We each interacted with at least one professional during the adoption process (agency, lawyer, facilitator, consultant, hospital social worker, etc.). What was one thing that they did that was most supportive of open adoption? What one thing was least supportive?
I would have liked to have attended seminars about open adoption from the adoptive parent’s side. We were invited to a birthmother’s panel which definitely opened up my eyes to the birthmother’s side. In fact, we went to two of them. I was grateful that they had shared their stories but at the same time, was a little horrified of how evident it was that their idea of open adoption was so different than that of the adoptive parents. One story in particular made me realize that she had expected so much more than what the adoptive parents were willing to do. And her expectations had changed so much from her starting point. Though open, honest communication was stressed, it seemed that for one or both sides of the triad often changed their minds.
Throughout our adoption journey, I felt pretty much unsupported by the professionals. To be fair, I’m not sure if the people I had dealings with were really equipped for some things. A lot of the advice was more like well, be patient, that’s the way things are, just be patient. We could have used some counselling particularly through the months of waiting and through the difficult periods of communication with the Precious’ biological mother. Yes, I did speak to a counsellor at our agency a couple of times, but it was more about reporting about recent events. It was all about alleviating her fears, her insecurities. Tough job to do long distance I might add. In fact, I was doing counselling for her on top of all the hours we had paid for her own professional counselling. In hindsight, I wish I had gone to a private therapist, but of course, all our money was being funnelled into adoption costs and our needs weren’t considered a priority. I found other blogs about open adoption crucial to my own learning. They set the example of how beneficial an open adoption is for all parties. And because of all that, we are still in communication. K’s birth mom is a kind, loving, woman who just wanted a better life for her child than she could provide.
What I really needed was just to have someone to help me deal with my emotions, my fears, my doubts. I looked long and hard about a life without children. Infertility had challenged me in ways that I had never dreamed of before. My outlook in life had changed so much; I became used to a life full of disappointment and compromises. My marriage had been through the wringer and as much as I wanted to be a mother, I wanted my sanity more. I simply got so wrung out by the demands that I relied on good old-fashioned Buddhist guidance and – detached. Equanimity. Sounds odd, but it worked. I finally surrendered to the fact that I couldn’t control the outcome, I couldn’t manage someone else’s emotional needs. I refused to be an emotional hostage any longer. I made a worst case escape plan for myself (VACATION IN PARADISE) that I could rely on and acknowledged that no matter what, I would be okay.
The best support came from our lawyer in the States who, on the day we learned that the relinquishment papers weren’t signed on the expected day, called us to reassure us and support us. When we did reach the wonderful court day, she walked us through everything; she took us to every counter, every clerk we had to see. She let us know what would happen, put the correct papers in our hands and shepherded us along the corridors. I was so grateful for her patient, calm guidance, I wanted to kiss her. She even told us where to park. We must have looked like doe eyed, stunned, brand new spanking parents looks and bless her for taking care of that day for us.
For other viewpoints, please go to Production not Reproduction