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).
Letter Writer: Thanks for your previous help in understanding Bianca when she constantly wants pictures of Charlie and when she cancels our visits. We are taking your advice but are still struggling to build a relationship with our son’s birth mom. One thing that has been hard in relating with Bianca is that most every attempt to connect with her outside of Charlie is met with silence or a quick response.
For example, if I text her pictures of Charlie letting her know that I’ve been thinking of her, she’ll respond with a thank you or how Charlie looks like her. But when I try to continue the conversation (ask her how she’s doing, if she had a good birthday, etc) she either stops responding or simply says “I’m good,” and the conversation ends there.
I’m sure there are triggers I’m not seeing, but it’s hard to not feel like Bianca sees us as only as a vessel to get pictures or information about Charlie. She doesn’t show much interest in us or our family (I probably shouldn’t expect her to), but that does make it hard to know her intentions in all the sharing on social media. If I actually knew her better, it might be easier to not be so alarmed.
Do you have any ideas for how to approach the conversation of not sharing images on social media? I’ve never actually asked her to not share them before, so bringing it up would be for the first time. Should I bring up the fact that I found her account and saw the images she’s shared? Should I make a blanket statement of “hey I know we’ve never talked about this before, but please don’t share these images of Charlie online for his protection?”
Letter Writer: So you already know about our son’s birth mom who had an endless need for us to send pictures. Your advice was SO helpful and insightful and we are now changing the way we think about her and approach Bianca. The second part of our request for advice has to do with a cancelled visit and with what I’ve seen on Bianca’s social media.
In the winter, we set up a date for Bianca to see Charlie, but on the day of the meeting, she stopped responding and hasn’t made an attempt to meet back up. We’ve tried to assure her that we’re happy to set up another date at any time.
Also, I saw on Facebook that Bianca has been sharing pictures of Charlie publicly, and in the comments, it looks like she and her family call him Frankie. Bianca’s mother also has Charlie’s photo as her profile picture.
Initially, I was bothered that pictures of Charlie were being shared on the internet without our permission, and that they are calling him something other than his name. I’ve also been bothered by the fact that Bianca’s family has reached out on Facebook trying to get me to add them as a friend (one aunt even said that she was frustrated that she wasn’t asked to adopt Charlie). I’ve had questions in the past on whether or not Bianca feels like we’re just babysitting Charlie or if she realizes that we are her parents, so this definitely stirs up some feelings in me.
I don’t want to overreact. I realize that my emotions and gut reaction might not actually be in Charlie’s best interest, so I’d love any insight or advice on how to handle all this.