open adoption roundtable: ever wanted to walk away?

The most recent prompt at the Open Adoption Roundtable has raised such interesting and important responses. Thought I’d try to chime in too…

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

Open adoption has brought such a multitude of emotions to my life, it’s hard to separate them. Love, of course. Gratitude. Fear, at first, and insecurity. Awe and wonder and amazement. Frustration. Fierce protection.

I don’t even know if I have a short answer. Has it ever felt like too much? As in, do I sometimes wish I didn’t have to deal with it all — i.e., four sets of families, in addition to our own; maintaining all of the relationships; carefully managing the fragility of some of those involved, dealing with different personalities and psyches; navigating the ups and downs of the emotional terrain; worrying about the health and well being of Baby Jaye’s birth parents, even though it’s not my job or place; wondering whether our daughter will still have access when she needs it, or how I’ll handle it if she doesn’t? Yes, it’s a lot to handle sometimes. At times it can be overwhelming.

In those moments, I take a deep breath and try to remember that we’re doing the best we can. Even when we’re not perfect. We’re being the best parents we can possibly be. That includes making room for the challenging aspects of open adoption too. Working through it. Trying to be better. Stretching beyond our comfort zone. Dealing with inconvenient complications. Accepting that certain things are beyond our control.

The truth is, as hard as it might be for me sometimes, we’re doing this because we made a commitment — to ourselves, to our daughter and to her family of origin. Besides, however challenging it is for me, that is nothing compared to what our daughter may feel someday, or what her birth parents may feel when they don’t get to see her, or when they do.

So have I ever wanted to walk away? No. I couldn’t walk away from our commitment. I couldn’t withhold access. Unless pretty severe circumstances arose, I couldn’t imagine closing that door, however difficult it may be to keep open sometimes.

Yet the question asks, have you ever wanted to walk away? No, not exactly. Though there have already been some pretty challenging moments with Baby Jaye’s biological father — experiences that took a toll on both M and me (individually and as parents), and that also eroded what little foundation we were trying to build with him. So we took a step back. We never had much access to him to begin with, but we decided how to lay some necessary boundaries. After not hearing from him for months, or seeing him for over a year, he actually just called the other day and I owe him a call back. Is that an easy call to make? Hell no. Will it lead to a visit? I don’t know. Am I reluctant to find out? Honestly yes. But I will.

As for Baby Jaye’s birth mom, our not-yet-two-year-old daughter considers Kaye and her family our family. Though we don’t see Kaye as often as we might like — and sometimes weeks pass without even a call (which is very unlike our early days together) — we do still have regular contact and we see her mom and brother regularly. Our hope is that even if Kaye is out of reach for a time, as she tends to be, we would still have contact with her family. The only way that door would close is if Kaye closes it herself. But eventually I think we’d still be banging it down. In a respectful way, of course.

For other responses, click here.

~ by luna on April 8, 2011.

4 Responses to “open adoption roundtable: ever wanted to walk away?”

  1. its all so interesting how it all works. This time we talked to and met Benjamin’s birth parents. I spent alot of time with them at the hospital. we won’t have an open reltaionship for the most part but more open then semi open. I”m hoping this will all work out in the end for Ben so that he has the chance to know his birth parents if he wants to.

  2. I have long admired how open you keep yourselves, how Jaye-focused you remain, and how respectful you are of your daughter’s birth parents.

    Thoughtful answers, Luna.

  3. I am an adult adoptee, and I was moved by your honest and commitment to your daughter. Adoption creates much awkwardness between adults, to be sure, but in my opinion it should be about making things as secure and as supportive for the adoptee as possible.

    You are clearly, as you said, fiercely protective–but in an open and positive way for your daughter. Very impressive.

  4. Wow you are great. We have a similar situation to you, it is really hard IMO but my hope is that once the dust settles, it won’t sting so much emotionally and we’ll be a little more at ease with one another. Ultimately though, our son will know where he came from and his birhtparents will always be able to contact him.

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