Since open adoption has been occupying a huge proportion of my brain space these few weeks, I was happy to hear that NPR has been doing a week-long series called Adoption in America.
They look at domestic, international, transracial, closed and open adoption from everyone’s perspectives. This morning, at the end of the series, they read a letter from a listener who relinquished her daughter in an open-in-theory/mostly-closed-in-reality (the first mom’s choice) adoption when she was 17. Now her daughter is 17, and she has been using the internet – including MySpace – for the past few years to quietly track her daughter’s progress. She didn’t want to interfere with her daughter’s life and so has hesitated to make contact, but recently read on her daughter’s MySpace page that she wants to meet her birthparents.
I feel breathless for this mom, and for her daughter. I wonder what it must have felt like to read that on her daughter’s MySpace page, after 17 years of keeping her distance?
All week I’ve been talking with my co-workers about seeing Roo’s first family. Their questions are a reminder for me of how many people without experience with open adoption think about it: Did you let his birthmother hold him? At what point can she no longer change her mind about the adoption? Weren’t you afraid when she saw him she would change her mind? Don’t you feel threatened by them? Was it sad that he looked like them and not like you?
I’m okay with these questions, though it makes me a little sad that those are the questions people need to ask. There’s a lot of work to be done here, clearly, but I’m happy to do it. I feel like it’s something we knew we were taking on when we decided to build our family this way.
Yesterday, though, I got a totally different kind of response from another co-worker who was asking me about how the visit went. I told her, and she wrote back with this story:
I have a very dear friend who adopted both of her daughters (now adults). The eldest went and “found” her birth mother several years ago after many many years of searching (with adopted mamma, one of my best friends, support). Well. she’s getting married in september and the invitation reads something like this:
adopted parents names
birth parents names
joyfully invite you to join us for the marriage of
son of so and so.
It is the most beautiful invitation (just because of the wording) that I have ever seen. To witness two families coming together in the love of one child….. I can’t explain it. Anyway… the point is: YOU GO FOR IT.