the opening

I have to just get this one out, so bear with me here.

I know I’ve said this before, but despite the fact that I bare some of my innermost thoughts and fears in this space, I am generally a very private person who treasures her independence. I’ve been known to keep a defensive “wall” up to protect myself from feeling vulnerable and getting hurt. It often takes a lot of conscious effort to let my guard down, or to ask for help.

When we embraced open adoption as the way to finally build our family, I knew that would have to change somewhat. I’d be opening myself up to a whole new world, one in which I’d have very little control and would be extremely vulnerable to just about everything. Yet I recognize that if you’re not open to the possibility that something could be wonderful, you’re simply not open to the possibility of anything, ever.

I knew I’d have to open myself to this process, to have trust and faith that if we put it out into the universe, something good would come back in return. I had to be open to embrace the possibility for the best outcome. Sure, that means I must accept some level of risk — risk of rejection and disappointment, of loss. But the potential for happiness far outweighed the measure of risk and fear.

So we have been opening ourselves to the process. Open to learning and sharing, to new encounters, to new possibilities. Part of our process has been talking about our adoption experience with others, opening people’s minds and hearts to understanding, compassion. In opening ourselves to the possibilities, we allow others to share our journey.  

This is so different from our experience with infertility. We held that close, kept it private. We had such little support. We retreated into the safety and comfort of each other.

As we become entrenched in the adoption process, we are slowly (finally) reemerging, and the world looks different to us. That is not to suggest that our infertility has disappeared, only that we have new hope and purpose. And with that, we are rebuilding our community in a new light, so to speak.

With open adoption, we are responsible for doing some of our own outreach if we want a placement sooner rather than later. So I knew we’d have to spread the word and seek help. So, symbolic of my effort to open myself to this process, yesterday I sent an email to about 25 of my colleagues announcing our excitement about our decision to adopt. I explained that we were turning to our circle of friends, family, and colleagues and asking them to hold us in their minds and hearts as we begin our search for the right match and connection.

And of course I asked them to let us know if they happen to encounter a situation in which someone they know finds themself unfortunately unable to parent and considering an adoption plan.

An odd request? Maybe, yes. But I have been told that I need to tell everyone. So I had to do that. It was a huge step for me. Ultimately, I was asking for help, which is something I’m not very good at doing.

So I put it out to the universe. Maybe something will come back to us, maybe not. The point is that I did it.

Once I got over sharing this intimate part of my life with my colleagues — most of whom have known little about my personal life over the past many years — it actually felt good to put it out there. It felt like an opening. And I invited it.

I didn’t send the message with any specific expectations. I actually didn’t expect much in return at all. But now, a day later, I can say that I guess I had hoped for something, well, more. A word of support or encouragement, or something. I heard from just three people. That’s just a 10% return. Of course I am quite grateful to the three who were very kind and supportive. Quality over quantity, I know.

I don’t know what I wanted, since I (thought I) did it with no real expectation. But I guess I expected a little more? Maybe I’ve suddenly gone from being independent to needy? After all, these are colleagues and not close friends or family. Most of us don’t even work in the same office. But I have worked with them for years, and I like to think they are some pretty cool and committed people. A number of them know that we lost our baby a while back (2.5 years ago), and some were very supportive.

It’s possible there just isn’t much to say, I guess. Sure it’s a big deal for me, but not them. Maybe it’s too personal a thing to share? Maybe they feel pity that I was unable to get pregnant again? Maybe they view adoption as second best? Maybe they don’t realize how big this is, or that it’s something to celebrate? Maybe they are not the compassionate caring people I thought they were. Expectations will so often let you down.  

And while I honestly don’t care what they actually think, I do wonder what’s so fucking hard about sending a quick reply to say, hey, thinking of you, thanks for the update, or something, anything. Whatever.

I thought this would be good preparation for doing our “profile” outreach — you put it out there and nothing may come of it, for a while, yet you have to accept that and trust in the process. We must remain open. I must remain open to the best possible outcome. I must remain open to the possibility for good.


~ by luna on August 14, 2008.

28 Responses to “the opening”

  1. Like you, I don’t open about myself very easily (except in dbl where nobody really knows me). I would be wholly disappointed by these people given the same circumstances as well. Completely disenchanted by their inability to offer any words of encouragement to you and your husband at all. How sad. How very sad.

