Tags: adoption openadoption birthfathers "open adoption", Book club, k Club, Megan's Birthday Tree, open adoption
I’m taking part in the first Open Adoption Roundtable Book Club. So, pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of wine, and bring on the cheese and crackers. I’m partial to Truffle Tremor and a bottle of pinot noir…
The book we read for this book club was Megan’s Birthday Tree – a kid’s book about open adoption. Megan’s birthmother, Kendra, has a tree that she planted after Megan was born. Every year on Megan’s birthday, she decorates the tree and sends her pictures of it. When Kendra gets married and tells Megan that she is moving, Megan is very worried that without the birthday tree, Kendra will forget about her. Megan tries, with the support of her adoptive parents, to locate a new birthday tree for Kendra to bring to her new home, but is ultimately relieved [spoiler alert] when Kendra shows up with the birthday tree in the back of her pick-up truck.
Overall, I thought the book was sweet and beautifully illustrated, and it was nice to read a kid’s book about open adoption that wasn’t pedantic, but in the end, I felt like everything got wrapped up just a little too neatly to make the story realistic. P’ito was much less critical than I – he liked the story and asked to have it read to him again, and said that he liked reading a story about a kid who was adopted like he was.
People who were less slackerish than I submitted some excellent discussion questions for the book club:
Sometimes when a person reads a picture book about adoption and something rattles something somewhere inside, but they ignore the warning because the book is so cute and mostly so good. Did you have any of those moments in this book?
I definitely had some of those “rattley-inside” feelings reading this book. The stability of Kendra’s life (a house where she could plant a tree?) contrasted so vividly for me with the chaos and instability of K’s life right now, and the extreme poverty of P’ito’s birthfamily. I found myself having a hard time believing in her as a birthmom. I can imagine reading this book with Posy down the road and having her ask, why isn’t my birthmom like that?
Do you think this book represents a realistic view of what open adoption might look like? How does the book and/or your own personal experience with open adoption correlate with what Ms. Page writes as a forward?
Errr… forward? What forward? (blushes) I did think that the vision of open adoption in this book was somewhat rosy and uncomplicated. In our case, we are dealing with the fact that K. has other kids, and placed Posy because she didn’t feel she could do right by them and Posy as a single mom. Although I don’t doubt at all that she cares about Posy, I don’t think, from what I’ve seen so far, that she has the energy to put into the relationship that Kendra demonstrates in the book. The key link in our birthfamily relationship is with C., K’s mom and Posy’s (birth)grandmother. And that aspect of open adoption – that it includes – or can include – extended families and (gasp) birthfathers as well, is not depicted in the book.
Much of the strength of this story lies in the importance of a recurring tradition that links together a birth mother and her adopted child, Megan. What role does tradition play in your child’s relationship with his/her birth mom? If your child’s birth mom isn’t open to frequent contact, does tradition play any role in trying to maintain that relationship?
We have lots of connections with Posy’s (birth)grandma that I think will settle into traditions – presents, hopefully an annual get together, phone calls, etc. etc. and I’d like to establish some traditions with K. to help cement the connection for Posy. Unfortunately, we live far away from each other, so visits are challenging, but I’m hoping that she will write Posy a letter each year on her birthday, just to let her know that she does think about her and so that Posy can also know more about her other siblings. Establishing any kind of connection with B., Posy’s birthfather, has been more problematic so far…
We have had a tradition of visiting P’ito’s birthfamily in Guatemala every other summer, but I’m not sure we’re going to be able to swing that financially this year, which makes me sad…
Do you do anything to celebrate your adoption (whether it’s the date you placed your child or the date you were adopted or you adopted your child)? In what ways does this book inspire you to do so?
We have always celebrated P’ito’s “family day” with going out to ice cream. Right now it just seems like an excuse to go out for ice cream – we don’t spend much time focused on adoption talk on that day, although he does like to hear the story of how I got sick when we were coming home from Guatemala…
In the end, I’m not sure that I will share this book with Posy, just because I can see it making her feel bad about her own adoption… but we’ve got time to see about that!
There’s a new line through the final item on our adoption #2 list over to the right – Posy, is officially, legally ours.
After all the stress and anxiety of this adoption – the worries about whether we would get to keep Posy – it was a spectacularly anti-climatic event – we signed a couple of papers, the Judge asked the law guardian if she approved of the adoption plan (she did) and we promised to be Posy’s parents forever.
Then P’ito banged the gavel, and we took a bunch of pictures.
