This is in the category of material that I do not yet know how to write about. In the adoption world, for perfectly fine reasons, the idea of open adoption centers very primarily around open-ness between birthmother or both birthparents and adoptive family and child. In our family, our daughter’s adoption was “closed” supposedly at the behest of her birthmother, about whom I know quite a bit– but who I have never met, nor have we ever seen pictures. We would have welcomed the chance to figure out a relationship with her and I think we still would, though my daughter would now have a say in the matter and I do now know exactly what she would say at this moment in her life. We have sent letters and pictures and a special necklace early on. I have this woman, this wonderful woman who gave birth to my daughter and who I know has struggled– often in my mind’s eye. I believe I would like to know her, woman to woman. I am a woman who has struggled too. I think we would have important things in common.
I know, through the agency that worked with all of us, that my daughter’s birthmother has received and read most of what we have sent. I say it was closed “supposedly” at the behest of our daughter’s birthmother, because there are things I have learned since that have called into question the reliability of information we were given, but be that as it may, no direct communication between her and our family is hers and our circumstance, whoever chose it or for whatever reason.
Last year, tomorrow, I believe, is the anniversary of when we got another phone call, years after the call that a child was born and she would be our daughter. In that call, a year ago, we learned that my daughter has two younger siblings who were both placed for adoption right after birth with other families– families three and four (let’s call us family two and birthmother’s family, family one). We, my partner and I, were devastated that we had not been offered the opportunity to adopt and parent her siblings. And we said without hesitation when we learned this news, that we wanted our family to know the other two families if they were willing. One of the two families was also wanting and willing and we were all together within 4 weeks of learning this news. The family of her younger brother, has welcomed us and we them, into a bigger family. It has been hard to fathom what my daughter actually feels about the loss of the chance to grow up with her siblings, but it appears to go something like our feelings. Great loss and an unbelievably wonderful find– her brother. My daughter’s relationship with her brother who is seven– got off to a remarkable start. I easily say that yes, they are in love with each other, yes they do look alike in many ways, yes they have many things, temperamentally speaking, in common– and yes both she and he have known from the very start that they are brother and sister and their relationship looks like brothers and sisters look. I have been fairly out of touch and the children haven’t gotten to see each other for several months– but I plan to rectify that soon, and I hope that on their end, this recent lack of contact is, as it is for us, almost entirely a reflection of a life that moves way too fast and a bit of a reflection tha we all moved fast to get to know each other. We spent two long visits and three holiday weekends all together in the time between last April 28 and the new year this year. Maybe our adult hearts (not the children’s for sure) needed this time to catch up with what has happened to us– our immediate family, suddenly grown.
There is great complexity here. But yes, we have an open adoption too. I love the brother of my daughter and his two moms (he, by interesting coincidence has two moms). I need to pick up the phone and call all three of them and get us together.
So I write to no one in particular, but to myself and my own reflection– and to my daughter and her brother and my partner and his two moms, happy anniversary of this open adoption.