she would have waited. We all make mistakes.

        Creating a Family is committed to learning, educating, and supporting. One of the ways we do this is to maintain an extensive list of blogs from people in all corners of adoption: adoptive parents from every imaginable type of adoption, adopted people with varying degrees of opinions about adoption, and birth parents (moms and dads) with varying opinions about adoption. We can learn from them all. Inclusion on this list is not necessarily an endorsement of their views, but then they are not seeking Creating a Family’s endorsement.

        Anoymous, I hear you bottom line and I agree. Every person involved with adoption can learn from others in a different position. I especially think we all need to learn from adopted people because every decision we make in adoption is supposed to be made for the best interest of this person when they are young, so we should listen to them when they are older to see how it worked out to better inform this generation of adopted children. You are also right that adoptees and birth parents would benefit from learning what the experience is like from an adoptive parents perspective. I suspect that adoptive parents have been the most vocal so maybe we have been over-represented in the voices people hear in adoption, but it is still a valid voice.

        You are also right, that learning happens best in an safe place where respect is shown.

    111. c says:

      Though I am a 1960s adoptee, my aparents have never had an issue in regards to the possibility of us children reuniting with our bfamily. It’s understandable to feel a little bit of jealousy and even though my amum has never shown any real sign of it, I am always alert to her feelings when talking about my bfamily. I usually wait for her to bring them up. At the same time, I appreciate the fact that she has never shown anything but support.

      In the end, it’s my life and my decision to meet my bfamily really had nothing to do with my afamily, and I mean that in a good way in that it 1) wasn’t anything to do with the way they parented or raised me or anything like that; and 2) my bfamily is a separate entity to my afamily – I was separated from my bmother before my aparents even met me. When one’s adoptee feels comfortable enough in their relationship with yuo that they know it’s OK to have contact with their bfamily, that can only be a good thing surely? Btw when I said “know it’s OK to have contact with their bfamily”, I mean just that, I don’t mean that they have to have contact, I just mean that they know it is OK to do so if they so wish.

      In the end, adoption is *supposed” to be about what is in “the best interest of the child”, so when that child is an adult, they should be trusted to do what is in their best interest.

      In regards to Kay B when she says:

      “But this couple specifically chose a closed adoption (we don’t know the full story) yet this person decided to go past those boundaries set, and find them online.”

      Putting aside the fact that Claudia had no choice but to have a closed adoption – once an adoptee reaches adulthood it matters zilch what *sort* of adoption their parents *wanted*. It is the adoptee’s choice then what sort of adoption THEY want. And btw, I’m pretty sure Claudia waited until her son was an adult so in the end, I can’t see that it is anyone else’s business.

      Btw many adoptees who say that they had supportive parents say that eventually their relationship is closer – I think that that support shows the adoptee that their parents’ love comes without strings.

      I have a great relationship with both my afamily and bfamily and like having an expanded family :) Even so, it has been an emotional rollercoaster even though it is extended bfamily and I am glad that my aparents didn’t feel the need to make it even harder.

      • c, I’m glad you made the point that when we talk about reunion I am absolutely not saying that all adoptees want to be in reunion or should be in reunion. Some will want this and some will not. The choice is theirs and both are OK.

    112. Lynn L says:

      When we began researching adoption we learned so much about the benefits of openness in adoption for the child. All we learned in the pre-adoption research and training did so much to dissipate our initial fears – a complete turn around in attitude really. We ended up adopting a year ago from China – because of our ages and the reliability of the program – we wanted to become parents before it was too late. Now we are scraping to gather any bits of information – about the orphanage, her care givers, anything we can gather to provide our daughter with clues about her life before us – for when she ready to handle the information. We may never be able to provide the all answers she needs, but I want to be able to tell her we have tried.

      To the adoptive mom who is feeling angst over meeting her son’s birthmother, I hope you feel support and empathy here. I wonder if learning more about how this can benefit her son will help ease her fears and find strength in a situation that would certainly be stressful and awkward, at least at first, for any of us. I think it is possible to change the way you are feeling about this.

    113. Jo says:

      As a reunited birthmother, I’d like to thank you, Dawn, for this excellent essay. I hope it is read far and wide by folks who struggle with these fears.

