I’ve seen this article popping up repeatedly on the various adoption groups I belong to on Social Media –
And once again it has reminded me of how the face of adoption is forever changing but also how every single adoption story is different, has different circumstances and needs to be handled differently.
I just have to look at my own two girls to know this. This circumstances around their placements were completely different. The way they were placed was completely different and most notably, the relationships we have with their birth mother’s is completely different and this 100% affects how we tread their reuniting with the birth mothers/families in the future.
In Ava’s case, although she was placed first and we went into her placement being pretty clueless and kind of terrified and agreeing to a closed adoption, we have a pretty much open adoption now. Granted Ava’s birth mom does not visit her but we are friends on Face Book and whenever I am in Cape Town, I always make a plan to have lunch with her and a catch up. She does not want to meet with Ava yet, feeling that Ava is still too young and not wanting to interfere in our family dynamic, but she is as keen for both Walter and I to be involved in their meeting when the time is right. I don’t want her to meet Ava now, because like her, I feel Ava is too young to deal with the complexities of having a relationship with both her natural mother and me, her adoptive mother, but I am just as eager for Ava to have a relationship with her when the time comes.
Hannah’s circumstances were different and as a result, we have what the article refers to as “letterbox contact”. We communicate about 3 to 4 times a year, via email, that is sent to our social worker and she sends it on to us and vice versa. We exchange bits of information on how Hannah is doing and share photo’s this way. I don’t have an email address for her, or her telephone number. I can’t just drop her a quick Whatsapp, like I can with Ava’s birth mom.
But of course, with the introduction of social media and the internet, the world truly has become a tiny place and you can find anyone these days. I’ve checked our Hannah’s birth mom on Tumblr, LinkedIn and Face Book, I could message her if I wanted to, but I won’t, I feel that’s a gross invasion of privacy. She has her reasons for placing and for keeping her distance and I am determined to respect that.
But then this article opened a whole new can of worms for me….. What about when Hannah is a teenager? In another 10 years or so, what forms of communication will there be then? She’ll be able to find her birth family if she chooses and I think most likely she will want to. But with the information age comes another question I never thought of before. Will she allow responsible facilitation of her meeting? Because neither Walter nor I would ever stand in her way but we would like the situation handled consciously and carefully.
These incidents must be happening locally too and I wonder how our social workers are dealing with it here? Are they preparing for it? Reunion needs to be handled carefully and in the best interests of both the adoptee and birth family. As my children’s adoptive parents, I am all for encouraging them in reuniting with their birth families but I want it done carefully and responsibly.
The other point that this article made abundantly clear to me is the importance of openness with our adopted children so that they don’t feel they need to seek our their birth families on social media and behind our backs, especially when they’re at the vulnerable and impressionable years of early teens. The more open we are, I believe, the less likely they are to do this.
The other thing I think that is made very clear is that the heart will always want what it wants and if your child has a curiosity about their roots, no amount of discouragement from the adopted family is going to change this. And this isn’t something I’d ever even want to change, I’d always want my girls to be confident in knowing their whole story and knowing their roots.
One thing is for sure, the more I navigate the path of parenting via adoption, the more I become aware of a lot of pitfalls along the way that I never contemplated when we first started out on this journey when all I wanted was a baby.