The Adult Adoptee Perspective I’d Love to Hear
I wrote a post at the beginning of the week that has sort of exploded in comments. The first couple of comments were from fellow original mothers who understood my perspective. Then I received a lot of comments from adult adoptees who felt either the original post or the first few comments were discounting adult adoptees perspective.
There was a comment by 7rin that was echoed in a few other of the comments, a comment which questioned what openness is really doing to our kids. A portion of the comment read:
No, your kids won’t have to wonder who you are, they’ll get to watch you abandon them over and over and over and over and over again.
I have heard many times from adult adoptees that they think open adoption has it’s own set of issues. I get it, I do. I have heard and had conversations about some of the issues, the feelings that might come up from seeing a sibling who was parented by the people who relinquished you, or by feeling pulled between two families. I know from my side of things that having a fully open adoption with my son and his family means the emotions and issues stay on the surface for me, I have constant reminders of the things I’m losing – I would imagine those are the same sort of emotions may be what my son struggles with, and having to deal with them young (as opposed to as an adult starting reunion) may be it’s own set of issues.
But I have to admit that statements like the one above I find frustrating. Why? It’s not because I don’t believe the opinion is important, or even relevant, it’s because it only points out the problems without offering any insights to how to make it better.
Here is my reality, I have already relinquished my son. It is done. He is legally adopted by a family. That is also done. Whether you believe I should have or shouldn’t have has no impact on where we are at. My son lives with another family, and I want to do everything I can to limit the pain that this fact causes him. He is three years old, and is putting pieces together of who everyone is and what their relationships to him are. I know at this point each time I see him (or don’t see him), that I send him a present, or make him a halloween costume, it impacts him, heck he might even remember it into adulthood. I want the impact to be as positive and healthy as possible.
I have listened, and heard adult adoptees saying things like the impact it made on them the first time they met someone who looked like them, or when they realized where their passions and talents came from. I have heard them talk about how they deserved to hear the story of their first few days, that they wanted to understand where they came from. I want to give those things to my son, so I keep showing up, once a month or so, and giving my son a huge hug and loving him as best I can, and providing him with any answers I can give him. And I do that because it seems that was the best thing I could do for my son.
But when I hear the other side from adult adoptees, that my son is going to hurt because I am in his life and have to say goodbye again and again, that if I go on to have other kids he’ll be upset that I could keep them and if I am not doing well in life that he will feel responsibility for that. I hear there are these downsides, but the reason I am pursuing openness was based on what I was hearing from adult adoptees so when I hear the exact opposite, I no longer know what is the best path.
So where does that leave me? Should I have my son in my life and see him as often as I can? Should I limit contact with him to minimize him having to say goodbye and feeling abandoned again? Should I close the adoption – and just leave myself open to him if he wants to see me, putting the ball (and the burden) in his court? I would love advice from adult adoptees – not them saying that I shouldn’t have relinquished (I can’t change that and being told that isn’t going to change that), but real advice as to how given the circumstances I can minimize the negatives for J. I have tried to take steps to minimize the difficulties, things I think might help. I make sure if we do say goodbye that J is also told when the next time he will see me will be, so he will never have to say goodbye without knowing he’ll see me again soon. His Dads and I have talked among ourselves about what language to use with J and they have made it clear to everyone in J’s life that he should be encouraged to talk about me, about his relationship with me, and that no one should minimize it but instead should encourage it (giving him an outlet if he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to his parents or me about it). His family treats me as an extension to their family rather than separate so J doesn’t have to keep parts of his life separate and can have me at family events. I am trying to make decisions that are positive for J. I realize nothing I do will eliminate his feelings about his adoption, but I’m hopeful that the decisions his Dads and I make will help him deal with the feelings he does have. But those decisions on how to make my son’s adoption the best I can for him today were made by my instinct. I would love to have feedback from those who understand what it’s like to be an adoptee, so if you are an adoptee and you have come to comment on my blog about how openness isn’t without it’s own problems, instead of stopping there I invite you to tell me what I could do to minimize the negatives. I do want what’s best for my son, I am willing to listen to any advice or criticism, but it would help if that centered on the things that I could change, not on the things I can’t.