      I never got to meet my daughter’s mom; she had passed away years earlier. I was disappointed, because I had so wanted to chat with her, mother to mother, about typical mother things. I would have loved to learn about the childhood of the little girl/now woman with whom I was building a relationship and to reassure her I meant no threat to her role as Mother. And what an opportunity it could have provided for her! All the cute and silly things from her daughter’s childhood; all the adventures; all the firsts – I would have been a captive audience for her telling. Who else in her life would have wanted to sit through the reliving of all those mother tales? And who else would have been as appreciative of her mothering of the child I wasn’t able to raise?

      For Kay B: First, Claudia didn’t “choose closed adoption.” The only way someone can make a choice is to be given at least two alternatives from which to choose. This was not the case when Claudia’s son was born. There was ONLY ONE kind of adoption at that time – closed. It was the period of secrecy, falsification of records, and the phenomenally ridiculous belief that human mothers, like animals, only grieve for a short time after their babies are taken away, after which they “forget” they’ve even given birth. And that because they have “forgotten”, they would be mortified if, years later, their “forgotten” child came back into their lives. That period in our history is the same period in which many mothers were told their babies died, twins were separated, and no one had a clue about genetically transmitted diseases. It was a shameful period in adoption history.

      Second, while I understand your discomfort at the thought of not being able to totally sever all ties between a child you hope to adopt and his/her original family, I have to tell you it will make your chances of adopting very slim. The percentage of mothers willing to surrender their babies under “closed” terms is only about 5% today. Considering the long lines of couples waiting for available infants, you may be stuck on agency waiting lists for years – until you are too old to be qualified. I suggest you use the Internet to research open adoption from the perspective of all participants before deciding whether or not to pursue adoption for yourself.

    114. Debbie says:

      I’m a 50 yr old adoptee from the forced adoption era in Australia x just over 20 yrs ago our government allowed us access to our original birth Certs and I found my mother x which was the best day of my life’ x my adoptive mother went crazy when she found out , that day was the beginning of the end of our relationship x she forbid me to have any relationship and said know you know what you look like that’s it you don’t need to see her any more . I then moved to another state made the monthly phone calls to keep the peace and then built my relationship with my real mum x I had no say in being adopted or to the family that adopted me at least in adulthood I could choose who I wanted to be mother x mine was a closed adoption but I was the one who found my mum x I’m know in the process of trying to get my adoption unulled and get my true name on my birth cert , still a long way to go on that in Australia x

    115. Jugatsu says:

      AnonAP – I am the mysterious Jugatsu! Glad to hear you liked my post.

      To the adoptive parent who is afraid to meet their son’s birth family:

      Communicate. Express your feelings to your son. He clearly loves you enough to want to include you on his journey. This is not something I would invite my adoptive parents to as I just don’t trust them enough. I wish I could, but they have shown me time and time again that they are undeserving of my full trust.

      If meeting them in a huge gathering feels uncomfortable, then don’t do it. Try to make a compromise with your son. I know he would appreciate it so much if you are accepting of his birth family. Don’t be scared of losing him, he has already shown that you will never be forgotten. Try not to forget that you got to raise him from an infant, and his birth mother did not. If they are spending more time together now, it is only to make up for lost time, not to replace his adoptive family.

      To Kay B. :

      If you are seriously considering a closed adoption for the sole purpose of keeping the birth family from contacting your child, I would not suggest that you adopt. I hate to say it, but later in life, your child might come to resent you for the secrecy of the closed adoption. As an adoptee, it is VERY hard to go through life not knowing the faces or names of your biological parents. Remember that as a natural born child to your own parents, you had the luxury of seeing yourself mirrored in them. It seems insignificant, but its EVERYTHING. Don’t take it for granted.

      I know all too well the woes of the worried mother. Please don’t worry about your child and the contact he/she may or may not have with their birth family. If you are open and communicative with your child, they will feel comfortable with their adoption and with the prospect of getting to know their biological relatives. And in turn, they will be open with you. I think it is extremely important, as an adoptive parent, to embrace your child’s natural history, not ignore it. You can only ignore so much before it all comes spilling out. And I assure you, it isn’t pretty when it does.

      Also, I want you to understand that an adopted person is not forever a child. A birth mother seeking out their adult child is not STALKING. Please, come back to reality with the rest of us and realize what a great relationship this birth mother now has with her son. She did not ever intend to harm her own child, but that seems to be what you are implying.

      Try to step back and put yourself in the position of the adoptee or the birth mother, as their role in the triad is often the most difficult.