    And I really believe the possibility for good is absolutely there. Regardless of what these people say or DON’T say, it is there and it is real and I hope you find it.

  2. Whatever people’s personal beliefs about adoption are, I feel at the very least they could have sent a good luck with the process email. I’m beginning to wonder if they just feel really awkward about things like IF, loss, adoption? What makes people squeamish?

  3. Good for you for putting it out there. Taking that first step. I wonder, thinking back, what I might have replied to an email like that. You know *before* all this. Who knows. People are strange. Hold onto the good, quality responses (and the idiotic ones you *didn’t* get, I guess).

  4. I think people are just awkward about anything that has to do with loss or IF or anything that’s not spontaneous baby-making.

    It’s so heartening to read of your renewed hope and purpose after all the pain of IF and loss. I’m sorry you didn’t get a wider response, but I don’t think you’re needy because you hoped for one. I think it’s natural to expect or hope for someone to acknowledge your openness or vulnerability simply by acknowledging your words.

    It’s hard to be open. I’m thinking of you.

  5. I don’t think adoption is really on most people’s radar. It’s not like looking for an apartment or a car, no one really talks about it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. Just let it sit, everything will unfold as it should.

  6. I’m so proud of you for sending it out to the universe (in the form of those 30 people) the way you did. That takes a lot of courage. It’s really a shame that people can’t seem to just take it on that level and give you some kind of response, just to acknowledge your openness. But perhaps some of those people who don’t know what to say are silently marvelling at your strength, and one of those quiet ones might be the one who is the link between you and your baby. Deathstar is right – everything will unfold as it should. And we are all keeping you in our thoughts and prayers and hoping for peace for you as you sit with it all.

  7. Oh, and thanks for the great comment on my last post. Glad I made you laugh. I was laughing myself as I invented new names to call that wench.

  8. I think so often when people don’t know what to say, they make the mistake of saying nothing at all. You took a huge step and opened yourself up (brave girl), so it’s natural to feel hurt that they didn’t respond to something that was difficult for you. They may not realize, they may not know what to say, they may be callous. But, the fact remains that the more people in the universe that know about your plans, the more likely that you connect with the child that will be yours. That’s exciting.

  9. Luna, I think it’s messed up that you didn’t get more of a response. I have no idea why people are so stupid when it comes to this sort of thing and I’m sorry you’re experiencing that right now.

    I also wanted to comment on the process of opening. I have been extremely private about our infertility through the years. Many people in our life have no clue what we’re dealing with. But since the devastating news we got this week, we’ve started reaching out to others and sharing our journey as well as our plans for the future. Even though we’re hearing a lot of the *wrong* things, it still helps to feel freed from the hiding and shame I’ve been struggling with for the past 5+ years. I’m so glad you’re reaching out. Our openings will help others understand that life doesn’t always go exactly the way you expect … and when that happens, happiness and hope are not lost. Everyone finds their way. 🙂

  10. Delurking with my first post here on your blog today…

    I too am proud of you for putting yourself out there. If I was one of your coworkers I definately would have responded and am glad to hear that at least 10% did. Maybe more still will?

    However, I totally get the disappointment, even when you didn’t initially realize you had such expectations. I am the queen of people not meeting my expectations and am a happier person when I am able to not have them, but I am also human.

    Thank you so much so sharing so openly here about your experience going through the process of adoption. After our recent loss I do not know what our future might hold in terms of trying to have more children, however adoption is something I have always considered.

    I also recently share your blog with my sister who is preparing to start the adoption process with her husband, as I thought she too would find it helpful to better understand what they are getting in too.

    Anyway, I wish you the best on your journey to adopt and look forward to walking with you.

  11. a 10% “return on investment” ain’t too bad. But the main thing is that you’ve put yourself out there and I’m so proud of you

    Again thanks for sharing your experiences with me. All this will come in handy whenever I become mentally and physically ready for adoption.

    You’re always in my thoughts and prayers, Luna …

  12. Luna, I am sorry you did not receive a more supportive response. I think some people don’t respond because they are afraid they will say the wrong thing (or for some reason are not comfortable with the emotion of it all).

    As a lurker on your blog, I realize in a way I have done the same thing (but most of my reason is the lame fact I had no clue as to how to actually respond…….yeah I am not real blog savy).

