We had our second and final day of training for our agency yesterday. Last weekend we had a birthmother and adoptive parents come in and tell their stories. They had very open adoptions and frequent interactions. Yesterday we talked more about the importance of openness. A few other couples at the training with us asked about what happens when the child is an adult? Does a very open relationship mean they might feel free to move in to birthparents' home when they are, say 19? What is the experience of adult adoptees who have very open relationships? The caseworkers tried to downplay the concerns and just repeated, again, this is not co-parenting. But when you think about it, open adoptions really started increasing in the mid1980s, so children in those environments are really just hitting adulthood in the past few years. So we don't really know their experiences.
I know the birthmother and adoptive family that spoke with us really freaked out some others in our group about openness, but I did not worry because I knew we could set boundaries on how open we are. We would not have to set up a relationship like they did. But the adult adoptee that spoke yesterday freaked me out. She had a semi-open adoption. Her parents and birthparents exchanged letters. She did not meet her birth family until she was about 14. It evolved over time but now she sees her birthmother and biological sister quite often. She started having Christmas Eve dinner at their house every year! That was when my nerves really picked up. I don't think I could handle that.
She had a binder full of all the letters exchanged over the years. She passed that around for us to flip through. It became apparent that the birthmother gave her a different name that was changed by the adoptive family. I asked how she felt about that. She did seem to think it was a big deal to have had a different name at one point. But she did say she was thinking of changing her middle name to incorporate her birth name. She might do it as a mother's day present to her birthparents. I could not handle a mother's day of all days to have my child do that.
She did say her adoptive mother has some anxiety issues about her interactions with her birthmother. And seem conflicted when she talked about that.
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