Saturday, December 12, 2009

Open Adoption is a Euphemism

I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but for me it's a bit of a light bulb going on over the head. There is no such thing as "open adoption". It's a lie, a fallacy, a euphemism, a trick to lure young women into an office in order to summarily plan the future of her unborn child: without her.

Let's start with an examination of just exactly what "open adoption" means. First, there is no ONE definition for the term. For some, an open adoption could simply mean looking through binders or websites of couples or families seeking to adopt and choosing a particular set to place their child with. While others see open adoption as an opportunity to remain an active part of their child's life, with the adoptive parents permission, of course. For most, open adoption is anything in between these two extremes.

In my own experience, as an adoptee born in the '60's, there was no such thing as open adoption. I doubt the term or idea had even truly been used until the mid 1980's. When I lost my first son to adoption, we were supposed to have an "open adoption". We met with my son's adoptive parents a week prior to his birth for about two hours; we were on first name basis only. The agreement was to have pictures and an update letter every 3 months in the first year, and then just twice a year until he reached 18 years old.

Unfortunately, this is not what happened. I should have known that within the first year of his life and the pictures and letters only arrived a few times what the future would hold. But there were health issues going on with my/our son; life and death matters that, until my son's adoptive parents wrote the first time, I had no idea about.

My son stabilized, though he continued to have health issues that I was not to know about until far after the fact. And being adopted myself, I had no recourse, no ability to pass along pertinent information. And except for one medical condition, which I knew for certain was directly related to his birth father which wasn't life threatening (and something that we had passed along to the adoptive parents), I had no idea why my baby was having such difficult health issues.

On the whole, I have varied responses about this. Knowing now what I know, the intellectual, perhaps more mature side of me understands why the pictures and letters stopped; eventually, there were health reasons that weren't my son's that riveted the attention of the family. And I will admit that I didn't keep the adoption agency up to date on my where abouts. But when I did, there weren't any pictures or letters awaiting me after about my son's 7th or 8th birthday. But deep down, in my heart of hearts, I am hurt beyond words.

Beyond my personal experience, I read day after day of adoptions that were supposed to be open, only to end up closed due to some reason within the adoptive, and controlling, family. The rare circumstance is the adoptive family that doesn't close adoption these days. No matter what is told to the mother or parents seeking to place their child for adoption, there's always seems to be "something" that gets in the way of keeping the adoption open. Whether it's health issues within the family, or insecurities within the adoptive parents, all the good intentions to remain open with the first family, the family of true origin, fall away with the years.

There's the old saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", yet adoptive parents don't seem to realize that when they close the doors to the first family the hell they create is for the person or persons who was supposed to love their child so much they were able to "give them away", to "give them to a loving family who could provide what she or they couldn't". And depending on the life of the adopted child, the adoptive parents end up creating a hell for the person they were supposed to love unconditionally, even if that child wasn't "of their bodies", but "of their heart".

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