      • Jugatsu made many great points, but the one I want to highlight is the point that we tend to think of adoption in terms of children, but your adopted child will grow up and will one day be an adult. They will be an adult much longer than they are a child. Something to think about when making decisions in adoption.

        Jugatsu, I’m sorry you didn’t have your parents support in your reunion.

    116. AnonAP says:

      Oh, Kay B….Having a closed adoption doesn’t make concerns about how your child or his or her birthfamily interact go away. Part of the point that TAO and others are making is that, even if they are not a physical part of your life, the imprint of his or her birthfamily is part of your child. Those eyes you love watching light up at a new toy or figuring out a new skill or getting accepted into the college of their choice are the result of other people’s genetics.

      What you are perceiving as pro-birthmother, anti-adoptive mother is, I think, more pro-positive environment for child- and adult-adoptee and hope for positive outcomes. Yes, Claudia agreed to a closed adoption. She’s also a human being and mother tied to a child in a situation where the agency was not cooperating in sharing a request for additional contact. I take her at her word here. So, yeah, I can understand going through a non-traditional route for making contact. As for using Google and FB, have you really never looked up an ex or searched for an old acquaintance want to make contact with (or don’t want to make contact with)? You’ve never been tempted to check out a possible date or business contact online to see what you can find? That’s not stalking, that’s called “using the internet”. Now imagine if the tie were not an old flame but your child, and all that information is just fingertips away? Closed or not there’s a strong pull to search, and I do not for one second blame her for doing so. Parental control over who talks to whom ends when the adoptee (no longer a child remember) has the maturity to make their own decisions about who they will associate with. Chances are good that he or she will be even more savvy about online interactions than you are, and you will lose control even as you try to hold on to it.

      How did the APs feel, I have no idea. What I do know is that as an AP, I know that there are many, many things that are out of my control. I know that by talking with our daughter’s birthmother and maintaining some contact – would love more – we have made other connections and gained information that will be valuable for our daughter as she grows up and faces the task of figuring out who she is. We actually feel less daunted by adolescence because we have some footholds to provide to her as she climbs that mountain. Information is valuable; human connections are valuable. Please think long and hard before demanding a closed adoption. I think you and your child would be (a) fighting a losing battle and (b) losing a great deal by putting down those boundaries without a clear need to do so.

    117. AnonAP says:

      TAO, that’s an awesome post! Thanks for sharing it!

    118. Jessica says:

      Great responses. As Dawn noted, Other Mother became a mother through adoption 30+ years ago, when mindsets were different. I applaud her willingness to express her fears and ask questions, a first step toward growth.

      To Other Mother, I want to say that we searched for and found our children’s birth mothers (both in Guatemala), and those relationships feel vital to the well-being of our children. As a mom, I feel our circle is expanded. Our love is multiplied.

      It sounds like you’ve done a terrific job raising your son. This is new territory you’re entering, together. Good luck!~

    119. TAO says:

      Mary,

      I don’t know if this would help you gain empathy or not, it all depends your willingness. It’s an exercise that may help you reframe your views on the most basic of all needs…

      http://theadoptedones.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/identity-inventory/

      • TAO, that’s a worthwhile exercise for all of us to do. I will just add that we could also do this exercise in adoption b/c many of these “traits” are environmentally influenced as well, but I realize this is taking away from your greater point, which was the point that I made to Mary as well–non-adopted folks don’t tend to fixate on this as much b/c they’ve never had to wonder.

    120. AnonAP says:

      Thanks for sharing your stories, Claudia and Kristine A.

      Kay B., I have completely the opposite response to Claudia’s post, though I admit I am in favor of open adoption whenever possible. Her story reinforces for me the wishful thinking on the part of anyone who believes they can indefinitely keep a closed adoption closed in this day and age. It tells me that a grown son (presumably, since he is meeting with her alone) has been put in a burdensome position of fielding divisions within his family because of a closed adoption. Keep in mind that he wants to meet with her, so the burden at this point is being maintained by his parents. It reminds me that as APs we are responsible for setting good examples for our children of how to navigate relationships with others with respect, empathy, love, and if necessary, self-protection. (Claudia, I’m not implying that he would need to protect himself from you, more that in some cases that might be necessary) Isn’t it better to try to create a positive relationship and to give your child that perspective than to try to keep it all closed and separate?

      • AnonAP, we shared the same response! Kay may want a closed adoption, but she only has control for a relatively short period of time, and then they only choice you have as an adoptive parent is whether to make the situation difficult for your child or make it easier for them.

