It takes a strong back and a soft front to face the world.
— Roshi Joan Halifax, Zen teacher, as quoted by NYT best-selling author Elizabeth Lesser in Cassandra Speaks and by Brené Brown, PhD on Unlocking Us —
And, I submit, to cultivate an vibrant and effective open adoption — as you’ll discover with this latest episode of Adoption: The Long View.
Three things converged as I prepared for this episode.
First, The Talk
I interviewed Kim Court, a birth mom who placed her son for adoption in 1988, and Linda Marie Mueller, who became an adoptive mom to a son in 1992. Both are my friends, and I have long wondered how each of them figured out how to create a healthy open adoption way back in its early days, before practically anyone else was doing it and before there was much guidance on it.
Back in 2009, my sisters Sheri, Tami, and I got together at Christmas and recorded the song Dona Nobis Pacem. As I recall, the evening and the recording involved much giggling, not only by us but also by our children, who thought their mothers were acting very un-motherlike with all that childish frivolity.
(Our parents, on the other hand, were simply ecstatic, watching their progeny do something together that wasn’t bickering.)
Since then, I have shared that video here at the end of most years. Somehow on YouTube it has racked up 17K views, a few comments that could be either heartfelt or creepy, and two bah humbug thumbs down.
Then Came 2020
Last year, 2019, we didn’t celebrate Christmas together until January. So early in 2020, before the pandemic lock down — before we even knew it was coming — my sisters and I spent some face-to-face time working on a joint yoga project. We got together at the local YMCA for a quick DIY photo shoot, and, oh hey, let’s also sing the song again to make our parents happy.
Little did we know it would be the last time we’d all be together for the rest of the year and into the foreseeable future.
3 Sisters Singing
We’ve been hanging on to this short clip for almost the entire pandemic. Here’s the updated version of the Holden Sisters singing Dona Nobis Pacem in our small attempt to bring forth peace, joy, harmony, and love in a world that needs all those qualities more than ever.
May 2021 bring to you and your loved ones a mega-dose of love, peace, joy, and harmony.
I was surprised at how much positive shift there was in families’ approaches and beliefs about open adoption. That gave me hope that adoptive parents can change and adapt. They come to see the birth family as human beings, and they’ve developed empathy for people who they may have been fearful of.
They might have initially approached theoretical birth parents with suspicion or fear. But they open up and grow.
— Abbie Goldberg, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Clark University, —
Abbie Goldberg, PhD, on How Adoptive Families Evolve Over Time