Infertile. Death. Retrenched. Loss.
Life’s curve balls can seem like a sentence in themselves.
They are really tough places to journey through, but trials and challenges also offer unexpected gifts as they force us to reflect, and to question and wrestle and to go deeper. Life doesn’t make sense and we feel out of control, and that urges us to seek out and listen to God…and slowly we are redefined, and our eyes are opened to new life and new doors we may never have discovered or considered opening if a door in life hadn’t closed.
After my February retrenchment I was pondering ‘where to from here?’, and I sensed God urging me to step out in faith in a new direction – and then a friend tagged me on Angela’s 1st April 2016 blog post and encouraged me to consider taking over Adoptmom, and after much prayer and discussions with my hubby I contacted Angela to introduce myself and discuss the opportunity.
And so I find myself stepping out in faith, excited and a bit nervous too, and on the doorstep of a new door.
So who am I, and why am I choosing to open this Adoptmom door?
My hubby Stephen and I have been married for 17 years. We have travelled the road of infertility, and we chose the journey of adoption. We have two children that God gifted to us through adoption, our daughter Rebecca who is 9 years old and our son Jesse who is 4 years old. We also suffered an adoption loss and lost a little boy, who very sadly passed away before we could hold him in our arms.
Adoption is profound and special. It has allowed us to be a Mom and Dad, and it has brought the most amazing blessings as we parent our children, and lots of parenting and adoption related challenges too. The journey of adoption is complex in process and in the life journey, and in the emotions for all concerned – the child, adoptive and birth families. I have had the honour of starting and being involved in an adoption support group since 2005, and the support and guidance and prayers of others has made and continues to make our adoption journey easier to travel.
And that’s why I’m opening the Adoptmom door – it’s an amazing opportunity to ‘extend my boundaries’ in providing adoption related support to others.
Looking forward to connecting with you.
So the time has come where I am handing over the reins of Adoptmom to someone else. I have really enjoyed my journey and learned so much, but the time to move on is now.
I am handing Adoptmom over into the capable hands of Mandy Hain, an amazing adoptive mom from Gauteng. She is every bit as passionate and excited as both Terri and I were about Adoptmom. She is friendly, bubbly, very approachable – the perfect person for the job! I am sure she will be introducing herself very soon, she just needs to find her feet and sift through the organised chaos I have left her
My Adoptmom journey has been a very special time of my life. Adoptmom has helped me gain many friend and so much experience and knowledge. It has made my own adoption journey so much easier. To all those I have had the privilege to meet, thank you!
To the Adopt and Foster SA and Adoptmom community…
So, as many of you know, I am an adoptive mom and because of my own adoption journey I stared the Adopt and Foster SA Facebook group 3 years ago. I also took over Adoptmom from Terri Lailvaux a few months ago.
My adoption journey has consisted of 3 crazy, happy, sad, confusing years. 3 years I don’t regret one single minute of and I really have gained so much from these 3 years. I met the most amazing people, I’ve experience and lived the most amazing things and I’ve really gained the best gift and experience… But I’m not so sure this journey is meant to continue for me anymore.
I love adoption and everything it stands for but I don’t want it to define me and who I am anymore. I’m not even sure if that makes sense actually. Adoption is a part of my life and always will be. I just don’t know where to from here… This confusion has made me turn to you all, the one place that has given me strength and peace over the last 3 years to try and make sense of it.
On one hand, I feel like it’s my calling and my passion to keep going, but on the other, I feel like it’s keeping me in a box. A box I’m not sure I want to be in at the moment. I really sound like a crazy person, don’t I!?
Adoptmom as well as Adopt and Foster SA deserves to be a full time passion / business, it has the potential to do so much good in this world and I don’t think I’ve been giving it the attention it deserves to make it grow into what it should be and has the potential to become.
Since taking over Adoptmom from Terri I’ve only seen one or two couples for an adoption information session, counseled a few people via telephone and sold a few books in the last few months. I’ve also recently been given the opportunity to make my part time job more full time. This is something that would mean so much to my family financially and something I really have to consider.
