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An untapped resource??

January 1, 2012

If you take my two parents personalities – which are VERY different and combine them in three different iterations you would come up with my sister, my brother and I. We are all very different as well – my sister is stubborn and opinionated like my Dad, but follows the rules, is not super social and has the smarts of my Mom. My brother is charismatic and outgoing like my Dad but also seems to have inherited his lack of doing well at school from him. And from my Mom he got his non-confrontational manner, he doesn’t like to stir the pot either. I on the other hand had my Mom’s smarts but my Dad’s lack of interest in school. I had my Dad’s outgoing personality, but the nerdiness of my Mom.

These odd combinations made us kids three very different people growing up, which not only meant that our personalities clashed, but we each approached life very differently. We spent much of our childhood going between being very close to being very not close. With my brother we only recently started really getting along again.

Having three very different kids meant challenges for my parents as well. The way my brother, my sister and I needed to receive accolades or punishment was very different depending on which one of us it was. I think when it came to me especially, since I was the youngest, they had a lot of issues figuring out how to parent me since what they had done with my brother and sister didn’t really work. They restricted me when they should have let me go, and they let things go that they shouldn’t have. There were definitely some things they did I think they should have approached differently. But those things were almost always done when one of them was trying to parent me on their own. When the three of us got together and talked, when as a team they decided how to deal with me, they were way more successful. Thinking back on it I think the reason why is that their approaches to parenting matched their personalities, and since I was a combination of the two of them, parenting as a combo made the best of all worlds.

So these thoughts brought up how parenting in adoptions happen. I assume there will be things about J, about how he learns, what he enjoys in school, maybe his temperament and personality that will be things he inherits from me. I know it will be only a part of his personality, and some other parts will come from M&P and even from JD and of course there will be a part of J that is all his own. I know when I was looking for a family it was important to me that I found one who I felt would encourage J in any pursuits and accept him for whatever his personality was like and I do believe that M&P will do that. But accepting him no matter what isn’t the same as making decisions about how to parent that will work best with his personality.

I’ve heard from more than one birth parent or adult adoptee who has talked about what it was like when the adoptee was a child growing up in a family that just didn’t “get” him or her. I wonder in those cases what would have happened if the birth parents were around, and the adoptive parents talked to them, let them know what was going on. I doubt it would have fixed everything, but I do think there is something to kids being parented in the fashion that suits them, and since the nature part of an adopted child’s personality comes from people who aren’t parenting them, allowing for opinions of those people that contributed to the nature side may be a perspective that will help.

But honestly, its hard for me to imagine a world where M&P would talk to me about the parenting decisions they are making. I think there are so many obstacles out there to that happening, obstacles for me to get over and for them to get over. For me, society is constantly telling me to be careful about overstepping, to treating M&P like we’re co-parenting or worse that they are baby-sitting. It’s hard for me to make any comments about their parenting, whether it’s asked for or not. Honestly, it’s so emphasized to me that since I didn’t feel able to parent J when he was born I’m not capable of making parenting decisions for him that I would fear ever giving my opinion. For M&P I could imagine asking for advice would be difficult as well, it’s showing a vulnerability, letting me know that they might not be “perfect” parents, and although I don’t think any parents are perfect and don’t expect it from them, I think showing any weakness as parents to me I would assume would be very difficult. I just don’t know if it’s possible for us to get past that.

But I want to, because I think as J grows and as difficult issues come up, it would be best to have all the parts that contributed to who J is to have a voice, especially during the bumpy times of him growing. Maybe M&P and I can work towards getting there, where them talking about the hard parts and me giving an opinion is normal, doesn’t seem to carry with it some big weight. Honestly I do it with friends, those who have kids will ask me what I think of certain situations, it’s not weird, it’s not co-parenting, with them I don’t have any reason why my opinion should carry any weight, yet they are welcoming of a new perspective, especially when it’s a difficult issue. But when it comes to a child where my opinion is valid and there is a reason for it to carry some weight, suddenly them asking or me giving advice has these big warnings and issues attached.

So that’s my rambling, if any of you have opinions, or personal experience with this I would love to hear it. Maybe this idea is a dynamic that would never work, or maybe it’s a fair goal and I just have to get over my own insecurities to have it work in my own relationship, I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but if you have let me know!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Stacy permalink
    January 3, 2012 9:01 pm

    I absolutely think it is a reasonable goal! I am an amom to 2 kids who share the same first mom. You would never know they came from the same place, LOL. My 1st has been textbook easy from day one, and while I am certainly not an all knowing parent, I haven’t needed much (any actually – yet!) parenting advice when it comes to him. My 2nd is a whole different ball game. And while I was not specifically seeking parenting advice, my kids (birth)grandmother has been the greatest resource to me thus far. In one of our many talks I had shared some difficulties with her about my daughter and she shared with me the similarities in raising her own daughter – my kids first mom. She is now my “go to” for advice pretty regularly, and even just my sounding board at times. I am so grateful for our open adoption, and could not imagine NOT having her as a resource.
    Your post made me realize again just how fortunate my kids are to have what we do. So often in open adoption the recurring theme seems to be all about knowing where they came from, who they look like, why they were placed, etc… when in reality, there is so much more my children (and I) have available to them because of our open adoption.

    From reading your blog, it sounds as if you are building a great foundation. Your son is still young, so don’t be so sure you won’t have that kind of relationship with his parents – it may just come unexpectedly. I can only speak for myself( though I would be willing to bet I am not the only aparent to feel this way), and for me, I guess I kind of felt that it was “expected” of me to know all the answers and do all the right things. After all, isn’t that what all those hoops I jumped through were for – To prove that I was worthy of being a parent?!? To then admit to the very ones who chose me to parent their child that I didn’t really know it all, was quite difficult. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t seek out their advice the first time, but I sure do now!

    BTW, we are 10 and 7 years into our OA, if that matters.

  2. January 4, 2012 11:06 am

    I am _so_ grateful to have my daughter’s first mom in my life as a resource. The information she is able to provide is so valuable. It ranges from simple, funny things, like the fact that she, like my daughter, has a habit of licking the salt off pretzels. I am much more tolerant of this habit now that I understand it as a family trait – LOL. But there are also more serious matters, like learning style. When I left the last parent-teacher conference, the first thing I did was text my daughter’s b-mom because I knew she would be able to provide valuable insight based on her own learning style, which my daughter seems to share. I definitely consider her a co-parent in such matters.

    On the flip side of the coin, I have experienced growing up in a closed adoption without the benefit of knowledge of and from the biological family. There were many things about me that mystified my adoptive family but would have made a lot more sense if they had known my biological family. At least, they make a lot more sense to me now that I know them!

  3. February 3, 2012 4:54 pm

    I had never thought of this as a benefit of open adoption, but of course it is! Wise is the adoptive parent who draws on whatever is available to her for insight into more effective parenting.

  4. February 6, 2012 9:54 pm

    Absolutely.However I don’t believe in my situation it would have made any difference to how I was raised or my life.Perhaps times have changed.

  5. February 12, 2012 10:45 pm

    I LOVE questioning my son’s bps and bgps about their traits, his traits and so on. What’s SUPER interesting so far is that he does not appear to take after anyone. He’s a true original but, in fact, I imagine (like you said) that he’s probably a combination of traits and he may even have some that have skipped generations. I find this all so interesting and I love wondering where they came from but I also accept him as a mystery with huge potential because despite knowing all sides of his biological a family, we have no preconceived notions of how he will be in the future. THAT said, I feel that after 2.5 years of knowing him that I feel like I know him really well and I’ve started having ideas about who he is… so funny and interesting.


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