    I wish you all the best as you move down this new path and I want to thank you for all that you share in your blog. Your blog has been such an incredible support for me as my husband and I have moved through three years of infertility and are now starting the adoption process. You write beautifully about the emotions of infertility and so many times I read your blog and think yes yes….that is it…that is EXACTLY how I feel. What I have learned through the blogs is our stories may all be different but the pain and loss is so universal and there is a certain comfort knowing that someone out there “gets it”.

    I wish you all the best!

  13. I’m sorry that you haven’t received a better response to your message. It was very brave of you to tell everyone about your journey. I’m a private person as well, so I can imagine how difficult this must have been.

    I think one thing I will take (happily) from my struggle with IF is knowing how important it is to reach out to people. I’ve become a more compassionate person. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy response but just letting someone know that you’re thinking about them means a great deal.

    Thank you again for sharing this with us. My husband and I are moving to a point where we’re almost ready to start an adoption process, and you’ve been so helpful in understanding what is involved.

  14. Wow. I’m actually a bit speechless (rare for me, I know) at this. I was reading your post, so incredibly proud of you for taking such a bold step. I know that the personal outreach part of domestic adoption was one reason I’ve been so inclined to pursue international adoption, because putting yourself out there like that is so scary. And so I was cheering you on in my head as I read your post.

    So I find the lack of response kind of shocking. How hard is it for someone to e-mail you back with a “good to know,” “we’ll let you know if we hear anything,” or even just a “good luck”? I’m disappointed on your behalf.

    You’re an incredibly brave woman, you know. This is going to come out great for you, I’m quite sure. I just wish you had more support from the real world in the meantime.

  15. They may not all respond in a helpful way, but even those will remember and as far as outreach goes, that’s what matters. I found that the most surprising people were supportive and those I thought *should* be able to count on were dissappointingly not so.

    I’m trying to find the hopeful thing to tell you here . . .

    The best I can do is this: opening up worked for us even though people in our lives disappointed us too. And along the way, those that DID come through for us have added a new layer of depth to our lives . . .


  16. Luna,

    I always feel bad about the situations where people have to do personal outreach for adoption. Luckily with our agency that wasn’t necessary since they did all the outreach for us. Adoption outreach does seem to be an odd thing to put out there to people who don’t know us intimately, and this is said by someone who lives her life as an open book! Even I appreciate that irony.

    While I would be thrilled and offer every support for someone who lets me know that s/he is beginning the journey toward adoptive parenthood, I think the “if you might know of any situations” part might feel a little odd. I’m sitting here now trying to sort out why it feels odd and am coming up unable to describe it. And this is from someone who is an adoptive parent through domestic adoption! But there is something about it that jangles a little bit for some reason. Maybe it did for your coworkers as well.

    I say this not to offer excuses, but maybe to offer an explanation for the lack of response you received from the majority. I’m sorry that it happened because I know how hard it can be to decide to put yourself out there.

    I wish I could be my usually articulate self and put better words to describe the feeling, because I feel like I’ve not made much sense here. But I don’t think the lack of response was because the people don’t wish you well. I think they may be just confused as to how best to respond.

    I’m so not explaining this well, so I’m going to shut up now.

  17. thanks everyone for your comments.

    as I responded to liana, I wanted to add some of my thoughts on this here.

    since we’ve chosen not to spend thousands on outreach through our agency, we will be doing outreach on our own, with guidance on our profile and plan from a consultant. we’re also finding out how other adoptive parents supplemented their agency outreach — through advertising, websites, other agencies, word of mouth, etc. most people we have talked to have told us we have to spread the word through our own networks, since you never know how that connection might be made.

    I know it’s an odd request. it’s weird to ask people to help you “find” your baby, I know. there’s no real tactful way to do that. I can’t say it didn’t feel somewhat strange putting that out there, but in the end I really didn’t care what other people thought. as I said, we had been encouraged by many others, in fact urged by a colleague and adoptive mother who said that’s how she “found” her match.

    but the point is well taken. I realize people may not know how to respond to such a request. I didn’t in fact expect a response on that point, but guess I did actually hope for some good wishes on the decision and journey… ah well.

    if anyone has other thoughts, especially constructive ones, I’d be glad to hear them. thanks.