I think the passion I’ve always felt for adoption has dwindled as my little boy has gotten older and my adoption chapter has become almost something of the past. I know adoption will always be a part of our lives and who we are, but it’s not as important to me now as it was even a year ago. Hope I am making sense here and not just babbling on…
I think I need to pass it on to someone who has the time, energy and passion to give it their all, to give it the attention it deserves. To someone who still has that adoption fire burning in them…
I feel so bad that I haven’t given Adoptmom all the love and attention that Terri had hoped I would. It is a great full time business with the potential to earn a lot of money from the counselling but you have to market the counselling, attend adoption conferences and keep in touch with the social workers and build relationships. Terri wrote a lot of articles for magazines, websites and did loads of radio interviews and that’s where she initially became well-known and then word of mouth kind of kicked in. She also popped in to the Cape Fertility clinic every few months and dropped of cards and flyers. Sadly I never quite got to all that.
Now, my question to you… Would any of you be interested in taking over something like this or do you know of anyone that would be?
It would obviously need to be someone who has a passion for adoption and possibly even has a Counselling diploma or something similar, although it’s not necessary as you are really only sharing your experience as someone whose life has been touched by adoption and telling them how to get started, giving them guidance.
If you are this person or know this person, please get in touch with me. I would ideally like to sell the Adoptmom business, but I’m not asking much pricewise. I basically just want to cover my costs. But get in touch and we can go from there. Even if you can’t afford to buy it, let’s chat.
For now I’m going to add a few moderators onto the Adopt and Foster SA Facebook group and keep it going even though I’m taking a back seat. As for Adoptmom, I’m posting this in the hope that I find the perfect person to take over from me very soon. I will do the counselling and information sessions I have committed to, but will take a step back and put it all on hold after that.
I have really enjoyed getting to know all of you and sharing in your adoption and fostering stories. It’s meant so much to me. But it’s time…
Lots of love,
Recording an adoption:
In terms of section 25 of the Child Care Act, 1983 (Act No. 74 of 1983) the Department of Home Affairs must record the adoption of a child in the child’s birth register if so requested by the adoptive parents.
To record the adoption, the adoptive parents must then:
• complete Form BI-193
• submit a written request to record the adoption to any domestic office of Home Affairs
• submit a certified copy of the adoption order
• pay the fee required to record an adoption
It is important to note that the Department of Home Affairs is responsible only for the recording of the adoption of a child in the child’s birth register if so requested by the adoptive parents.
Any other matters relating to adoption fall within the duties of the Department of Social Development (previously Welfare & Population Development).
Original link here
Birth family is always such a touchy subject. People often ask me if my little man knows his birth family. Does he know his story? Will you tell him? How will you tell him? When will you tell him? WHAT will you tell him?
My little man has a complicated past. But at least he has a past… I’ve spoken to so many people who don’t know what to tell their little ones as they were abandoned. Would you tell them the truth if the truth was such a hard pill to swallow? I don’t know…
Our little people need to know their stories though. The good, the bad and the ugly. Maybe not all of it straight away, but in an age appropriate way.
And you need to be ready to tell them their stories, to answer their questions.
My social worker told me to start telling him he was adopted straight away, to talk about his birth family and to tell him his story from the day we got him. He was 3 days old… Um, really?!?!
She was right… Start by telling them before they can understand to make YOURSELF comfortable with telling the story to them. You need to have told it so often that when a question pops up one day then you aren’t caught off guard.
Most children start asking questions at about 6 or 7 years old. This is when they wonder who they are and what this means about their previous family. When they joined your family, what happened with their previous one? Other children at school will also be wondering and asking questions. This can be a tough one! Our job is to get our kids ready for these questions, their own as well as their friends’ questions.
- Be honest, give facts.
- Answer only what they ask, you don’t have to give more information that exactly what they are asking… yet…
- If they don’t ask by age 7, volunteer information, you will know when your child is ready to know more just by watching their emotional signals. Initiate these conversations with: “I was thinking about your birth mom today,” or “Do you have any questions about your birth family?” Get a feel for what’s going on in their heads by asking, “Aunty so-and-so was wondering if you get your beautiful hair from your birth mother or father. What do you think?”
- Or use books, music and movies to help tell them their story.
