In this series, I will explore some of the truths about adoption that I have discovered as an adoptee and now an adoptive mother of two girls. I recognize that every adoption experience is unique, and this is just an attempt to share my experiences. If you missed part 1 of this series, you can find it here.
Birth Family Relationships can be Complicated
I am very thankful to have a good relationship with one of my daughters’ birth families. We have lost touch with the other one’s family and it absolutely breaks my heart.
Even when everyone is agreeable and gets along, the birth family/adoptive family relationship can get complicated. As an adoptive mother, I have worried that one of my children would decide that they really preferred their other mother over me. I have worried about our birth families judging the way that we parent. I have tried to put on a “perfect” face for them just to prove to them that we really do love their daughters. But of course the truth is that, like any other family, we are flawed at best and really screwed up at worst.
It is important to have boundaries with the birth family, but it is also important that they know that they are loved and welcome. The birth family truly becomes part of your family.
I have made many mistakes with our birth families that I deeply regret. The truth is that when we adopted our oldest I was in my very early 20’s and now parenting an 8 year old. I wish that someone would have given me advice on forming a relationship with her mom, but no one did. Though it is challenging, it is worth it.
Open Adoption is Almost Always the Better Choice
The one situation that I would say closed adoption may be best is if there has been severe abuse at the hands of the birth family. If your child is not safe with them, then of course what kind of relationship you can safely have is going to be challenging.
I was adopted as an infant in a private, closed adoption. Thankfully, I have always felt 100 percent like I was a member of my family and have not had any major identity issues; however, I do wish that open adoption had been the norm in the 80’s. I spent many, many hours as a child dreaming of who my birth mother could be (and always somehow decided that it must be Amy Grant).
Closed adoption creates secrecy where there doesn’t need to be any. As adoptive parents, we need to be open and proud of where our children have come from. We need to affirm their history and answer the questions that they have about their identity. The best way to do this is to maintain some kind of relationship with the birth family. Although it may be challenging, it is almost always best.
The Emptiness of Infertility May Stick Around
When a couple has struggled with infertility for any length of time, a deep and painful wound can be created. And although adoption can be a beautiful way to create a family, it is not necessarily a “cure” for the pain that infertility causes.
I highly recommend that any couple who has struggled with infertility seek counseling before pursuing any kind of adoption. The pain that has been caused by infertility needs to be addressed and dealt with before welcoming an adoptive child into the family.
An adoptive child is not a “replacement” for a biological child and should not be viewed as such. They are not a “second choice.” Again, adoption is a wonderful way to create a family, but the wounds of infertility need to be dealt with first.
I’d love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.