An Adoptive Parent Struggle
The thing about being an adoptive parent in an open adoption is that we are one of many parents in our child’s life. From what I can tell, for many adoptive parents, Mr. MPB and I included, this is one of our biggest fears.
Our child will have us, their parents and their birth mom and birth father. And, of course the child may also have extended families both in their adoptive family and their birth family.
As adoptive parents we will have the final say over our child lives, just as all biological parents and in-fact all legal parents have. But, we as adoptive parents do face a few unique scary unknowns:
- Will the birth mother want to know the child? (Some do and some do not. And some specify that they do not want any contact).
- Will the birth father be known? If the birth father is known will he want a relationship with the child?
- Will the extended birth family be known? Will they want to be involved?
- Will the birth family be safe to expose our child to?
- Will the birth mom seek out support to help them through any short and long term struggles related to their choice to place their child?
The list of questions and unknowns that we have no control over is daunting.
I guess, this is one of the uncertainties of adoption and we just don’t know how it will play out throughout life.
All we know is:
- As per the law in our province, Mr. MPB and I will only work with Hague accredited adoption agencies that are also approved with our province. The Hague Adoption Convention, while not perfect, is meant in part to reduce the number of birth mothers who are coerced into adoption. Note, that in all of the USA, only about 5 agencies are approved for us to work with – it’s not easy to meet the standards that exist within our part of the world. And we respect and uphold those same criteria as we believe an adoption has to be in the best interests of all involved.
- Mr. MPB and I will only work with adoption agencies in Canada and the USA that offer life-long counseling to birth mothers and birth fathers (this is not a Hague Convention requirement). While we cannot control the struggle that birth families may one day face, we adamantly require that resources be available to the birth family to help them with any struggles they might face immediately or years later. We cannot force them to use the resources, but at least we can ensure they are available.
- The birth mom (and maybe father) will chose us based on our profile book and home study. We will in-turn chose them based on their medical documents. In our home study we’ve stated that we want contact and potential visits (if safe) with the birth family because we very strongly believe that it is important to the child to know their entire family (all the literature and research indicates that children of open adoptions fare much better then those from closed adoption). But, while we want this, we do not get to decide if they want it and/or force contact. This is not part of the information we receive, and so we will have to respect whatever the birth mom/father want.
- We may or may not even meet the birth parents before and/or after the baby is born. This is not our decision, we simply live with the outcome of their decision and then help our child also live with the outcome as well.
And so, while we know what we want in a perfect world, we also have absolutely no idea how it will play out in reality.
We hope that we end up matched with a birth family who deals with the emotional impacts of adoption in a healthy way (some do and some do not) and we hope that we can all work together to shower the child with love. But, our reality is that we cannot control this. Once again, all we can do is work with top agencies and lawyers and hope.
I guess, all we can do as future adoptive parents is hope for the best and know that we will love our child and help them navigate the realities of our family dynamics, whatever that may be. It may not always be easy for our child at times, and it probably will be hard for all of us as parents too. But, I know that Mr. MPB and I will do our very best no-matter the circumstances, because like every other parent out there, trying to do our best is all we can really do. And so we may not get everything right, in fact we probably wont, but we are 100% committed to trying to do our best from the very beginning and to set a foundation of respect, love and support.
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This post struck a chord with me. I think no matter what you cannot predict the way things pan out during ANY type of parenting, but especially in any adoptive/un-biological relationships. Even us Lesbians have to face a great deal of struggle, sheesh it was just the other day Shawn asked again if “mama” would be his dad. His friends all have dads. It broke my heart, I thought well crap are we not equivalent. But, again society has us beat with what’s “normal” and we are the outsiders in this situation. I think the best you can do is love your children unconditionally. We face all of the donor questions once are children are old enough to understand. It’s just something we have to be open and honest about and do our absolute best at meeting our children’s emotional and physical needs all through out life. I think your gracious in allowing the birth family to remain a part if applicable. I think regardless you have a good mind set going into this and you both will do fine. Like any other unconventional type of parenting, you just have to go with the flow and do the best you can 🙂
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I have so much respect for you and the way you are going about adopting a child.
There are so many unknowns at this point, but one thing you know for sure is your child will be living in a home with two thoughtful, kind people who will – above all else – do right by their child.
There are so many unknowns, but I feel through and honesty with your child you will be able to navigate even the toughest waters.
*love and honesty
Thank you for touching on the counseling aspect of adoption. That is SO IMPORTANT!!! Anyone who thinks their life will ever go back to “normal” after being involved in an adoption (birth family or adoptive family) is kidding themselves. And while things are fine now, down the road something might strike a chord with a birthmother. The option for continued counseling is key for a healthy open adoption.
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I love how you have such high standards for your agencies. You will be rewarded for doing the right thing. It will pay off long term. Xx
You have many unknowns on your plate – I admire your ability to cope with that, even though I understand it must be difficult.
I think I open WordPress everyday hoping that today’s is the day I read some news from you and that some of these unknowns soon become more known for you both!
I didn’t realize there were just a handful of agencies in the US that conform to The Hague adoption convention
The realities of adoption are harsh, very difficult. I admire your strength.
I hope that you’re able to match with a mother/family who are willing to be open with themselves, since that’s what you’re hoping for for the child. I can only imagine how hard it is for everyone involved. I also hope that you get matched soon!!
I am so behind!!!!! I’m hoping that whomever you get matched with is willing to work together with you and Mr MPB to make it the best and most rewarding experience. I have a niece, whom I’ve never met, who was adopted out in a closed adoption. That is the only experience I have with adoption and I will say that both options seem impossible. You are tackling these questions fearlessly!!! Hugs! XO
As the mother of three adopted children I applaud you for the way in which you are going about adopting. Adopting comes with no guarantees and no promises of happily ever afters. After dealing with RAD and autism (not what we expected) I can only say that no matter how children come into our families there is the unknown. And you deal with it. And you love and you live life to the fullest knowing that whatever hardships you face along the way that there will be countless more moments of joy that outnumber the bad…just like any other family.
I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the birth family of the child I might adopt in the future. It has come into play for a lot of my decisions about whether or not to submit my home study for matching with a particular child. I’ve said no to a few children my worker thought would be ideal for me, but whose birth family situation isn’t one I can either work with in my life or one I can reconcile in my own mind to help my child adjust.
you sound like excellent parents! I wish you all the best of luck
Have you had any feedback yet? Do you get told how often you get “viewed” or if anything needs to be changed. I’m so gutted it hasn’t happened yet. Makes me want to kick something in frustration
We have just recently come to terms with the fact, that with Mary’s possible adoption, we have no idea how this is gonna pan out. The truth is that Mary knows her mom, and is attached to her mom, and technology is a big factor in our lives and that even though we would want a closed adoption, we aren’t dumb to the fact that in a few years, Mary will have pretty unlimited access to the internet (maybe not at our house, but at a friends house, or the library, or school) and that it will only be a matter of time before she can look for and possibly contact her mother. We’ve finally surrendered to the fact that maybe doing a “conditional surrender” with 4 visits a year and monthly pictures (although that’s not what we really want and her mother probably won’t agree to) is going to be our best bet. But I think this also has to do with the amount of control we have over our daughter and our family. I totally understand where you are coming from with this post. There are so many variable and unpredictables with adoption. Sigh…it’s such a great and terrible place to be in…