Heather's question this month for the Open Adoption Roundtable is a good one: Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?
A couple nights ago during jammy time (the 15-30 minutes before bedtime and after pajamas have been donned by the shortest member of our household) we pulled out the camera. J was in high-silly mode, running from one of us to the other, laughing, trying to zrrrbt our tummies and tickle us back. Andrew was playing the guitar I got him for his birthday, the first acoustic he's owned in a while. All three of us were singing, or trying the best we could in between giggles and tickles and full-on belly laughs. Eventually things wound down. Teeth were brushed, stories read, lights turned out, lullabies sung and after some half-hearted protesting J fell sound asleep. I plugged in the camera to look at the pictures, already wanting to relive the evening.
And the first thing the came to my mind as I fiddled with the images was Z. I often think about J's first mom when I am looking at pictures of our daughter. I am keenly aware of the power I wield as the photographer, the letter-writer, the mailer of information. I look at pictures of J to remember things we've shared together. Z looks at the photos we send to gain primary information about her daughter. It is hard for me to sort out my feelings about this.
I am never tempted to close our semi-open adoption, in fact I long for more contact and openness. Right now the communication is one way, from us to Z. It can feel like I am writing letters to nowhere. We have the agency's word that she picks them up, and a scrap of information here and there when I email for it. It is hard for me to avoid trying to see our pictures through her eyes, or imagining what she might think about them. I am someone who takes pleasure in pleasing the people I care about - finding ways to make sure they feel that I love them. This relationship challenges that desire because there isn't any feedback yet. I never mail off a package without a little bit of insecurity or anxiety. Some of it is me-focused (do I come off sounding like a jerk?) and some of it is fretting over my inability to know what questions she has, as if by simply knowing I'd be able to make it better. I tell myself that part is about Z but, upon reflection, its obviously also about me.
When I share the nature of our adoption with others, particularly the fact that at the moment Z doesn't contact us, people often seem to approve. When I share with them that we are hoping for more openness someday, responses are often wary. "That could really backfire on you," someone said to me just the other day.
I feel like while there are many ways that full openness could make our lives more complex it would also make them more honest. Z is family to my family, and that just is the truth. Right now our relationship is what it is, I send her updates and she gets them. I hope for something more because the reality is something bigger than me and my letters to somewhere.