' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Considering an open adoption? What you should know

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Considering an open adoption? What you should know

Although we at First Mother Forum don't think of ourselves as the Suzy Orman of the adoption world, we recognize that much of what takes place in this world is similar to financial transactions. We've written the following piece to help mothers who have decided on adoption protect their and their child's rights to the openness they need and deserve.

This is a draft. We ask our readers to add their thoughts. We'll incorporate their ideas and post this as a permanent page.

About 14,000 to 18,000 voluntary infant adoptions take place each year and virtually all of them have some degree of openness. We at FMF have learned, however, that mothers surrendering their infants often have little idea of the different kind of open adoptions and are unaware that they can negotiate the terms of open adoption agreements. Often mothers are
presented with a "take it or leave it" document prepared by the adoption agency or the prospective adoptive parents' attorney.

While we refer to "mothers" here, the advice is applicable to fathers-to-be as well. Before you sign your consent to give up your child, you have a great deal of power to fashion the kind of adoption you think will be the best for yourself and your child. It sounds crass, but the reality is you have the power until the deal is done. It's a seller's market. Once the contract is signed, however, mothers have virtually no ability to change it.

Open adoptions may be fully open or semi-open. To confuse matters, adoption practitioners often refer to semi-open adoptions as open adoptions. In true open adoptions (often referred to as "fully open"), you choose the adoptive parents from a profile of couples, typically three to five, pre-screened by the adoption agency or adoption attorney. Always ask to see the profiles of couples who live at least within the distance it will be easy for you to make the trip to visit.

Once you make an initial selection, you meet with the prospective adoptive parents. You may obtain a copy of the prospective adoptive parents’ home study, which the law requires before couples can be approved to adopt. If you are not satisfied with the couple, you can ask to meet others. Guard against selecting a couple who lives a great distance away since maintaining contact with your child will be more difficult. Some agencies deliberately offer mothers profiles where the only couple who comes close to meeting the mother's stated preferences lives in a distant state making frequent contact impossible. Keep in in mind that if you are not satisfied with the couples presented, you can go to another agency.

Before the birth of your child, you and the prospective adoptive parents sign an agreement for on-going contact with the child. Mothers are often presented with what the agency calls a "typical" agreement and are unaware they may negotiate terms more to their liking. At the end of this article is a list of conditions which you should consider before signing any open adoption agreement.

In semi-open adoptions you select the adoptive parents from profiles, but do not meet them or know their names. The adoptive parents agree to send pictures and letters every few months for the first few years of the child's life. You may write to the adoptive parents and send letters and gifts to the baby through the agency. Agency staff reads the letters and opens the gifts; it may refuse to send them to the adoptive parents or child if the agency staff thinks they are inappropriate. (Or, in some cases, if the adoptive parents have asked that the letters and presents stop.)

When Catelynn, one of the contestants on Sixteen and Pregnant, a reality TV show, complained to her social worker that she did not know who the parents of her daughter really were, the social worker responded by saying something to the effect of, Well if you wanted a fully open adoption, you should have said so. It was clear that the young--and now anguished--teen mother had not been aware that she had a choice. Remember that no matter how concerned that social worker who holds your hands through your pregnancy is, she is working for the agency, whose fees paid by adoptive parents keep the agency in business. They are the client, not the prospective mother.

Semi-open adoption agreements provide that after a certain amount of time, typically three to five years, you and the adoptive parents can decide on further contact. When mothers sign these agreements, they often assume that the adoptive parents will continue the arrangement, or allow even more contact, only to find themselves shut out completely. One agency source says that 80 percent of all such semi-open adoptions actually close within a few years; another source found that only 12 percent of such adoptions stay fully open. Mothers may return to the agency, asking it to convince the adoptive parents to continue contact. Agencies are reluctant to become involved. The adoptive parents are their client and the agency does not wish to antagonize them. Further, there's no money in it for the agency.

Another problem with arrangements for communication only through the agency is that adoption agencies are, first and foremost, businesses. Like any business, they are subject to market whims, and they can close. Indeed many have in the past decade as the supply of infants has dwindled and demand for babies has decreased because assisted reproduction techniques have improved and foreign babies are available. In some states the files are sent to the state child welfare agency, but the state agency may not be willing to assume the role of go-between. In other states, there is no central depository to take the records, and only luck determines if anyone will pick up the case load.

We strongly urge mothers considering adoption to make it a fully open one, where you meet the adoptive parents, know where they live, work, and get their mail, as well as know their full names and other community involvements. No matter how nice they may seem before the birth and surrender, remember, they want your baby, and everything may change after they have your child.

You need to know, though, that even if the adoption is fully open, adoptive parents have full custody which allows them to decide everything about the child: his religious training, his education, which values and beliefs to instill. They can make decisions regardless of whether you disagree with the decisions. They may join a cult or practice witchcraft. That is what adoption is--you are not the legal parent and have no standing in determining your child's upbringing.

No matter whether it is an open or semi-open adoption, the agreement may not be enforceable. The legislature in your state may not have authorized such agreements, or even have gone so far as to explicitly prohibit them. In these states, mothers have no recourse once the adoptive parents take the baby.  

Even in states where the law allows open adoption agreements, the judge must approve the open adoption agreement often referred to as "continuing contact" agreements. Though we've not heard of it happening, it's possible the judge could disapprove of the agreement. The adoption would still go through, however. The adoptive parents may move away or disappear, effectively ending the agreement. They may simply refuse to comply with the agreement and there may be little you can do. One thing for sure, you cannot have your baby back.

To enforce the agreement, you must start by undergoing mediation at the adoption agency which may charge you a fee for the service. If the agency has closed, you'll have to find another agency to handle the mediation. If mediation does not resolve the problem or the adoptive parents refuse to participate, you can file a court action if you have the money to hire an attorney. If the adoptive parents live in another state, you may have to go to a court in that state. Judges can refuse to enforce agreements if they find circumstances have changed and the agreements are not in the best interests of the children.

You may find visits with your child stressful, you may become distraught with grief and guilt and your child may become emotional, throwing fits when you leave. You may have been led to believe that openness is merely for your benefit and be unaware of how important it is for your child. Adoptive parents may encourage mothers to stay away, telling them how much their visits upset their child although we've known adoptive parents who would do almost anything to get their child's mother to visit. When you go into an open adoption, you need to be committed to keep your end of the bargain. The emotional issues around adoption won't end when you retreat and stopping visits can be damaging to your child.

If there are provisions you don’t understand in the agreement the social worker or attorney hands you, (legal or psychological speak), insist that they be re-written in plain English. You have the right to take home a draft agreement and go over it with anyone of your choosing. Insist on changes if you're not satisfied with the agreement. If the prospective adoptive parents don’t agree with your changes, you're free to go to another agency or attorney. Many more couples are seeking babies than there are mothers giving up babies.

Be as cautious as you would be dealing in with a used car salesman. Read the fine print and don't rely on oral promises. We know of one case in which the mother and the prospective adoptive parents reached an agreement sitting around a table at an adoption agency. The prospective adoptive parents never signed the agreement, however. Consequently, the mother had no rights whatsoever. .

While the agreement may be modified by the parties or a judge, it’s best to think of it as a document that must work for the next 18 years. At the same time, you need to know that the best crafted agreement is no substitute for trust and honesty.

Name of the child
Typically the parties agree on the name or the mother gets to select the middle name.

Hospital arrangements
In which city and at which hospital will you deliver your baby

Whether the adoptive parents will be in the delivery room. FMF recommends that prospective adoptive parent NOT be in the delivery. If after holding your baby, you have doubts about the adoption, you’ll be far more comfortable in deciding to keep your baby if the prospective adoptive parents are not in your room or even in the hospital.

Transfer of the baby
Where the baby will go after delivery. If the prospective adoptive parents don’t live nearby, it may take a few days before they can pick up the baby. You may take the baby home or have the baby placed in foster care. Once the baby is placed physically with the adoptive parents, it’s almost impossible to get your baby back if you change your mind.

Contact information
The parties agree to keep each other informed of mailing, residential, and email addresses and telephone numbers. Adoption agencies may require you and the adoptive parents keep the agency informed of current mailing addresses

Letters, pictures, gifts
How often you may send pictures, letters, and gifts. Whether grandparents or other relatives may send pictures, letters, and gifts.

A word of advice--don’t agree to a provision allowing adoptive parents to screen letters, pictures, and gifts for appropriateness.

How often adoptive parents must send letters and pictures. Content of letters from adoptive parents such as school, social, and development information

Telephone calls
How often you may initiate calls. Whether your child may call you. Who else may call your child such as. grandparents

Where and how often visits between you and your child will occur

If you and the adoptive parents live far apart, whether the adoptive parents will pay your transportation costs or bring the child to your home if you are unable to pay transportation costs.

How visits will be modified if one party moves out of the area. The adoption agency mediation program may assist in working out a new visitation schedule.

Who may be present during your visits with your child. You can insist on time alone with your child, that is, without the adoptive parents present. You can insist that others of your choosing, grandparents for example, may be present during visits.

Whether others may visit such as the grandparents when you are not present.

 Sharing Personal Information
Agree not to share personal information about each other with other parties.

Health Matters
Adoptive parents must inform you of the death of your child or of serious illness or injury requiring hospitalization. Adoptive parents must inform you of the death or of serious illness or injury requiring hospitalization of the other adoptive parent. You must inform the adoptive parents of the death of the other first parent or of any serious illness or injury to yourself or the other first parent requiring hospitalization.

