Wednesday, 30 May 2012

open minds

Let's talk about "openness". When we talk to people about our plans to adopt they often seemed a little shocked and concerned when we say that we want an open adoption.
What does openness mean? It means that our child/children will have some contact with people from their past. This contact may just be a letter passed through a social worker once a year or it could mean bi-weekly visits. It depends on the situation.
Who are the people we would be "open" with? They could include our children's birth-mom, birth-dad, birth-grandparents, birth-siblings (if we are not able to adopt them), step siblings, foster moms, foster dads, foster siblings, birth or foster aunts, uncles cousins, family friends... the list goes on!
Why is openness important? Here is one reason. There are certain things that we can pass on to our children; our love for organic produce, the fact that turning on "the radio" means turning on CBC radio 1, laughing for hours at re-runs of old, BBC comedies. All the those boring things that make AH and I our own family. There are many other things that we will not be passing on to our children; our height, our eye colour, our hair colour, our genetic abnormalities, our genetic "abilities". These things will come from the birth parents, the people who share DNA with our children. It is important that we give our children the opportunity (if we can) to see where they come from so they can form a healthy identity.
Won't our kids get confused about who their parents are? The simple answer is "no". They know that they were not born to us. Even if we adopt a baby, we will make no secret of that. They will also know that families are formed in different ways. Just because I did not give birth to them, does not mean that I am not their mommy. If birth-parent information is withheld from children they will often fantasise about the "perfect parents" they never got to know. Or they might feel like they were not lovable enough for their birth parent to parent them. If kids are able to see that their birth parents are loving but troubled people, it can help them understand the situation a lot better.
Why openness with foster family or other important people? That one is pretty simple. Imagine you have lived on earth for 4 years. There are people who have tucked you in every night, kissed your boo-boos and fed you your favourite meals. They weren't able to be your "forever family" but they showed you love and you loved them very much. One day, you meet some strangers who call themselves Mommy and Daddy. Eventually these strangers take you home and you never see those other loving people again. Wouldn't it be nicer if your new Mommy and Daddy invited those people to visit, to show that your feelings are important and the people you love are important too? You'd probably trust your new Mommy and Daddy a lot more and bond with them a lot faster.
I've also heard it's nice to have the support of people who have "parented" your children before you. They can help you figure out what makes your child "tick".
So as if we didn't already have large extended families here we are adding potentially hundreds of people (once we factor in cousins and the like). Oh well, the more the merrier!

Here are some "pros and cons" of open adoptions:

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