Open vs. Closed adoption. Those are words that are more familiar to my husband and me, because we have been on this adoption journey for about 5 years (or more) and have had lots of conversations with people about the terms. Our extended family, and our kids, are starting to understand the terms better than most these days. Our first adoption, 4 years ago, was technically closed. We met birthmom and had lunch and photos when we got Precious. After that, birthmom did not want ongoing contact, other than through the agency. We still send photos and letters on a schedule to her and we still hope she gets them. I still always write that if she would like to have more open contact, that would be fine with us. She hasn’t responded to that yet.
Why? Why would I desire more communication with birthmom, when as it stands, we get Precious all to ourselves…..well, for lots of reasons, really. Precious has some quirks and personality traits and I am curious about their origin. Are they things that are passed down, or learned? As we raise children, we are always struck by nature vs. nurture….and its even more pronounced with adopted kids. On days she is sad or mad at me, it would be awesome if we could call birthmom and have a conversation with her about it, maybe let P hear her voice and reassure her…..maybe.
This second adoption is open. VERY open. It’s not finalized yet, but in the mean time, since birthmom voluntarily placed him with us, we have had lots of contact. Today alone, I spoke with her twice but there were a half dozen missed calls between the actual conversations. Once she wanted to put baby Joe on the phone so she could talk to him. He’s 9 months old, so he mostly just tried to eat the phone but it healed something in her heart to be able to speak to him and know he heard her voice. She calls when she is having a bad day. She calls when she needs a favor. She calls with silly little anecdotes about her day. While I was mothering her son today, I think I was mothering her as well.
For us, closed adoption means lots of unanswered questions and mystery grief. Open adoption means lots of disclosure and the ability to answer questions daily….and frequent disruption and immediate awareness of a birth mom’s pain. I don’t see how one is better or worse than the other, really, but they are very different paths. It’s going to take some time for us to figure out how to walk both paths simultaneously I think.