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Frank Talk about Open Adoption

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Seems like its MY job to nuture and grow Gabe and Parker's relationships with their birth families.........and I hope that they will always be connected and know that they are loved ...and that's an everyday part our world ...and would be a healthy part of all families created thru adoption. Even if the birth famliles choose not to particiate at any point in time, it s the job of the adoptive families to share and nuture what they do know with their children, AND keep the door open for birth families should they later make a different choice. its just MOP <_<

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I love the list!!

I may have to print it off and share it.

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Don't wait to give your son or daughter that which (and who) belonged to them from the very beginning.

"J" sent a gift back with us for little "J." She wanted her to have it so a photo of her could be placed in it. I assured "J" we would be sure to take a photo of her to place in it. Actually, we took several photos during our visit so we already have more than one to choose from. She also personally wrote a message to her daughter in it. We are going to talk to Brian's mom about the best way to hang or place this item in little "J's" room. When "J" handed it to me, she said "I know it's pink." Even though it stands out from the nursery theme, we told "J" it did not matter. We would take it and place it in little "J's" room for her. We will be proud to tell little "J" about "J" :)

Cathy

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Elizabeth, your post about not delaying contact between adopted children and their biological parents is inspiring. It IS our job and responsibility to our children to keep these doors open. However, it's not always so easy..... In our family, our doors, and arms, and phone line, and mailbox has always been open to all three of our childrens birthparents should they chose to contact and develop a closer relationship with their biological children/our family. We've fulfilled our promises to send letters and photos. We yearn for more contact, but it's just not happening. I guess we can just never stop trying to reach out!

Just my Thoughts,

Tamra

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Elizabeth, your post about not delaying contact between adopted children and their biological parents is inspiring. It IS our job and responsibility to our children to keep these doors open. However, it's not always so easy....

I agree, Tami. And I do think that part of the difficulty, for adoptive parents in open adoptions, is helping the child understand the lack of available access when it is strongly desired by only one party. Finding a way to keep the birthfamily "real" to the child who has little opportunity to meet them for reasons beyond your control is a challenge. It's still essential, though, because it provides your child with invaluable assurance that thinking and talking and having feelings about their birthparents is totally "ok" with Mom and Dad!

The initial relationship, in every open adoption plan, is between the adults. If, for whatever reason, not all of those adults are able to sustain contact, then I believe it falls to the adults responsible for the child's daily welfare to ensure that the child has ongoing access to all available information about the absent party, to help assure them that this absence is not a reflection of their interest in nor regard for the child, and to help instill in that child positive feelings about those who are not currently able or willing to be in contact. That's the best that any parent can do, under such circumstances.

What concerns me most are those folks (yes, even within Abrazo's placement program!) who promised at placement to start telling their child their adoption story from Day One, yet contact us years later for advice on how to tell that child they were adopted, or how to tell the child who the birthparents are, "once they start asking" about it?!

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I agree - I love it to and it does provide some good talking points I think to help us help others become more comfortable -thanks for sharing it

I love the list!!

I may have to print it off and share it.

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For those of you who have watched the Hallmark special. When I was in the room talking to Barbara, about "changing my mind" I wasn't changing my mind about placing the triplets. I was thinking a closed adoption would be better! In fact I remember being so Angry at one point I called Elizabeth, told her I wanted to sign relinquishment RIGHT THen so I could just leave.

Well that didn't happen. And as we all know I'm VERY involved in all of my BK's lifes. Im sure it's harder for some birthmothers thna it is for me, especially those who have never been involved with anything adoption wise. There is no "set reaction" or "set standard" with how birthparents should act, or even be involved at a later point.

One of my BP friends is only in contact with their BK by email currently, because the BP feels they don't understand what the "role" of a BP is. I told them that that is between the BP and the AP's no one else. And it's in the best interest of the child!

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The initial relationship, in every open adoption plan, is between the adults. If, for whatever reason, not all of those adults are able to sustain contact, then I believe it falls to the adults responsible for the child's daily welfare to ensure that the child has ongoing access to all available information about the absent party, to help assure them that this absence is not a reflection of their interest in nor regard for the child, and to help instill in that child positive feelings about those who are not currently able or willing to be in contact. That's the best that any parent can do, under such circumstances.