    121. Mary says:

      WOW, I feel for the adoptive mother…..as someone who has no relation to adoption…I work in Third Party Parenting and the same issues are starting to come up in that arena…I do want to say I find it hard to swallow all the rhetoric about “how do I look like” and “where do I get my laugh from”. I never thought those thoughts about my bio parents and I wasn’t adopted. I feel for the adoptive mom…she spent the time, money and energy and it is not ‘enough” when confronted with the bio mom.

      • Mary, I hear your point, but perhaps you never wondered because you never had to. You knew you got your moms small hands and your dad’s prominent nose. You knew that breast cancer doesn’t run in your family. You knew that your raucous laugh was all your own.

        As to the time, money and energy the mom spent not being enough–aren’t you jumping to an conclusion. I’m in the midst of a very long term project on interviewing adult adoptees for a book project. Many have told me that meeting their birth families have made them very thankful to have been raised with their adoptive family. But even if that is not the case in Other Mother’s situation, isn’t it entirely possible for her son to feel that both his mom’s are enough.

    122. Kay B. says:

      that is not what she said in her post. She wanted to respect their wishes, and then went against their wishes even tho they made it clear

    123. Dina L. says:

      I also do not understand why it is stalking when a birth mother reaches out for contact but ok when an adoptee reaches out for contact. I’m sorry you see the group the way you do. I see it showing respect for all.

    124. Kay B. says:

      not from what I have seen thus far

    125. Dina L. says:

      As an Adoptive mother I think your state is a harsh generalization on this group. I think as a whole their is care and concern for all involved in the adoption triad.

    126. Kay B. says:

      yes but that’s not what happened in this situation. The birth mother stalked the child

    127. Kay B. says:

      it’s clear this group favors birth mothers over adoptive mothers… no one cares what they think. Even though she agreed to a closed adoption and is breaking that

    128. Kay B. says:

      it’s fine if you choose open adoption. That’s wonderful! But this couple specifically chose a closed adoption (we don’t know the full story) yet this person decided to go past those boundaries set, and find them online. That’s not ok and we should not be approving of this bc it makes her feel good. What about the adoptive parents? How do they feel?

    129. Dina L. says:

      I also wonder if Kay you reverse the situation and have it be the an adult adoptee trying to make contact with their birth family in a closed adoption. Would that be wrong as well? I personally love the fact we have open adoptions for our 2 boys.

    130. Kay B. says:

      she admitted it was closed, then stalked them online. That’s SCARY. Sorry but since I’m looking to adopt this is a red flag for me thinking def will want a closed adoption now

    131. Kay B. says:

      Sorry but Claudia’s response makes me want to do a closed adoption. That’s scary that you didn’t respect their wishes for a closed adoption

    132. Kristine A. says:

      Lori, I read “Real” in Adoption and how it Splits our Babies” and I agree with your friend Torrejon. As an adoptee I feel like I fit in both my birth and adoptive families. Although when I was recently doing genealogy research I felt like I didn’t ‘truly fit’ in either because of adoption – I grew up in the family but wasn’t ‘biologically’ related to new adoptive relatives that I met, and I was biologically related to new birth relatives that I met but I wasn’t ‘raised’ in the family. (It was a strange feeling)

    133. Kristine A. says:

      Dawn, I just read your blog post… it was good and brought back some emotions and memories from my reunion years ago. I remember now that it was really hard for my mom in the beginning and that it took her some time to become more comfortable about it. I reassured her that she was ‘my mom’ and I think in time she saw that it didn’t change my relationship with her. My oldest birth sister also had a really hard time with it and it took time too, but we are now closer and are friends. My reunion was at times overwhelming, intense, emotional, and bumpy, and took me several years to process and to figure out what my birth family was supposed to mean to me and how they fit into my life. (After the beginning stage, I think most of the bumpiness that occurred was with my birth family…I had expected my birthmom to be like my mom and the family I grew up with and she wasn’t, and she had expected me to be like her two other daughters that she raised, and I wasn’t.) The reunion was meeting and getting to know people who are really important to you and that you feel a heart connection with because of who they are to you, but conversely we don’t know each other at all. As an adoptee, it was both really cool and also really hard sometimes and then you add in the feelings of others really important to you that may not have wanted or approve of the reunion that makes it harder. Something that Dawn mentioned was also a good point…those of us who were part of closed adoptions of the past were not prepared for openness and relationships between adoptees and birth families, and birth and adoptive families. After years of being reunited with my birth family I can say that it is a blessing, and having both my mom and birthmom in my life was a blessing too, but it wasn’t an easy road in the beginning and that’s why I feel that open adoption is better for both adoptive/birth families and especially the adopted child. Adopted children in open adoption can know that they were loved and are loved by both of their families, and memories can be shared and bonds can be formed when they are growing up with their birth parents, birth siblings and extended birth family and that can be such a special blessing for them now and in the future. My children can have a chance to both have what I didn’t have (memories and bonds with their birth family while they are growing up), and to not have what I did have (the experience of going through an emotional reunion with my birth family as an adult). ♥

