Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Day My Daughter's Story Will Trump My Own

I am an adoptive mother who has chosen to have a very open relationship with my daughter's biological family. The relationship is one that enriches my life in countless ways. In fact, I have come to consider my daughter's other mother one of my closest friends. But I often tell people that as much as the relationship benefits me, my primary reason for building and sustaining it is the benefit to my daughter.

But how do I know openness benefits my daughter?

The short answer is that I don't. I cannot know this with certainty.

I could point you to things I've read on the advantages of openness to the adopted child. I can report on my observations of the changes in her behavior and outward expressions of emotion—how she seemed to become happier and more emotionally balanced as we increased contact with her original family. I can compare her to other adopted children I know of who have less openness and seem to be doing less well. I could even tell you what she says, but I can't tell you if what she says is an accurate expression of how she truly feels (though I have certainly tried to create an environment in which true expression is possible), nor can I be certain that what she says now will match what she will say years from now as an adult looking back with a more mature understanding.

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Some day she will tell her story—perhaps in a public manner as I do, or perhaps in a more private fashion, to a friend over coffee or to spouse. Her story may align with mine, or it may be completely different. She might grow up to have a completely different interpretation of these years than I do. And that's her right.

As a parent, I do what many parents before me have done. I take in the information that is available to me and combine it with a dash of intuition. I try to make the best possible choices to help my children thrive. And then I hope for the best.

But only my daughter can say, in the end, whether or not I hit the mark. Some day she will, and I hope that people will listen, whatever her story turns out to be.


  1. Thank you for being open about this. It's a struggle for us and it's helpful to hear from another AP that what I'm wondering is...well, for lack of a better word, normal. We're listening to our daughter say 'I don't want contact, you manage this for me, okay?' while her observed behaviors are calmer and more confident since we opened the adoption. So when she's in a position to look back on what we chose for her, with the best intentions, we'll know the effects.

  2. I love this. it's true, we can't know what the impact of openness will be on our daughter. there is only what I see/hear/perceive/believe. the truth is, even when there are effects that don't seem so positive right now, I can't know the long term impact or benefits yet. only time -- and our daughter -- will tell.

  3. All that any of us can do is the very best that we can do, and God knows, Rebecca, you are doing that! From the moment I first started reading your posts, I have so admired your honesty and eloquence. Perhaps there is a book in your future!

  4. Rebecca, I loved this. No one parenting technique is going to be a bullseye for what every kid wants, whether the parenting is through adoption or not. And giving your kid freedom to be pleased or displeased is so healthy. And you know, I imagine that a kid can be happy at 10, upset at 20, happy again at 30, conflicted at 35, happy at 40... so giving them freedom to feel how they feel probably is sanity-inducing for everyone involved :)

  5. I guess you did a good thing. It is really a good idea to be
    friends with your daughter’s biological family. It is a great way to avoid chaos that would just give confusion to the child.