Inability of adoptive parents to care for the child
If adoptive parents are unable to care for child, they will allow you to seek custody or guardianship.

Adoptive parents will sign wills which condition the appointment of a guardian on requiring guardian to abide by the agreement.

Modification of agreement
You and the adoptive parents may informally agree to changes to the agreement but these are not legally binding.The agreement can be changed legally only by agreement of you and the adoptive parents or by a judge.

What you should never agree to
NEVER sign an agreement which provides that if you try to contest or overturn the adoption, the agreement will be void.

NEVER sign an agreement that provides that the adoptive parents may refuse to comply with the agreement if they determine that it is in the best interests of the child. --jane and lorraine

The promise of 'openness' lures vulnerable mothers-to-be
No Matter How Adoption is Done, Grief Remains for Mothers
When an agency promises 'semi-open' adoption, look elsewhere
An Un-Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents Lie and Break a Mother's Heart

The Open Adoption Experience - A Complete Guide for Adoptive and Birth Families by Lois Ruskai Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia
"When my husband and I first decided to adopt a child, our adoption counselor asked that we read The Open Adoption Experience. We felt that we were "prepared for anything" after reading the book and continuously referred to it during the adoption process. It helped us to forge strong bonds with our birthfamily. Our son, Thomas, was born four years ago. As he grows and circumstances change, I find myself referring to this book time and again. Just today, I picked up the book to find learn about issues surrounding the impending birth of Thomas' first birth sibling. Open Adoption has been full of WONDERFUL surprises. This book, takes much of the stress and fear out of the open adoption experience."--A reader at Amazon

The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole
by Lori Holden
"Open adoption isn't just something parents do when they exchange photos, send emails, share a visit. It's a lifestyle that may feel intrusive at times, be difficult or inconvenient at other times. "Tensions can arise even in the best of circumstances. But knowing how to handle these situations and how to continue to make arrangements work for the child involved is paramount. This book offers readers the tools and the insight to do just that. It covers common open-adoption situations and how real families have navigated typical issues successfully. Like all useful parenting books, it provides parents with the tools to come to answers on their own, and answers questions that might not yet have come up.

Through their own stories and those of other families of open adoption, Lori and Crystal review the secrets to success, the pitfalls and challenges, the joys and triumphs. By putting the adopted child at the center, families can come to enjoy the benefits of open adoption and mitigate the challenges that may arise."--Amazon 

More than a how-to, this book shares a mindset, a heartset, that can be learned and internalized, so parents can choose to act out of love and honesty throughout their child’s growing up years, helping that child to grow up whole.


  1. This is a very helpful guide to open adoption, but it still assumes that an adoption can be a positive thing for all involved. I'll grant that there may be a few extraordinary cases where a birth mother cannot care for her child, ie., she dies. Or the mother's circumstances may be so dire (drug addiction, an abusive family situation, etc.) that an alternative must be sought, but most couples trying to adopt an infant are infertile white couples who want a healthy infant. Most infants in America that are adoptable are born to healthy women whose only disadvantages are being young and/or being unmarried. Rather than helping such young women (they are typically young) make an "adoption plan," as if that were somehow an ordinary or "respectable" response to an untimely pregnancy, why not support that young woman so she can keep and raise her child? Typical infant adoptions are not designed with the baby's best interests in mind; they are crafted for the benefit of the adoptive parents. We all know this. The number of infant adoptions that are truly necessary are so few as not to need entire agencies and, indeed, industries, to facilitate them. The agencies exist because there is a demand for a scarce commodity. It is horrifying that in this day and time we are still treating babies as transferable goods.

    If I had read these guidelines when I was pregnant with my son in 1968, I like to think I'd have seen through the adoption fog that surrounded me. I read this with a knot in my stomach; it came too late for me. The idea of other options never occurred to me, because I was young (22) and without resources (I had a college degree and a teaching license but no permanent job) and no support (bfather in another country and parents unwilling to pitch in). Forty-six years later I still am grief-stricken at what I lost and what my son subsequently had to endure--and for what? By all means, inform pregnant women who are considering surrendering their babies for adoption about what their rights and options are, but let's do all we can to keep these women and their babies together. I didn't know the lifetime of grief I was letting myself in for. I believed the "experts" when they said I'd get over it, move on, have other children. Well, I did move on and have other children, but nothing will ever erase the pain or make up for the loss of my son. He's in my life now (I found him when he was 44 years old), and we have a loving relationship, but we have both suffered wounds that will never heal. Those women on the brink of signing away their children need to know they are at the beginning of a lifetime of unimaginable suffering.

    1. So true, Pam. The A-parents are the only winners. First mothers and adoptees have issues that last a lifetime .

    2. Pam, I wish we didn't know how true your statements are. I also was 22, unmarried (father was Irish Catholic, 3 kids, married, planning to divorce.....). They did divorce but too late to save my daughter. Let us both hope that women who are thinking about adoption for their child read the blog--as well as your comment here.

      Your sister in grief--

    3. I adopted a child in an open adoption. If they did not follow the agreement I was told it was null and void. It has been awhile and the family such as; siblings, bio parents and grandparents will not stop me to see him. What can I do? Please help.

    4. If the adoption took place in the US, you were told wrong. No state law in the US provides that an adoption is nullifiied if the adoptive parent does not follow the agreement.

      If your adoption was arranged by an adoption agency, you should contact them. The agency may be able to contact the first parents and convince them that visitation is important for the child. If that's not successful or your adoption was arranged privately, you could hire an attorney to bring a legal action to enforce the agreement.

      In any case, I suggest you try to find post-adoption services through an agency, another organization, or a support. They can help you deal with your child's anxiety's caused by his first parents not visiting.

      Please let us know what you do.

  2. I cannot encourage mothers enough to advocate for themselves. I think you made some good points.

    I would add to not put your trust in the prospective adoptive parents. And I say this as an adoptive parent. They may seem like nice people. They may be super nice to you. You may feel vulnerable if you have no one else looking out for you, and they may feel like a support system. They ARE NOT. The agency will not look out for you- they are concerned about their paying customers. You must and will have to advocate for yourself.

    Looking back, I realized mistakes about the adoption that I would like to go back and correct, because even when I was trying very hard to put myself in our daughter's mother's shoes and do what she needed, I couldn't because I couldn't know what she needed/wanted. Only she could know that.

    You have to speak up for yourself. Don't be afraid to ask the PAP's to stay away from the hospital if that's what you want. Or to leave you with the baby your only full day in the hospital. Or to skip the newborn picture session if it makes you feel upset. Make a hospital plan, but don't be afraid to change your mind on anything. The birth is about the mother and baby, and honestly, it just doesn't include the PAPs. Don't be sucked into letting them live vicariously through you- they will be just fine not being there. Trust me. They'll get over it.

    Don't be afraid, above all, to change your mind about the adoption. Don't feel you owe anyone your child. The decision being made is one for a lifetime, and if you have hesitation, then don't. Our daughter's parents took almost a month after her birth to decide. Do not allow an agency to make you think you MUST decide and sign the termination papers before you leave the hospital. You don't have to.

    Finally, yes to this. "When you go into an open adoption, you need to be committed to keep your end of the bargain. The emotional issues around adoption won't end when you retreat and stopping visits can be damaging to your child." On the blog Sisterwish, she wrote something recently about how a child cannot withdraw from the pain like an adult can. A child only knows how to completely throw herself into the relationship. I cannot plead enough with mothers to please, please take your end of open adoption to heart. It is truly about the child at the center.

    1. Thank you once more Tiffany for adding the perspective of an adoptive parent to this crucial issue. I wish to second the thought that the prospective adopters (and I mean no disrespect with that term, it's true, and it's just shorthand) must stay away from the hospital! Their presence only adds to the pressure to give up your baby to these nice people...a new mother needs a few hours, a few days alone with her child. The adopters have the rest of the child's life to "bond."

  3. One little comment, if as a young parent, one is attracted to the "open adoption option", one really should seriously look into a foster placement as an alternative.

  4. Theodore, I hate to say it, but foster placement is not the answer. Foster care leaves the ultimate location of the child up to the State. Often a mother that is looking for that breather to figure out her own mess, will find that the baby/child is placed in an adoptive placement and that they will never be able to "prove" to the State that they are capable of caring for their child. Even state paid Social Workers have a quota of adoptions that the must meet for bonus money for the agency that is considered part of the deal. The Social Worker that licenses homes can tell you that almost all new (in my area over 85%) foster care licenses are obtained in hopes of adopting out of care the new born or toddler of young women that buy into the "temporary" help that is offered.

    The difference between an agency placement and a state placement is almost negligible in the effect it has on the parents...... a mother sees her infant being spoiled with pretty things, loved by the "perfect" couple and given what she can't give....

    Also add to the issues that if a parent places a child even in a respite situation, they must PROVE to a social worker that they are the right place for their child. This is not as easy as you would think - almost 78% of all children that are placed in foster care for ANY REASON are never returned to their biological parents.

    Federal law requires that any child placed in care that remains in care for 6 months or more, be dual staffed - meaning while "reunification" is always the goal (return to family) - the social worker must begin looking for adoptive parents for the child. If a child is in care longer than 12 months, the social worker is no longer required to push for reunification, but can be focusing totally on adoption. After 18 months in care it is likely, if the child is adoptable, that the child is already in the process of being adopted by the placement (foster parents).

    So, please, before you give advice, know the whole deal.

