Thursday, April 7, 2011

OA Roundtable #25 - letters to somewhere

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.

1 comment:

  1. Z is family to my family, is a wonderful way to look at it. We had never been sure of an open adoption but after seeing a documentary on tv about how some people felt it opened our rather closed minds and since then we've been researching those things. I still have questions and worries but I'm sure with time I'll overcome them (and the majority of them are selfish too)
    It's wonderful that you're doing your bit maybe as time passes you will get more of a response.

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