|First weekend with my daughter, at her home|
"She told him [her son] that if he wanted the name, she would give it to him." I flashed on the remembrance of hearing that she knew the natural/birth mother was from the area where we all lived that I 'd heard a few years earlier, and was anxious that the boy's original mother would want her child back. Worried is the word I remembered. I had not assumed that she knew the woman's name. That had not come up.
So she knew her name all along? And the son knows all about DNA testing, as if he has no other route to his biological family?
What I had heard was not an open adoption, it was the door ajar. This is Mom holding the keys to the kingdom and though she might say, "If you ever should want to know that other woman, I can give you her name," the adoptee is likely never to say, Well, yes, I'd like that name, for what has gone unsaid here is: But you don't, right? Haven't I been enough? All of which implies that if I, your Mom, is not enough, you are going to hurt me. She doesn't need to add: After all I've done for you, because that sense automatically comes with the territory of being adopted--even if the adoptive parent has never stated that in word or deed. To my mind, it can't be helped.
It came up the first time my daughter was visiting me and my husband, and it came up out of the blue without anyone saying anything. She later said she was having a great time that day and then remembered her family back in Wisconsin, and felt guilty. So she pouted for the rest of the evening. Now most of you know I found my daughter when she was 15 (photo above) and from that time forward, our previously closed adoption became open. She lived with me and my husband for several summers.
In today's world a truly open adoption is one--or should be one--in which the adoptee from the very beginning grows up knowing that he has two families: one of origin, one of environment. But environment is all he knows, and so for the most part, and if the adoptive family is accepting and loving, he incorporates a sense of what is owed that mother/father/ family that those of us who grew up on our biological families cannot fathom. We understand we are connected to our aging parents, and "owe" them care as they get on, but for the adoptee, there is this added twist that underlies what is owed: the adoptive parents took you in when they did not have to...so you don't want to hurt them in any way.
In the normal order of things, one takes care of a child just because they are your child. Period. There's no filter, there's no gateway to chose no instead of yes. That is, other than relinquishment. Children take care of their parents or they don't, depending on a zillion individual factors.
In my life as public relinquishing "birth" mother more than a few times someone has told me about someone we both knew whose hip liberal leanings led her to say to a son or daughter, "If you would like to find your birth mother...." but the individual adoptee has said, Oh no, she isn't interested in doing that. Once the mother herself told me, but then, this was the mother who felt it necessary to correct language from "daughter" to "birth daughter" within weeks of my daughter's death. I assume she wanted to assure those who heard her that I couldn't possibly have mourned deeply for my daughter--after all, I'd given her up once, what could it be to lose her again? I can't imagine that her daughter would feel that she could freely say she was interested in searching for her birth mother, and woe if she used any language other than that.
So when the few adoptive mothers who come here and comment--Second Mom and Tiffany and Jay Iyer and Lavender Luz--we are thrilled and gratified to hear from them.
As for what an open adoption is? It is one in which the child adoptee knows his "other" mother from the earliest years, and never hears the words...if you would like to know...I have her name (but of course you probably don't, right? Right? RIGHT?"--lorraine
PS--Let me thank Robin, one of our frequent commentors, for her review of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption at her blog--All In The Family of Adoption
To order, click on link here or book jacket. Thank you for being one of those who order through FMF! And to participate in a study of mothers who relinquished after 1989, keep scrolling.
Born That Way: Genes, Behavior, Personality
by William Wright
"The author takes on the question of nature versus nurture, examining the roles heredity and environment play in determining not only what we look like, but why some of us like coffee rather than tea or prefer cats to dogs. Wright's position is clearly in favor of genetic control of our predispositions, based on compelling evidence from various research such as the famous University of Minnesota studies of identical twins raised separately and from newer work such as that outlined in Dean Hamer's Living with Our Genes. Wright states emphatically, 'The nature-nurture war is over.'
"Wright makes a strong case for genetic determinism, while carefully distancing himself from the socio-political ramifications of saying people are 'born that way.' He does this by showing how decades of research pointing toward genes as determiners of body and mind has been misinterpreted by groups or individuals intent on achieving their nonscientific goals." --Therese Littleton
STUDY OF MOTHERS WHO RELINQUISHED
The more studies, the better. Be a participator!
Dear Birth Parents, (Note: as addressed)
You are invited to take part in a research study about the experiences of birth parents in the United States who have relinquished a child for adoption. The study aims to investigate the context and effectiveness of counseling practices offered to birth parents prior to placement. The survey is expected to take approximately 20-25 minutes.
Eligibility: Women and men who have relinquished a child for adoption in the United States during the last 25 years (after 1989) and who are over the age of 18 years of age.
Compensation: If you complete the survey, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of six $100 gift cards when the survey concludes. By following the link below and completing the survey, you confirm that you are 18 or older, have read this document, and agree to participate.
Benefit to You: Your will have an opportunity to speak about your experience. This will help us to identify gaps in existing practices and help us to develop better approaches to helping birth parents through the adoption process.
To participate in the survey, use this link and paste the link into your browser): http://tinyurl.com/AdoptionOptionsSurvey
Information gained in this survey will be completely confidential. That is, no individuals or organizations will be identified in the results or reports that come from the study.
Questions? Contact the researchers via email or phone: Elissa Madden, PhD (254) 723-4545; or firstname.lastname@example.org. Research approved by the University of Texas at Arlington. We appreciate your time and effort to help establish better practices and make a difference in the experiences of other birth parents.
Elissa Madden, PhD, LMSW and Scott Ryan, PhD, MSW, MBA
School of Social Work University of Texas at Arlington
Note: If you do not qualify for this study but know someone who might, please feel free to forward this message to them; however, we also ask that you keep the content of the message intact so that birth parents have all of the necessary information regarding the study. Thank you!