    1. Perhaps Lori, I admit that I'm from another country, but you seem somewhat limited in your ideas about the huge variety of care covered by the words "foster care". You are not claiming that however bad the situation of a mother of a child voluntarily placed in fulltime, let alone parttime, foster care, it is worse than a mother who has already lost her child to adoption, are you?

    2. Theodore - first, "foster care" in the U.S. only works one way - so I am not limited. The laws here prevent a lot of the kind of care you are talking about. I am talking about this country and the way it works here. And, there is no such thing as placing a child voluntarily here parttime. And no, I am not claiming that either - as a former foster child and a mother who has lost a child to adoption, I am simply stating the way things work in the United States. I understand in some other countries there is temporary or part time/full time placement where the mother has complete access to her child... but again, this is not something that is legal in the United States.

    3. I'll echo what Lori said. In the US, a mother can place a child in foster care informally if she can pay for it or a friend or relative agrees to take the child. Even so, if she doesn't take the child back within a certain period, the agency, friend, or relative can sue in court to have her rights terminated and the child adopted.

      A mother can also place of child in foster care with the state but then she has to agree to give the state control and may never get her child back. These laws are based on the belief that permanentness is paramount..

    4. Let me get this right, if a hardworking widow with far-away-living family continues successfully the bussiness she and her dearly beloved husband created, while also raising her two sons, but needs to have a couple of days off from doing double duty as a parent (say one in seven, on average), there is no system available to provide such care, no hand to feed and caress the sons of the overworked widow? Or is such aid provided, but is it just not called "fostering"?

    5. Theodore - Yes, this is exactly right. And no, there is no "aid" such as this. Custody laws in this country are very strict. Jane was very correct! If a mother places a child outside of her home for any reason - even with a "friend" - after a small amount of time (each state has differing time frames) that "friend" can either sue for custody themselves (and usually get it) or give the child to the state and then it becomes even more of a mess... Normally, once a child is in foster care, if the parent ever gets the child back, they spend the rest of their lives with social services "helping" them by watching to make sure they are the perfect parents.

    6. Theodore, the US is not nearly as family-friendly as countries in Western Europe. No time off with pay when a mother has a baby, little government assisted day care, free preschool only for poor families, etc, etc. This lack of help to families certainly contributes to the high rate of children in foster care and adoption compared to Western European countries.

    7. OK, but are you saying there is no variation in foster care legislation and practice between the different states and other territories forming the United States?

    8. That's what we're saying Theodore. I should add there may be private programs which do provide this help. I don't know of any.

      Some states that provide respite care but only in instances where failing to do so would result in abuse of the child. The position of states is that they care only for children who are made wards of the courts because of abuse or neglect. The federal governments pays about 50 percent of the cost for state wards but nothing for children who are not wards. States claim that they cannot afford to take "voluntaries."

      One of the most shocking things are families with disabled children. States help only it they turn their children over to the state. As I recall, some in Congress have tried to change this and maybe they have for disabled children.

      No question that waiting for a crisis before helping families is backwards thinking. If states and the federal government helped children within their families, they would save bundles in foster care expenses.

  5. I really do not have any personal experience with open adoption. But, from what I have researched, it seems to be another scheme that really can't work, for many different reasons. There are no enforceable laws anywhere that guarantee the parties involved will stick to the agreement. To my mind, it is another way for adoption agencies to make money. Lots of promises, very few of which are kept, and a child languishing in the middle of it all. It is as unnatural as closed adoption, in my opinion.

  6. "Don't be afraid, above all, to change your mind about the adoption. Don't feel you owe anyone your child."

    Well said Tiffany. No one owes anyone anything on either side. Same goes for people like Pam who feel that PAPs owe these mothers "help" to raise their child. PAPs are under no obligation to help them. If a mother chooses to raise her child then it's up to her to figure it out not the PAPs.

    1. Well, I don't necessarily agree with that unless you are speaking very, very specifically. I would have helped my daughter's other parents had it been something I could have fixed. It wasn't. But financially, we support organizations that do provide support to women in crisis pregnancies, and I definitely support the idea of family preservation first and foremost (obviously not in cases of neglect or abuse where the child is at risk).

      As a woman who has been blessed with much, I do feel that I definitely "owe" it to other women to help them if I am able to do so. If, as women, we supported one another more, then there would be a far less need for adoption to occur. There would be less sex trafficking. There would be less child hunger. There would be fewer children in gangs. There would be fewer women staying in abusive relationships because they have no way out.

      It's a utopian thought, I know. But even if I can't change the whole world, I do believe I have a responsibility to do anything that I can. I think "obligation" is a fine line, and while no person owes help to another person, I don't really live my life with that attitude. I just want to clarify that I certainly didn't intend to imply that with what I said.

  7. I agree with so much of what you wrote and what Tiffany added. As an AP, I second don't feel you need to have the PAPs in the delivery room or at the hospital. Have someone in the room who will advocate for you. You can't be sure a PAP will. We were in the room for the birth of our daughter and for me it was more about being their for her first mom than witnessing her birth. The doctor had to tell me to stand up and take a picture. And I found myself in the role of having to advocate for her when she refused pain meds. The doctors came to me to understand why. I was able to help them find an answer that relieved her pain but met her need to be concious and in full control of her facultites as she planned to take most of that day for herself with the baby. You can't count on a PAP to do that though, so take someone into delivery that will advocate for your needs and wishes not their own. And feel free to take as much time as you need at the hospital with your child. You don't have to rush the decision. There's no requirement to sign before you leave the hospital no matter what the agency says.

    I'd like to comment to on the open vs semi-open. I think that there's more of a blend of the two out there now with some elements of both. Ours was called semi-open but we know their names, they at the time knew our first names, we had a phone number they could call us on during pregnancy, and it's not uncommon to meet prior to making a decision even in a semi-open adoption. The big difference in the two seems to be exchanging contact information, last names, and visits. We have opened ours up more since the birth which I think is not nearly as common as it should be. I don't think you can count on PAPs or APs to grow in their trust which we've tried very hard to do. We did a start slow and build relationship model, but honestly, you have to specify prior to birth what's going to happen after the fact. And I know that while I told the agency we were open to more openness, they weren't willing to facilitate that. We ended up having to do it all on our own which is why I wish I had read this post prior to. I would have created an agreement so we were all on the same page. As it is, contact is sporadic (due to their circumstances) and I've had to reach out to other family members to ensure that we can reach them no matter what.

    Finally, I second the point about contact being about the child. It's in my kids best interest to maintain good quality relationships with their first family while they're young so that they have every possible option later. It's in their best interest to be able to ask you the why's, the hows, etc and not have those questions answered by my guesses. It's in their best interest to see that they have your eyes, or your toes, that you share interests, that they have a heritage. Those best interests are served when they can interact with their mom and dad. Once the adoption is final, you'll not have control over that, so do everything you can before hand to ensure that you can be in that role. And know that if it feels awkward to you, it feels awkward to the AP as well even if they don't show it. They aren't better than you, at best they are your peer. Don't think of them as better or more qualified.

    And please never be afraid to change your mind if you want to. You have that right and no matter how upset a PAP looks, they will get over it. And their grief over not adopting your child will not match the grief you would have over losing that same child. It's not the same, your grief is more. Take care of yourself and your child. Do what's best for you and the rest of us be damned (that's the crass way to say stand up for yourself.)

  8. Jane:

    In regrads to the contract agreement and the request to spent tome "alone" with thee child. The request can be put on paper but it doesn't nor shouldn't be a request that the AP abide by. As you stated in your post: "you are not the legal parent and have no standing in determining your child's upbringing." What you forgot to mention that as a bparent you also have no legal access to the child as well. Moreover, because of the nature of adoption, a bparent cannot request that the said child be returned, or that the bparent can petition the court for custody, if the aparents should die.

    Adoption is adoption regardless if it's open, it's still the transferring of legal rights from one parent to another. And as a bparent you have no rights, which I agree with. In short, open adoption is not adoption "lite", guardianship or co-parenting with visitation.

    Amother of one

    1. "Adopter of one", if you agree to something YES you should abide by it.

      Adopters like this can't wait to be the one's with all the "rights" so they control a mother and her child for the rest of eternity. Your comment is sickening and all that is wrong with adoption, a man made social construct that deems the natural mother "dead" to her own flesh and blood when in fact she is not.

      It is about possession and control of another person's child; a way for adopters to punish a mother and her child for their barrenness. Deny it all you want, this is the absolute truth.

      If you really loved a child you adopted, you would not treat his mother like a broodmare, especially if you specifically stated you wanted and agreed to openness. What it really is- sick, pathological and disturbing. People who do this have no business raising someone else's child and I feel very sorry for said child.

    2. Adopter of One - I echo Stephanie.... you obviously think that somehow a piece of paper erases the way your child began life in the first place.... yeah, good luck with that. That is sickening.

    3. Anything that the birth parent requests via paper and the adoptive parents agree to is absolutely something the APs should abide by except in the most extreme of circumstances (which will always be the exception, not the rule). Lorraine specifically is speaking to what the birth parents request for the open adoption to be, and any requests at all may be made. It is then up to the PAPs to be perfectly honest about what they will and won't be able to maintain, and what they are willing to do. Some will say anything to get a child, and that is wrong on such a deep moral level that transcends any legality of "transferring of legal rights."

      I 100% believe in fully enforceable contact agreements, and I think this goes both ways. If the birth parents agree to visits, they should follow through. If the APs agree to a certain level of contact, then they should absolutely stick to it. Both should be legally bound. As it is, when an open adoption closes due to whatever reason the APs feel like that day, the birth parent has no recourse.

