Friday, May 14, 2010

An Idyllic Story-Book Open Adoption

If you have not yet read "Open Adoption: Not So Simple Math" in the NY Times, please do so and then come back and let's share our reflections...

Some of the things that jumped out at me:
  • "One of the exercises I was given in adoption counseling was to envision the hours immediately after the adoption. What would I do after signing the papers?"
  • "It is only through time — when my son turned 4, and I was 27; when he turned 6, and I was 29; when he turns 10 this year, and I am 33, and ready for children — that I begin to understand the magnitude of what I lost, and that it is growing."
  • "Open adoption is an awkward choreography; I am offered a place at the table, but I am not sure where to sit." 
  • When her son was 4 and "crawled into my arms and said, 'Amy, pretend I’m your baby'.”
That broke my heart that he said it, that she heard it, that she felt the need to protect his adoptive mother from it, and that so much of adoption is about pretending...

As her thoughts and feelings about it have changed over will he feel in time?  How do these children who grow up with mothers who have the wherewithal to visit them accept that they chose not be full time parents of them? Will it feel less rejecting that she kept in touch, or more rejecting that his 23-year-old mothers handed him over after breast-feeding without being pressured to do so?  One also wonders what might happen if her life takes a different turn - Marriage? A new baby? 

And would the outcome been different had she not been matched with prospective adopters before meeting her son? Had she been counseled to imagine different outcomes other than signing relinquishment papers?

Is she aware that her "intuition" about the couple was more luck of the draw than anything else? Does she know the percent of open adoptions that a far form as loving as hers is and how many close totally, or never even make any effort at openness?  I would hope she would look into that before writing in a away that could be interpreted as a "recommendation" or endorsement of this choice for other mothers.

I think the article is, for the most part, positive in eliminating fears of those planning to adopt and might encourage more openness. But how may will go to the bother and risk?

Her situation is idyllic and I dare say uncommon, and we are only hearing it from her and not from the hindsight of her grown son.  It seems obvious he will not have the identity confusion those in closed adoptions have. He will not have to wonder what his mother looks like, or why she placed him for adoption, etc.  and those are all very positives.

What we need is is this model of openness for those in real need of care - those whose parents are not able to provide for them. And we need it to be mandatory and enforced, with visitation as supervised as necessary for the protection of the child.  What we do not need is to use this model to encourage more women to cimply see adoption as a way to have their child and their life, too and be a Sunday parent...because it is NOT dual custody.

Amy can see and interact, but can make no decisions for her child. She is not his mother. Legally, she is a stranger.  If both his adoptive parents are killed tomorrow in a car or plane crash, their parents get custody over her and she she could never see her son again. That's how fragile this story-book tale is...

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