“Tell My Son” and wife adopted a baby born to a teenage niece. Now age 5 or 6, Jake has always known he was adopted. His parents showed him a photo of his birth mom, Tara, when he was old enough. They told him he could get more information about his birth parents any time he wanted.
At some early point the wife was advised to “never give Jake more information than he wants.”
Due to geographic distance, Jake and Tara have seen each other only a handful of times, and the parents report that Jake has never connected with her picture. Tara is a little awkward during visits, and the letter writer says “she avoids us when she’s visiting.”
With an upcoming annual visit, Tara would now like to begin to cultivate a more authentic relationship with her son. Her big ask of Jake’s parents is that they give Jake the truth about her.
Did you tune in to NBC’s This Is Us last week? Randall brings up the Adoption Split.
And with this meme I reiterate a remedy I often talk about: openness. It’s with openness (not necessarily contact) that the grownups in an adoption can help their child integrate and heal.
Randall Pearson, a transracial adoptee on the show, says, “My whole childhood I felt split. There were these people I lived with and then there were my birth parents who I never met. But I thought about them all the time…like a ringing in my ears. It quiets down sometimes…but then there are sometimes where it’s so loud.”
How to Help Heal the Adoption Split
The premise of my book is this: “Adoption creates a split between a person’s biology and their biography. Openness is a way to heal that split.”
Now. Who’s going to send a copy to Rebecca? (Randall’s fictional adoptive mom.)
Beware any article that paints open adoption as terrible. Beware any article that paints open adoption as wonderful. Open adoption — which occurs when people come together under less-than-optimal circumstances — is a mix of the sublime and the sorrowful.
I was encouraged when I saw a headline for a TODAY Parents article: “Open Adoption is not something to fear.” That statement, I believe, is true. If parents are entering into the lifelong responsibility of adopting a child, they need to be willing and able to give her, over her lifetime, all she needs to become whole and integrated. This means adoptive parents must be willing to identify and resolve their own fears and insecurities about not being the Only in their child’s life. (As the author says, she was “scared to death” about having to share her child. But she worked through that fear, as adoptive parents need to do).
So I’m on board with the title. But much of what comes after that is problematic. Here are the top 4 issues that jump out at me.
1. The Word “Our”
The article’s subheading “Finding Our Birth Mom” violates two oft-invoked rules in cross-triad groups, groups that seek to understand the perspectives of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents.