Saturday, October 22, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #31

Open Adoption Blogs

The current, Halloween-inspired, Open Adoption Roundtable prompts is: Write about open adoption and being scared. Here is my reply:

There is a monster that no one ever dresses up as for Halloween. She is a hateful creature who selfishly gave birth without caring about her offspring. She drank; she used drugs; she put her own interests above theirs. She was irresponsible and neglectful in countless ways. Her children have been rescued from her terrible clutches, but they are not safe, for she is always there, lurking dangerously on the edges of their lives, waiting for an opportunity to pounce and steal them back. She does not love her children; she is incapable of loving and unworthy of being loved.

I have never met one of these monsters, but I have encountered them on the Internet. I have read the descriptions of them that show up in such places as the comment sections on blogs. 

I have never met the monster, and, truth be told, I doubt she is any more real than the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot. But I did meet a woman the other day who cried real tears and shared her pain with me, spoke of her heartbreak at being separated from her children, gave voice to her regret that she hadn't managed to overcome her addiction in time to keep her children with her. I also remember another woman who approached me in a parking lot years ago, identified herself outright as an addict, and poured out her anguish to me. Her children had been removed from her that morning, and she was beside herself with grief. "You must think I am a terrible person," she said, repeatedly. "No," I said, "I don't." And I meant it.

But here's the thing: as scary as the woman I described in the first paragraph may seem, there is something that can be even scarier to some parents who adopt from foster care, and that's the first mother who gets her life together. Why? Because it's easy to justify keeping a monster at arm's length. Surely no one would expect adoptive parents to interact with someone like that, or to invite her into their lives. But what if she ceases to fit the stereotype? What if she begins to emerge as human, capable, and even lovable?

The adoptive parents' fear of the first mother can take a variety of forms, but ultimately at the core of it is the deep fear that we will lose our children, that despite all our love and care and our insistence that raising the child makes us the only "real" parents, biology will trump all and we will be ousted. When fear rules us, we panic, cling to our children, and build up walls between them and their other family.

I am not immune to fear; I can be as insecure as the next person. But I refuse -- I simply refuse -- to let fear be the guiding force in my open-adoption relationship. I don't trust fear; it is a tricky master that sends me off track, away from my intentions. That's not to say that fear must be ignored completely for it often carries a message about something important that needs attention. I can let fear guide me to communicating things that are important to me, but I cannot let it trick me into building walls or running from relationship. My commitment to openness is foremost; whatever else comes up for me emotionally must be balanced against that. When fear flickers in me, it is usually because some small issue has come up, stimulating discomfort in me. But the small issues are resolvable. In my heart of hearts I know that openness is the right thing for me and for my daughter, and that is my guiding force. 

Links to other bloggers' replies to this prompt are available here.


  1. Loved this post, so incredibly poignant. Even though fear runs the show in my adoption right now for various reasons, this post still makes sense to me. It spoke to me. Brilliant!

  2. Rebecca, has anyone told you lately, you are amazing? I have never read a post from you that hasn't moved me, greatly. I really think you are one of the most incredible woman I have ever met, and I am so grateful that you are the mother of my child, or rather our child. I believe with all my heart, Ashley was grown in my womb to be a part of your family, it was just meant to be. Thank you for overcoming your fears and letting me in.

  3. Loved this post. It's true, people automatically assume the worst of first moms. Thank you for helping to shed such a positive amazing light on them!

  4. Thanks so much everyone! Lovin' the comment love. :-)