- Be ready for their questions and be comfortable answering them.
- Keep a box of keep sakes, use these age appropriately – show them photos of birth family, siblings etc.
- Make a Lifebook – tell them their story in this book. Later on in life make a more detailed book together.
- If you have personal issues and feelings for your child’s birth family, keep them to yourself. Don’t judge them, its not your job. Try to stay positive about them.
- Tell them what you know and be willing to admit if there is something you don’t know. Offer to find out if possible.
- Most birth parents are normal people who were in a tough position or situation and couldn’t parent a child at that time in their lives. They made a choice, it had nothing to do with the child nor was it something the child did or said. Make them understand this.
- Talk about the birth parents often, it helps all members of your family get used to it and lets your child feel comfortable asking you questions about them and the past.
- Know that some children wont feel comfortable talking about their past and their birth parents, and some might be very comfortable. Respect this.
My little man’s birth parents had issues with drugs, I wont however tell him that until he is old enough to understand. Until then he will be told that they were sick. Drug addiction is an illness, so I’m not lying… This would then one day be a way of discussing the danger of drugs with him as well. Your story might be similar or have similar ways of discussing it.
Over the next few days I will post about age appropriate discussions, what to say at which age. Also, discussing this at school. Watch this space…
We had a rough first year with our little man’s adoption. We didn’t have the wait, but that first year was damn hard. I would do it again in a heartbeat yes, but it took a toll on my husband, my then 6 year old little girl and myself. We learned so much and gained so much, but still, definitely not an easy year.
So when I saw this article written by Julie Kynaston, I had to repost it. It just sums it up so perfectly.
When the road is long and you would like to forget about adoption
February 29, 2016 by Julie Kynaston
I love my kids and I love adoption but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that there are some days when I wish I could just forget about adoption. There are some days where I just want to be a mom without the ‘adoptive’ part attached to it. There are some days when I wish attachment and bonding were automatically thrown into the mix the minute you signed on the dotted line. There are other days when I’m tired of coming up against a rigid Home Affairs and using all my energy and time to get seemingly nowhere. Some days when I long for sameness because if we’re honest here, it’s just easier – different usually equals hard.
Sometimes adoption just feels like a long, hard slog and you can’t imagine coming through the other side. Adoption can be so overwhelming and exhausting: adoption is being a parent and doing parent things and reading parent books, but also keeping adoption at the back (or front) of your mind whilst reading books/blogs/research about transracial adoption, white privilege, diversity, language, attachment. If you’ve been through the adoption process your eyes have been opened to the number of children who need moms and dads and you can’t un-see what you have seen. This can weigh heavy.
I look at my beautiful children and want to press pause on their childhood because every year older is another year wiser and next thing you know you’re having those hard conversations about why they didn’t grow in your tummy. I want to preserve their innocence and avoid future pain. I want to self-protect.
Adoption is beautiful, and I’ll spend my life believing in it and advocating for it. But the flip side is pain. It’s easier to live in a bubble and close yourself off to the pain that I carry for my kids and for the women who brought them into this world. If I had to dwell on the reasons why my kids where placed for adoption in the first place, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning for all the tears. Life’s not fair. My kids have had an unfair start to life but they’re resilient and brave. And I need to be resilient and brave too because it does no one any good to fall into the trap of feeling too many feelings or hardening my heart to cope.
As adoptive parents, we need to figure out how to walk the tightrope between the two – we need to be sensitive enough to feel everything but tough enough to endure it. I haven’t figured out how to balance just yet but I’ll get there.
Adoption was our choice and it’s changed our lives and I’d choose it again. All I know is that there is hope in the heartache and God is with us and that my heart has stretched and stretched each time our family has grown.
The road is long but the journey is so worthwhile and my heart has the stretchmarks …
About the Author:
Julie Kynaston is a physio turned freelance event manager and Mom to three of the best kids in Cape Town. She blogs over at Heart Mama Blog about parenting and adoption. She loves family hugs, Sunday afternoon snoozes and hot tea, in that order. Read more of her story at – www.heartmamablog.co.za
I found this post yesterday morning, a link on Facebook ironically, and just couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. I want to share it as this is quite a debatable topic.
We have a complicated but open adoption and I was friends with my child’s birth mom on Facebook. Then after about 2 years I deleted her for various reasons. I still don’t know how I feel about it but its definitely something to think about as my little man is not going to be little forever and will probably want to find her on Facebook some day. Or not. Who knows…
Herewith the link to the original post:
Should I Friend Our Child’s Birth Mother?
Facebook has dramatically changed the way information is exchanged in adoption. Experts and parents offer advice on the in’s and out’s of social media.
by Carrie Krueger
Adoptive parents and expectant parents exchange increasingly personal information before the adoption plan is finalized. Instead of the traditional letter update, birth parents may now have access to real-time updates on their birth child’s milestones and daily activities. Extended adoptive families have the option of forming online ties with extended birth families. And adopted teens may decide unilaterally to connect with their birth parents without consulting their parents. All of this is happening through the social networking giant, Facebook.
While many celebrate this expansion of openness in adoption, experts recommend caution. Here are some practical tips for setting boundaries, advice on navigating the emotional side of virtual contact, and talking points to guide difficult conversations.
Before the Adoption
For decades now, adoptive parents and expectant parents have been getting to know one another before the child’s birth. For some families, this has meant an intense relationship built on frequent phone calls and joint prenatal visits. For others, the relationship involved just one face-to-face meeting, with all contact moderated by an agency or social worker.
Now, after making a match, many adoptive parents and expectant mothers are faced with the question, do we “friend” each other? Facebook is an easy way to stay in touch, but some worry about revealing too much too soon. And how do you “unfriend” yourselves if the adoption falls through?
Facebook is a factor in almost every adoption agreement that facilitator Sarah Jensen works on these days. She advises setting up separate Facebook pages, to avoid having the details of a pending adoption playing out in a public forum, accessible to friends, colleagues, and extended family.
Jeni, a birth mother in Washington, found that connecting with adoptive parents on Facebook during her pregnancy “caused some hiccups in our developing relationship.” Members of her extended family who weren’t on board with the adoption made negative comments on hers and the adoptive mother’s pages. After speaking with their social worker, she and the adoptive mom moved the relationship off Facebook. They now communicate via e-mail. “I think it works better this way,” says Jeni.
Other families find that pre-adoption Facebook contact can work, but say that the relationship won’t be stress-free. “My third child’s birth mother initiated Facebook contact prior to his birth,” says Melissa Dobson. “At first, her updates pondered what to do about her upcoming baby, and, halfway through our revocation period, wondering whether she made the right decision. It was stressful to see those posts. On the flipside, when she posted how she knew she’d made the best decision for her son, it was uplifting.”
Even if Facebook seems to be working for you before the adoption, attorney Mark McDermott says that it is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. He warns that it’s common for miscommunications to occur, and cites a case in which an expectant mother decided not to continue with the adoption, based on something she saw on the prospective adoptive mother’s Facebook page.
- Create a separate account (Facebook or other) for adoption-related contact, at least while building trust.
- Make face-to-face contact your goal. Do not rely solely on Facebook as a way to get to know one another.
- Spell out the details of online contact in your adoption agreement.
- Beware of misinterpreting or over-analyzing online communication. Young people are more likely to “tell all” in their profiles or status updates.
- Allow the relationship to build over time. “Sometimes people get too close too soon. They kind of fall in love with each other,” says Rita Taddonio, Director of the Adoption Resource Center, in New York City. “If someone has to pull back, it’s painful.”
- Don’t take Facebook as the last word. Bonding via a social network does not mean a greater chance of adoption. If plans change, online relationships make an emotional situation more challenging.
- Agree on boundaries as to commenting on one another’s walls and sharing photos, including how you will address one another.
- Discuss the merits of being “friends” in a public arena versus connecting privately.
- Decide where extended family members fit in. If you friend a potential birth mother, should you also friend the birth grandmother? This is probably not appropriate before an adoption is completed.
While Facebook is changing the way adoptive parents and expectant mothers connect before the child’s birth, it has already revolutionized post-adoption relationships. Dwindling contact used to be a common experience for parents in open adoptions. But Facebook provides great potential for keeping relationships strong. As Jensen notes, young birth parents may change addresses or phone numbers, but Facebook remains a constant.
Switching from snail mail packets to weekly, or even daily, Facebook updates is a big , but many who have made the shift praise the site as an ideal way to stay connected. “For the first four years, we sent photos and detailed updates, but contact began to feel one-sided. Then our son’s birth mother friended me on Facebook,” says mom Adina. “To be honest, I hesitated before accepting the request. Our updates were always carefully composed. Did I want to share my life, uncensored? I decided that a clear window into our daily life was the least I could do for my son’s birth mother. As it turns out, I love knowing more about her life, and I’ve connected with several other birth family members.”
Although sharing the everyday ups and downs gives many parents pause, like Adina, Christine Zwerling finds she enjoys interacting with birth parents on a daily basis: “It’s been a great way for the birth families to see what the boys are up to—whether it’s a sniffle, a big accomplishment, or just a happy day. After I posted, ‘L hates peas, chucked the bowl across the room,’ his birth mom replied, ‘Well, we all hate peas!’ I get a kick out of little exchanges like that.”
Others find “too much information” to be too much. One mom describes Facebook posts from a birth mom reflecting “dubious lifestyle choices,” including drug and sexual references. Another reports feeling uncomfortable when a birth mom replied instantly to every post, raising questions from friends who noticed the hyper-attentiveness. If you connect through your main account, you’ll need to think before you post. Though, as Sharyn Bergman points out, this is not a bad thing: “If my daughter is driving me crazy, I probably wouldn’t say it on Facebook. I don’t want to upset her birth mother. But, honestly, it’s not appropriate to post such things about your kids, anyway. Better to vent to your spouse after a tough day!”
Jayne gave careful thought to the question of friending an extended birth family member. “I don’t post anything bad or controversial, but I felt uncomfortable with the birth family knowing the ins and outs of our lives every day.” She set up a separate account, which she reserves for birth family communication. Maintaining separate accounts is a solution that has worked for many adoptive and birth families. As Jensen warns, doing so from the start is the wisest approach. Slapping privacy settings on Facebook, or moving existing communication to a new online venue, can be hurtful. If you must change the level of privacy for an existing account, she says, “Try to make the birth parents part of that decision. Don’t just impose boundaries.”
Given the difficulty of backing out of social media contact, you should enter it thoughtfully. Jensen recommends asking yourself, “Is this harmful?” when accepting friend requests or posting. If it is not, she encourages adoptive parents to go ahead.
- Develop online relationships slowly, building trust and creating boundaries before allowing unlimited access.
- Choose your privacy settings carefully. Facebook’s “groups option” allows you to create, say, a “birth family group,” and share your content selectively.
- Consider communicating more privately—for example, through a password-protected blog—from the start.
- Agree on standards for sharing photos. Some parents allow reposting of photos, as long as the child is not tagged. Keep in mind that, any time you post a picture online, you can’t control who will see it.
- Be aware that humor and sarcasm play differently online. For example, a light-hearted expression of parental frustration with a toddler may be misinterpreted.
- Apply the same caution and empathy to online communication that you would to carefully composed letters.
- Keep the Facebook dialogue open as new issues arise. For example, if the birth mother’s aunt requests to be your friend, get the birth mother’s thoughts before accepting.
- Talk about social media, and how it relates to birth parents, from a young age, says Taddonio. “If you start this conversation when your kids are teens, it will seem intrusive. If you’ve always talked about who their friends are and about their birth family, it will be natural to talk about how you stay in touch with birth family online.”
- Develop family Internet safety guidelines and follow them. Tell your child about the dangers of chat rooms, strangers, and unknown links, and always keep your address and phone number private.
When Teens Search
It’s not unusual for adopted adolescents to mention that they would like to meet their birth family, especially if they’ve known their birth parents’ names since their earliest years. Some truly want contact. Others are simply expressing a desire for more information. Given the existence of Google, Facebook, and so on, however, it is simple for a teen, acting on impulse, to type in a birth parent’s name and hit “Search.”
A teen will be less likely to search on his own if you’ve always spoken openly about adoption and birth parents in your family. Provide frequent openings to talk. “You can say, ‘If you’re interested in looking up your birth mom on Facebook, I will help you do it, but we’ll go slowly,” says Taddonio. “By your telling your child you’re going to search with him, he won’t have to search in secret.” It may also help to connect your teen with an adult adoptee or a trusted family friend. Some teens are more willing to open up to a third party than to Mom or Dad.
Some teens keep initial contact secret, but open up to their parents after being confronted with unexpected information. Taddonio recalls a 13-year-old boy who was contacted by an older birth sibling. They arranged to meet but, at the last minute, the boy told his mother. She contacted the sibling and explained that she supported her son’s interest in meeting his birth family, but that she wanted to be involved, since he was still a teen. The mother accompanied her son, and it was a successful visit.
Parents should participate in the relationship, then monitor from the sidelines (by being “friends” with both child and birth parent) until the child is at least 16, depending on his emotional maturity.
If your teen decides to search, prepare him for a range of possible outcomes. Taddonio suggests saying, “You know, I’ve read/heard about people who searched for their birth family, and I know there can be many different reactions. Sometimes birth parents are not ready to have contact. How will you feel if that happens?” There’s also the possibility that a child won’t find anyone or any new information through a search.
Jensen stresses that, if the adopted child has known the birth parent all along, communication via the Internet is less of a concern. Even so, after a teen takes charge of the relationship, you should continue to speak with him about what’s being shared, and how he feels about it.
- Set specific guidelines regarding venue, privacy settings, photos, and so on for all online communication between your child and her birth parents. Stipulate that you be included in contact until your child is at least 16.
- Don’t let your child set up a personal e-mail account and Facebook page when he’s too young. While there is no certain age at which all children are ready, it’s easier to postpone this step than to pull back after it’s been taken.
- Keep your expectations realistic. Facebook and other social media are critical social links for many teens. Banning them altogether may not be possible.
- Require your child to “friend” you on Facebook, and monitor his activity. (See “Cyber Safety,” below, for specific advice.)
- Online contact from birth parents will be very likely. Rather than trying to prevent it, think about how you will react and how to prepare your child.
- Understand that teenage adoptees have always had curiosity about their birth parents—the Internet simply makes it easier for them to explore. Make yourself a partner in this process.
- If your teen makes contact, be sure the new relationship progresses slowly. “Adoptive parents and birth parents should try to get to know each other through e-mails and calls, until everyone is ready to meet,” says Taddonio.
- If children do not know birth parents, discuss their desire to search, and offer your support for their efforts when the time is right.
- If children know their birth parents, talk about the kinds of information cyber connections can bring. Tell them how easy it is to misinterpret things that are posted on Facebook.
- Before cyber-searching for birth family, discuss some of the possible results: a birth parent who declines contact, a birth parent in troubling circumstances, or a search that reveals nothing.
- Talk with children often and directly about Internet danger. Taddonio reminds us, “Realistically, birth parents should be the least of our worries. Tell kids they have to be careful with everything they put out there.”
- Seek expert input if social media seems to be leading to a reunion.
Facebook provides a powerful way for birth and adoptive parents, and their children, to stay in touch. When used with caution and consideration, most find it a positive development that brings new meaning to openness in adoption.
Terri Lailvaux wrote the most amazing kids book about adoption called The Greatest Gift. Have you got your copy yet?
My little man is now 2 and a half and I often read it to him. Its my way of getting him used to and comfortable with his adoption story. This book comes in English and Afrikaans and has some really stunning pictures. It explains adoption in such a simple, child-friendly way with its story of two families and a precious baby who changed their lives forever.
To order your copy, please contact me on
082 3535 113 or
email me at email@example.com
Here are a few pictures of some of the pages in the book so you can get an idea of what it offers:
Some of you might already have noticed on the website that there is a new logo on our top banner. I thought long and hard about it and wasn’t sure if I should go ahead or not. After all, why change something that works, right?