      We agreed to a very open adoption with a lot of contact. We stand by what we agreed to. Period. If it became difficult for our daughter (or for us, but that's purely hypothetical as it just never will), then I would do the adult thing and find a counselor and work through it WITH my daughter's other parents.

      I am my daughter's legal mother, and I am her mother in my heart, too. As such, I could never, ever treat her other mother with such a callous disregard. They are, and always will be, a part of her. Because of this, because I love my daughter, I also love her other parents fiercely and fully.

  9. I have much to say about this but I'll keep it short and to the point. As a "birth"mom who was in a fully open adoption since my daughter was 9, 20 yrs. ago, I have a bit of first-hand experience with this. To anyone considering adoption and believing that "open" is the answer...it is not. You repeatedly say "good bye" to your child over, and over, and over again. And as Kat over at sisterwish has posted, to a child, it can feel like repeated rejection. I, too, was under the belief that with my daughter growing up knowing us ("birth"father is my husband, and we had 6 kids following her relinquishment after we married) that this would simply become her "normal." Well, it's almost like my daughter and I are going through reunion issues during this present time. She is angry, but won't or can't tell me why. She and my "kept" daughter (who is 10 yrs. younger) have deep resentments towards each other. I think my "birth"daughter feels like 2nd daughter is her replacement, and has put it out there that she has no interest in playing the typical "big sister" role with my 2nd daughter. My "kept" daughter had the expectation (wrongly encouraged by aparents as well as us) that "birth"daughter WOULD assume the "big sister" role. "Birth"daughter tried for awhile, and then did an about-face sometime in her early 20's. That crushed my "kept" daughter, which piled more guilt on me. NO ONE told us that ANYONE would be hurt by this. The benefits were supposed to be for ALL of us, although it almost killed my husband and I from time to time. To leave our first child repeatedly (we had visits once or twice a yr. due to living in different states) tore open wounds never allowed to fully heal. It did for her too, as her amom told us she'd cry in the car all the way home, and it took her several days to "snap out of it." Same for us.

    Would closed have been better? I can't say, because adoption was wrong in our case PERIOD. We were young, unmarried, and our parents pushed us and threatened us to give her up. There was no making it better.

    Don't assume you will have a relationship with your child once they're an adult if you opt for an open adoption. The issues are still there, and often don't surface until the "child" is old enough to really face what happened. In my daughter's mind, she was still the odd one out...the one given away and "not quite good enough." She has one "semi" relationship with only one out of my 6 kids...that's it at the moment. She has 2 adorable little nephews and one angelic little niece who she has seemingly no interest in. This is all my perception of course, because she doesn't share her feelings with me.

    It's all a big mess. I hope the rest of the parties in open adoptions have better luck than we did. :( We're left with a bunch of broken hearts with ours.

    1. Damn,Amy, the second time I read your comment all the way through I got tears in my eyes. There is no good way to feel "good" about an adoption like yours--you and your husband stayed together, and should have been allowed to keep your first, young though you must have been.


    2. Lorraine, I agree and have often wondered if it would have been easier on our daughter had she come from a broken relationship with no other full siblings. We all had the (naive) idea that we'd be "one big happy family." It worked for a little while. Visits got harder actually as time went on, and once "A" was 18, her amom kind of stepped out of holding up contact on their end. It felt like we were cut off, but it wasn't intentional. (I don't think, anyway) "A" was so used to her amom orchestrating visits, reminding her of our birthdays, etc. that once it was turned over to her, we were forgotten for the most part. Plus the fact that she was in college and starting her own adult life. But it was hard on us, and for the kids who didn't understand why their sister dropped out of sight. Perhaps it could have been handled differently on the aparent's end, idk.

      As I've said, now that "A" is kind of "coming out of the fog" it's like a reunion situation. You can only pretend this mess is "normal" for so long. I thought by suffering (and yes, that is an accurate word) through an open adoption, that at least all the kids would have relationships with each other. That hasn't happened, and there are so many bad feelings that I'm not sure how many of these relationships are salvageable. I can't figure out why she doesn't care about them anymore, and why she doesn't care about their kids (who wouldn't even have to know "Aunt A" had been given away).

      I truly hope no one actually sees "open adoption" as a cure-all, or as my daughter's amom used to say "the best of both worlds." It is most definitely NOT.

    3. Hi Amy: you ask if a closed adoption would have been better? In a word: NO. Closed adoption does not work. And, as I have been suspecting, open adoption has it's many complications and problems as well. The moral here is that adoption, unless in dire circumstances, is unnatural. And it leaves the first mothers and the adoptee to deal with issues no one would believe.

    4. Julia Emily, I absolutely agree with you.

    5. That's the issue Julia. It's SO unnatural and open or closed, there is no way to "normalize" it or make it "okay." The damage is done the minute we walked out of the hospital leaving our precious babies behind.

      Yuck all the way around!

  10. Amy, It's not that your daughter doesn't care, it's just too painful. She will be forever out of the club and she knows it. Why not ask her if she wants to move in now? Take her on vacations with you? You have a lot of ground to cover to reestablish her in her own clan. PLEASE write a blog warning others about the disaster that is OA. Please! ~dianne

    1. And it's horrible for me to know she may feel like the outsider because we've tried to take every opportunity to make her feel 'part of.' Again, the damage is done upon initial separation. I would write a blog, but I am horribly long-winded and I'm afraid I wouldn't make any sense! I try to get the word out through other's blogs, but I'll consider it :)

      As far as her moving in, there was initial talk of it about 6 yrs. ago, but she said she couldn't do it because her amom "would have a fit." Vacations...she has her own life and relationship and seems to stay very busy with the others in her life. She visits her aparents in another state almost monthly, so that leaves little time for us (also in a separate state). She'd have to take more time off work, etc. I'm very afraid to over-step boundaries or make her feel like she has to choose between families. I don't see a whole lot of interest on her end for becoming more of our family anymore. :(

      Thanks for the feed-back!

  11. Amy do you regret including your kept children in your open adoption. I am in a simular situation, but the difference is I didn't include my other children so when my daughter decided to not have any contact i was the only one affected.

    1. Cat: It is possible that your daughter felt quite alienated because--she was not allowed to know her siblings. It may be too late to repair that, but complete openness is the best way to go. No matter what, I am sorry for your second loss.

    2. Cat,
      I wish sometimes that it could have been possible to spare my "kept" children the hurt of all this, but it would have been impossible. "Birth"daughter wanted to stay with us during visits, and did, so it was an "all or nothing" situation. She was as interested in knowing her siblings as she was knowing her "birth"dad and I. She seemed to really love playing the "big sister" role (she was the younger sibling in her afamily) but that didn't seem to last.

      You were also in an open adoption where your child decided to not have contact anymore? I would like to hear more about it, if you'd like to share more. I would love to connect with other 'open adoption' birthmothers who have had less than idyllic outcomes.

  12. I'm sure open adoptions and the agreements have a lot of challenges for both the aparents and bparents. The thing with trying to enforce them IMO brings up the issue is that the adoptee, who had no part in drawing up or signing such an agreement, could be forced to comply with said agreement, not taking into account their feelings or needs during the different stages of their childhood.

    1. Actually, it would probably be pretty hard for anyone to be "forced" to visit someone, just as kids who have visits with another parent after a divorce but don't want to...can't really be forced into it--esp. as teenagers. But the open adoption agreements in terms of taking the adoptees needs into account are not really much different than regular closed adoptions. I guess the assumption is that an open adoption with all parties knowing one another is better than a closed adoption. Damn, there are days when I just hate all things adoption and this is one of them.

    2. Agreed, Lorraine. There is no good adoption, IMO. Only in the most severe circumstances. All this other stuff makes me sick.

  13. Amy, I am so sorry you and the rest of your family and especially the first daughter are having to live this horrendous open adoption situation. My situation resembled yours in the sense that my teen boyfriend and I could not get the NY state required legal parental consent (his parents) to get married and subsequently lost our child to adoption. Our only comfort was the fact that we bought the 1969 adoption party line that our sacrifice would result in this much better life for our child. Upon reunion, and thanks to the internet, we discovered the truth about the evil adoption industry, but were unable to build a close, healthy relationship that we had hoped for. So, no, I don't think closed would have been any better. We eventually married, had another child, a boy, and the two of them have a working sibling relationship. This may be due, in part, that my son was 10 at the time and was very excited to have a big sister.

    1. Gail, I'm so sorry for what happened.
      It's all just so inhumane.

    2. Gail, I didn't really know what happened, but his parents have a free ride to the lower depths for what they did to everyone. Unless they have been through giving up a child, people don't really understand the damage it does.

  14. Thanks to all for your insightful personal comments. I'll wait a few days to see if there are more comments and then up the post as a page.

    We have a current page "Giving Up Baby" about the issues related to "making an adoption plan." We will updating that as well. Our message is a strong, adoption should be a LAST resort.

  15. Adoption should be a last resort I agree. I would like to caution those moms considering open adoption to be prepared to be blamed when an open adoption closes. I have read too many posts on Adoption.com in which adoptive parents claim the adoptive baby/child becomes upset with visits and they need to close the adoption for the welfare of the child. No mention is made that the adoptive parents are stressed with the visits and the children pick up on this and are uncomfortable. Instead it is presumed that it must be the biological relatives that are making the children uncomfortable and it is in the best interest to cut contact and close the adoption.

