Known Donor 101-A simplified version of what I figured out in the last three years.
1. I have to listen to what he needs around this evolving relationship too. Fear can not be a platform from which I ask for what I need. (for me the “fear” was not ever based in reality, but in old stories I wrote about other relationships in my own life, and my children’s lives.) Fear often uproots my clear thinking heart.
2. Admit that you really don’t know what is best, and it may be different from what you want. (I mean that I am not a donor conceived child, I have no experience with this. I have intuition, and mama-hood as my guides.) Isn’t “best” a myth anyway? It is how we work together that makes this work.
3. Love is love. Or as my dear friend Erika reminds me; “One love”. I will and do return to this belief often. The farther away I walked from this, the harder it got. I understand this as; “We all have love to bring and share here. How can I best facilitate that? How can I get out of the way of allowing it?”
4. If any of the above steps feel too hard, imagine yourself fifteen years from now, feeling regret that you weren’t able to stick with steps 1-3.
5. Try to keep in mind that what feels hard today, may very well be easy in a few weeks or months. New territory has so much to be discovered, much of it we are not prepared for the first time around. Expect and allow for shifts.
6. If possible make time to celebrate the ongoing relationship you both have too. (We went out to dinner a few weeks after Tree met Marcel. I left all agendas in the car. I came to listen, and rediscover who this man is today. We had an incredible conversation about his childhood, race, adoption and more. The love I had for who is he in the world expanded. ) Maybe in some relationships-foster-open adoption-donor this would feel too hard/strange. But that doesn’t mean it is not possible does it? Start small. A coffee just to check in with how the other person is in the world.
7. No one who did this before you did it the right way for you. Learn from others who went before you, and give yourself permission to do it differently. Break open that box, and build your own structure.
8. Return to step three as often as possible. Begin there.
The other day when Tree stopped by unannounced I wanted to scream. I am a planner, and I was wearing my ugly bathrobe! Need I say more? The smile on his face, and the tackle of love from Marcel was all I needed to say; “I am just making breakfast. Would you like to join us?” Then a few hours later I am cleaning up the kitchen after a sweetly successful meal and visit, as the three fellas are outside in the street making art with the chalk. It occurred to me that what we are doing well might be applicable to many foster-adoption-and donor scenarios.
Tree and I experienced some VERY everyone is triggered kind of rough spots. Look at us today. We are so fully in a place of ease, respect, and love for this shared family that I feel like busting into song half the time. I just want to share out there, that you can design the relationship that you want. It takes a lot of work. Then more work. And all along I believe we both had people telling us; “you are on the right track.. Keep asking for what you need.” The payoff is so magnificent for Marcel, Sam, Tree and me.
Tree is working on his own post too. So looking forward to that. Although after what he said about me at the soccer game the other day maybe I should be a little wary too; “I was scared for the other parents. You are a beast!” Huh.
He’s right though. I can yell.
Have any questions you’d like me to address on the subject? Ask away. Have your own donor/foster family/adoptive family or just family success recently? We’d love to hear about that too!
Love the success stories! My daughter has two mommies — one who is raising her (me) and one who gave birth to her (Nikki). People don’t get it. But we do. That’s our family. And that’s all that matters.
Intriguing. People don’t get our open adoption. I get some really ignorant questions and statements. I guess the unknown DOES lead to fear, as you described. I’m so glad you don’t acquiesce to your fear, for Marcel’s sake, but also for everyone who reads – we are learning so much from you!
Thanks for that check in Faith. Tonight I was making dinner, when Tree stopped by. He had never READ THE BLOG. A friend of his told him to check it out… SO he sat at this table and started reading. Talk about fear. I was like; “CAN YOU READ THIS LATER? Or at least tell me what a great writer I am?” He laughed, closed the computer and bestowed a little welcomed praise. I told him we are waiting for his post…
YOU are doing great work in your writing, and the story you are sharing. We are learning from you Mama.
one love, one life, baby. so glad to be witnessing in the unfolding of this magical, sweet time. in the spirit of transracial collaborations, here is a musical interlude for your listening pleasure.
Why do you refer to him as donor instead of your child’s father? You seem so open yet when I see donor I see walls going up.
I am working on a response to your question. Thanks for posing it.
Lots to say but I can’t really articulate any of it. 1) That photo is amazing! 2) This must be really hard. 3) Wow!