openness

October 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

In the midst of some research, I came across an unsettling statistic. 80% of open adoptions become closed. I’ve seen this statistic in many different places now, but it is never cited or verified. I don’t believe that this is as ubiquitous as the Internet claims; someone probably came up with it and everyone started passing it around. It sounds too high. But still, it filled me with anxiety.

What would I do if your parents cut off contact with us? We have not had any contact since David and I left the hospital. The adoption is “semi-open.” Really, as they say, that means “semi-closed.” Everything is mediated through the agency, so neither of us have identifying information about each other.

This is a bit of a joke to me though, because my son’s adoptive parents are high-profile and a quick Google search revealed their last name, address, phone number, and e-mail. Of course I would not use this information in any way.

Our contact will be so infrequent. Pictures and letters every six months. And that’s all. I never thought about it before until it became a reality. How many pictures will we get? A few of you at six months old, or will I be blessed enough to get dozens of photos depicting all the time in between? And what kind of letter? Would they write to me as an equal, as someone who cares about nothing but your well-being and would die to see you again, or would I receive the equivalent of a family Christmas card? “2012 has been another fantastic year, we were able to squeeze in some traveling, the parade was a great experience, the little one is thriving in his day care, we will be remodeling our home with our much-deserved Christmas bonuses, Happy New Year.”

I couldn’t bear such breezy detachment. I want details of the good, bad, and mundane. My body grew yours and yet I have no more rights to you than a stranger would. In fact, I have less. Strangers can interact with you and your parents, and no one would feel threatened. If I requested more contact than we have, if I admitted my grief and regret, if I came across as anything but grateful for the happy life (I hope) you will have, the results could be cataclysmic. I would be seen as unstable and overstepping boundaries. It could be concluded that maintaining contact with me is not in your best interest. They have all the power. The contact that was agreed upon is not legally enforceable and if they abruptly shut me out forever, there is nothing anyone could do. And even if I had the privilege of seeing you again as an adult, what then? Your parents could have told you that I didn’t love you enough to stay in touch, I dumped you and started a new life for myself. They could impart any number of horrific lies, and you would despise me, and I couldn’t expect to tell the truth and have you believe me. I would never wish to pit you against your parents like that either.

I don’t know anything for certain, except that I cannot take any risks. I’m not allowed to have any expectations. I’ll always be careful with what I say, my love. This is all I have left.

There’s so much I would like to say to your parents. How can you live with yourselves? How can you build your family from someone else’s loss? How can you pretend my baby is yours? Do you ever think of me and David, or were we just the necessary faces to smile at to get what you wanted? Do you even realize? Do you even care?

The basic premise of adoption, of someone else assuming parental rights and responsibilities over another’s child, never seemed strange to me. Now that it has happened to my child, it does. It seems unnatural and wrong. A child who needs a home, I can wrap my mind around that. A home that needs a child, I cannot.

I know I have no right to feel the way I do, but I do.

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§ One Response to openness

  • “A child who needs a home, I can wrap my mind around that. A home that needs a child, I cannot.”

    You’ve nailed the exact problem with modern adoption. It *should* be about children that need families, not families that need children.

    You have EVERY right to feel this way. Every right.

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