    I remember all the begging and pleading to get just photos and updates let alone the promised visits. And every response I got from the adoptive parents was accusatory. They were busy, their camera was broken, they felt uncomfortable and I should just get a grip and understand that hearing from me made their adrenaline rise. Meanwhile my children became resigned as I did that we would not have the contact as promised.

    Later still when we accepted and embraced contact from my relinquished child I was accused again. How could I do this to the adoptive parents? That was their question. How could I not consider their feelings when I accepted contact? I cried too many tears over the years and just cannot for even one more minute accept this type of psychological torture. In the end an open adoption is still adoption. And it should be as stated before the very last resort for any child.

    1. Yep, many times it's ALL ABOUT the aparent's feelings! When my "birth"daughter was 18, we were at her house for graduation week-end. Her amom made the comment that open adoption had worked so well for all of us, blah blah blah that we should "go public." I had nothing to say, but when I got home, and I went to my therapist. I told her I couldn't continue on with this "farce" and I needed to finally tell MY truth. We had faked a smile throughout the years so we wouldn't be cut off, and pretended all was well and happy when we were anything BUT. My husband didn't attend the graduation because he had suffered basically a nervous break-down a few months prior, and he needed a break from our daughter and her aparents for his own healing. We didn't tell THEM that until later. ANYWAY, with the help of my therapist, I wrote a long letter explaining how adoption had hurt me and my family. I poured my heart into it, and made very sure (with my therapist's help) that it didn't accuse them or blame them. Heck, I even thanked them for letting us be a part of their lives! Amom never even responded. :( I knew she received it, but she never said ONE WORD. Later I found out she didn't want to make it all about herself, so she chose to say nothing. (hey...maybe my daughter's non-communicativeness comes from her amom! lol) That pretty much destroyed our relationship. All I was looking for (and I stated this) was for someone to recognize how much we hurt and struggled to keep our end of the bargain.

      No one has ever acknowledged what it did to me, my husband or my kids...NONE of my kids. I guess they never will.

      I completely understand being done with everything. I battle that urge every single day.

  16. My adoption was semi open until my daughter’s AP closed it without explanation. I enlisted the help of an investigator to help find my daughter. Her response was that” she was not who I was looking for ,but “if she was adopted I could be breaking up a happy home ”. I know she doesn’t know this but she looks more like my mom than I do. I respect her decision not to have contact. I also sent a letter to her AP I wanted them to know how devastating it was for me when they closed the adoption or if they knew what it was like to wonder if your child was dead or alive. I ended my letter and said that “ in your eyes I was not a mother I just provided a service that produce a product that was brought then sold.” I have always wonder, if my adoption had remain open what could have been. On one hand my daughter's rejection hurt but on the other I am so glad I did not involve my other children I feel that I already have one child scarred by adoption and that is enough. I realize by you sharing your story Amy there nothing normal about adoption whether it be open or close.

  17. Oh ((((hugs)))) cat. I'm so sorry things have worked out the way they have. I *am* glad your other kids were spared, although I'm sure it has affected them in *some* way...even just knowing how much it hurts you, their mom. The rejection is hardest on my 2nd daughter as I've said, but even my sons (older 4) have had issues. When my oldest son got married, "birth"daughter chose going to a "Pride" celebration week-end instead of her own brother's wedding. (she "came out" as gay about 8 yrs. ago) That was hurtful, he explained his hurt and disappointment quite calmly via email, and she ignored him per usual. She shuts down and won't communicate habitually, which is one of the main issues in trying to have a relationship with her. I'm at the end of my rope.

    I feel karma will come back to the aparents who treat "birth"parents the way your daughter's have treated you. That's beyond cruel, and it sickens me when I hear stories like yours.

    Open adoption brings its own set of problems..different from closed, but not any easier. Open adoption adoptees *still* "come out of the fog" like the closed ones do, and I fear what will happen when they realize that NOT ONLY was being relinquished out of their control, so was seeing the people who gave you up on a regular basis, and having a small window into their world and "what might have been." Again, that is *forced* upon them. Yes, kids are "forced" to see relatives all the time...some they might enjoy, others not so much. BUT the baggage isn't the same. The "one big happy family" just may not materialize the way we want it to. And once the adoptee is of age and controls the situation, the "birth"family just might be pushed away.

    1. The adopter will never control the situation. No matter how old the adoptee is, there is always someone else in control. Believe me.

    2. JuliaE: You mean "the adoptee will never control..."?

      If so, redo, and we can delete the first comment here.

    3. You're right Lorraine, but my computer won't cooperate! The ADOPTEE will never be in control, is what I meant to say.

    4. Julia, assuming you did mean "adoptEE" yes, you are right. I simply meant once the "child" is of age, the "birth"parents could be pushed out of his/her life...whatever the reason. Open adoption in the early years does NOT guarantee a future relationship once the child is grown. I KNOW, even at my daughter's age (29) her amom manipulates her and is quite successful at it. For example, "A" came to my 2nd daughter's graduation last year. She was leaving to go back to her home state the same day we were going to visit family in the next state over. "A" wanted my daughters and I to ride with her for as far as we could, and then we'd switch back into our family vehicle, and say good-bye to her once we reached her city. (following me? lol) ALL THE WAY THERE (for a good 6 hrs.) amom was texting "A" begging to have all of us stop at their house for dinner. (they lived in same state, different city from "A") We aren't on the best terms with aparents, hadn't seen them in years, and my husband *really* doesn't like them (but keeps it very well hidden around "A"...she has no idea he feels that way) Not to mention the fact, their house is about 30 miles out of the way (which translates to over an hour extra travel time) and as it was, it would have been after midnight before we would get to MY parent's house, later if we stopped. After more hours of texting (while my daughter was trying to drive no less) I said "I don't want to hurt her (amom's) feelings but we honestly don't have the time now." "A" said, 'I know. I don't want to hurt her feelings either. Can we just stop to say 'hello' but not stay to eat?" So I called my husband in the other vehicle, explained the situation, and told him "A" really wanted us to stop at her aparent's house for a few minutes and was it ok? He reluctantly agreed, so we went to their house, where they again offered dinner and we had to decline. Visit was ok, and we stayed maybe half an hour. But from that incident, I could see the way amom still pulled the strings...using her "hurt feelings" as a tool. I am such the opposite of that. I would have asked, been told "we don't have time" and dropped it! But "A" does whatever they ask. Since she doesn't have a family of her own, she has alot of time to devote to her aparents.

      Can you explain exactly WHY it is that adoptee's feel so much more beholden to their aparents than biological kids do to theirs? My "kept" kids love me and their Dad no doubt, but they definitely don't act like they owe us anything. Had I been the one texting one of my kids the way amom was texting "A"...well, I'm sure they would have told me to "knock it off" within the first few minutes!

    5. Amy asks "Can you explain exactly WHY it is that adoptee's feel so much more beholden to their aparents than biological kids do to theirs?"

      Because being adopted by its very nature is a more insecure relationship to one's parents. For many (not all) adoptees there is a constant low level anxiety of wondering whether or not we really belong in the family and are fully accepted. If our own real/true/honest-to-goodness blood related parents could give us away, what's stopping our replacement parents from turning away from us as well? The level of attachment is less secure with adoptive parents than it is when one is raised by their natural parents. Many (again, not all) adoptees live with a sense of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't think this is always conscious or at the forefront of one's mind but that it does reveal itself in behavior such as what you experienced with your first daughter.

    6. Robin: Amen to all you say. My daughter would get pissed off at nothing and not talk to me for six months; her other mother once told "our" in an argument that she did not love her. Daughter calls me, crying--sobbing actually--and asks me to tell her that I love her. I do. A week later the other mother calls and apologizes. All is well. I say, well, actually sometimes I said nothing and she would cut me off in order to prove to her other mother that she was worthy of her love.

      Sick. So tell me again -- all those birth mothers for adoption--what exactly it is you like about having someone else raise your child? Ask the child in 15 years what he or she thinks.

    7. In addition to what Julia Emily and Robin said, some adoptees really internalized being given away. I did. I felt utterly worthless. Now here are my adoptive parents, the only people in the whole world who'd take in garbage like me. I better play along or else I'll have no one to love me. I also felt terrible (and guilty) they couldn't have bio kids and got stuck with me. I always felt I had to make their infertility up to them, especially since my amother never got over not having her own kids, made worse by the fact it apparently was my afather who was infertile. Talk about bad luck.

      My amother also threw around the "grateful" word like it was going out of style. I was never a fogged adoptee. When I was a teen, my "adoption issues" became more and more apparent. Instead of talking about it, because we never did that (but it wouldn't have mattered because my amother didn't think adoption had to do with anything; I just wasn't "grateful enough" (as an adult I gave her "The Primal Wound" to read; she said it was nonsense)), my amother would say to me "I feel like I gave birth to you, like you came from my body". I knew what she wanted me to say back, but I never could, because I never felt she was my mother. Then she'd call me an "ungrateful b**ch", and that would be the end until the next time this scenario repeated.

      In my case my afather pretty much took off after my parents' divorced when I was seven (and further died in 2002) and I ran away from home at 17, so I don't have these complications, but the closer I get with my natural father, the more I realize just how much was lost. If I were still living with my adoptive parents, I think I might possibly cling to them more, because all this grief, all this loss, can't have been for nothing. I lost everything -- except one thing -- with adoption. That one thing was my adoptive family. If I lost them too then I really did lose *everything* with adoption. All for nothing. (Like I said, I don't talk to my APs; just trying to imagine what would be going through my head if I did.)

      Thanks for letting me babble!