    134. Rachael says:

      Claudia I think fear probably is driving the adoptive parents to avoid you. Hopefully in time they will loosen up. Just know that it doesn’t mean they don’t care for you. It just means they love your son a LOT. I struggle with our semi-open adoption out of fear as well sometimes (we have occasional contact but our b mom wants even less contact than we do at the moment). After all, I know firsthand how wonderful this child is…so it makes sense for someone else to want him as much. Not to mention stories on the news about custody battles etc. If you contact them again maybe just be clear and open and honest about your intentions, so they know there is nothing to be afraid of. They might come around.

    135. Claudia D. says:

      Thanks Dawn.. and Kristine! <3 Its so important to share these feelings for perspective.

    136. Thank you Claudia so much for sharing from your perspective! By the way everyone, Claudia blog over at the excellent blog Musings of the Lame (http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/musings-of-the-lame-an-adoption-blog/)

    137. Kristine A. says:

      Claudia, thank you for writing and sharing with us too. :) I really appreciate hearing your thoughts and feelings about everything and am so sorry for how this has worked out so far for you and your son. It can be very scary as an adoptive mom for our child to have a personal relationship with their birthmom because of different fears that we can have, such as being scared that maybe we will not be thought of as their ‘real mom’ anymore or maybe your child will love their birthmom more than they love you, etc. I am an adoptee and adoptive mom, and feel many emotions about what you wrote. When I was an adult, my birthmom also reached out and contacted me and I received her letter at my mom’s house when I was there visiting (and just my mom and I were there alone)! My dad had already passed away when this happened and I know it was really hard for my mom, but she had faith in God and was a sweet and caring person. When my birthmom visited me for the first time a few months later, my mom invited her over and they met too. My birthmom is also a sweet person and it went well, and they became friends (not real close friends), but friends and the following year my husband, my mom and I went to visit my birthmom and spent a week with her, and then each time my birthmom came to visit me we also saw my mom too. We also have an open adoption with our childrens’ birthmom and she is our friend and family to us too. I have been blessed as an adoptee and an adoptive mom to be able to have relationships with both families and that included both families, and yes it can be awkward and hard sometimes and I have experienced that too, but I feel that it is a blessing for an adopted child to have love from both of their families and for both of their families to be friends and care for each other. This may also happen with your relationship with your son’s parents in time. :)

    138. Claudia D. says:

      I’m a birthmother on the other end of this.

      I remember when I had imagined that when we reunited, my son’s adoptive family would welcome with open arms and be thankful for what I had allowed them to have. In 2004, through the agency contact was made with his family and they updated me on his well-being and sent a half dozen photos, but decided to not tell him about my inquiry. While the adoption had been closed, I had found their identities myself, but honored their feelings. In 2005, I contacted found him directly via social media and made contact which my son welcomed. We took our time and I had hoped gave his parents the time to adjust to the fact that reunion was a positive thing for our son, but when we met for the first time again in 2007, it was just him and I.

      To this day, even though I wrote them a letter in 2005 or 6? and asked what I could do for them so THEY would be more comfortable with everything, there has been no contact form them. We have never met. Ever.

      Now, I do not care for my benefit, but I do feel that it is very sad for our child to have to be split like that. I DO worry about things like weddings and babies. And I half expect that I will be the one left out of such things. And I know that will hurt.. badly. But I am prepared to take that on and NOT make it about me. I would rather my son do what he feels comfortable with and take the loss again. I will not make him feel badly for it. Instead. our son could rejoice in having all the people that love him involved in his life, he is forced to keep us separated and compartmentalized.