I have been wondering about this subject lately. Katelyn's birthmother seems to not want contact. Emelie's birthmother writes to us occasionaly and we write back. I would really like to open our relationship with Emelie's birthmother but I wonder what is best for Emelie. There have been issues but I've been longing to connect. Emelie still does not grasp the concept of adoption and her birthmother is very sensitive and I worry that she may feel rejected if Emelie does not remember her. Of course we have contact with Brayden's birthfamily as much as possible. I think when you start out with a semi-open adoption it is harder to open the relationship.

Do I frame a picture of their birthmother's? Is it a sad reminder to Katelyn that her birthmother is too scared to have a relationship? If one relationship is more open with one than another does that add salt to the wound?

What our your experiences?

Heather :)

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Do I frame a picture of their birthmother's? Is it a sad reminder to Katelyn that her birthmother is too scared to have a relationship? If one relationship is more open with one than another does that add salt to the wound?

I'm hoping you get some answers from the "real life experts" out there... my guess is that most adoptees would advise you that "out of sight doesn't mean out of mind" so framing the photos just acknowledges that those women are important to you, too, whether or not they're currently able to be physically present in your lives?

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Just an idea, When Fiona's parents were thinking about adopting from China (they have since changed their minds) I was going to be a surrogate BP to the new little girl!! I know quite a few people have done this when one childs BP isn't involved, and the other's BP steps in. Just an idea??

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Elizabeth-

Pardon my thinking out loud..BUT does or has Abrazo ever decided NOT to work with a birth family not open to the idea of an OPEN relationship and on going contact ? And how do you help birth families "open up"? I know that life situations sometimes get in the way - but ....how do you help people in this type of stressful situation change what might be a set of "fixed ideas"...just wondering

heidi

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There are so many good thoughts here. A few ones I want to add...

-Question for those with more knowledge...When BP do not want contact, what are some of the reasons? I wonder if it is like the journey AP take in learning about the benefits of open adoption.... Like Heidi I wonder what can be done to help BP on this.

-We have been telling the twins from the time they were in the NICU that they are adopted and who their birth parents and other extended birth family members (and they met many of the extended members too!). The list gets quite long (in a good way) when we tell them about all the people who love them in this world!!).

-For those of you who have older children, what have been some of your best book resources for you in continuing to tell your children about their adoption? We have the book "20 Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" and have found that very helpful but I am always looking for more resources. What is your favorite?

-I love the list too and think that is very thought provoking (as usual Elizabeth!).

-The idea of framing a photo is beautiful. The twins loving BP and BF, though not together anymore, went to have a photo taken together so we could have it for them. I also treasure the photos we have of them with Jon and me. That is going in a frame too!

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-For those of you who have older children, what have been some of your best book resources for you in continuing to tell your children about their adoption? We have the book "20 Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" and have found that very helpful but I am always looking for more resources. What is your favorite?

-The idea of framing a photo is beautiful. The twins loving BP and BF, though not together anymore, went to have a photo taken together so we could have it for them. I also treasure the photos we have of them with Jon and me. That is going in a frame too!

I think you said it best..."continuity" is the key! It's easy to become complacent while your children are little and therefore do not understand what you are saying to them, however it's great practice time for Mom and Dad. And your child will have always heard about their adoption from day 1. Julie, I have read lots of books, I cannot say that one stood out over the other (for me). My advice is to read everything. And knowledge is gained from so many different sources, one of the best is this forum.

Even those that did not know about open adoption before, can start slowly with your child. A framed picture shows your child the importance of their birthparents and that you are open enough to not only share it with your child but want to proudly display the photo(s) in your home. It might help to create more moments with your child where you can talk about their adoption. Heather, even if openness is not possible right now, you can begin the groundwork in hopes of future contact. So if and when your child is able to establish some contact, it will be as positive and comfortable as possible, due to your efforts on behalf of Katelyn.

And as great as "openness" is for our child, nothing takes away their painful awareness that they were once adopted. Your child will grieve this over and over, many times. However, they will not have to do it alone, they have a family who is open enough to feel it with them, who will go the extra mile to maintain contact or at least open doors for them, who realize that this knowledge of their beginnings and acknowledgement of their first family...makes possibly for a softer landing... when your child feels like nobody understands.