    8. @ zygotpariah

      Thank you so much for sharing this.

    9. Thanks to Robin too, and Julia Emily, and all those who share here such deep and painful experiences. It takes such a lot to step out of private pain and tell others what it's really been like. Especially when you're often shouted down or your experience dismissed.

    10. Thanks to Robin too, and Julia Emily, and all those who share here such deep and painful experiences. It takes such a lot to step out of private pain and tell others what it's really been like. Especially when you're often shouted down or your experience dismissed.

    11. Hi zygotepariah: The fact that your A-mom would say that she felt she had given birth to you disturbs me terribly. I had a friend who had one bio son and then adopted a girl, five years later, from Korea. The whole thing didn't work out, and they are now estranged....but my friend always used to say that she "had her son" and "had her daughter". She was very proud of the fact that she was treating the two children the same way. I pointed out to her that maybe the daughter was confused or hurt by her saying so, and she got annoyed at me. Honestly, how could a Scottish/Irish woman give birth to a Korean child? After she got angry I kept quiet, but the proof is in the pudding. They had a very troubled relationship and now do not speak.

      My dear best friend, who was never told she was adopted, had a nut-case of an a-mother who would tell stories of her difficult labor, and how painful it was to give birth, complete with almost any embellishment you could think of. If I had not heard this with my own ears, I would not believe it.

      None of these people should have adopted. The damage done is irreparable.

      But we all were just blank slate little babies. What would we ever know?

  18. I tried..... I can't even begin to read all of that shite.

  19. I am on a different computer now. Let's see if I can say what I actually mean to say!

    First....I meant in my reply that the adoptee will never be in control. At my age now, I am not in control. If it is not my A-parents and their insecurities, it is the law not allowing me to obtain my information and move forward. It is a judge denying my petition. It is the passport office telling me to produce a document I do not have, and the church telling me they "can not" give me my original baptismal cert for any purpose. Someone else will always be in control, it seems. All I am accomplishing now is inching along at a snail's pace on the internet, finding bits of my history.

    Can I explain why adoptees are beholden to the A-parents? I can not speak for everyone. Every adoptive situation is different. In mine, as we know, the whole subject is such a HUGE negative, that I was conditioned very early never to bring it up. Adoptive parents are very insecure, very threatened, very quick to make the adoptee feel that we should be grateful, we were chosen, and other such baloney. My A-dad is very fond of saying adoptees who search are selfish and spoiled. After a lifetime of hearing this type of thing, one does become somewhat brainwashed. And now that my personal fog has lifted, I am in a situation where my AP's are so old, and sickly, I just can't stand the thought of bringing up the hated subject. I simply can't fight with them now.

    In my case, I think they feel this way because they could never have bio-children. A-mom had a hysterectomy very early in their marriage. Was the marriage threatened? I have no idea, but they were very young for such a thing to happen. They apparently waited and waited years to find a baby to adopt. When I finally entered the picture, they had 4 more years of legal woes before finalization. My feeling is, after all that, they feel entitled and I should be grateful. THEY went through a lot. How dare I ever question what they did to get me? How dare I ask questions about my beginnings, when it is what they went through to get me that is so important.

    The stories and lies that were told over the decades boggle my mind. And my AP's are not as bad as some. THEY are the parents. Forget "the girl" who gave birth. Forget the child's first couple of months. Forget that the child will grow and need answers. They are the parents and the adoptee remains a child.

    I may not have answered any question here, but I feel better for letting off some steam!

  20. LOL Julia...letting off steam! That's OK. There are very few places firstmoms and adoptees can vent without some sort of judgement. I understand. ;) I would agree that at the root of your aparent's actions is a deep insecurity...of knowing you're not 100% THEIRS. And it's easier to belittle "the girl" and make her "less than" because it elevates them, and (falsely) reassures them that you're much better off without her. The crazy justifications I have read relating to adoption (God's will...meant to be...etc) still boggle my mind.

    Whenever we were with "A's" aparents, the little phrase "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer" kept popping into my mind. Not that *they* were my enemy, but somehow, we were theirs. I can't explain it, and I could be way off, but I think the unknown was scarier for them than to just allow us our yearly visits, occasional phone calls, and whatever else because we were seen as just people. We weren't a fantasy to contend with. Of course, my husband being military (at the time) and us having 6 kids, they were much better off than we were financially. Believe me, they played that aspect up big time! Even sending my kids "designer" clothes because we couldn't afford them...ha ha! My kids were always clean and dressed well, even if we did get their stuff from Target or off of ebay. That just drove home the idea that we weren't good enough. Of course being older now and knowing how well my kids turned out, I know that not to be true! It took a long time for me to get past that, and I still have "flare ups" from time to time. :/

    Oh well. I sure hope you're able to find out more information asap. Have you tried a search angel?

    1. Amy, the afamily may have worn designer clothes, but you and your husband have "designer kids"--your very own homemade children. How that must gravel the aparents on some level!

    2. Now I have designer grandbabies too! lol Seriously though, my kids know the value of a dollar, and that character and a good heart are more important than "labels." They *still* don't like shirts that have the big graphic "names" on them i.e. Abercrombie&Fitch, etc. even through we can now afford them. Material possessions were very important to the amom (who had originally wanted 13 kids before infertility made itself known) and my first daughter, unfortunately, put a lot of stock in material "stuff" as well.

      Thank you for your comment :)

    3. Hi Amy: I have a search angel working on this whole thing with me now. But she is also coming up empty. After I was born, my first mother and her family seem to disappear.

      It caught my eye that you mention that your daughter's AP's are so materialistic. My A-mom is that way. When I was a child we didn't have a lot of money, but she is vary vain, very interested in clothes and hair, and shoes, and very concerned with appearances. Everything must always look picture perfect. Nature and genes win out here, because I couldn't care less about such things. My idea of a good time is digging in the garden, painting, or a good book. A-mom was always dragging me around to department stores. I haven't been to my local shopping mall in over 3 years! To this day, on my famous, make-believe birthday, she gives me designer clothing. And she never sees it on me. I could stand on my head and turn blue trying to explain that, thank you anyway, but I am not into this stuff. She is still trying to make me her own.

    4. Still trying to "make you her own" by... buying you stuff. That is so sad, JE!

    5. Yes it is sad. And always stuff I have proven I will never wear or use. I'm told I "should" like these things. Try as I might, I can't. It's not what I am about !

  21. Julia Emily - big hugs to you. I'm so glad you have been sharing your story here.

    1. Thank you, Jamie! The next step is DNA. My friend recommends Ancestry.com, and gave me her credit card number, so I can do this without having to explain myself to anyone. Fingers crossed!!

  22. Thank you for posting that, maryanne--I was good and shook after I'd finished it. A nice young woman wants to honor a dead friend by helping strangers conceive a child. This nice young woman finds that she is treated like a commodity, assigned a number rather than a name, is not allowed to meet the surrogate who will carry Nice Young Woman's fertilized egg to term (meet the future parents in Ireland? Forget it!), must inject herself with dodgy-looking substances flown in from Europe, where they're cheaper.

    Nice Young Woman suffers notable physical discomfort and is jolted to learn that the short-term "medical coverage" she's assigned won't cover any complications she may face years down the road, after using off-label drugs for off-label purposes. I'd previously known that Lupron is not FDA-approved for egg retrieval, but not that one of its main uses is to chemically castrate pedophiles.

    Nice Young Woman comes to learn that all of the benefits of the hard road she travels essentially accrue to the PAPs who are paying the bills. Yet various fertility practices, such as Shady Grove in Rockville, Md., near me, stress that only a fraction of would-be egg sellers "qualify." So a tall attractive Nice Young Woman with good grades and SAT scores are allowed to feel a frisson of pride for making the cut... even if they're facing premature infertility (for their OWN hypothetical children) and premature menopause.

    People-pleasing Nice Young Women who are short on money (just about all of them, I'd guess) thereby risk their reproductive health and futures in order to fulfill someone else's case of what Mr. B's by-choice-childless friend has long called "the baby hornies." Brrrrrrrr.

  23. Amy:

    I have a question if you don't mind? Why did you and your husband place your child? You are married to each other so why didn't you raise the child? Were you young teens at the time of placement, or did you place the child after birth and then get married( I've heard of several people that placed and then married 3 months later)?

    If any of the above are correct, then maybe this is why your bdaughter isn't interested. I wouldn't be really interested in maintaining a relationship with my bparents if I found out they married shortly after having/placing me; if they were already married when they had me, OR if I were the second child placed. Would you? I have read blogs from bmthers who have placed their second/third born ( some were married, some weren't) and I often wonder how are they going to "explain" to the placed child "why" they were placed and the others "kept"? Most importantly, I wonder how the placed child feels having visits with them when young? It must be a confusing/hurtful journey to experience.

    1. I completely understand where you're coming from! We were 16/17 and still in high school wayyyy back in 1984/85. Officially not the BSE, the social workers hadn't changed much and the prevalent ideas of "send the girl away quietly and keep this whole thing a secret" was the attitude that still existed. I didn't have to go to a different state or city, but I did get sent to a different school district, and lived with a foster family for the last few months of my pregnancy (when I started to show). Couldn't let the neighbors see! I had to wear a big coat in the dark of night whenever I went home to visit. The driving force behind it all was my parents. I had expectations of college and a much different life than a baby as a teen-ager would afford. Nevermind what *I* wanted! I was told I would not be allowed home with a baby, and that I could count on them for nothing help-wise. I, stupidly, tried to go to my social worker and let her know that I couldn't give up my baby. She immediately called my parents to set up a meeting with them because she knew they'd set me straight! I honestly felt I had no control and no choice.