      But, to be truthful., it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I had believed so much more about them; how they felt about me, caring, concern, understanding. It was all a fantasy of mine, I guess? It was OK to want my child, but not to consider me a person even worth meeting? Someone who could offer them insite about a boy they love? Or that my other children, children just like him, are also worthy of knowing? To be pleased that we ARE good people, that he was loved from afar for so long? That he has been accepted and loved since?

      I guess I just fail to understand how one can adopt a child and expect that the other family really is gone forever. The reality of adoption is that the adoptee has two families and if one cannot accept that then perhaps adoption is not the thing for them? I do not ever expect that my son would walk away from them now, but they still, I guess, hope that I will walk away again. That’s not going to happen; it is on-going.

    139. Christie says:

      Dawn, most definitely lessens my fear! At his age he is the man is going to be (for the most part as we all continue to grow). =0)

    140. AnonAP says:

      Also, there’s a great post that just came up over at the Adoptive Families Circle forum by someone with the handle “Jugatsu”.
      http://www.adoptivefamiliescircle.com/groups/topic/About_being_different/#reply-40253

      Might be helpful for the original writer to read it over.

    141. Great advice all around, Dawn.

      Other Mother, as Dawn says, you come from a time when adoptions were done in an Either/Or mindset. Either you’re the mom or SHE is. He can claim YOU TWO as parents or those other ones. It feels like a zero sum game. One’s gain causes the other’s loss.

      It’s not such a big stretch to shift to a Both/And mindset. If/when you had a second child, you didn’t divide the love between the two kids. You were able to multiply the love — it’s impossible to run out of this love, right? Similarly, your son doesn’t have to divide his allocated love between you and his birth mom. I’m betting his heart is big enough to hold you both in it and love you both.

      Kudos to you for facing your feelings and for seeking advice. It’s much better than pretending that you don’t have these feelings or squashing them down. Now that you’ve acknowledged them, reframe them in a way that makes no one second fiddle.

      More on this: http://lavenderluz.com/2013/04/real-in-adoption-splits-our-babies.html

    142. Christie, when you think of “influence” does it lessen your fear when you think that in this case the son is in his mid-30s?

    143. Sarah S. says:

      openness is amazing ”in my opinion”

    144. Christie says:

      Time. That is the fear factor I fight when I think of the future (but that also goes along with growing up in general). Along with that – influence. What kind of influence will be had on him – good or bad? Not much I can do about either, so I’m working on letting go and being.

    145. AnonAP says:

      Honestly this reminds me a little of having my parents and my soon-to-be in-laws meet for the first time at our wedding. We opted for having them meet at the informal party the night before with all the rest of the family and then a smaller breakfast with just all of our parents and us the day of. Our goal was to give them a chance to meet at a time when everyone knew what the mood should be (celebratory, we hope!) and there would be less obligation to make conversation. People could say Hi, mingle, chat with a variety of people to keep things less intense, but once they had gotten a sense of each other, we could all chat more the next morning with obvious go-to topics of the party, the wedding, and the weather. Just trying to make things easier for everyone, us included. Maybe your son is trying to do the same thing, to keep all of your stress levels down by diluting the interaction a bit. More people gives you more chances to just say Hi and chit chat a bit about how cool your grandson is.

      Maybe it would be good to just talk with your son and let him know that you’re nervous about such an intense experience of meeting his birthmom in that setting. I would not tell him you feel left out because probably originating with you and not from him. He’s adjusting to this new relationship, and that takes focus. He knows you’ll always be there, so he can let your relationship ride for a bit. Sounds to me like he’s so sure of it that he can trust that you don’t need the reassurance. I’m sure there were other times when you got similar vibes as he was growing up, right? First girlfriend; going to college and not calling; any time he said, “Mom, relax! I’ve got this”, etc. He’s not pushing you away, he’s finding his balance and his new normal for this relationship, and you’ve given him a lifetime of support to build the base that he’s standing on to do it. So, keep being supportive and be there for him, but don’t try to haul his attention back to you because you really don’t need to. He’s doing what he has to do for himself, but it doesn’t mean he’s walking away from you.

      Besides, his birth mom might be a really awesome person to know, and she is probably the only person who will be as interested in those old, worn stories of his growing up and how similar your grandson is to him at that age blah blah blah as you are at the party. ;-)

      • AnonAP: What an insightful response! Plus, as the mother of college aged kids, I hear “Mom, relax! I’ve got this” or “I’ve got it covered Mom” ALL the time. Nice to be reminded that I shouldn’t take it personally.

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