Friday, April 9, 2010

Closing an Open Adoption

As I've talked about before, we have had a semi-open adoption with Lil Sweetie's birthmom, Ashley.*  In theory, that means that we share information, gifts, and photos with Ashley, but we don't know identifying information about her, nor does she know our last names or where we live.  In reality, though, the openness in our adoption has mostly been on our side--in almost eight years, we have had one meeting and received one letter and one packet of photos from Ashley.  In contrast, we have sent photos, letters, gifts, and examples of Lil Sweetie's artwork and school work a minimum of four times a year.  (Not that I'm keeping score or anything.  Ok, maybe I am.)

We've been going on this way for almost eight years.  Then, a couple of the weeks ago, we received an email from the adoption agency saying that Ashley has chosen to close our adoption and no longer wants to receive communications from us.  This was a complete surprise to us.  We had no hint that this was coming.  In fact, I didn't really realize that an open adoption could be closed.  In hindsight, I probably should have realized that, as we have known of other adoptions where the level of openness increases as the adoptive parents and birthparents come to know and trust each other.  It stands to reason that if the degree of openness can increase, it could decrease as well...I just had never thought about it.

So, it was quite shocking to receive that email from the adoption agency.  I was pretty devastated at first.  I felt like we had done something wrong, even though the adoption agency assures us that is not the case.  And of course, I was worried sick about how this would affect Lil Sweetie.  As usual, Mr. Sweetie talked me down off the ledge.  He has such a knack for seeing to the heart of matters.  Mr. Sweetie pointed out, rightly so, that I was upset about the loss of "what might have been", rather than "what was."  Mr. Sweetie pointed out that Lil Sweetie's life is no different than it was before, and that she will probably not even notice the difference.  For that reason, we have not yet talked to Lil Sweetie about all this.  At some point, she will ask why we no longer send photos and letters and gifts to Ashley, and we will tell her that we have lost contact with Ashley and no longer know how to get things to her.  And that is the truth.


Zen Mama said...

Mr. Sweetie is so right and that's why we love him! It may be a long while before Lil Sweetie even asks.

Also, thanks for the quote yesterday. It really did help by snapping me into focus immediately. Perfect timing too!


rlvd said...

oh, that is discouraging...

but you'll keep keeping on as a family and make your own way.

we send more than we get, too, and i think 'well, i guess it's more for them'...but then i think 'well, not really' ?

JemJam said...

You did nothing wrong, right? Let that feeling pass, and let the closing be about Ashley you have no idea what she's going through, she probably wants to live her life without thinking about "what might have been." She knows that lil' Sweetie is in a great, loving home and probably feels very secure with her decision. Children are resilient, so, don't worry about lil' mama, she'll be fine.

Milly said...

Oh I'm crying for Ashley. She has missed out on a beautiful little girl. I think she may always have a hole in her heart where that Little could be. I can't think of our lives without her. We are blessed by the gift Ashley gave us.