      The pain, regret, depression, and hopelessness were so strong after relinquishment that once I was out of high school, boyfriend (now husband) and I decided we'd have a baby that NO ONE could take away. I know now that it was the wrong way to "fix" what had happened, but I know my son (born 2nd) literally saved my life. HE gave me something to live for, and gave me a reason to get up in the mornings. Not the right reason to have a child I KNOW, but it worked out. He is very successful with a good marriage and 2 little boys of his own. :) I was lucky.

      I don't know if my "birth"daughter is really just "not interested" or acts like she does out of self-protection. From what she has shared with me in the past, she has been pretty damaged from the open part of the adoption. When my 2 youngest were babies (they were girls) apparently she was hurt and jealous watching me care for them. She told me she wished I had rocked her the way I rocked them. :( She would also look at pictures I sent of the kids (ones taken when she wasn't with us) and she would imagine where she would have been sitting had she been there to be in them. At 13, she broke down on the phone with me telling me she felt she belonged with us. I believe now that there has been more damage to her than I even realized. Witnessing your parents "parent" other children...idk if that's a good idea. I just don't.

      Hope that explains things better.

    2. Amy, I also wonder if I could ask you a question while you're here. What is your relationship with your parents like now?

      I'm a BSE adoptee. My 17-year-old mother was shipped off to a maternity home. She'd wanted to keep me, and wouldn't sign the papers for four months, while I stayed in foster care and she went back to high school, hoping her parents would change their minds. They didn't. She never had another child.

      We reunited in the 90s. She, now in her mid-40s, was still best friends with her parents. That *killed* me. How do you love and/or forgive people who did that to you? Was I really that insignificant? Shouldn't she have been angry they did that to her? I meant so little I wasn't even worth a rift in their relationship. I can't quite put into words why this hurts me so much.

      For reasons I won't get into now, we stopped talking in 2000, but she's sent me cards every few years since. I responded to one a few months ago, and a few days ago my mother sent me a Facebook friend request. She has one younger brother who is married to a woman who has four children from a previous relationship. One of the first things I saw on her timeline was a picture from one of these now-adult kids with my grandfather, who died in 2008. She said how much she missed Grandpa, my uncle (her father) and my mother wrote that he was a loving, caring man, my uncle's wife wrote how much he loved all his grandchildren. I just wanted to die. Is that why I was left at the hospital when I was three days old? Because he "loved all his grandchildren"? And he was a Grandpa to non-biological kids, but booted me out of the family? And no one even mentioned me in this picture! I'm 43 and still no one cares that I'm gone. Five minutes into our Facebook friendship, and I'm already ready to unfriend her. It hurts too much.

      Anyway, that's why I wondered what your relationship with your parents is like.

    3. [I got some kind of error when I first tried to publish this. If this goes through twice, my apologies, and please delete the second copy.]

      Amy, I also wonder if I could ask you a question while you're here. What is your relationship with your parents like now?

      I'm a BSE adoptee. My 17-year-old mother was shipped off to a maternity home. She'd wanted to keep me, and wouldn't sign the papers for four months, while I stayed in foster care and she went back to high school, hoping her parents would change their minds. They didn't. She never had another child.

      We reunited in the 90s. She, now in her mid-40s, was still best friends with her parents. That *killed* me. How do you love and/or forgive people who did that to you? Was I really that insignificant? Shouldn't she have been angry they did that to her? I meant so little I wasn't even worth a rift in their relationship. I can't quite put into words why this hurts me so much.

      For reasons I won't get into now, we stopped talking in 2000, but she's sent me cards every few years since. I responded to one a few months ago, and a few days ago my mother sent me a Facebook friend request. She has one younger brother who is married to a woman who has four children from a previous relationship. One of the first things I saw on her timeline was a picture from one of these now-adult kids with my grandfather, who died in 2008. She said how much she missed Grandpa, my uncle (her father) and my mother wrote that he was a loving, caring man, my uncle's wife wrote how much he loved all his grandchildren. I just wanted to die. Is that why I was left at the hospital when I was three days old? Because he "loved all his grandchildren"? And he was a Grandpa to non-biological kids, but booted me out of the family? And no one even mentioned me in this picture! I'm 43 and still no one cares that I'm gone. Five minutes into our Facebook friendship, and I'm already ready to unfriend her. It hurts too much.

      Anyway, that's why I wondered what your relationship with your parents is like.

    4. Amy:

      Thank you for explaining. I think open adoption is often presented as "healthy" for all involved but sometimes it may not be ( depending on the adopted child's birth story). I have a son who is his mother's second born and the only one place. We have a semi-open adoption, which we all agreed on, because of the fact that he was the only one placed. I think when he's an older teen we will open it up more to visit. I want to wait until he can process the fact that he was the only one given up. Yours is different because you and your hubby were teen, and your bchild should understand that.

  24. zygotepariah (I wish you'd change your name! You're not a pariah! :( )

    I'm about in tears reading your message. No human beings should have to feel the way that you do.

    Now to answer your question. The way I feel about them now...we get along, and my Mom and I have SLOWLY rebuilt a semblance of a relationship. What it took was for her to acknowledge that what she and my Dad did was wrong...and she pretty much has. They also didn't know the repercussions for me or for my daughter back then. Reason being...my Mom was adopted. Up until about 14 yrs. ago (when *I* had to search for my bio-grandparents) she was in total denial about adoption effecting her AT ALL. She was fine...barely ever thought of her other family through the years. BS! Once I found her mother and father (deceased) and she relented to see pictures, she cracked. She also had a "birth"mother friend since childhood who gave up a baby in about 1960. That friend told my mother that she was fine, and really didn't give the child much thought. These 2 people in great denial totally worked against me. My parents actually thought I'd be okay, and my daughter would be just fine...just like my Mom was.

    It has taken "repentance" on their part, and hours upon hours of my mother listening to me cry. TO THIS DAY, I make her aware of the on-going pain because of the strained relationships we all have with my daughter. I must say that she and my father have been very good grandparents to all the kids..."A" included. The funny thing is, "A" knows their role in her being given up, but she seems to be more caring and considerate of THEM than she does of us. She seemingly holds *nothing* against *them.* Do you have any insight as to why that might be? It's terribly hurtful. Such a big dose of salt into a raw wound. Not that I want her to hate them...I just don't understand *why* she's so forgiving of them, but so passively-aggressive hostile towards me??

    It could be that your mother and her parents have spent years also mending the fractures. Have you ever asked her? I think it's a fairly reasonable question, and one that deserves an answer.

    If being facebook friends hurts you too much, message her with why (if you want) and unfriend her. Don't subject yourself to more hurt.

    ((((BIG HUGS)))

    1. Amy, thank you for your reply. I was never a fogged adoptee, even as a kid, so I sometimes forget others were (or genuinely seem to have to no issues with adoption).

      I deliberately created my screen name, in my 20s. A zygote being the cell created from fertilization, and plans being made to get rid of me before I was even born, I feel like I was meant to be cast away from the second I was conceived.

      I can't offer any insight as to why "A" holds nothing against your parents. In my reunion my grandparents wanted to meet me. I refused. I'll admit here that I actually thought I might do them physical harm. There was certainly no way I could meet them and be civil. I will never forgive them. The only think I can think of is that some adoptees genuinely can't grasp how different times were back then and/or how parents could've wielded such power and control.

      It's not being Facebook friends that hurts, it's that she's still not sticking up for me. It's all the reminders how life went on without me. I wasn't there and nobody cares. My mother, very early in reunion, showed me a picture of a family reunion. While I was basking in looking at bio family members for the first time, my mother giggled and said "It was wonderful! We were *all* there!" Um, *I* wasn't there. Ouch.

      I wonder with "A", if seeing how everyone went on without her is just too painful. I know it was an open adoption and it's clear how much you care, but if she were to disappear tomorrow you'd all still go on without her. This is not a judgement. I'm just trying to explain how that feels to an adoptee mind. Her branch of the family tree was hacked off. The tree did not die. That hurts. It hurts to know, as an adoptee, that you were fundamentally disposable. "Get-overable". And triggers of this are everywhere, even by the most innocent of comments. No one realizes what what said, but then the adoptee disappears for a while.

      Anyway, I just FB friended my mother. We haven't spoken in 14 years. She liked a new cover picture I put up, but no messaging yet. I'm not real sure what's happening at this point.

    2. ZP (I kinda figured that was the back-ground of your screen name...I *still* don't like it!)...

      You have a purpose, and a place in this world! I'm just so sorry you're hurting. And there are women still signing themselves and their child up for this!! UGH!!

      Anyway, what you say makes sense. Shoot, I have felt similar watching my daughter interact with her aparents. I felt replaced, insignificant, and like an outsider. Why would it not stand to reason that she would feel something like that? I have worked very hard, and suffered in silence, to ensure that "A" felt loved and included. I guess it was all for nothing. That hurts. I hurt for her, as well as the rest of us.

      TELL YOUR MOTHER WHEN SHE INADVERTENTLY HURTS YOU!! Please. Communicate...it is so very important! I was showing my daughter the memory book I had made of her once when she was about 10. There was a Polaroid (remember those?) picture of her taken just minutes after her birth. Newborns look like little frogs to me ...with their large heads, big tummies, and bowed legs! I casually made the remark to her "You looked like a little froggy!" (which I would have said to any of my kids) Fast forward about 5 yrs. when we were talking about what a beautiful baby she was. She said in a very hostile voice, "You said I looked like a frog." **smacks head** Did she think for even a second that I gave her up because she reminded me of a frog??! I explained that to me, every baby looks kinda like that and that SHE was the most amazing thing I had ever laid eyes on. Again, an innocent comment can be taken so differently than how it was meant. Let her know!

