The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.
How did you talk to your extended family about open adoption
prior to adopting/placing? How did they respond? For those with
non-receptive family members, were you able to have more successful
discussions with them post-adoption?
When I decided to make an adoption plan for my unborn son I had the privilege of having known a birthmom with a very open adoption. It was really her example(unintentional by her admission) that showed me that what open adoption could be like with visits and being a part of each others lives like extended family. So... with this in mind I looked through and found what I believed was the pre-adoptive couple that had the most positive attitude towards openness in their profile(believe it or not some couples actually state that they are uncomfortable with contact after placement, but it's good to be honest) and had to talk everyone into my idea of open adoption, even my son's birth dad, Jacob(especially so)
To this day my family is unwilling to participate activity in the open adoption I experience.
They could have come with me to visit him with me, I asked and Parker's adoptive parents were fine with the idea of my family coming to see them all, but they claim so many weak excuses that I've given up asking if they want to come with me to a visit.
I do appreciate that they listen when I talk about him, but often they have little patience for anything I talk about, not just my son, but my personal interests and experiences all seem to be of little or no interest to them. My sister and mom put out pictures of him together with all the others of my nieces and nephews(and my sisters nephews and niece so he is a part of the family 'landscape' so to speak.
But often, when I talk about him, excited about something I just learned, he lost a tooth, he has joined a karate club or even that he got sick or was bullied at school or even when I show them pictures at first the expressions on their faces are blank confusion and my mom will often ask "Who is that boy?"
Maybe she thinks I'm talking about a child I cared for at church or a child of a friend or something like that, and then when I explain they suddenly roll their eyes and get that bored look on their faces as if they want to say "This again!! Aren't you done with all this stuff?" Not that they would ever say that, it's just their attitude.
Anything that is not a tactile part of their lives seem completely irrelevant to my family for the most part.
I understand, I often live this way too, finding it hard to care about things that don't directly effect me, but I realize that is a bad attitude and I'm working on changing that about myself.
It's obviously too much work to actually involve themselves in my life or anything my life is about, they are far too wrapped up in their own troubles to pay attention to me, for the most part.
My sister who is a mother(I have 2, one just lives with a guy, but one is married with 3 kids) seems to have slightly more patience for listening to me talk about Parker, but that was mostly in the beginning. Now there are issues in her life that seem to prevent her from remembering to care about anyone else but herself, and sometimes her kids. Such is life, it's hard for me to get people to care about what I care about.
It has always been that way for me, and even though it will always bother me, it's nothing new.
I have to say, even though the question was about family, the response from coworkers was even worse than plain disinterest. Many of the older people I worked with were actually opposed to the idea of open adoption and thought it damaging to both me and my sons adoptive family. They were quite narrow minded in that respect. So I guess I should be grateful that my family isn't opposed to open adoption, they don't care what I do, as long as they don't have to do anything but maybe put out a few pictures and listen to me for a while. They may think it's pointless to continue visiting my son when I can't be his mom, but they think much of what I do is pointless(even stupid ... ie: my christian faith) and I think much of what they do is also pointless and stupid(ie: buying expensive things they can't afford, investing in get-rich-quick schemes, etc)
So.. it goes both ways I suppose and is much the way my family might always be.