As everyone knows, our family was brought together through open adoption. While every adoption is different, so is every open adoption. For us, this means that we know our son’s birth mother and we hope to foster a life long relationship between them. For us this means we were in the hospital when he was born and we met him a few minutes after he arrived. And, we now keep in touch with his birth mom. We have no legal arrangement requiring communication, but we have a desire to maintain the relationship. As we live in different counties we don’t see each other often, other then through pictures. But we do hope to visit when the time is right (i.e. Little MPB has his Canadian citizenship and the thought of crossing the USA border isn’t so worrisome given our atypical family situation).
This also means we are open about his adoption. In fact, we talk about it with friends and families when it’s appropriate. By appropriate I mean we don’t answer certain questions that we have deemed to be part of his private life story. And, appropriate also means that adoption isn’t part of every single conversation. It comes up from time to time, but we don’t meet new people and state Little MPB is adopted as our first sentence. But we do embrace adoption as how our family came together. For us, how our family came together is not a dark secrete, in fact, it’s something we cherish and believe it should be celebrated (as should the arrival of any child, in any circumstance).
But, we’ve started to notice that one particular set of grandparents will not speak about adoption, it’s almost like they are in denial that our family came together through adoption. It’s weird and kind of hard to explain.
We’ve told them multiple times, before Little MPB arrived and since he arrived, that if they ever have questions about adoption they are welcome to ask, and we’ll answer them if we feel it’s appropriate. Instead, it’s radio silence. They do not ask anything about his birth family (where as all our other family and friends from time to time ask how his birth mother is). If we bring up anything related to adoption in the course of a conversation, they change the subject. In fact, they wont even stay involved in a conversation with we talk about when we were in the USA when Little MPB was born. Truthfully, it’s become almost awkward how much they seem to be working to avoid any conversation related to adoption.
This has lead Mr. MPB and I to speculate that they are just pretending he isn’t adopted. We wonder if they are choosing to take a different approach to how we had our son. An approach that is much more in line with past generations – adoption isn’t something you speak about, it’s swept away and hidden. We don’t know for sure what’s going on and unfortunately because they wont have any adoption related conversations this isn’t a question we can ask and expect to get a truthful answer.
Early on we tried to educate them about open adoption but even then they refused to really talk about it or ask any questions. And now they refuse to talk about it, so we aren’t really sure how we can effectively help educate them on modern open adoption.
However, our inability to help them understand open adoption and their apparent refusal to discuss it, does cause us some worry for Little MPB as he grows up. We are told that almost every single child who was adopted at some age (usually between 3 and 6ish) likes to talk about it. My worry is, how will they respond to him if he’s talking about adoption? Will they use language and words that imply secrecy or shame or denial, which simply isn’t language we are okay with.
I know I’m worrying about something that may never happen, but I think like all parents (adoption or not), that’s what we do sometimes. And, I think when it comes to adoption, I can be overly sensitive and we are very aware of how seemingly simple language can convey a hurtful message to a child. Like all parents, I just want to protect our children from possible hurt.
But, how do we do that when the possible hurt may come from within our family, even if those family members wont be trying to be hurtful, but their actions/words very likely will be hurtful? I want to be proactive on this, but we’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked. So, we feel like we are at the point where we just have to wait and see. And if anything inappropriate is said, then we just have to correct it and depending on the circumstance then we have to re-evaluate our approach.
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