Thursday, April 7, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #25

Production, Not Reproduction has a new Open Adoption Roundtable prompt.  I have never participated in these prompts before.  I've always wanted too.....but I guess my free time was lacking in focus (it still is) and my lack of effort to write about open adoption was maybe my way of taking time away from it.  If you know me, open adoption is pretty much the focus of my life in some way or another.  We speak on panels for training, we've mentored hopeful adoptive parents one on one, we recently spoke at RESOLVE about why we chose domestic open adoption, we've even tried to help educate expecting parents on ALL their options when thinking about choosing adoption.  But mostly, my time with open adoption is doing my best to maintain relationships with those involved with our three adopted children.  Getting to this point was a process of ebbs and flows--it still is--which is why I was drawn to this prompt:

"Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?"

There was a time when I wondered if I was cut out for all this open adoption stuff.  Maintaining relationships is difficult enough as it is.  Then add the complexities of a highly emotional and traumatic experience of adoption (I believe the act of adoption is a form of trauma for all those involved), a first baby for both us and a young birthmom and out to sea we all went in uncharted waters.  We were definitely not equipped to deal with all the difficult emotions that came along with the rolling sea.  Partly because our agency didn't equip us with the resources (the first agency we used was not the same one that we used for the adoption of our two girls), partly because they weren't helpful when we asked for help (we actually asked them for help!), partly because the outside professional help wasn't equipped with the knowledge to help us and partly because EVERYONE we went to for help was telling us to WALK AWAY--close her up!  Licensed professionals.  We were confused, hurt, grieving, traumatized, and our hearts were still crying for our son's birthmom.  If we felt this way--WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS HAPPENING TO HER?

Obviously we both (birthmom and us) had the guts to keep going.  To eat our shame, forgive each other's mistakes and keep on sailing.  I look at her like she is my first born.  (Well, she is my first born's birthmom! haha).  She has paved the way for our second and third children.  What trauma....I look at her now and see how she has grown but I still see her pain.  I see it because I choose to see it and she chooses to show it to me.  That's a true relationship, real love.  I think we still do the boundary dance--still sailing in uncharted waters.  Still unsure, and yes, it sometimes feels like too much--but we have no choice but to face it and move forward. 

When we got the call for Jada, we were given every opportunity to walk away from an open adoption as her birthmom wanted it to be closed.  I cried.  We kept trying, got her email, started emailing and now have what I think is a pretty amazing relationship.  I think about what we would have missed out on had we never pursued contact.  I think of what she would have missed out on.  I think of what Jada may have missed out on.  I am thankful she is in our life......her mother has started to see us too.  A blessing since the pregnancy was a secret and still is to most of those who know her.  That's a terrible weight to carry.   

Sadly, we've been struggling with communication with Jenay's birthmom.  We are not sure why.  Another great excuse for a family to "walk away."  I assure you we are doing anything but....I feel lost, sad, worried.  I don't want her to slip through the cracks.  I don't want  to lose her.   I don't understand, but yet, I do.  It's so complex.  It's exhausting.  It's devastating.  It breaks my heart.  I can only imagine what she is going through. 

So, everyday, there is something more that I take on that I never thought I would have had to deal with.  I am not good at setting boundaries and I hate confrontation and I hate feeling like I'm hurting someone and my own life isn't perfect either and sometimes I have to take care of me and my family before I can take care of the relationships that have come from our open adoptions but I have NEVER EVER EVER wanted to walk away.  I never will--no matter how difficult and complex and complicated things may get.  I will figure out a way.   Sometimes it does seem like too much.  I'm not going to lie about that.  It is an ongoing balancing act that my husband and I are continuously working at.  AND getting better at.  Maybe it's the simple fact that we are starting to get more sleep.  Sleep deprivation is, well, deadly, on so many levels.  We know that we will be facing challenges forever, and that we will probably have to set and reset boundaries many times--on a continuous basis--with differences between all three adoptions at any given time.  I know that I will probably muck things up at some point too.  I'm good at that.  But I never want to let go of these angels that have made me the person that I am today.  So, too much and all, they are stuck with me.  I just hope I'm not too much for them! :0)