OART #44 – Openness Is
There is a new post at Open Adoption Bloggers for an Open Adoption Roundtable which asks What is Openness to Me? Head over there to read other responses.
I could easily write at length of all the pretty happy things I believe openness is, but that’s not all it is to me. It’s a complicated thing, incredibly layered with joy and sadness simultaneously, with familiarity and awkwardness.
Openness is all the things the agency first told me, openness is my son knowing my part of his medical history, openness was my son knowing about his ancestry if he was interested (or at least having a place to start looking into it), and openness is my seeing seeing parts of himself in me – genetic mirroring. For me, for my family openness may be all of those things, and to allow J to have those things maybe have been why we started with openness, but it we didn’t have it end there.
Openness is letting my son take the lead in our relationship.
Openness is getting a text after my last visit which said “Well next time you are putting him to sleep and sleeping with him…According to J when he woke up”
Openness is the fact my son’s Dads have allowed J to express the desire to have me in his life without worrying about hurting his Dads.
Openness is the fact my son’s Dad pushed aside any of his own insecurities (assuming he has any) to share this with me.
Openness is accepting that the flip side of J wanting me there and all of us encouraging that is that sometimes my son doesn’t want me there, doesn’t want me to read to him, doesn’t want me to play with him. Openness is accepting both extremes that can happen when he takes the lead on his relationship with me.
Openness is getting a text photo of my son reading the book I bought him for Christmas with his Dad. Openness is knowing they realized it would be important to see him using my gift being used and being thoughtful enough to send it.
Openness is being able to pick out a present for J without having to pepper his Dads with questions about what he might like, openness is being involved enough that I can guess.
Openness is the unnerving realization that he may not like the gifts I got him, that maybe I don’t know him and his likes as well as I thought I did.
Openness is seeing my son play with a gift I gave him and realizing simultaneously that he loves it what I had gotten him and that they don’t remember that it was a gift from me that I gave him last Christmas. Openness is realizing there are two sides to the coin of familiarity and although I love the fact that he knows me as a member of his family, I hate the fact that I gift I gave is just one more gift from one of his family members.
Openness is building traditions as a family.
Openness is being invited to my son’s birthday party and his family’s tree-trimming each year. Openness is being able to with confidence know the invite is coming.
Openness is feeling obligated to participate in these traditions regardless of what else is going on in my life, openness is putting other things in my life second when my son is involved.
Openness is never wanting to say no to any suggestions no matter what else is happening in my life. Openness is crazily making a Halloween costume this year because they asked. Openness is them telling me J already knows he wants to be a sheep next year and making it pretty clear they expect me to make the costume again.
Openness is going out with my son’s Dad and his boss months after Halloween, and his boss mentioning without prompting that she loved J’s Halloween costume that I made (he had worn it to the company party). Openness is the fact that J and his Dad told everyone I had made the costume not because I could possibly find out if they didn’t but because it didn’t feel odd to just let people know. Openness is the fact that I did find out it was mentioned because I had the opportunity to hang out with my son’s Dad and his boss.
Openness is being invited to something that I think will turn into a tradition one year and the next realizing it’s not happening. Openness is realizing that sometimes expectations are too high.
Openness is having hundreds of amazing pictures of my son, and many great ones of me with him from the first year of his life.
Openness is the realization that I have only four pictures of the two of us from the last year of visits.
Openness is realizing that sometimes we take for granted that we see each other so often and forget to do things like take lots of pictures every time we are around each other.
Openness is finding our own form of family.
Openness is my son’s Dads showing me their wedding album and “the horrible photographer” without prompting or reason other than it came up and they thought I might like to see pictures of it.
Openness is the unprompted hug from my son.
Openness is my son’s great Aunt coming to an event at my company to support me.
Openness is realizing that no many how many friends and family members of J and his family that I meet there will always be new people who don’t know who I am and who don’t understand our relationship. Openness is accepting that our family will never be normal to those who have never seen an open adoption before.
Openness is creating a way to communicate.
Openness is them mentioning their options for schooling. Openness is my clumsily trying to give an opinion on what I think about where J should go to school. Openness is awkwardly trying to find the balance of having an opinion on a parenting decision they are facing and making sure they understand I would never judge any decision they make regardless of my own opinions.
Openness is my son’s Dads asking my opinion on how to talk to J about adoption. Openness is coming to a consensus as a team about the language they will use to talk about me.
And finally, although this is what openness is today, openness is realizing that as J grows, as our lives all change, openness will change and evolve with it. Allowing that change and finding a way to maintain a form of openness even if it doesn’t look like it does today is the most important but also an extremely difficult goal for me. For us.