Thoughts needed for open/closed adoption

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by lynpea, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. lynpea

    lynpea Well-Known Member

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    We are in the process of adopting a sib group of two. The bio mom of the boys is sort of friendly to me, I know that she likes and respects us since she wants us to have the boys. The bio dad is a whole nother nightmare. The older boys therapist is telling us that he needs a clean break from his mom. Reason is, she was/is a heavy substance abuser, is known to runaway, will prob have more children and the therapist seems to think that at some point the boy's will be abandoned by her again. It won't affect the youngest, we have had him since birth.

    So does anyone have any experience with this? I feel sorry for the mom, she hads made some really rotten mistakes, has had a horrible life because of them and right now this boy is all she has. But my first concern is J. if his mom just stops coming then it will only add to his probs. We are already dealing with so many........Any thoughts?
     
  2. Ninn

    Ninn Custom Crochet Queen

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    Whatever you decide will ultimately impact both the boys, as they live in the same house. One cannot have visits and the other not have them-that will set the child up for some horrifing internal dialog. My advice would be to sit down with the therapist and discuss how it affects both of them, as well as the family unit. Include the birth mother in these sessions, so she can see that you are trying to do what is best for the children, not what is best for you or for her. (i am a birth mom-trust me, we see it like that for a long time.) Try to have her involved as much as possible in the discussion phases of everything if you are even considering an open adoption. If she is truly serious about maintaining a relationship with your boys, counseling, rehab and consistent mental health care can be included as mandatory in the court order. If she violates, you can revoke her visits.

    As a birth mom, I have to tell you that you hold a powerful weapon right there. I have not seen my son since he was 2-his father has poisoned him against me while I was not around to do anything about it. I was out cleaning up my life. His father doesn't have him either, but his parental rights were never terminated and it appears mine were terminated before I signed his adoption papers. (i lived 500 miles away, so i was unaware) His paternal family connections have known him his entire life, and treat him like dirt because he is mine and me like poison because I gave him up. Be aware that these fears are most likely in the back of her mind as well. Some of this stuff never came up in pre-adoption counselling. I didn't know how I would feel until it was there in my face. I wish someone like you had cared enough to ask when it was me.

    All things being equal, do you really think she will clean up her act and be a friend that your family can be proud to claim? Will she do it before her current circumstances hurt your boys even more? It's a hard choice to make, and I don't envy you one bit right now. However, I do thank you for being willing to keep her in their lives. It's horrible not knowing where your child is.
     

  3. wombatcat

    wombatcat Well-Known Member

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    We have a (currently) 13 year old. It was "everyone's" opinion that allowing her to continue knowing her bio mom would be in our daughter's best interests. But it has been an impossible situation for us and we will never ever do it again. No matter what the parenting roles are, the loyalty is always with the bio mom. And we understand that the loyalty will remain with bio mom as long as she is in the picture in any way at all. It has caused HUGE conflicts within our family, because we regard her as OUR child, and she regards herself as "biomom's child". And every time there is a problem, "I AM NOT HER REAL MOM" :flame: :flame:
    And that begins a DIFFERENT problem. I do understand that some of that is to be expected with any teen who knows they are adopted, but having this "extra" person in our family relationships does far more harm to all of us than it does good, I believe. I think that if you are considering an "open" adoption, that you need to be very cautious in spelling out the terms that are acceptable--will there be visits? will they be limited? can there be presents? Will there be other people involved, due to the bio parents' living situation/family status? Is that ok?
    Here is something that happened to us....we never even considered it....and stuff like this happens all the time....DH took her (11 years old at the time) to do Christmas shopping, intending it to be for presents for me, him, grandma, etc... and gave her $30 to spend on her "presents". She opted to spend all of her money on one "big" present for her bio mom and could we help her mail it? So ultimately none in our family got "presents" from her. We were very hurt and completely unprepared for something like this. Now we are more prepared, but situations like that still happen. And even though she is not considering how her actions affect others, we still feel the results of those actions, and no matter how many situations we try to ward off, there is always something new. If we are going to a movie, she asks if bio mom can come too. Even after 5 years of us saying no, this is still a regular occurrence. If we say no, then guess what happens? It sure isn't a fun day at the movies.... and all of this doesn't say anything about the fact that the lack of parenting ability is what got bio mom into this in the first place, so sometimes there are poor decisions that bio mom has made that we end up running interference for, too...
    If you are willing to stay in touch with the bio family, I would recommend very very strict limits on any contact, maybe a once-a-year phone call or whatever....maybe just an update letter from you once a year to let mom know how kids are doing....I think there is some benefit to having a child know that the parent(s) did not abandon them and that life will go on, etc, but we have learned the hard way and will never have an adoption relationship where the parent(s) are in the picture in any way again.
     
  4. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You don't say how old this boy is. I think the younger he is, the easier it will be for him to make your family his own. I'm concerned that the therapist feels that it is in the best interests of the boy if there is a complete break. I think he is going to have more conflict with his bio-mom around. He will want to be loyal to her, and want her to be pleased with him. Because of this, a whole big can of worms could be opened at any time. Do him a favor and have a closed adoption. Phase her out as best you can. Have a family portrait taken, talk about family traditions, give him time to play with his cousins and stay at cousins' houses if appropriate. A grandparent can do stuff with both boys so he feels he has grandparents. Help him decorate his bedroom. All that stuff. As for how to handle his questions, I'm sure the therapist can help you with that.
     
  5. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm thinking that someone is paying that therapist good money for her professional services. Has she been a trustworthy counselor in the past? Has she worked with them long enough to know the situation? Does she place the best interest of the boys and your family first and foremost?

    If the answer to those questions is "yes," then I think you have the best information and advice available to you right there.

    God bless all of you. It's not an easy road you're taking, but it is so worthwhile!

    Pony!
     
  6. Madame

    Madame Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had an open adoption for my dd. Some of the factors I considered:

    1) We were moving 2,000 miles away. Visits are every year or two, depending on dd's preferences.

    2) Birth mom respected boundaries and didn't overstep them.

    3) Dd had ongoing relationship w/weekly visits for 6 years of fostering. In a life full of losses, it would have been devasting for dd to have the relationship ended flat out.

    3a) Dd had the choice of being adopted or not. She chose adoption.

    4) Dd makes the choices on whether to talk to her birth mom or not (she has a cell phone w/caller id.

    5) When stressful situations have arisen, I've been able to help her see her birth mom as a separate person dealing with her own issues.

    6) This is a biggie - because the option is open, birth mom is neither perfection personified or the devil incarnate...just a screwed up lady who loves dd but can't care for her.

    7) There is NO contact with the birth father (if he showed up at my door I'd meet him with a sharp knife and baseball bat on hand).

    8) By the time the adoption took place, my dd considered ME to be mom. That hasn't changed.

    9) I've done my best to be neutral. That helps because she doesn't feel she has to take sides, choosing one mom over another.

    So my experiences have been better than some. Of course, I started fostering her at the age of 5, so by the time she was adopted, she'd lived over half her life with me. An open adoption was beneficial in her case.

    However, there is no 'one size fits all' as each child and each parent is different.
     
  7. Madame

    Madame Well-Known Member Supporter

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  8. wombatcat

    wombatcat Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Madame!
    It really sounds like your situation worked out in a better way than ours did, it sounds like all around, everyone had a good idea as to what their roles were going to be and that says something wonderful about you and how you handled everything!
    Just a little more info for you:
    She currently is in therapy, and we regularly do family sessions with the therapist, too. The therapist was one who had recommended that we not sever ties with bio mom. At the time it seemed like the compassionate thing to do, so we agreed. But the whole issue of boundaries and limits with that relationship have been tough to maneuver, for that same reason. Her visits with bio mom are currently very limited, but it doesn't matter, because even if biomom was 10,000 miles away, she would still be #1 in her daughter's mind. As long as she is there at all, she is #1. I don't aspire to be #1. Nobody in our family expects that. We would, however, enjoy sharing the "parent" status with bio mom. And had we been aware of all the different dynamics that can cause problems in a family like this, I don't think we would have even considered it.
    Bio mom is borderline retarded. Boundaries are not something she easily understands, unfortunately...and we did not realize that at the time, either, we were quite inexperienced in this sort of thing and just figured that "love will conquer all" haha, not quite that easy!
    I don't think she (dd) sees what she does as manipulation. She doesn't do things like the Christmas present thing to be hurtful, that is just what she thinks. $30? Wow, what an awesome thing I can get for my mom! Oh well, now I'm out of money. But it ends up being hurtful because we are grownups and have a different perspective than she does.
    I don't think she thinks anything about anything beyond that. And the wanting her bio mom to come along or be present during special times, I truly believe that she does it because it is what she wants, she has always longed for a positive relationship with her mom and I believe that she tends to ummm....(well, use is a powerful word to apply to a child but...) use our positive family dynamics to continue to fantasize about how wonderful things would be with her real mom if only....and so a great deal of the things that we dislike about having bio mom still have contact are not due to a teenage girl being manipulative (although sometimes that is the case) but due to the wishful thinking that takes place when she envisions her bio mom taking part in her life. And every call/letter/etc from bio mom is a reminder to her and it all starts all over again. We feel that while not having contact with bio mom might not have been the recommendation, it would've worked out much better for us. (don't get me wrong here, though, she is our child and always will be! We won't be giving up on her or getting all resentful etc....it's just that we think that things would've been so much smoother if we were her ONLY family)....and I also understand that some families are better able to handle some of these types of situations better than we are, but, LOL, my thoughts were asked for, so here they all are!
    I wasn't sure if I was going to post on this thread, but the more I thought about it, had someone pointed out some of the things that we might not have thought about, we might have made a different decision....and maybe the original poster will be able to look at my post and say "well, I never thought of that, but based on our situation, we probably won't have to deal with it" or "I never thought about that, how would I feel about that?" and maybe their decision would be made with more wisdom than ours was.
    [[hugs]]
     
  9. caroline00

    caroline00 Well-Known Member

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    OK, ours worked out best...

    birth mom visited once and called once a year later. When we got ready to leave CA, we couldnt locate her at all.... after trying to locate her, we finally moved away anyway. we havent seen her for almost 10 years.

    Our situation was... her children were already in fostercare...
    she voluntarily gave up her parental rights so that he child could stay with us (our fostercare license went up to age 5 and we made sure that she knew that if she failed reunification we would send her child to another foster home when she turned 5) and her attorney made sure that both she and I knew that an open adoption agreement was not inforceable... but she is the one who abandoned... after only one visit.
     
  10. lynpea

    lynpea Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone for your comments. J is 6, he has been with us a year. The visit's with his mom now are every other week for an hour. Yesterday's visit was a strained one as she was very weepy and clung to J a lot. She had just gotten the new service plan that stated that the goal for J was now adoption. She has hinted to me that she would like to be able to call J, but the social worker says no way. I am leaning towards a closed adoption just for the facts that all of you have stated. I have never been negative about either one of his parents in front of him, and because of his loyalty issues I went out of my way to be friendly to her. He knows that he can't be with her because she can't care for him. I'm wondering what another baby down the road will make him think? I think that I would rathr deal with the abandoment issue up front, than with wombatcat has had to go through.

    Thanks again.....
     
  11. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    Six year olds do not so much understand as they wish to please. It would likely be better if you could let him know what he truly feels is more important to you then attempting to not displease you :) A six year will have memories.

    Best of luck to you,
    Marlene
     
  12. Madame

    Madame Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oh, I have had many a day of wishing that I was her only family. While she loves me, and my siblings, she still considers the family or origin her family. And she mourns the the family's loss - not the parents she had, but the parents they should have been. One thing I've done over the years has been to be very, very clear about why her parents could not have her back, their inabilty to parent properly...not judgementally, but matter-of-factly.

    Letting go is a slow process. If you want to talk via pms maybe (?) feel free to do so.
     
  13. kars1995

    kars1995 Well-Known Member

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    I was a VERY rebellious teenager. I was also adopted with a closed adoption...thank goodness. For what I totally regret now....when I didn't get my way, what I wanted or got grounded for whatever as a teenager, I'd always throw in my adopted parents face the fact that they weren't my 'real' parents. Like I said before, this is something I totally regret as I'm an adult now and love my adopted 'real' parents. I'm really surprised that they put up with me in the first place. :) Anyhow, I told them many times (as a teen) that they weren't my birth parents and I didn't have to listen or do as they say. Also that I'd find my birth mother and go live with her because she had to be better than them. But since it was closed I didn't know where she was. On the other hand, if it would have been open, in my complete stupidity, I'd probably run away and tried to be with her. Gosh, if I had a child like me I'd.....!! Just from my experience I'm very glad I don't know my birth parents. Although I do wonder about my half sister, health issues and my heritage. In the mean time I've decided that I have to be of Irish/Texan heritage. :)
     
  14. DonnaKay

    DonnaKay Well-Known Member

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    My feeling is that adoptions should be closed. I think that the birth mother needs to either be THE mother or step down and let the woman adopting the child be THE mother. I can only imagine that all the in betweens are just too confusing for the child...especially if the bmom isn't stable. I'm sure their are circumstances in which this wouldn't be the best option but I believe in most cases this would be.

    However, I believe all adoptees have a right to know who they are and have a good bit of information about their birth parents. I also think that it should be made easier for bchildren and bmoms to reunite when the child is grown and ready so long as the both parties agree. My mom is a Bmom. My older sister (the adoptee) searched and searched for us, in the mean time my Mom had contacted the adoption agency (after sis was of age) and asked them to please give sis her information if she inquired about it...they told her no and wouldn't let her know if anyone had inquired. So for years my mom was afraid to look because she didn't want to disrupt sis' life and sis looked for mom and worried all those years that she may not be welcomed and worried that she may have been a product of rape and that by finding mom she may be digging up this awful memory. All that worry and pain was for nothing. And if it werent for the internet they would probably both still me wondering.

    I believe a growing child needs to be able to focus on growing up with out the emotional baggage of trying to figure out who to be loyal to. But I also believe they should know that one day they will have the answers they need.

    Donna
     
  15. caroline00

    caroline00 Well-Known Member

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    Prior to my childrens adoptions finalizing (when birth certificates are changed and sealed), I went to the recorders office and got thier original birth certificates for them. I also have most of thier bio parents Soc Sec #'s. We have adopted 5 children and I think I have #'s for 4 of them. I have family pics for most of them (one child only has pics of siblings..not the parents) I have thier preadoption assessments if they want them. One mother gave me a baby book, filled out until age 14 months (when we got the child) unfortunately, she gave it to me when the child was 5 and the adoption finalized (she had been our foster child)

    After my children are adults, I will hand them the packets if they ask.
     
  16. kasilofhome

    kasilofhome Well-Known Member

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    Ours is open. There is good and bad. But the good really out weighs the bad. Our son, who has rarely seen or spoken to his mother. Honestly I can not say The # because she would request a visit or call very reg for two months and then not a word for years. He calls her mom and he calls me mom. He looks just like her and many of the visits were in public places that I would bring him to. Boy did it mess with people like a waistress with him calling both of us mom. Some how both mothers could tell which of us he meant. Once at Ihop the lady said "hon you only have one mommy" "got 2" he said. Well I am the "everyday mom" He respects his birth mom and is interested in her story. Since she bails on him I found is birth extended family. It was a hard call to make
    Hi, Im XXXXX I may be raising a relative of yours. He's 6 years old and he would like to have a chance to see people who look like him. He wants to know how his hair is brown and so is his skin. If you are not interested let me know now. If you are interested I will give you the family tree as I know it to be and then you could confirm it. That was the best thing. Ok, so his Great grandmother was not sober and the grand mother dead and the grand father sort in a coma BUT the Great grand Uncle and aunt. Wow. He calls them his grandparents. Funny She was on my list of things today as she sent the boy a late christmas gift. that has to be thanked for. They are close. GGU died butGGA is the one to drive us around when we fly in for medical care for the boy. We were lucky
     
  17. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

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    We chose to do an open adoption too! We are very strict with it though. This is something we choose to do and do not have to do it. We did this so that the grandparents could see our son. I set the rules and the boundries and I let them know what they are. I do not accept any pop in visits, they have to call, and we do not visit at our home. for us, home should be the safe place, no visits will take place there. The visits use to be "more regular" but now they are more of the "chance" meeting and hi and such. Once they got to that point, I made sure they understand that they cannot come in and out of our sons life, they need some consisitancy or nothing at all. We do send pictures upon requests. As far as the father goes, we have not allowed him ANY visitation and do not intend to. I have allowed him to send cards or letters (which I have choosen not to show my son, due to age and content, but I have saved them for him).

    We decided to do this because we live in a small town (4000'ish) and we knew it would be very hard to 'never" see the biological parents or grandparents. We feel like this decision was right for us, because everyone in town, knew we were foster parents and that we adopted our son, I didn't want my son to "find out" in a bad way.

    I have to say, that we are in charge of just "how open" our adoption is and this can vary with each situation. YOu can do an open adoption where you keep the parents informed of the childrens happenings and pictures and such, but they cannot have any "real" contact with them.

    Whatever you decide, make sure you are strong enough to make and inforce All the boundries YOU set up. The biggest problems are when you cant because you feel sorry for the parent.

    Belinda