This is the latest Open Adoption Roundtable topic brought to you by the rocking Heather at Production not Reproduction: (To participate is easy-check out the link to find out how.) I did it a little differently, in that I imagined Sam writing his own response to it at about eighteen or so. It was super helpful to me to see it this way. Helpful as in, what do I think might be going well, and not so well. I try hard not to put feelings in his mouth, but to show how I imagine he might handle some things based on ways we handle things now. The process reveals more work we have to do! And, I don’t even touch the birth father piece here, because I don’t have any idea when or if that will become part of our open life.
Here is the prompt:
Imagine your child as an adult describing their open adoption experience. What do you hope they will be able to say about you? How did you view their other parents? In what ways did you support their relationship with them?
Sam, age 18: I would say it was the hardest for mom when I wasn’t getting along so well with her, and I was really close with my first mom, Tea. There was just some times when I didn’t want to talk to mom because I didn’t think she’d get it. I was pretty sure what I was thinking would hurt her, so I kept it to myself, or told Tea . It was actually Tea who told me that most of my thinking was in my own head and no where else. Turns out she was right. What was harder for mom, was when I wasn’t talking to her. She actually never seemed bothered about what I had to say about being adopted, or her not being Black.
Sometimes I wanted her to just drop the open thing. I just wanted her to be my mom. It’s a lot of work for a kid to have two families when other kids have one. But she didn’t buy that. She said it was a lot of work for her to have two kids, but she never dropped one of us. She also said having a city house and a country house would have been a lot of work too, but she wouldn’t mind me making that happen for her when I became a pro ball player, boarder, CEO, doctor, or astronaut. Kiddin’ aside, it was hard sometimes for me to know how to be Tea’s kid and her kid. (Tea already had kids, and then I realized they were my brothers and sisters too, which really tripped me out for a while.) I knew it was important that I love both moms because that is what you do. But who tells you how to do that? Mom tried to help me with that, and yet that was my own thing too.
I remember feeling rage towards both of them. I felt rage about a lot of things. Then one day she figured it out, and like we often did, we talked about it. It wasn’t simple like how she could love me and Marcel both, but in a way that helped. When other kids had step parents and the like it was not the same thing either. What I really needed was other kids who had open relationships with their birth parents too. Eventually I met kids who did. That helped. And, when I got old enough to travel to Tea’s part of the country and we all hung out, well that was what made it land some how. It was crazy like all at first. I felt like this was the family I was supposed to be with, and at the same time I wasn’t. But in ways I was more like them, and in ways they were more like me. But then mom said, I didn’t need to choose anyone over anyone else. That it was about me discovering how parts of me were in all of these puzzles. I did have two families, and that was just what I needed to work out, and work at. So I did. And, I still do. We all do.
Probably the best part of how we went about things was that simple. We talked about it all the time. I hate talking. But, mom and Marcel never shut up, so I felt like I was talking half the time. Even when I didn’t want to do something, or couldn’t figure out how I felt about it, she sensed that and we talked. If I wanted to back off from my relationship with my birth family, I did. Mom would pick up the slack if it was necessary. Then when they became more important, and even more present in my life at times then even she was, we talked about that too. She said that her hope was to create a net under me that didn’t have any real big holes, or weak spots in it when I was ready to leap. She told me that she thought I might be leaping a little more often, and higher than most kids.
I like it a lot. Especially about jumping a little higher and more often than most kids — and needing a good net.
I am an older adoptive mother. I always tell my daughter’s mother that I need her to stay in good health because Maya’s gonna need her for a long time after I die. She’s the safety net for Maya when I am elderly.
Michelle-that’s so good to hear. I’d love to hear more about your open adoption–I’ll follow the links and find out how. Thank you for chiming in.