Tags: "real mommy", adoption openadoption birthfathers "open adoption"
Today, for the first time, P’ito said to us “You’re not my real mommies. You didn’t grow me.” And told us he was going to run away to Guatemala. Threw some food into a pillowcase, put his boots and his jackets on over his too-small footie pajamas, and walked outside into the snowy dark for about a minute.
Intellectually, I was prepared for it. Knew it was inevitable at some point. Had all sorts of supportive, affirming replies ready. No, we didn’t grow you, but we love you, and love makes a family, blah blah blah.
Emotionally? Sucker punch. Am still reeling, wondering if I said the right thing even as the cataract haze of high emotion makes my memory of exactly what I said grow too foggy to reproduce here.
I know it’s all normal: I just wasn’t expecting it to sting so much.
Yes, I’m on a posting rampage tonight. Still haven’t finished part 2 of Posy’s story though… don’t know when that’s going to happen!
Heather over at Open Adoption Bloggers organized a Blog Hop with the question:
What is your favorite room/spot/piece of art in your home and why?
I knew immediately what spot I would choose, but I kept waiting to take a decent picture of it. I’ve accepted that that’s never going to happen, so before this post is even more overdue, here goes…
My favorite spot in our house is our red chair. We bought it thinking it would go in P’ito’s room, but it wound up in the living room. It’s my favorite spot to give Posy a bottle, read P’ito a story, or just curl up with a book myself. It rocks and sways and has an ottoman that rocks and sways along with it. It’s super cosy. Here is Posy in her Halloween costume on the red chair.
Had a nice talk the other night with Posy’s (birth) grandmother. She apologized for not sending Xmas presents for Posy and P’ito and asked what they wanted/needed as she was going to send presents once she got her tax refund. We assured her that there wasn’t anything that they needed, but she was very determined and I wound up telling her a few things that they could use (Posy) or would like (Pito). She also wanted to know what we needed – same conversation, and she wound up insisting that she would send us a gift card for the Mart of Wal. I feel very conflicted about this – on the one hand, I know that C. needs the $ more than we do, and I don’t want her to spend $ on us. On the other hand, I feel like there is something very significant in her desire to give us presents – a balance of power issue, a sense of personal dignity – and I don’t want to infringe on that or step on her toes.
We didn’t send her any Xmas presents either, which I immediately felt guilty and horrible about, but I don’t celebrate Christmas, and don’t automatically think about sending presents, although I should have. Pili did send K. some $ to help her buy presents for herself/her kids, but I didn’t think about sending C. a present.
Now though, I am thinking about sending her a big present. I mentioned that we wanted to Skype with her so she could see Posy and P’ito, and she said she would need to coordinate with her son b/c his laptop is the only computer in the house now – her laptop broke. So I am thinking about buying a cheap(ish) laptop or tablet for her – stressing that it’s a gift for us too, b/c we want to be able to Skype with her. But I am worried that it will seem like too much, or that she will feel pressured to reciprocate, and if I do it, I don’t know *when* to do it. Before she sends us presents? Which might make her feel pressured to actually send the presents, even if her tax refund isn’t as big as she’s anticipating. After? Neither?
So this is my first post in response to one of the Open Adoption Roundtable prompts. The question is…
Are you approaching openness differently in 2013? What experiences from in the past year influenced you most?
I’m kind of skipping around because I haven’t finished writing Posy’s story – suffice it to say that we have a very open relationship with her birthmother, K – and a much more guarded one with her birthfather, B. K, her mom, and I are all Facebook friends – she sees all my posts about Posy and frequently likes the pictures or anecdotes that I post. We talk on the phone fairly frequently – at least for phone-phobic me it feels frequent!
I can’t say that I am approaching openness differently in 2013 than I did in 2012, because it’s all so new to us. I do know that my experience of openness in reality is so much richer and more beautiful than anything I had imagined pre-Posy.
Before we left the state where Posy was born, we were fortunate to be invited over to Posy’s birthgrandma’s house for a family party. We got to meet Posy’s great-grandparents and take pictures of them holding Posy. These picture are things that I am so happy to be able to share with Posy (memo to self: external hard-drive back up – NOW).
