Adoptees, adoptive parents, Domestic Adoption, new fathers, new mothers, Open Adoption, Parenting

Adoption, When Familes & Friends “Just Don’t Get It”

BABY Karen Sotck - c girl-hands on chin croppedAfter bringing home baby, you snap more photos than the paparazzi, catch a wink of sleep every few days, and you “ahh” and “ooh” over every little thing your precious bundle of joy does. —just as any new parent would. 

Once, twice, or maybe even several times a year, you’ll spend a day traveling to meet the woman who gave birth to your beautiful baby boy. You’ll chat over coffee as he plays in the park, you’ll share a meal while flipping through the “too many” photos you took. You’ll talk about the first time he discovers his toes, or eats (throws) cheerios, his curiosity and his contagious laugh.

You share a love for this boy that only a mother would know. It’s actually not so strange to you. He will know where he came from, he won’t have to leave medical records blank, he can ask the questions he needs answered, and he will see how much his birthparents loved him. You know there will be difficult times ahead, life moves too fast to predict a perfect future.

But it’s not the open adoption that’s difficult; you cherish your moments with his birthparents, when his parents are all together. It’s when you come home to the neighbor asking questions, grandparents badgering, or anyone else who simply doesn’t get it.

We recently posed this question on Facebook. Sometimes, it’s one of the biggest hurdles for adoptive parents bringing home their baby. “For those with open adoption… what advice would you give prospective adoptive parents who is having trouble with family members not understanding the concept of open adoption and cannot see that the benefits outweigh the risks?”

Dina:Educate if they are open to it. Discuss the varying degrees of open adoption. Sometimes though there will be people who just don’t get it and educating is of no use. Have them read the book Adoption Is a Family Affair!: What Relatives and Friends Must Know by Pat Irwin Johnson. We suggested it to family members but not really sure if it was ever read. I myself read (and gave my hubby a cliffs notes version) it was helpful.

Erin: Put themselves in the child’s shoes. Ask them how they would feel to not know who they came from, etc… There are so many articles about the effects of closed adoptions.

Tony:  Right – ultimately it will diffuse the whole subject with the child down the road.

Michelle: Tell them that being “open” about everything including knowing his/hers birth parents/family is beneficial for everyone. Hopefully, the child doesn’t have abandonment issues, the openness allows for communication about medical issues or other things. AND what people need to understand is the “openness” has varying degrees from being great friends to minimal contact of meeting once a year and a note with photos once a year. Our son’s birthmother chooses to not have much contact with us, but we’d love to meet her sometime. If we felt comfortable with her we’d definitely have more contact with her.

AFTH also recommends sharing with family and friends this fabulous book written by Elisabeth O’Toole. One adoption social worker called, In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You to Know, “the adoption book for everyone else”: the grandparents and friends, neighbors and colleagues, aunts and uncles, teachers and caregivers of adoptive families. In On It contains helpful advice and instructive anecdotes from adoptive parents, adult adoptees, adoption professionals, and the friends and relatives of already established adoptive families. The author, an adoptive parent herself, writes an informative, friendly and very useful adoption guide that informs and enlightens readers even as it offers them a warm welcome into adoption.

Feel free to share your stories and comments with us on our Facebookpage!

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