what the future holds

A reader recently posed a good question about the future of our open adoption, one I’m not sure I can answer entirely.

“My husband and I are considering domestic adoption, and we worry a lot about the ramifications of an open adoption. You and your husband seem to have a wonderful relationship with K. I was just wondering how you see this relationship developing in the future? What kind of connection do you hope she will establish with Baby J? Do you ever worry about the possibility that when she gets older, K will develop more maternal feelings towards her? Would that be something that would affect you negatively?

You and your husband seem to have handled the difficulties of open adoption so well. I’m must curious to see how you think it will go in the future. Thank you.”

Hmm. These are interesting questions. Because this may be of of general interest, I’m going to try to respond here as best as I can, rather than in an email.

First I should say that, in all honesty, we’ve been spending so much time in the present that I haven’t given too much thought to what the future may hold. Since it is unknown and unknowable, I haven’t wanted to project too far out into what it might look like for us. More to the point, I don’t want to create any unrealistic or potentially unfulfilled expectations about what I might hope for our relationship with K in the future.

One thing we must accept is that open adoption is a dynamic relationship that will change over time as we all do. We can’t know how K will grow and mature with age, or how Baby J will grow into her own relationship with K as she gets older. We can’t know how we will feel as our dynamic naturally shifts. But we can expect that things will inevitably change over time.

That said, of course we can hope to remain as close and as open with K as we are today. We can hope that K continues to be a loving, gentle and positive force in Baby J’s life, a beloved trusted friend and family member.

When we first met K, we knew she was someone we would want in our lives. As we got to know each other, we told her she would always be welcome as family. We are all committed to maintaining that level of openness, even if we don’t see each other as often as we once did. I realize we are quite fortunate to have such a strong connection with K.

It hasn’t been as easy with Baby J’s biological father, yet, or his family, and it will be interesting for us to determine where an appropriate boundary might be, given our broad view of openness.

Our philosophy of openness stems in part from a belief that the more people to love our child, the better. We want our child to become a healthy, happy, fully integrated individual. Having Baby J’s family of origin involved in her life will help provide her with a greater sense of self, and allow her access to information and love that she would not otherwise have. When we turned to open adoption, we hoped to be able to surround our child in a broad circle of love, with roots stemming from multiple sources and intertwining to support our child’s growth to full bloom. (I realize this may sound hokey, or like adoption is all butterflies and rainbows when it is certainly not. But that’s how we hoped to form our new family tree.)

As to K’s connection with Baby J, that was evident from the start. After radically changing her life to care for this little being, feeling her grow from within, and bringing her into the world in such a beautiful way, there is no question that K is forever connected to Baby J. By the act of placing her with us, K will be forever connected to us too. Of course we realize we may grow apart as K gets older and her life changes, but that would be a natural evolution. As family, she knows we would always be here when she is ready.

The love K feels for Baby J is already a maternal protective and proud kind of love. She simply was in no position to parent. K had so much love for her unborn child, but said she knew from the start that she was not yet ready to be a mama. K does want to be a parent some day, when she is more settled, grounded, and perhaps when she has the right partner. We’ve often talked about how the lessons we’re learning now will help K when she becomes a mama down the road. And we’ve talked about having birth siblings for Baby J, whenever that might be.

In the meantime, I look forward to K sharing her love with Baby J in whatever way she can. In the early weeks after birth, we spent a lot of time together and it healed us all a little bit to see K with Baby J — watching K hold and feed her and admire her. That felt much better to us than the thought of her not wanting to enjoy those things. Honestly, it was beautiful. I realize some people are freaked out by the idea of “sharing” that early time with a “birth” parent. But I have to tell you, it felt natural and right. It was important to all of us.