  18. I’m sorry you didn’t get much of a response. Even when you feel as if you have no expectations when you don’t receive even acknowledgement it’s uncomfortable or painful.

  19. I don’t know these people but it is possible that the just don’t know what is appropriate to say so they say nothing at all. Or perhaps they have taken in the letter and just don’t recognise that a response would be good. Or maybe they just live in such a different world from us that they just can’t comprehend how desperately hard it is for us to be vulnerable and let people know how much this all changes us.
    I do hope those who did reply continue to be there for you.

  20. Like someone above, I’m a bit confused at this response to be honest. I remember like yesterday my cousin telling me she was starting adoption stuff, and I SQUEALED. I mean, I know she’s my cousin and all, but c’mon! SHE’S GETTING A KID!! I dunno. Someone else above thought this might just be too materialistic these days, and that’s sad. But entirely possible. I’m really sorry you didn’t get more back because you were extremely brave to put yourself out there like that. Not sure I would’ve unless I really needed someone as a reference.

    Hang in there. Maybe a few are collecting thoughts and words? One can hope.

  21. I understand that people really don’t know what to say when it comes to these very personal matters. But I also know what an effort it takes to share these things with others (being pretty close-mouthed myself…!), so I was really sorry you didn’t get a better response to your e-mail. Even just a “We’re thinking of you” goes a long, long way, IMHO. I hope this was just some initial awkwardness & that people will respond more positively as you move further along in the process. (((hugs)))

  22. Luna,
    That is so courageous of you! I’m so proud for you. What an expression. I had a similar experience this past week. I sent my nieces notes at sleep away camp and in it, included the fact that R and I are going to adopt. I needed to tell them, they need to know so that when the baby comes, they are ready. And although it was frightening, it was exhilarating. I guess it’s like taking the dream from our heads and helping to make it our reality!
    Congratulations, Luna!

  23. Oh, and as for the lack of responses, don’t worry. You only need to one you’re waiting for, and you will get it. I know so many people who were ready to adopt and ended up finding something through word of mouth, not through their agency. My cousin adopted both of her children that way–one through a connection from her RE, and one through a colleague. Responses will come, I’m sure, just maybe not right away, but they will come.

  24. It must have been so difficult for you to send that email to your colleagues, and I can completely understand your disappointment that so few people bothered to respond.

    As many others who’ve left comments have already said, when people don’t know what to say, they often find it easier to say nothing at all. Your colleagues may be worried about saying the wrong thing, or they may simply need a bit more time to process your email and to compose a response.

    But sometimes there is no ‘right’ way to respond… and in situations such as the one you describe here, a simple “I’m thinking of you” might have gone a long way.

  25. You never really know what is going on in other people’s heads and you can drive yourself crazy wondering. It sounds like it was a positive step that you sent something out there and you should be proud of yourself for overcoming that fear.

    (Jeez, wouldn’t it be great if we could take our own advice every once in awhile?)

  26. Stopping in. What a poignant post on a beautiful blog. You DO need the support of those around you and it is not a trivial need. I send you mine as a mom to two kids via open adoption. People do not understand this and it breaks my heart. Know that those three who did offer support are worth keeping close. As to the rest, if they are worth it, feel free to share that you need a little more support. It’s okay to ask, it does get exhausting to do so. I think your attitude is so precious. It is so freeing to let go and expect a miracle. I know that miracle is out there for you and I pray it comes sooner than later. You already have a mother’s heart for this child.
    I’ll be checking in on progress. May you be rewarded for baring your heart in a way that suprises and delights you.

  27. My journey through infertility and adoption has seemingly mirrored yours to the extent that when we were in the pre-adoption phase, we communicated our infertility with very few people. When we started the process to adopt, we told everyone and talked about the entire process very openly. We did not, however, do any kind of outreach in our community of friends and colleagues. I so feel for you as I read this post and how it feels to put yourself out there – it feels liberating and at the same time scary. People’s reactions are what they are – I think you said it best when you said “expectations will so often let you down”. So true. Know that you are happy with your decision, your process, and that there are many others out there (me included!) that are also so supportive and happy for you. The others? Maybe they’ll come around, maybe they won’t. Their loss, in my opinion.

  28. […] Believe me, we are not talking about painting the nursery. I’m talking about the kind of opening that acknowledges the enormity of the situation without backing away simply because it’s so […]

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