Category Archives: Adoptive parenting

My Daughter is Hurting in Our Open Adoption. Help?

Question: My teenage daughter is struggling with rejection and misunderstandings from her birth family. I don’t know how to help.

“Sara” will be 16 soon and for the last year she has struggled with depression and anxiety.  She spent a week in the hospital after having a breakdown.  We are in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) together and she’s made great strides, working hard to learn new ways to deal with big emotions.

We have an open adoption with her birth family.  Her birth mother, “Tara,” chose us to be her parents and we kept in touch with her the first 3 years by phone and letters.  We told Tara we were open to whatever she felt comfortable with. When Sara was 3, Tara came to meet her.  The beginning of this relationship was hard, because there really are no rules and we did not know anyone else in the same situation. So we all opened ourselves up to each other the best way we could.

Over time, we got to know the whole family, including Sara’s older brother, “Jacob,” who is 2 years older, and who has a different birth father.

When Sara was 7, Tara told us she was pregnant with twins and that she’d parent them (they all live with her father).  We struggled to find a way to share this news with Sara.  My husband and I thought that the way we reacted to the news would be the way Sara would react.  We told her that she was going to be a big sister, and they were twins! She was very excited and couldn’t wait to meet her new siblings. We all knew that there could be problems for Sara later on, maybe that she would struggle with them all being a family with her the only one not raised by Tara.

We have developed a close relationship, seeing Tara and the three children fairly often, sharing holidays and birthdays.  We have taken Jacob on trips with us (the twins were too young), including camping.  There were always some issues between Sara and Jacob, because they did not grow up in the same household, but we weathered those times, knowing that siblings  sometimes don’t get along.  But they always had a lot of fun and so did we.

core issues in adoption

Credit: derived from “Dew on Water” by photophilde [CC-BY-2.0]

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Trying to Wrap My Head Around This

Question: Lori, I am trying to wrap my head around this. How do we live out Both/And from a foster care adoption perspective? Our kids were taken from their birth parents for good reason. We have all the info, the original birth certificates, case files, all of that. But no contact with birth parents. And we have been advised not to for safety reasons (the caseworker made a point of me seeing one of the parents via a one way mirror so I would know if I ever ran into him to run the other way).

I want to give our kids this wholeness. The best we have been able to do is some contact with a paternal grandmother for one child. And we know the adoptive parents of the other child’s older siblings, but we have no control over contact. So far the other adoptive parents shy away from it because it is so upsetting for their kids. No matter what we do these folks will not be a part of their lives in the every day.

How can we have openness in our situation and not split our babies? —Jenny

openness in foster adoption

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Where is the Oversharing Line in Our Adoption Stories?

Question: I just read your article and am an adoptive mom to a beautiful 10 month old boy named Quinton. We have a good relationship with the birth parents and have stayed connected though we reside across the country from them.

We tell almost everyone that Quinton is adopted, often because people exclaim how much he looks like both me and my husband. We feel no shame and only gratitude and pride in and for this beautiful child. But your article gave me pause — is this not my story to tell? Are you saying we should let him reveal that he was adopted to who he wants to rather than us telling them before he’s even ready to understand?

We believe so strongly in the concept of open adoption, that it is better for everyone involved if he grows up without a secret and knowing that we ALL made a loving choice for him to be raised by us.

But I see how this could be seen as me telling his story rather than my own. I mean, it is my story, too, but it certainly isn’t mine alone.

Thoughts?
Amanda

adoption privacy vs secrecy

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Whose Story Is It?

Question: I am adoptive mom of two adorable kids  and I attend a monthly support group for mothers like me in my country.

We have been discussing the importance of telling the child they are adopted. Not everyone thinks it needs to be told, since in our culture (which is fairly homogeneous) you can’t always tell someone is adopted just by looking. Continue reading Whose Story Is It?