Open Adoption Roundtable #33 - What did you learn about open adoption in 2011?

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.



Five Things I Learned about Open Adoption in 2011:

1.  OA is for us.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was a little on the fence when I started thinking about open adoption and the more I read about it, thanks to Heather and Lori, and thanksgivingmom, the more I was amenable to the idea.  By the time we were matched, I would have had a difficult time coming to terms with a first mom who didn’t want contact.

2.  We will be fighting stereotypes forever.  The stereotypical first-mom is a teenager/alcoholic/drug abuser/welfare …yada yada yada.  All these negative stereotypes have hung on for years, yet this isn’t always the case, or even, hardly the case.  I can tell that our close circle was trying to figure out which one of these stereotypes C fits into by asking leading questions, but we didn't share, and thankfully they dropped it.  It’s not about why she placed*, it’s about building our family and including her.   (*For them, they don't need to know.  Baby X is a different story)

3.  Unless you’ve been there, done that, you don’t get it.   I was asked once if we would keep contact with C after finalization.  It just goes to show that no matter how much you casually mention that you're meeting with your son's first-mom on such and such a day, it's difficult for others to fathom a relationship like ours. 

4.  It’s up to the adoptive parents to do the heavy lifting.  First-parents get the short end of the stick when it comes to adoption.  They are often written off as horrible people, after all who would give away their baby?  The horrors!  That’s not true, but if you’re hearing from home, from your friends, from society in general to forget about the baby and move on, wouldn’t you feel tentative about initiating conversations with the adoptive parents?  It’s up to the adoptive parents to reach out and indicate that contact is welcome.  

5.  It's like any other new relationship.  We've recently had our third visit with C, and little by little, the visits are becoming more comfortable.  We've exchanged e-mail addresses and have more direct contact without constant agency intervention.  I look forward to seeing her and finding out what's going on in her life, and learning more about her culture.  Baby steps...