Adoption is very often a story of disappearance and erasure. To not hold this truth from the very beginning of the adopted child’s journey can contribute to a harmful fantasy that may impact that child’s identity formation.
In open adoption, a child may temporarily disappear from one family, and then reappear “magically” in another. But what happens when the child returns? How they are welcomed back and how space is created for them is something both families co-create.
What will happen when they steps into a space that belongs to them, but that their family, extended family and community of origin did not know existed?
The child could then experience invisibility in the very space they thought or fantasized that they would always belong. This could be an extremely painful realization. Integration of themselves at that moment is deeply layered and will take lots of time and facilitation.
I am reunited with both my sons. We stayed the night in a little Airbnb with a view of that mountain. We have all shifted and measurable ways. We are all going to leave a part of ourselves on the West Coast when we return home tonight.
I have so many thoughts to share here. But I wanted to get this out as perhaps a placeholder to return to. I am still Gathering a great deal of information about everything that’s happened in the last few days. It will probably take weeks and months if not years.
In my next post I will include a series of pictures that I receive permission to share here.
Thank you for all your love, prayers, consideration, messages, and support. Every moment of it has been felt.
I’ve been up since 1:30 am. My heart is both squeezing with an ache that is unfamiliar and cracking open with all of the expansion this journey necessitates.
Putting my son on a plane to go be with his West Coast family, his first family, his birth family, his biological family, his other family, his all -these -things- and -more- family was challenging to my mama heart.
I’ve opened the door wide open and said; “this is a path only you have access to. This is a journey that you are equipped to make alone.” At the same time I reassured him that I’m with him all the time, and will be elated to be with him soon.
What was once my understanding of the parameter of love has now been broken wide open. This I would argue is not simply a result of of parenting,but a deeply necessary component of adoptive parenting.
I feel so thankful to Shrek and Marcel for the six hour hour Airport drop off. It was so important for Sam to know that his entire family was holding him at this moment. That his entire East Coast family will miss him deeply and look so forward to having him home.
Thank you all for reading, praying, sending your kind words, and just holding everyone. It is so appreciated.
After my last post, a reader who knows me and my family very well wrote to me with the following questions;
Do you just witness and validate? I think you also do your best to provide him with people, role models, etc that he can draw from. Also, how does the pending visit effect his search for the desired look? And why did you think Marcel would be fine? And how are you waking up to his journey now?
I was moved by her questions, and wanted to return to the blog that instant and answer all of them in depth on a follow up post. But within hours I found myself knee deep in that gnarly bramble in my blogging brain that looks like this: Is what am I doing here potentially harmful to my kids? Is this my story to tell? Am I using their stories to make my own more interesting or dynamic?
I remembered it was after I had read The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing about Their Kids by Phoebe Maltz Bovy in The Atlantic, that I seriously considered taking down the blog. Other bloggers I followed and admired in the adoption blog-o-sphere had come to the conclusion that this is their child’s story to tell if they decide to later on. One by one their blogs disappeared.They had integrity, and I had a link to nowhere on my blog role.
Was I ready to go to that extreme? Unable to decide at that moment, I stepped away, hoping something would convince me to keep blogging, or make it crystal clear that MamaCandtheBoys was headed for the archives too. Before I could answer the reader’s questions in their entirety I had to reconcile where I was today.
So, last night I returned to the article which ends like this:
Where, then, should a parent-writer draw the line? The simplest way is to ask if a given anecdote would be appropriate if its subject were not your child. Would you publish that essay about your colleague or sibling? About a friend’s kid? If you consider the power dynamics between parent and child; the childhood secrets only a parent can know; and the trust children have in their parents, you see why parental overshare, however well-intentioned, is unethical.
Bovy does not believe that children should be asked if the content we want to publish is acceptable, as they are neither developmentally able to make that call, nor should they be put in a position of censoring their parents. So, is there a middle ground? Is it possible to parent-blog with integrity?
Here is where I have landed today, with a set of guidelines for moving forward. This may change. So much does. I welcome your thoughts on the matter.
A List of Intentions for Mama C
Request their permission to approve of pictures I post before doing so. This will help the boys learn that they should expect and demand permission from others before their image is put on social medial or on a mailer or a poster at school.
When sharing content that involves their experience, capture it in their words whenever possible, and let them read it over for accuracy. This will help them to feel agency, and to be thoughtful about their words.
Ask myself if I would say it loud with them there. Ask myself, as Bovy suggests if I would write it about someone else’s child. Ask myself how I would would feel if I read about my child this way in someone else’s blog. If I hesitate to answer yes to any of the above: do not push play. It is a good indication it may not be the time or place to write about it.
Be able to answer with certainty if I a clear why I writing this particular post. Is it to entertain? To educate? To invite dialogue? Or is it to make me look like a good mom, and my kids look like super evolved, flawless mega-humans which will in turn make me look like a good mom?
When I turn this blog into a book and publish it would I be willing to keep this part in? If not, why am I willing to publish it here?
Do you struggle with the same concerns as a blogger? Have had you tackled it?
In my next post, I will address the reader’s questions above through these new it’s-not-about-me-or-is-it-guidelines. And yes, Sammy approved the use of the image above.