Monday, April 15, 2013

Myth: Openness Fades With Time

Myth Busting Monday

One of the biggest reasons I decided to start blogging again is because I want to normalize the adoption experience for my family and especially my children.  I am frequently asked many questions regarding adoption, which I welcome.  Much of the time these questions originate in misconception or myth, this is my effort to remedy (at least a little) these misunderstandings.  I have found that many times all that is needed is education.  While I do not consider myself an expert, I choose to write from my own experience backed by research when available.

While my experience is no, openness in adoption does not fade or at least it does not have to I sadly know of many open adoptions that have faded and eventually lost track of one another.  The reasons why are as varied as the people involved in them and I cannot possibly address all of those reasons here.

For me, I hope the relationships we are building with our boy’s birth parents continue to grow and become a support to them in the future.  For me, my dad’s last birthday was evidence of that for him.

My dad on his 60th birthday!
My mom and dad were here last week when my dad turned 60.  We spend the early morning talking about his life and all that he has done and all that he would still like to do.  His phone rang for the first time that day and I was sure it was one of my brothers, but when I heard him say, “Can you believe you have a son that is 60?” I was surprised thinking my grandma would be calling so early.  A few minutes into hearing half the conversation I knew it must be Joe, his birth father.  It made me smile.  They talked about kids and jobs and my dad’s birth mother and 20 minutes later ended with, “I hope to get out to see you this year.”

When they hung up my dad and I were able to have a long conversation about the openness of his adoption that took place in the 1950’s!!  How unusual it was and how secure my grandparents were but mostly how much Joe really loved my dad and what a blessing having him in his life was.  It wasn’t always flowers and candy and we talked about how at times my grandparents had to set some boundaries and even how when my dad was grown there were times of hurt feelings after things were said with both his parents and birth parents.  But there was a connection there.  A place to go for answers, a place for understanding of why when before he went to kindergarten his name changed from Joe to Tom and hundred other whys.  Even though my dad is not at all the gushy type, there is another person in the world who thinks of him and remembers him on his special days.  I think my dad appreciates that even if he would never say it.

Having my dad as a reference to go to when it comes to being “the adoptee” is a tremendous advantage for me.  While I am the uber-gushy type, he is more rough around the edges and it helps me balance out how my boys may feel in the future about some of the decisions we make for them now.  My dad is always thinking of them first when it comes to the tough decisions Steve and I take to him at times.  While I am typically trying to weigh everyone’s feelings and interests (which is impossibly difficult in open adoptions) my dad always brings us back to Zad and Ike and thinking of their needs and possible future desires first.  It’s invaluable advice and wisdom I don’t have yet but am gaining as we try to predict what the future of their lives will be like with a lot of extended family.

Recently, I was talking about openness with a new friend when she asked, “So how long are you going to do that for?”  I was honestly taken back.  It was not a question I had ever received much less even thought about.  All I could say was, “For forever!”  I had never considered anything else.  After my dad’s birthday I found myself answering her in my head in a different way, “Is 60 years too long?”  I sure hope not!  I would love to know that someday my kids are getting phone calls on their 60th birthdays from the parents who first loved them.

All of my dad's posterity on his 60th!