open adoption advice

The Launch of an Open Adoption Advice Column

Last week someone  volunteered me to start up an advice column.

I don’t know what came over me during that webinar. I’d been fielding many questions in advance of it, and people were lining up afterward to ask even more questions. We couldn’t get to them all in the allotted time so out slipped the outlandish notion — from my own mouth — that I would answer in this space anyone who emailed me at a later time.

open adoption adviceIt’s odd,  the prospect of giving advice.  I’m no expert, and I live my life far from perfectly (just ask anyone who lives with me).

At the same time, I did a much better job on this than did the venerable Dear Abby.

To make advice-giving feel doable and true, I have three declarations. (1) I won’t be telling people what they should do. I’ll be saying what *I* might do, were I in the asker’s position. (2) I may call on others to help with answers from time to time, tapping into group wisdom. (3) I am not trained as a therapist.

As always, readers are encouraged to weigh in thoughtfully and respectfully. I ask everyone to remember that this is a teaching endeavor rather than a shaming endeavor, and that we aim to bring light rather than heat. It’s my belief that people do the best they can with what they have to work with, and our goal is to give folks more to work with.

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This concludes the MicroblogMondays portion of this post.  What is #Microblog Mondays? A post that is not too long. Head over to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

We’ll launch the advice column below with a short Q&A for those who want to continue.

Open Adoption Advice Inaugural Question

Dear Lavvie: What if the woman who is considering placing with us wants a closed adoption. Is there anything I can do to offer more openness? We talk currently through the agency. She has started to open up more as the wait and due date has gotten closer, though.

It’s great that you are open to openness even from this early stage. Be advised that openness is not the same as contact, and that independent of the decisions made by a birth parent, adoptive parents can still cultivate openness.

There will likely be wide swings of emotions between now and birth and placement, and decisions may be subject to change, so don’t fret now that she’ll NEVER be available.

Should the mom still want to close the door behind her after placement, you may simply have to accept. This means you find yourself in Box 3, in which you can focus on openness with your child, even with a lack of contact with his/her birth mom. In Chapter 9 of my book (The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption) we talk about how to maintain an “open door” adoption in the absence of a participating first parent. I hope you find it helpful.

See also: Can Closed People be Nudged Toward Openness?

Dear Readers, what say you?

17 thoughts on “The Launch of an Open Adoption Advice Column”

  1. The fact that you state this is a teaching endeavor – not a shaming endeavor, qualifies you more than so many others in this space. Congratulations ~ you’ll be amazing. I can’t wait to read more 🙂

  2. May I chime in with a response to the questioner?

    Our children’s first mother didn’t want contact at first. I think she wasn’t sure whether she’d be able to deal with it. When we spoke with her the night we were told she’d chosen us, we told her that we would respect her preferences regarding contact, but that we wanted her to know that if she changed her mind about it at any time, she shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to us because we were very keen on having contact. (In our case, about two weeks after the baby was born we ended up exchanging phone numbers and addresses and becoming Facebook friends…contact between us is intermittent – she disappears from the radar sometimes – but she knows we are always here when she resurfaces.)

  3. I know you don’t feel qualified, but I can’t think of anyone better to host this Q&A. Because, after the Dear Abby flop, you’ve proven you’re extremely qualified.

    Too many people have this strange idea of what adoption is and should be. Yet it’s coming from a place of fear. You’re advocating and setting an example of how coming from a place of openness is not only healthy, but so much more productive for all involved. So please keep talking and giving advice. Maybe even consider a “Dear Lavendarluz” column?

  4. Dear Lavendar,

    I have this amazingly kind-hearted, wise and loving friend who is starting an advice column that will help A LOT of people. I want to celebrate and acknowledge her. Should I send her chocolate?
    Or will a card be enough?

    Hugs-in-Oakland

  5. What a wonderful idea. I think many of us who are years down the line from infertility, but who live another truth, reach a stage when we have something to offer to others.

    It is so useful to people to know that we have direct experience of something too. Clearly, the fact you continue to write about open adoption means you continue to actively learn and think and develop thoughts and opinions, from your experience and from others. And to me, that ongoing thought and direct experience is really important. I look forward to reading further.

  6. In my experience, advice is less about telling people what to do than about educating them about their choices. Which is exactly what you do beautifully here quite often. So: great move! 🙂

  7. I’ve learned that in life, few things are permanent. Life changes from moment to moment and the birth parent may be just trying to protect her heart.

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