As to whether K’s feelings towards Baby J might concern us, I’d be more concerned about other feelings arising that might not be as positive. I should reiterate that I don’t have these concerns at all with K. While certain grief and loss may be inherent in adoption, we never wanted to get involved with an expectant mother who might regret her decision. We wanted to ensure that K had the best support possible before placing her baby — i.e., access to counseling, support, peers, information, education. We wanted to ensure that K explored all of her options before deciding to place her baby with us. It helps everyone to know that K was and is fully at peace with her decision. (Unfortunately, this is not always the case.)

While K may miss out on Baby J’s every day smiles and development, we share details, photos and stories that allow her to share in Baby J’s life in a very real way. Some day Baby J will realize that K is a part of our life and that we all celebrate her story. As our relationship with K changes, her connection with Baby J will evolve too. One of the beautiful things about open adoption is that every day a mystery unfolds. We’ll all be waiting to see what the future holds.

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~ by luna on August 29, 2009.

12 Responses to “what the future holds”

  1. Thank you for sharing parts of your daughter’s story. I am pursuing open adoption too and I appreciate your frankness. Everyone’s story will be different, it’s important to read views from all sides of the triad.

    Megan
    PS – I found your blog from another blogger.

  2. For me it just seems like it is so important for H to know where he came from and who he looks like that I’m willing to work a little extra hard to help him understand these things. His well-being is the most important thing, so whatever we have to do to make this situation make sense to him, we will do.

    I do think it is a weird line to walk — especially for us. Each relationship is different, of course. And I expect it to be more complicated as time goes on.

    But despite all this, when it’s happening it seems normal

  3. A book, luna. I *really* think that someday you should write a book. I’m always in awe (and tears) of your words, especially those about your open adoption. Just beautiful.

  4. I really admire this openness and relationship you have with K. I never knew such a thing was possible with adoption. I’m learning a lot about open adoption from you and the wonderful possibilities.

  5. Fabulous post Luna. I’m always in awe of how easy you make all of this sound.

  6. I agree with Kym. A book indeed luna. Its amazing to me to read what a wonderful experience you have created with K and Baby J. They are both very lucky to have you and your husband in their lives. Not knowing much myself about adoption, if I was to adopt I would try very hard to create something like you have, not easy and maybe not likely, but I sure as heck would use what you have shared with us as my guide. xoxoxoxoxo

  7. “You and your husband seem to have handled the difficulties of open adoption so well.”

    Not that there is always a direct correlation (there isn’t), but I do watch out for self-fulfilling prophecies.

    I would caution about going into an open adoption thinking it will be difficult. Yes, it MAY be difficult, but while the slate is blank, why not project that open adoption can be worthwhile, loving, normal, even easy? (Truly, some are.)

    “Do you ever worry about the possibility that when she gets older, K will develop more maternal feelings towards her?”

    My daughter’s firstmom has always had maternal feelings toward her, and I wouldn’t want her NOT to. To me, maternal feelings mean doing what you consider is best for one’s child. Tessa would be devastated without this love and presence of the person who gave life/birth to her. And the feelings between them take away nothing from my own relationship with Tessa.

    Open adoption requires moving from OR thinking to AND thinking. In open adoption, it’s not either/or, it can be both (I’m not talking about co-parenting, either).

    You are living all this, Luna. So mindfully.

  8. I am learning so much from my fellow bloggers and I hope I can use you as an example in the coming months…..I believe now it’s best for me to just write down what my intentions are – what I would like our relationship with the expectant mother to look like – just for my own peace of mind.

  9. I’m humbled by K, Luna, amazing M and all the work they have put in to ensure baby J always is surrounded by lots of love.

  10. This was beautiful, luna. Your love for Baby J shines through, always keeping her best interest in mind every step of the way. What an incredible relationship you have developed with K. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

  11. […] When she visits we treat her like any family member and take care of her. Yet we don’t know what the future holds. For instance, we don’t know how far or how often K will travel, or if and when she will ever […]

  12. […] It is hard to label what it is, or what it is not. And of course it is inevitably subject to change. […]

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