Category Archives: Open Adoption

Boundaries: Our Adoption Agency Warns About Extortion

Question: My son came to me 9 months ago from a Caribbean island. He’s now 3 ½ years old and adjusting quite well.

When I went to get him, I met his birth family — his birth mom, half-sister, and paternal aunt. They love my son and wish him the best and I really liked them too during our meeting. They asked about keeping in touch, but I deferred to our coordinator and said I’d let them know. The paternal aunt is raising his half sister and would like to Skype. I would like my son to know all of his island family and I know it will mean a lot more as he gets a little older.

However, my agency says to be careful of extortion, because the birth mother has little means. She says it can start off with, “oh can you send me so-and-so because we don’t have it here” and then it could lead to requests for money. Continue reading Boundaries: Our Adoption Agency Warns About Extortion

Does Open Adoption Work?

My last post touched on the debate spurred by publicity for Amy Seek’s new memoir, God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother. I started with a courtroom scene but decided to go this route instead. (You don’t have to have read that book to get this post.)

Rorschach Test

I see the debate about God and Jetfire as a sort of Rorschach test — people see in it what they bring to it. If you think adoption is a blessing, you think Amy Seek was brave. If you see adoption as abhorrent, you think Amy Seek made an unnatural choice and that she’s paid the consequences through regret over the years.

does open adoption work? it's a rorschach test.

And if you see adoption as infinitely complex, Continue reading Does Open Adoption Work?

Open Adoption on Trial: Amy Seek’s “God and Jetfire”

Note: Though tempting, please do not comment on the headline only, without reading the full post.

Recent publicity for Amy Seek’s new memoir, God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother seems to have put open adoption on trial.

Amy Seek, a landscape architect and writer living in London, gives readers an account of her unintended pregnancy 15 years ago, her selection of parents for her son, and the complex — even competing — emotions she experienced during and after placement with her son and with his adoptive parents.

At first I’d envisioned this post with a courtroom-type presentation of the two sides. It might start something like this.

amy seek's god and jetfire: open adoption on trial

Amy Seek’s Vogue Article: Defending Open Adoption

Court is now in session *gaveltap*. The defense may present its case [we switch things up around here].

Defense: Your honor, we call  the first witness —  a Vogue article, adapted from God and Jetfire — titled  “One Writer on Helping to Raise Her Son in an ‘Open’ Adoption.” Continue reading Open Adoption on Trial: Amy Seek’s “God and Jetfire”

We’re OK Letting Birth Mom In But Birth Dad is Scary

Question from Kate: I’m close to my son’s birth mother and a few of her family members. But his birth father is incarcerated and is a violent man.

I have some things I’d like to send to my son’s birth mom and her family but I’m concerned about disclosing our address because I don’t want it to get back to the birth father. I’m uncomfortable discussing it with his birth mom because it makes it seem like I don’t trust her with the information. I don’t know what to expect long-term with her and her relationship with my son’s birth father. Suggestions?              ~~ Kate
open adoption advice

How to Have Contact with Birth Mom & Privacy with Birth Dad

Dear Kate: Would it be possible to get a box at a nearby mailbox rental store? UPS and the US Postal Service offer them, as do other packing and shipping places (non-USPS ones look like street addresses). For an annual fee you may be able to keep in contact AND maintain some privacy, until the time you feel more comfortable.

How To Communicate with a Birth Parent

While an offsite mailbox may solve the surface issue, it doesn’t address the deeper issue of communicating clearly with your son’s birth mom. Perhaps the reason that it sounds like you don’t trust her with the information is because you don’t trust her with the information.

Would it be possible to take the very brave step of talking this over with her? Of telling her your concerns in a way you’d like to hear them if the roles were reversed?

I might say something like this:

I’m looking for ways to keep you in the loop, Gina, without exposing us to Rick. Because of all you’ve told us about him, I am sure you can understand why we’re not ready to give him access to us. One day we might be ready, but for now, we feel it’s best that he not have our contact information.

What are your thoughts on that? (pause to listen.) Are you in touch with him, or do you plan to be? (pause to listen.) Where do you think the line should be drawn on what information he has about us? (pause to listen.)

Listen to what she says and attune to her. Do you get the sense that she is able to maintain a wall of privacy for the sake of the son you both love? Do you sense that she doesn’t perceive Birth Dad as dangerous as you do (if so, why)? Do you get the sense that she is trustworthy on this subject?

Simply having this conversation has the potential to take you more deeply into a trusting relationship with Birth Mom, which will serve your son well in the coming years. If you end up still feeling unsettled about the safety of your son and your family, you can still fall back on the offsite mailbox solution.

See also: How to Set Adoption Boundaries
See also:  A Father’s Struggle to Stop His Daughter’s Adoption

Dear Readers, what say you?


About this Open Adoption Advice Column

  • I may occasionally call on others to help with answers, to tap into group wisdom.
  • I am not trained as a therapist. Please do not rely on words in this space to make your own major or minor decisions.
  • 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.

Send in your own open adoption question. I’ll either offer an answer or find someone who can address your issue.