Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

OpenHeart

I came across this article from the African-American Adoptive Family Members on Facebook and it’s a really good read. I’m not sure what I think about open adoption agreements yet because I have no idea of what the biological family of the child that we’ll adopt is going to be like. I’m guessing that since we’re adopting from foster care there could be a wide range of people that we’ll be dealing with …. and that’s making me think that having a post-adoption contact agreement might be a good idea:

I know I have seen adoption attorney colleagues in states that have enforceable agreements state the PACAs work well, encourage adoption especially in foster care cases, and confirm that rarely is there litigation later because everything is so clearly defined up front.

Of course I have no idea how our adoption will play out until we’re going through it, but the article made me think about some things I hadn’t considered before. If you haven’t read it yet I’d suggest that you head on over there and read it.

 

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Openness in Adoption from Foster Care

I’m the fence about how much openness I would want in our adoption.

On the one hand:

  • Having contact with one’s birth family is crucial to understanding who you are.
  • Having more than one set of people loving you is awesome.

On the other hand:

  • Since we’d like a newborn … wouldn’t it be more difficult for the birth parents to adjust to not being the main “parents” in their kid’s life?

I have no idea! I read this and it got me thinking … .the problem is …. I have no solution  ….

A reader commented:

If a home is so bad that a child has to be removed from it and the first parents rights terminated doesn’t the child have to be protected? When a foster child is adopted don’t they need to know that their forever parents are forever and they are safe? I could see the benefit of keeping the door open, but it frightens me.

And a bit of her response was:

I may have given Erica a hug on our first meeting, but I that doesn’t mean I gave her my phone number, address, or even my last name. Initially, our contact was by P.O. Box and an anonymous (for me) email address, and our meetings were in public places. In our case, my husband and I eventually decided that those protections weren’t necessary, but they were in place at the start and could have remained so indefinitely.
An open adoption is different from allowing a child to remain in an unsafe home or returning the child to that home; it is a limited relationship that takes place in a structured, controlled environment. Most kids want that. They don’t want their parents to disappear completely, even if those parents weren’t able to care for them as well as they should have. The reasons why kids enter foster care are various and complex.

Every situation is different so I guess we won’t know until we’re in it ….

 

Not Seeing Birth Parents as Victims

I just got done reading this article about the buying and selling and children (also know as adoption). I don’t disagree that:

1) Babies are being sold by agencies and facilitators for profit.

2) Babies are being purchased by adoptive parents.

I do wonder where the birth parents come into the picture. I’ve read tons of articles from birth parents highlighting the problems they see with adoption. I’ve read that agencies are evil money-making machines that are only out to separate parents from children for profit. I’ve read that at worst adoptive parents are only out to get a baby by any means or at best adoptive parents are naive and get conned into buying babies by evil agencies.

Um … are agencies trolling the malls looking for pregnant people so they can follow them home, wait for the baby to be born and kidnap the baby as the parents sleep? I didn’t think so. Just once I’d love to read an article from a birth mother that says:

#1 I miss my kid.

#2 If I had it to do over again I would do it differently.

#3 I take responsibility for choosing to have my baby adopted in the first place.

 

Is that too much to ask?

Keep It 100 … Well, Maybe 95

I have nothing to add to the great way this birth mom, or “tummy mummy” as she calls herself, spells it out ….

What I have noticed in all of these profiles are some very similar themes.  Now, I don’t know if there are “requirements or elements” that have to be satisfied in these, but they all feature pretty much the same things. I am sure that the point of the profiles is to showcase themselves at their very best, perhaps to fufill the “picture perfect, fairy tale ending” for a baby in order to attract a birthmom. Nice house, nice cars, always tons of hobbies, and I notice that these profiles always mention that they live in a “fantastic school district”. There is always the charming “About Us” story, where they met and fell in love at first sight. And then there are the crazy pictures of the couple with random kids…nieces, nephews, neighbours…and always at some fantastic place like Disneyland or the ocean, or a big carnival. And then finally…my personal favorite…the “About Husband from the Wife” and vice versa section. Sometimes I just shake my head and thank God I will never have to do that. I cannot imagine the stress and the frustration that must come in having to think all that up.