Karen

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Great list Elizabeth. I am still waiting for Lindsay to decide when it is the "right" time for contact with us. And she will be 14 in June. And I was told exactly what you said "we are waiting for her to tell us when she is ready". UGHHH!!! It was the same with Charlie. Apparently he was ready just afraid to say anything because he was caught snooping around looking for information and found letters and pictures of us. That is how he found out he had bio brothers and sisters. What a shock that must have been. And I would of hated to have been his mother and had to "explain"it all. Also Charlie has been in a little trouble lately and it makes me wonder if it is just teenage trouble or related to emotions because of being adopted and finding out about all of this. Is he rebelling or just being a teenager? Not sure what to think at this point. Maybe if I had been in contact his whole life I would understand it more. Who can say. The past can't be changed but other AP's and BP's can surely learn from my situation as what NOT to do.

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Thank you Karen you have brought some thoughts I had into better understanding. All I want are my kids to have those hopefully positive relationships with their birthfamilies because they need to know who loves them and thinks about them all the time.

Heather :)

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Pardon my thinking out loud..BUT does or has Abrazo ever decided NOT to work with a birth family not open to the idea of an OPEN relationship and on going contact ? And how do you help birth families "open up"? I know that life situations sometimes get in the way - but ....how do you help people in this type of stressful situation change what might be a set of "fixed ideas"...just wondering

Very, very rarely do we ever have women contact us who refuse to consider open adoption. Most prospective birthparents are comforted by the thought of knowing who their baby will be growing up with; few, however, can gauge in advance how they'll be affected by the grief afterwards, and thus no one ever really knows beforehand how they'll feel about ongoing contact. (Some feel such shame about placing that they don't feel "worthy" of maintaining communication afterwards, but usually, educating them about adoptees' needs helps change this.)

So, no: the only time Abrazo refuses to work with those not 'open to openness' is when we suspect it's motivated by a lack of genuine intent to place (i.e., they won't consider openness because they know they're not really going to place and therefore, they don't want to get too involved with the folks they'd be hurting/scamming.)

The greater problem with getting birthfamilies to "open up" before placement is not wanting to "set them up" for failure and heartache if our adoptive families don't keep their promises afterwards (see The Inequity of Open Adoption Relationships under the Heart to Heart thread.) We can't promise birthparents that ongoing contact agreements will be honored anymore than we can promise adoptive families, because the laws don't enable us to enforce this after finalization.

But getting birthparents to "open up" after finalization, when adoptive families seek our help facilitating reconnection, is usually just a matter of helping them face unresolved grief and loss issues, and assuring them of the adopted parents' desire and the adopted child's need to have them involved in their life in a continuing way.

(Julie, you also raised some really good questions, so for those who may be reading this reply, please scroll back up to see Julie's post (and Heather's, too) and offer some feedback to the questions they've raised!!)

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Do I frame a picture of their birthmother's?

What our your experiences?

Heather :)

Heather -- We haven't heard from our birthmother in five years now, but we do have two framed pictures of her on our family picture wall. Our girls are 10, 9, and 6-1/2, and they do occasionally ask about "C" and where she is and what she is doing and why she doesn't call (in contrast to our birthfather, who does call fairly regularly). In our circumstance, we thought it better to put up pictures of "C", even though she's been MIA for a while now, so that WHEN (not IF!) she does contact us, the girls will "know" her as much as is humanly possible for now. To date, having the pictures up has not been a "sad" reminder for any of our daughters, just as having pictures up of cousins and nieces that we don't see very often aren't sad reminders either. "C's" picture is just a part of the mix of all our many relatives that we have hanging on the wall.

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There are so many good thoughts here. A few ones I want to add...

-Question for those with more knowledge...When BP do not want contact, what are some of the reasons? I wonder if it is like the journey AP take in learning about the benefits of open adoption.... Like Heidi I wonder what can be done to help BP on this.

My reasoning was this (when I was thinking I might want no contact) It is a VERY painful ordeal for a birthparent to go through the whole adoption process. ANd I at the time didn't want the constant reminder of all that pain. But then of course, I decided open adoption was for the best and I decided to keep the open agreement!

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