The Adoption Dance
By: Stacey Ellis
My husband and I stared at the letter from our daughter’s birthmother and asked each other how we felt. My husband and I are on the same page on virtually everything, and this was no different. We simply felt wonderful about it. We decided we’d write back soon. But because we were headed to NYC with our daughter for work, we would allow ourselves one week to deal with the preparations and chaos of flying across the country with a four-month-old. But no more than a week –we figured that the birthmother took the time to write us such a beautiful letter, we’d want to write back as soon as we could.
The birthparents had treaded lightly by asking if they could send a gift. Had they included a gift with the letter, we would have gladly accepted it and made sure our daughter knew it was from them, so of course we wrote back yes! Also, we requested pictures of our daughter’s biological brother. Our daughter may want to see them someday. And we told them we are always open to hearing from them.
The one thing we didn’t do was email the birthparents. We aren’t ready to have that instant, every day, every week email communication. Our daughter isn’t quite using a computer yet so it’s not like we can give the information to her. Based on my last blog and the extreme reaction to it, some adoptees will find what I write here incredibly offensive and wrong (and a whole host of other words to show what bad parents we are). I’m sure my words here will be ripped apart with conclusions and misinterpretations. But that is what makes America beautiful. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion and everyone is allowed to be parents to their own children without interference from anyone else. We get to raise our child how we feel is appropriate, just like my friends get to raise their children – adopted and biological – how they want to do it. All parents will look at their friends’ kids and comment about something they would do/are doing different. And I’m sure half of the reactions to this blog will opine that we are wrong in the “birthparents communication part” and how dare we set a boundary at all with no email! Just as many parents will comment that we are wrong in our napping schedule, or our decision to start solids at 5 months instead of 4 months or wait until 6 months. I mean, just think about all of those who have a comment about breastfeeding and bottle feeding! (We of course bottle feed, as we adopted.) What I am trying to say here is this: we are our daughter’s parents. In fact, I’ll scream it from the rooftop with a huge elated smile on my face! WE ARE THE PARENTS. I know that statement alone just incensed some of you out there and you’ll start in on my “tone” that is created in your negative mind.
I say to you: What is good for one child – adopted or not – doesn’t necessarily work for another.
It is clear some parents clearly damaged their children (those who responded to my other blog) – and I am sure those parents did what they thought was right at the time – during that time. Maybe they kept secrets, maybe they wouldn’t let you meet your birthparents, maybe they didn’t LISTEN to your needs. Well, what I have HEARD and LEARNED here is that I certainly don’t want to raise an angry, sad, obsessive, negative child. And to make sure that doesn’t happen, we will always listen to our child’s needs – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
We can’t predict the future. But right now, we feel that (when she’s 18), if she chooses to meet her birthparents– and if they want to meet her – then we’ll fly to meet them if that will make her happy, healthy, and whole. If she is having trouble earlier in life and asks to meet them, then we will cross that bridge and be open to her meeting them earlier. And if she’s 30 and has no interest in meeting them, then she won’t meet them. We will listen to her needs and make decisions accordingly. What is so fascinating is that the commenters are adamant that my daughter know her birthparents – but what they don’t know is that the birthparents told us they are NOT SURE they want to meet her in the future. Hence their instruction for us to call them and “we’ll discuss whether that’s a good idea.” Maybe their thoughts on meeting her have changed with their most recent letter. That’s fair – they said they weren’t sure before leaving the hospital and now we are four months later. Of course they couldn’t know how they would feel later on – but what if our daughter turns 18 and the birthparents haven’t been writing to us for years and really don’t want contact anymore? Should I FORCE our daughter on them so that my daughter feels that rejection from them directly? Of if they are in touch with us and we say, “Our daughter would like to meet you in person” and they respond with a resounding, “No.” Should I then tell my daughter, “Oh, we talk to your birthparents all the time – but they don’t want to meet you”? How painful would that be? There are a million different scenarios here – both good and bad.
We know dozens of well-adjusted, happy, healthy adoptees who have no interest in their birthparents. We know others who met their birthparents once, answered their questions, and haven’t seen them since. And we know people who have had horrible first meetings with their birthparents or who have birthparents who rejected them over and over, pretending they didn’t exist. And from this blog, I have now heard from some very sad, angry adoptees who are clearly damaged forever. We knew before we adopted that we wanted our child to know she’s adopted, to know who her birthparents are, and to know the true reason why she is adopted…with those facts, she will grow up with no secrets and have control over her life and how it unfolds and who she wants in her life. If she wants a relationship with her birthparents – then we will encourage it if her birthparents are open to it.
We feel adoption is a delicate dance that we, the birthparents, and our daughter are all going through for the first time. They made the choice to give their daughter up for adoption. We made the choice to adopt our daughter and be the best parents we can be. None of us has been through this before and none of us wants to intrude on the other, force ourselves on the other, or do anything to offend the other. We do have a tremendous respect for our daughter’s birthparents and want them to be as happy as our daughter is every day. Yet we know we are connected forever as we try to figure out how to dance together yet miles apart…
And with that, I mailed the letter with a dozen pictures.