Question: After talking it over quite a lot, my husband and I are not open to open adoption. I am concerned because we are almost in our 40s. Do you have any tips on doing a fast adoption regardless of the costs? ~~ Cyndi (pseudonym)
I am publishing this brief letter not to lambaste the asker, but to help her — and others who may google similar search terms — to see a deeper way of looking at infant adoption. Respectful comments are welcomed. Comments that shame are not.
Fast Can Compromise Ethical
I don’t have any such resources to offer you. We hear from adoptees that openness (which isn’t the same as contact, and is more about seeing from the adoptee’s perspective than from the adult’s) is crucial to their being able to re-integrate what is split at the moment of relinquishment — their biology and their biography. In other words, the grownups need to confront and resolve their own fears and triggers so the adoptee can deal only with hers and not her parents’.
We also know that fast can too easily compromise ethical in adoptions. Adoptees — including your future child — want to know that they weren’t a commodity to be “gotten” and that the situation was about finding a home for a child and not for finding a child for a home, in the words of Dr Joyce Maguire Pavao.
The Adoption “Wedding” vs the Adoption “Marriage”
I have two reading suggestions if you’re open to them. One is The Lost Daughters, which offers voices of adoptees. I implore you to start listening to them as a prelude to parenting one of them. The other is my own post about nudging closed people toward openness.
I get the panic that comes when approaching the end of your 30s. And it’s perfectly normal at this stage of your family-building journey to be concerned mostly with becoming parents as quickly as possible — planning the metaphorical wedding.
But it’s wise also to begin seeing things from the perspective of your future child along the entire parenting journey — the metaphorical marriage. Getting to the altar of parenthood ends one intense journey and begins another enduring one.
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.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.
Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.