Anyway, after many uhms and ahs I decided to just do it. I took over Adoptmom from Terri and had such huge shoes to fill (still don’t think I have quite managed it yet) so thought that maybe if I add my own mark to the business it might by some slight chance make this huge task a bit easier. So, here it is…
I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts
Yesterday was 1 January 2016 – a fresh new day in a fresh new year. The possibilities that await us this year are endless. So why does this not make me happy and excited?
The last few weeks have been very trying for me. It’s been Christmas and it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year. All I can think of though is our little man’s tummy mom. I’ve read many articles in the last few weeks about how you can include birth parents in your holiday plans, craft and gift ideas for them, how this is a really difficult time for them…
I don’t know if that’s always true though. We have an open adoption agreement with our tummy mom. She can see the little man once a month and if she asked, she could probably see him more often. She was included in little one’s first Christmas and I so hoped it would become a tradition. I know she is young and it’s possibly too difficult for her to maintain contact (yes I have heard it all before) but it doesn’t make my feelings and issues any less real. Why does she not phone to speak to him on Christmas? Why no little gift, even a R5 ball would be awesome (it’s the wrapping they like anyway)? *Sigh*
Everyone seems to consider the birth parents feelings at this time of the year. What about the adoptive parents? What about the child? Ok, enough of my vent! An open adoption is NEVER easy.. For anyone…
Herewith some guidelines to an open adoption relationship:
- Every adoption should be all about the child. That little person is and always will be the most important piece of the puzzle in the adoption process.
- Open adoptions should always begin with a close and trusting relationship between birthparents and adoptive parents. This is never easy.
- Birth parents and adoptive parents should have mutual respect and a shared love for the child, their separate and different roles should be respected. They are so similar yet so different. Appreciate each other and the roles you all play. Compliments are awesome to receive.
- This little person needs a healthy foundation. The older he or she gets, the more questions are asked or not even directly asked, the need for acceptance and support becomes greater as this little person’s personality develops. They need to know that both adoptive and birth parents have their back, believe in them, love and care for them.
- Be yourself; don’t hide who you are. Face your fears and insecurities and do your best to ease them. What are you scared of? Disapproval? Their grief? Their bond with the child? Do what you need to work through these issues.
- Include the other party and make them feel involved and as if they belong.
- Communication, communication, communication. It is so important!! Talk to each other. Talk about how you can communicate easier. Communication is, without fail, the number one most important strength in genuinely healthy relationships. It’s hard to ask for the addition of a boundary in an open adoption relationship because no one wants to step on anyone’s toes.
- Acknowledge that your little one looks like his or her birth parents, that they have similar talents, that they have grown to enjoy the same hobbies as their adoptive parents or have similar mannerisms.
- Grieve and realise that everyone suffers a loss in this process. Adoptive parents, birth parents and child. Now be empathetic.
- Be realistic. Realise that the average age of birthparents is 23 years old. (And here is where I struggle!!). Adoptive parents, have realistic expectations about birthparents’ willingness and ability to reciprocate phone calls and correspondence. Remember when you are dealing with people from different cultures and backgrounds that there will inevitably be differences in how you interact and communicate. Recognize those differences and don’t place unfair expectations on each other. Be realistic about what these relationships will look like and talk about what everyone involved hopes the end result will be.
- Try hard to keep the relationship going and current. Do your best to keep the connection alive because it holds great importance to your child.
- Birth parents, make an effort to keep in touch with the adoptive parents; they care deeply about how you are doing.
- Be considerate and honest, don’t make empty promises. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep about visitation and updates. Maintain open and honest communication always.
- Be optimistic about the other party fulfilling their potential in life and within the relationship. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Be proud of one another and your open adoption. Let others know how enriching your open adoption is to you.
- Share your appreciation of one another with the child. Let the child know he’s surrounded by people who care about and love him deeply.
- Recognize holidays. Remember the important days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthmother’s Day and the child’s birthday. These are important times to acknowledge and honor one another.
In conclusion, yes, I am having a hard time with my open adoption, who isn’t? It takes work. Work that doesn’t come very easily most times. But if everyone involved in the open adoption triad and process gives their little bit, we will all be in a much happier place So, birth parents and adoptive parents, embrace your open adoption. It’s hard, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but do it for your little person.
Happy New Year to all you amazing people.
Make 2016 a year to remember!