Ten years ago I attempted both a time warp and a mind meld when I tried to see how things looked from inside my children’s heads. I imagined, at the suggestion of a group called the Open Adoption Bloggers, what I’d like my grown children to say about the way I felt to them, adoption-wise, in 20 years. They were then 10 and 8 years old.
We are now halfway there, and my children are adults. Baby adults, but adults nonetheless. What were my open adoption goals then, and how well has our parenting aligned with them?
When I lead workshops or consult with adoptive families, I often ask parents to do this very same exercise, which is to imagine what their end zone looks like and feels like. I ask them to write this same letter, based on the prompt given to Open Adoption Bloggers all those years ago:
Imagine your child as an adult describing their open adoption experience. What do you hope they will be able to say about you? How did you view their other parents? In what ways did you support their relationship with them?
Perspective & Clarity
In writing this letter, parents not only practice seeing through their children’s eyes, but they also clarify what they want of their own parenting in the long run. (Aside: every single parent I’ve worked with wants an enduring, loving, connected relationship with their child over time, and they want their son or daughter to have everything they need to be happy and successful in their lives).
I’ve been always told that it was a gray market adoption. I never really knew what that meant.
— Sara Easterly, adoptee, author, daughter, mom
When the entire approach to a societal issue is steeped in shame and secrecy, we end up with lots of opaque-ish words like fog and gray market — and worse. When it comes to adoption, if you start scrounging around in a thesaurus you can find even shadier words like dirty and impenetrable, words that sometimes apply to policies and practices.
Many adoptees and first parents, especially those from the Baby Scoop Era, can attest to this opacity and to problems that germinate in darkness. People then either suffer in the dark or find their way into the light — or maybe both.
Sara Easterly is one who did both. She has been coming out of the adoption fog for years, and now carries a flashlight to help others living in adoption. Her insights are especially helpful for adoptive parents to hear.
How easily can a proud parent’s enthusiastic sharing become oversharenting? Sara Easterly is back to help adoptive parents remember to see even the most common things from our child’s point of view.
Update: my interview with Sara for the podcast Adoption: The Long View was just released! It kicks off National Adoption Awareness Month, which centers on marginalized voices — adoptees and birth parents.
Sara’s episode is sooooooooo good and juicy — all of the episodes are!
Deciding when and how to share our kids’ stories publicly can be tricky for parents to navigate, especially when it seems everyone around us is posting photos and stories of their children online. Kid-focused posts are usually met with adoration from mainstream culture, who cherish a refreshing break from the rest of the feed that is so often ranting, despairing, or arguing.