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!