      What a crazy, mind spinning mess all of this is!

  25. Zygotepariah:

    Why is Julia Emily still friends with her adoptive parents, still caring for them, though they have never been able to talk to her about the fact that she is adopted? Because she have lived with them long enough to accommodate their feelings.

    The same is undoubtedly true of your mother and her relationship with her parents, your grandparents. She has found a way to forgive them and live with their failings.

    It is very difficult to understand the impossible pressure society imposed about birth and marriage decades ago. I sometimes feel as if I am writing about an different era, but then, I am. I liken it to the way the nearly all the German people, like sheep, found it impossible to stand up and resist the Nazi movement. For your grandfather, acknowledging and raising a child not from a marriage was a sign that he had failed, and his daughter had loose morals--all a reflection back to him. He really had no idea how much damage he was inflicting.

    Unless your mother would have been able to raise you on her own, there was no way she could have resisted the pressure to give you up; she had no choice.

    If some of her comments are clueless and hurtful, you must tell her what you tell us if you give her the opportunity to meet you again. She certainly doesn't mean to hurt you, but she is; you must be honest and tell her how the casual comments she makes sound to your ears, how they hurt. You say she sends you cards; each of them is an invitation to contact her again. But for your own sake and sanity, and for her to know what is going on, you must tell her. I think a great deal of the conflict that comes between adoptees and their mothers at reunion is because each side is fearful of telling the whole truth.

    Good luck. We will be waiting to hear more from you.

  26. I have a question for Lorraine, or anyone (I would LOVE an adoptee's perspective)...we know communication is VITAL to a decent reunion/relationship between adoptees and "birth"parents (mainly the mother, it seems)
    What do you do when one of the parties refuses to communicate? That is what has happened in my case. I have come straight out in emails ASKING her to "let me in" so that things don't shut down, and she actually ignores me. I have encouraged her to talk, and have gladly responded whenever she has opened up (momentarily, literally) and had questions. She seems to want a very superficial relationship. When things get "deep" she shuts down and shuts me off. She has acknowledged that many of her relationships fail because of her inability/unwillingness to communicate. But she doesn't work to change it...with me anyway.

    It leaves me feeling dismissed and unimportant. I am TRYING to have a positive relationship and continue building the bridge. But she won't let me.

    So, do I give up and move on? You can't force someone to talk if they don't want to, nor care if they don't.

    1. Amy! Don't give up!

      If memory serves, "A" is 29 years old. That's the age I was when I walked out on my first reunion in 2000 (it lasted from 1997-2000). I'm not going to get into why now, but it wasn't just that I had a "hissy fit".

      Anyway, three things happened. One, 2000 was around the time the Internet started growing. I started reading about everything adoption. Two, my afather died suddenly at age 62 in 2002. I'd just had lunch with him 48 hours earlier. It was such a shock it was like my mind got slapped, and I finally realized a few things. Third, I just got older. I guess my perspective on things changed. When my natural father contacted me last year, after a 13-year "break", I just dove in.

      Perhaps "A" needs to get a little older? I hate saying that about another adoptee because I feel like I'm blaming them and saying "Just grow up already!" But I was never a fogged adoptee (I started searching at 18) and I know how long it took me to process everything. Plus, I didn't have the added stress of having adoptive parents in my life.

      I read a lot about brain changes in babies with early psychological wounds. Sometimes I wonder, especially since I never bonded with the APs, if there is wiring or sections of the brain that either never developed properly or at all in adoptees. I belong to some adoptee support groups and we were discussing friends recently. So many of us have only one friend or no friends. I never married, had no kids, and have no friends. That sounds sad and pathetic but I want it this way. An old friend will call, we'll talk, I'll hang up and think "Wow! I missed that guy!" . . . but then I won't return further e-mails or calls. I don't do it maliciously, and feel terrible I'm doing it, but I still do it.

      Your saying "When things get 'deep' she shuts down and shuts me off" is very telling. I actually said to my father the other day "You know, the closer I get to you, the more dangerous you become to me". If my relationships are superficial, it won't hurt when people leave, which of course they'll do, because everyone leaves. The more I love my father, the more power he has to hurt me, then, whoops, there goes that fight-or-flight reaction.

      Okay, I've babbled enough. I'll end by saying I would suggest not giving up and moving on. As stupid as it sounds, even though I was the one who walked away the first time, it would have killed me if my parents hadn't kept sending cards, because then I would've felt forgotten all over again. I know it sucks and is unfair. That feeling of being forgotten, "live-withoutable", is so huge.

      Please don't give up! My father and I will be celebrating our one-year "second reunion anniversary" on July 15. I'm sorry you're going through all this. Adoption really is just a steaming pile of pain.

    2. ((((HUGS ZP))))) Thank you for your response. I'm taking what you've told me to heart, because I've had my suspicions that "A" is going through what you describe. The walls she has built are tall and wide. I think I will back off, and remember her on holidays and her birthday for a time. I also need to regroup and recover. I will not shut her out, but I also don't want to be a pest. "Are you ok? Why won't you talk to me?" That won't help my cause! lol I'll respect her need for space, but not disappear. I wish I could become immune to the pain! I feel so battered and beaten. I hope "A" doesn't feel anything close to this.

      "A" will not have the traditional marriage and family. She "came out" as a lesbian about 9 or so years ago. This was a CRUSHING BLOW to her strict Catholic aparents who had dreams of a big, white wedding to a successful man, and several grandchildren to fill their lives further. A couple of years ago, I spoke to her amom for the first time in several years. She giggled, "I have nothing against gay people...I just didn't want to raise one!" Uh...please remember who you're talking to. And by all means, give her back since she's not what you paid for!!! Karma. That's all I can say. Now "A" seems to go overboard pleasing them. Posts sappy fb statuses about how great they are, etc. If she only knew what amom said to me....but she never will.

      Thank you so much again. Adoptee viewpoints are so important to me, and help me to understand better what might be going on with my "A."

      Peace to you, my friend!

      P.S. Congrats on the upcoming anniversary with your Dad!! Here's to many more!!

  27. Hi Amy: As an adoptee I wish I could answer your question regarding reunion, but I am not in reunion. I can tell you that, probably due to my circumstances and upbringing, reunion would be kind of difficult, even if my AP's were not still in the picture.

    I am sure my A-parents would have given anything to have a bio-child. I know from their attitude that they feel they endured a lot to finally adopt me. However....there was never any demonstration of love. No hugs, not too many loving words that I can remember. We were all about appearances. My AP's were an extremely good-looking couple, mom honestly looked like an Italian version of Scarlett O'Hara. I was a cute little freckled blonde, always in a party dress and patent leather shoes. My hair was always perfect, my shoes, my petticoats, my little purse....all was perfect. If A-mom could not afford to buy these things, she made them herself. The entire world thought we were the American Dream.. I had friends who told me they wished that my parents were theirs, and that is the honest truth.

    But at home, there was no closeness, honesty, regard for my feelings, regard for my first mother's feelings. I was somewhat brainwashed. Lies were told, stories were changed, my questions dismissed. When I brought up something uncomfortable, I was told to change the subject. We were perfect.....but no one could handle what was going on underneath the pretty picture. The only way love was shown was by giving me "things", as I have mentioned in previous posts.

    As a result, I am not the most demonstrative person in the world. If I were in the position to actually meet my first mother, I would not throw my arms around her. I wouldn't be able to do it. I would probably cry, be polite, listen to her, tell her my story, etc.., but there would have to be some space between us. Because there is space between me and everyone else in the world, save my own two children. And I worked extremely hard to have that closeness with my children. I would have to work harder to have a relationship with my first mom. She was always dismissed. She was just the girl, a non-person, who disappeared for a while and held up my A-parents dream of adoption. I am trying to un-brainwash myself, and I am thankful to this blog for helping me see how the first mother suffered in this miserable social experiment.

    Adoption did and is still doing a tremendous amount of damage. It damages first mothers, first fathers who have no say in the adoption, and the adoptee. It is something that can not be repaired easily, if it can be repaired at all.

    1. "The entire world thought we were the American Dream.. "
      That sounds like it would be a great first sentence for the your book, Julia Emily.

      You say you aren't the most demonstrative person in the world, but I think your writing is extremely powerful.

    2. Thank you, Cherry. I may write the book. The timing must be right, but it may be worth doing. Thanks so much for the support !

  28. Thank you, JuliaE for sharing more of your feelings. Sadly, I am reaching the conclusion of due to the damage of adoption, no repairs are possible...in my situation at least. There may be the possibility of a cordial relationship, but anything deep and meaningful simply won't be in the cards. Not even a true friendship. It carries too much pain, resentment, misunderstandings, and the inability to reach a conclusion. With each year, new issues come up to deal with. It's like that with "kept" kids too but I think what Robin said about insecurity stemming from adoption exacerbates EVERYTHING and no one is able to "just be." ESPECIALLY when you have someone who refuses to communicate even on a basic level, like my daughter "A."

    It sounds as if you were treated like a little doll. Appearances are everything, you know, to mask the underlying insecurity. I'm so sorry you were a victim! I do hope you can find some bio-family members. It will be like a different world for you.



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