I never looked at L* & M*’s “little book”. Looking back, and realizing how much effort probably went into it, I often wonder if that upset them. I told them from the start that I was more interested in seeing pictures of them after they had been wide awake and unshowered for three days. Or dragging all of those “nieces, nephews, and neighbour’s kids” through Wal-Mart at 9 p.m. to do grocery shopping on a budget. Or when they were busting at the seams from a cold and a migraine, and still having to get up at 7a.m. to try and find a missing shoe or a homework packet. I wanted to know that they fought like normal people from time to time, and that they didn’t have white furniture, and that their house could get messy. I secretley hoped that they too had to deal with a crazy ex wife, or anything that would make them more real. Even after telling them that, they ALWAYS maintained their “Best Behaviour”. But why…? They knew I was giving them a child…they knew I would not change my mind…and they knew I just wanted them to be normal people who would love this baby more than they loved themselves. But the plastic facade remained. And it is currently sitting in thousands of hopeful couples profiles. Personally…I think its bullshit. I understand the logic…but I still think its bullshit.

I. Love. This. Post.

Please read the rest  of it here.

 

My Mind is Opening: Openness in Adoption from Foster Care

I found the Open Adoption book at one of those dollar book stores and decided to try it out. It’s a really interesting book. It talks about open adoption from the perspective of the birth parents and the adoptive parents which is nice. The book talks about the birth parents choosing the adoptive parents and how each side is afraid of the other side, but over time they join sides and become one family.

Sometimes that relationship is really tight-knit (like siblings) and sometimes that relationship is a little less tight-knit (like 2nd cousins) but family is family all the same. When we started looking at adoption I thought that I would never want to hang out with the birth parents. I thought that the birth parents would judge our parenting and try to disrupt the relationship that we would have with the child. Over time I’ve seen that this is, usually, not the case.

I have no idea what our future holds, but I’m hopeful that our child will have a relationship with their birth parents. Since we are adopting from foster care that relationship may not be physical (the birth parents may not be ready to have a healthy relationship with the child) or it may be. I hope that there will at least be an awareness of each other as family.

As the child gets older, I hope that they will begin to have their own relationship with their birth parents. I don’t know what relationship will look like, but I hope it’s a good the relationship that they will have a la The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

 

Inclusive Family Tree Art Project – An Orchard of Love

You may have seen the cute family tree thumb print ideas I stole off of the internet. As soon as I saw them I knew I wanted to do something like that for our family. I’m a bit crafty and a lot sentimental. I envisioned having our friends and family each contribute a thumb print to help our kid feel connected to all of us (some of them live far away). It would be a visual reminder of how much love was all around them.

It never occurred to me to have limbs representing their birth parents.

I wasn’t trying to exclude anyone. It just really didn’t occur to me to include them … and then I read this article about a little kid that had to do a family tree project:

No big deal, it’s just a family tree. And yet even at age ten, something about the whole activity felt strange. Only I didn’t have the words to explain what that weird feeling was about.

I know that feeling. Next week in adoption class we have to turn in a family tree and I have no idea what to put down. I know my maternal lineage, but I know nothing about the men on my maternal side. I have all the information for my paternal side, but these are people that I never met or haven’t seen since I was a kid … so … do they really count as “family”? Ugh!

The more I read about open adoption the more I understand why it’s important for the kid to have as much information as possible. Since we are adopting from foster care, I don’t know how much interaction we’ll have with the biological family, but I would like to think that our kid will have an orchard of family too.

 

Amazing Open Adoption Story

I saw this on Facebook and I had to post it here.  I have no idea if it’s true or not, but I’d like to think it is. This story is so wonderful.

This is a breathtaking story!
I became a mother, and I placed my son up for adoption. This choice gives me no sadness, only joy, because I have blessed two people’s lives with the chance to be parents. The couple I chose for my son happens to be gay.

The moment they saw Ian, they both burst in to tears.
“Would you like to hold him?” I asked. (He was born premature, with clefts in his brain, so he

remained in Infant Special Care until he was four weeks, hence our lovely yellow gowns.)
Both John and Doug couldn’t stop staring at him, thanking me, telling me how gorgeous he was.

I spent my nights in the hospital holding Ian and staring at him, completely in wonder at how much he looked like his dad, and trying to decide what the right decision for him was. I had never felt so much love for something in my entire life.
In my heart, I knew I was not yet a parent—I hardly know who I am as person—and after hours of silent tears and rocking him back and forth in my arms, I made the choice to give him the family that he deserves, and one that is capable to, not only take care of him, but give him opportunities I could not, even if I had all of the money in the world.

Some will criticize my choice to place my son with a gay couple, but I believe they not only deserve the chance to be parents, but that they will be two of the best parents in the entire universe.

John and Doug email me weekly, with pictures and medical updates. I am allowed to visit any chance I can get (we, unfortunately, are 2000 miles apart), and they have completely made me a part of their family. My son will always know I am his mother, his mhibu (a word loosely translating to “dear one” in Swahili).

When people hear my story, the first thing they tell me is how “strong” I am, and how “hard” it must have been. My reply will always be the same:
I am just a mother who loves her son very, very much.

We have found this beautiful story on Have a Gay Day