Open adoption (or lack therof) and all the feels

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Adoption stories hold a special place in my heart. Writing down the happy, sad and scary parts of my life as an adoptive parent gives me a way to connect with others and to process things I’m feeling. For me, adoption writing is a mixture of hobby and catharsis.

Naturally, I’m interested in the stories of other “China families.” It helps me to feel connected and I like seeing the common threads that bind us together as well as seeing how we’re all so different.

I like reading stories how families are touched by foster care, domestic adoption and other international programs. The birth parent perspective and the adoptee’s perspective are ones I’ve come to deeply respect. I think most of us who write about our personal adoption experiences write from the heart and genuinely enjoy the connection it brings.

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If you’re a newer reader, I participate in #AdoptionTalk every first and third Thursday. I link up my blog with four other incredibly cool women and we all write different stories off the same prompt and invite others to join us. If you’re connected to adoption, we’d love to have you come and join us as a reader or link up something of your own. If you’re not connected to adoption but know someone who is, I welcome you to share this post with them. If ever you’re confused about the technical mumbo jumbo as far as linking up your posts go, just ask me (or maybe ask one of the other hosts because they’re all smarter than me when it comes to that kind of stuff.)

So today’s prompt is “openness in adoption” which is something I struggle with. Our adoptions are as far from open as you can get. We adopted from China – twice – and adoptions in China are not open. If a parent in China wants to place a child for adoption, there aren’t laws and procedures to make that happen, so leaving an unwanted child in a safe place is what usually happens. And yeah…I know unwanted is a harsh and overly simplistic way of describing things and that things are probably always way more complicated than that.

There are so many things I wish I knew about our boys’ birth moms. So many things they are going to want to know. I don’t have answers. They will ask questions that I have no idea how I am going to answer. Like I do with most everything, I’m making all this up as I go along.

Through the magic of the internets (and also this linkup) I’ve gotten a peek into the world of families who are built through open adoption. Families that have knowns and names and faces where we have unknowns and guesses and shadows.

And I envy them. There, I said it.

So, I had all kinds of thoughts whirling around in my brain when I sat down to write my post about “openness in adoption.” Here’s a peek behind the curtain – I usually just sit down and start tapping and something flows. But not this time.

Because every time I started to think about what “openness in adoption” meant to me, I started thinking about sweet little Abigail Fisher.

Christina Fisher

Have you read the story of Abigail Fisher? It’s haunted me for the last week or so.

I first read the story of the adoption gone south on Babble and then quickly saw it covered on other news sites as well.  In a nutshell, Abigail’s mom had made arrangements to give her baby up for adoption at birth. The adoptive parents were present in the delivery room but when they saw baby Abigial, things took a different turn.

Abigail was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, which is a condition marked by distinct facial deformities and sometimes other minor issues (i.e. vision and hearing problems.) I’m sure there are parts of the story we don’t know but the adoption arrangements were ultimately terminated and the birth mother has decided to raise the baby herself, even though it was something she hadn’t initially felt she was able to do.

Mom Christina wrote this on her GoFundMe page:

…I realized she is meant to be mine only now cause of her needs…I was not fully prepared for her but now I can no longer see my life without either one of my daughters.

I ordinarily shy away from the phrase “meant to be” when it’s used in association with adoption, but this one has to make you wonder if fate didn’t step in and help things along a little bit.

I’m very conflicted when it comes to this story and it’s not even my story. On one hand, I’m glad to see the happy ending, although this little girl’s mama clearly does not have an easy life. On the other hand, it upsets me that the adoptive parents thought it was okay to back away from the adoption when they learned of the Treacher Collins. On the other hand (yes, I know that’s three hands) what is this little girl going to be told of her early story and how will she process it when she’s old enough to understand?

And I think that right there is the thread that ties my heart to this story: I don’t know how my kids will process their early stories, or lack thereof or what they’ll think of their writer mom who sometimes overshares bits of their stories.

Open or not, complicated always seems to be the word I go back to when describing adoptions. We can gain insights into ourselves by reading little snippets of other people’s adoption stories.

I think that’s why I love sitting down at my computer every other Thursday. Sometimes, I have a clear idea in my head of what I’m going to write about. Sometimes, I’m super organized and have my story written early (although admittedly not very often.) And sometimes, I close my eyes and breath and the words just come. And, I hope they make sense.

Except I open my eyes when I’m typing.

Thank you for being here, friends.

Let's be friends!
Let's be friends!


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Open adoption (or lack thereof) and all the feels|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

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Today's topic is Openness in adoption. Grab a button for your post and join Ashley, Erin, Jenni, Juliana, and me!

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  1. It seems so incredibly unfair that your kids and so many others don’t have any information at all. My heart always goes out to all of those adult adoptees who are desperately searching for one small sliver of information about themselves. It must be so hard. I wish we could do something to change this.

    The story about Abigail Fisher made me so angry at those potential adoptive parents. You don’t get to handpick your kid. That isn’t how parenting works.

  2. Thanks so much for your honesty concerning frustrations for your kids. I can imagine it’s truly heartbreaking for them to have such unknown pasts. I am so thankful that we are connected with our daughter’s birth family and I will try not to forget how lucky we are for that privilege!

  3. Thank you for getting me thinking! I really feel for you and your children with regards to having so little information about their past. I am fortunate, in that I do have some information although I am not sure how easy sharing it will be. As you say adoption is complicated! I sometimes think it is like negotiating a labyrinth. What do I tell, when do I tell, how do I tell with regards to sharing my boys adoption stories with them. And, I also struggle with walking the tightrope of what exactly to share with others. My boys stories are theirs but there are times when a little explanation can go a long way to help them. For example, my eldest struggles with emotional regulation – if I say nothing, he is labelled “naughty” whereas if I give a little information, people realise he is doing the best he can.

  4. You have hit the nail on the head…”Complicated” is right! And openness CAN be wonderful….but not always. I wish we had MORE openness in my son’s adoption, because I know and understand his story. We’ve managed to stay in touch with his foster family in Korea, at least. Still, I wish I had MUCH LESS openness in one of my foster children’s families because the situation is awful and it’s very hard to have positive communication with someone who deliberately hurt a child.