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What is a Successful Open Adoption?

Posted Feb 28 2010 6:59am

I am participating in Heather’s Open Adoption Roundtable .

For this round Lori of Weebles Wobblog reached back through time to a post I wrote  these many months ago after spending an afternoon with my daughter’s first mom. In it, I wondered aloud if there was a common definition of a successful open adoption. Is it even possible to define, given the myriad factors involved? Here’s how Lori poses the question:

If there’s one thing we all might agree on, it’s that we’d like our open adoptions to be successful. But what does “success” mean to you, when speaking about open adoption? Do you think it may mean something else to the others in your triad?

For me, this is all in the fantasy stage because my partner and I are still waiting for our home to get certified as an adoptive home in our state. We are pre-adoptive parents in the very early stages of our process.

That said, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what type of relationship I would want with my child’s birthmother. And, I have to admit that my fantasies range from light to dark.

No matter what mood I am in, I always fantasize about my child feeling confident, very loved and happy. I want my child to know where he or she came from to understands that open adoption is path we all choose out of love for her.

The ideal arrangement for me is includes some contact with the birth mother, maybe three times a year. We would send pictures more regularly but then see  her in-person three times a year. I imagine that those visits would feel like spending time with a distant relative, where I feel affection but have  definite sense of boundaries. The mantra would be something like this: “you have your life and I have mine.”

On darker days, I imagine that I could feel threatened by the birth mom; especially, since I really wanted to give birth to my own child. I sometimes ask myself, ‘how will I feel knowing that this woman had the in utero connection that I desperately wanted but was not able to achieve?” And I don’t have an answer to that. I’m not proud of this but when I get into that space, I imagine myself feeling very protective and not being that forthcoming as I should be about my child’s interest and quirks.  

Nadia, my partner, on the other hand, is very, very committed and interested in having an open relationship with our child’s birth mom. She would be very open to monthly visits, and thinks it would be great if the birth mom would live close enough and be together enough to babysit. My reaction to that is “yikes”.

So Nadia and I have a lot to work out between us and then we are going to add another family into the mix. This will be “interesting.”

I guess success, then, would achieved once we adopt and are able to navigate all of the murky waters adeptly so that all of the parties involved feel satisfied. Success for me would mean that we could all feel good about our arrangement, that our child would feel loved, and that our child would have a clear sense of where she came from and where she is going.

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