Tonight I was getting our paperwork ready to send off to our agency, and started reading through the summaries that Jordan wrote for the books we were required to read. First, I realized they were much better than mine (probably because he took 3 days to write them, and I did mine in about 30 minutes), and second, they made me so proud. My husband is pretty great, and I love him more every day. I thought that you guys might like to hear some of what we've learned...from his prospective!
Dear Birthmother by Kathleen Silber & Phyllis Speedlin
It was good for me to read these letters because it gives real life accounts of the feelings birthmothers, birthfathers and adoptive parents really feel. The letters made it very real, so much to a point that it would be impossible to acknowledge any truths within the four myths listed.
I have read about and talked about the loss in adoption a lot for the past 5 months. This book did bring the emotional side out of me. It made me both happy and sad. I felt like I got to experience the grief and heartache birthparents endure, but I also felt the joy in knowing that with an open adoption, everyone, especially the child, can live full happy lives.
What I have learned from this book:
1. Closed adoption or not, birthparents’ never forget about their child and children never forget about their birth parents. After reading several of the letters that support this, I do not see how any other form of adoption could be an option. The “out of sight, out of mind” concept that is very common, motivates me to be more proactive in educating people about open adoption.
2. Children want to know more about their birthparents, but can sometimes feel scared to communicate this in fear of hurting their adoptive parent’s feelings. I think this stresses the importance of not only an open adoption, but of keeping the lines of communication open and natural with my child’s birthparents.
3. Both parents will never totally parent. This was a hard pill to swallow, but true. I will probably never know what it’s like to raise my own biological child and the birthparents will never get to fully raise the child they gave birth to. This was a very sobering and sad lesson to learn. It is part of loss within adoption that affects both me and my wife and the birthparents. This is one of those pains that will be with me the rest of my life.
The Open Adoption Experience by Lois Ruskai Melina
Of the tree books this one was my favorite. Almost anything and everything about open adoption was discussed in this book. This book not only answered a lot of my questions but also raised more questions that Angela and I had to talk through. We spent a lot of time discussing “what if” scenarios.
What I have learned from this book:
1. Nobody owes us a child. This lesson is the most important for me. I think it’s easy for us to get caught up in the process of adoption with the assumption that at the end result will be that we have a child. That’s not so. The birthparents have every right to keep their child. For us, if the birth parents decide to parent their child, that is God’s will. We will not feel betrayed, nor should any other adoptive parents. It is their child and we should always keep that in mind. The birthparents shouldn’t feel obligated to relinquish their child either. Even if a relationship has been well established over the months, the birthmother should be extremely sure of her decision to place and not feel obligated because they know the adoptive parents have been waiting.
2. Adoption means loss for the adoptive grandparents as well. Adoptive grandparents need preparation for the adoption process and their loss of a biological grandchild. It is our responsibility to inform our parents of everything we have learned. Dealing with entitlement and jealously issues are as just as common with the adoptive grandparents as it is with the adoptive parents. Informing our parents may not make the transition to an open adoption easier, but it will make it smoother.
3. The birthfather is important too. Stereotypically, birthfathers are viewed as someone who is irresponsible and doesn’t want anything to do with the child. This is not true in all cases. Whether the birthmother shuts him out of her life or he chooses to retreat on his own, birthfathers have the same emotions birthmothers do. They do not ‘just forget’. I have learned that as a man it will be my role to relate and work with the birthfather in communicating the importance of his availability in his child’s life, regardless of the state of the relationship he has with the birthmother. I hope the birthfather is available to our future child and I hope that he can be someone that I can mentor as well.
4. The adoptive mother can breastfeed. I was totally unaware of this. Since discovering this, Angela and I have researched the topic and met with her doctor to discuss.
Children of Open Adoption by Kathleen Silber and Patricia Martinez Dorner
I liked this book because it helped give me some insight on what the thought process might be like for adopted children through different stages of their life.
What I have learned from this book:
1. Open adoption can help minimize acting out by teens. Junior high through high school is already a weird time for a kid because they are trying to figure out what they’re about and who they belong with socially. I can imagine that if an adopted kid didn’t have contact with his birthparents or know where he came from, this could send his life into a little bit of a tail spin. I have learned that during this time, an adopted teen may feel rejection from his birthparents and try to recreate that feeling or event by acting out and pushing the boundaries and rules set in place by his parents. An open adoption can help mitigate against this because over time he would have learned that he was not rejected, but placed out of love.
2. Children grieve as well. As birthparents grieve the placement of their child and adoptive parents grieve their loss of fertility, adopted children also grieve the loss of their birthparents. Even in an open adoption children and teens still grieve. I have learned that this is normal and it is important that as parents, we talk about it with our children.
3. Knowing the birthparents can help the adoptive parents understand their child better. The constant birthparent contact that open adoptions provide can help adoptive parents understand what makes their child “tick.” Whether it is motivation or certain personality traits, by understanding the birthparents and how they “tick”, this gives the adoptive parents an advantage on how to better understand the mind of their child.
4. Adoption professionals can sometimes have trouble letting go of a case. To me this was very interesting. The entire adoption process revolves around the birthparents, adoptive parents and the child (the “triad”). But the adoption professional puts a lot of work into the case as well. This makes me feel good because this means that the professional truly cares for the lives of the individuals that are counseling and guiding through this process.