And I guess that in my imaginings of openness, I had always imagined connecting with my hypothetical child’s birthMOTHER, but somehow, birthFATHERS were not part of my image of openness. And now we’re having to redefine openness to include Posy’s birthfather. One of the things that I am struggling with is that B would like us to visit. He has never met Posy, and he would like to meet her and have his family meet her. There are a thousand reasons why it is challenging for us to do this:
- We’re staggering from the legal bills associated with this adoption and its complications
- Once Pili goes back to work in a few weeks it will be hard to find the time for a cross-country trip until summer
- B has proven himself not to be the most reliable of people – I am nervous that we will make this trip and he will pick that week to have his phone break or his car die (all things that have happened to him multiple times in the course of our interactions with him) and simply not show up
The biggest question mark for me though, is a fear that K will feel pressured to see Posy if she knows we are bringing her to the city in which she lives. I need to talk to her about this, but I’m worried about how she will react. Prior to the adoption she said she wanted to make a clean break and have our communication be through her mom. That’s not how things have played out (and I’m happy about that) but I don’t know if she wants to see Posy in the flesh or have her other kids meet Posy. And I don’t think she’ll be thrilled that we’re making a big effort on B’s behalf.
So openness 2013 style is proving to be richer, better – and much more complicated – than I had ever imagined previously.
Pili, P’ito, and… Peewee? Petunia? Posy?
I want to tell her story as honestly as I can, but at the same time, this is not just my story to tell. So I will tell as much as I can while being respectful of K (her birthmom) and B (her birthfather). I also hesitate, because what happened in our story represents many people’s fears about domestic adoption. I will say that I think things turned out for the best in the end – for us, for Posy – and I think, for her first family as well. But it was a long – and harrowing road to get to that point.
In April of this year, after 2.5 years of waiting for a match, and a failed match that almost broke our resolve to adopt again, I got an email from a friend, asking if she could pass our information along to a woman who was considering adoption. I said of course, and prepared myself to be disappointed again.
In early May, I was at my biggest event of the year at work and expecting a call from a vendor who was driving in from out of state. I saw that I had a missed a call from a number I didn’t recognize and listened to my voicemail, assuming it as the lost vendor. Instead, it was K’s mom – C – saying that she and K had looked at our website and wanted to talk to us. I almost jumped out of my skin, but had to wait 4 hours until the event was over and cleaned up to call her back.
C told us that she and K had looked at the website and liked what they saw. K felt like the random string of connections that had brought us together was providence; she didn’t want to look at other families. C told us more about K and what had brought her to adoption. I sat in the back of my car, holding onto my phone, talking to C, and feeling a simultaneous waves of hope and fear. In our 2.5 years of waiting, it had sometimes felt like the only scenarios we got called about were ones with serious mental health issues or drug and alcohol involvement – scenarios that we had to agonize over and scrutinize our comfort zones – surely something as perfect as this could not be happening to us? As I joined my coworkers where they were waiting at a nearby bar, decompressing from the long weeks of preparation for this event, I whispered to a friend that I thought I might be going to become a mom again. To a baby girl, due in late June.
Over the next few weeks we talked and skyped with K. and her mom. K. flew from where she lived, to her mom’s state, where she wanted to give birth. The father, she assured us, was unknown – a one night stand – she didn’t even know his last name. Our adoption lawyer talked to K. and said to us “this is as good as it gets.”
In late May, I got a call from K. saying “I don’t want to worry you, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m having contractions…” Later that night, K. called again and said that she thought we should head out there. It was her wish that we be present for the birth. We got on a plane early the next morning and got there… only to learn that her labor had stalled out. Because the baby was early, they wouldn’t do anything to encourage it. We didn’t know what to do – expensive last minute plane tickets vs. hotel and time away from work, etc. etc. etc. but we decided to stay for a few days and see what happened, which gave us some time to hang out with K. and her family, which was really nice.
It turned out to be a good thing we stayed, because Posy was born a few days later. We were supposed to be there for the birth, but Posy came so fast we couldn’t make it to the hospital in time! We got there within minutes of the birth, and found ourselves holding a beautiful teeny tiny (just shy of five pounds, but healthy) bundle who was the most amazing little creature I have ever seen.
I haven’t blogged here in a long time. Facebook and other time sinks, blah blah blah.
But I’m feeling a need to be part of a community again, and so I’m reaching out. Specifically, I’m hoping to connect with other open adoption bloggers as Pili and I negotiate the process of being in an open adoption with Baby #2’s mother and father. Baby #2, who has a whole story I need to tell here.
My pump alarm isn’t loud enough to wake me up when I’m low or out of insulin in the middle of the night, but it sure sounds loud during a job interview when it’s tucked into my bra.
License plate says “DRIVSAFE.” What do you think the driver is doing? Talking on her cell phone, of course.
What ironies have you experienced lately?