Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Open Adoption Roudtable #12: OA New Year's Resolutions

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. To for links to what other bloggers are writing on this topic, click here.

This OA Roundtable is about New Year's Resolutions..or whatever you'd call it.

Call them resolutions, commitments, changes, or choices--how will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?

Yesterday when I checked the mail there was a familiar envelope from Clark Photo Labs, my favorite online photo-printing site. Inside were several prints of my favorite baby J pictures from the last month. Some of them I'm testing out for enlargement and framing, others will be sent off to great-grandparents and others who like to get print photos in the mail. But mostly I ordered them to include with this month's sharing sheet.

Part of our semi-open adoption agreement is the completion of these information forms that the agency calls "sharing sheets." We are supposed to include "a minimum of five clear, close up, happy photographs" with the paperwork. Our agreement is to turn one of these in each month of J's life for the first six months, and then once a year after that until she is eighteen. Last month I hurried to finish mine by the post-placement visit and then Marla and Karen helped me pick out pictures to include from the giant stack I had printed. This month, filling it out, I am resolved to do better. I know full well that Z may never pick up these pictures, but if she does I want there to be more waiting for her than six pink pieces of paper with a list of vaccinations and a handful of pictures. So here are my semi-open adoption resolutions:

- To send more than pictures and a sharing sheet next month. I want to include a letter, maybe in the form of a picture book.

- To pursue contact with some of J's relatives who the agency may be able to put us in touch with. I won't blog any more about this unless something comes of it, but it is part of my commitment to openness, and realizing that we can be open to more than just contact with Z.

- To practice, practice, practice telling baby J the story of how we became her parents and she became our daughter until it feels normal, natural, easy, and I can do it without crying. One of the pieces of advice that we were given during our adoption training that has stuck with both of us ever since was to start telling our child the story of her life before there was any chance of her understanding, so we'd be ready when she could. The first time I told J her adoption story we were still in Georgia, it was 3 or 4 am and it ended with me dissolving into tears somewhere around "and when we heard about you we came just as fast as we could." I'm getting better at it, now I can almost make it through reading I Wished for You to J without tearing up.

- To really be open. Part of hoping for an open adoption was hoping for a sort of openness in our family that can happen whether we have a relationship with our daughter's biological family or not. It is remembering that families, like any other community of human beings, can be closed off to those who don't "belong" or they can be open to loving and including people and possibilities that aren't normal, usual, or don't fit well within the norms of our society. It is a fine line, to have healthy boundaries and clear ways to belong without building walls that shut out other peoples and possible experiences. I want a safe and open family. This year, as always, I resolve to actively work on what that means, and how to facilitate it.


  1. Thank you for sharing! Those sound like great commitments.

  2. This might be a strange comment, about something that's really minor, but it struck me as odd that you would be required to send "happy" pictures! Close up and all that I understand - I was heartbroken when the only picture I got of Cupcake's first birthday was a picture I could barely see her face in....but happy? Seems funny to me....I suppose it just seems unrealistic that Cupcake would be happy ALL the time - and I don't want to just know/see that "perfect" side of her - I want to know/see the real girl - hissy fits and all :)

    Anyway, back to the real point of the post - great resolutions and good luck with all of them!!!

  3. I like the point about telling her her birth story now, so I'll be ready when she really can understand. I wrote it out in a journal I am keeping for her. That version was "our story of your birth". In another "journal of the 1st 3 years" (using that instead of a baby book), I wrote about HER story, that she was born by c/s, info about her birthparents, and then the part about us. But it will be good to practice it outloud.

    It is special picking out photos for her birth mother, isn't it. Even if Z doesn't see them, you get to put your love and caring into each one you choose. That will travel through consciousness to her, even if she is not aware of it.

  4. TG - I know!! that strikes me as odd, too. Especially since I had the impression that the sharing sheets would be given to Z if she ever came for them, and it says right on the sheet itself that the pictures must be happy.

  5. I was going to say just what TG said. It's almost like it's based on a rather narrow interpretation of what would be reassuring or meaningful to a first parent. My kids have so many different sides: thoughtful, serious, goofy, sleepy, giddy, etc. I try to show as many of them as I can when I'm gathering up pictures. I've always figured that's what I would want were I on the receiving end.

    Thanks for participating!