We’re taking Ava to meet her birth mother!
There, I bet that got your attention.
This has been something we’ve thought long and hard about over the past year, which is about how long it’s been since Ava has started asking consistently if she can meet her first mother. So after lots of discussions, research, reading and consulting with people from all 3 corners of the triad, as well as with those who work in the adoption community, we’ve decided to go ahead.
All the research we’ve done into the topic ourselves points to openness being the best option for the emotional well-being of the adoptee. And aside from one adult adoptee we spoke with, all the others agreed. It was also interesting to note how the opinion on openness varied, depending on the age of the people we spoke with.
The number one concern is that of secondary rejection, something I’m not at all concerned about, given the level of openness we already have with Ava’s first mother. We’ve been friends on Facebook for about 5 years now. We have exchanged telephone numbers and have fairly regular contact with each other. Ava enjoys trading voice notes with her occasionally and so because of this, secondary rejection is not a concern.
This is one of the areas we have been so focused on in all of this. I think people need to understand that this is about Ava and what she needs to emotionally develop without guilt and being secure in her identity. It’s not about her first mother, although I do strongly believe this meeting will bring a level of healing to her too. It’s also not about my husband and me, or more specifically about me as her mother. It is most important for us that both our girls grow up NEVER feeling guilty or disloyal to us because they have questions about their identity, where they come from etc. And we strongly believe that being open to her questions and open to openness in adoption will help her alleviate any guilt she may have. I know from conversations with adult adoptees, of so many who have not made contact with their birth parents, despite having a desire to, out of a fear that they will hurt or seem disloyal to their adoptive parents.
There is room to love everyone in the triad without anyone feeling threatened.
The number one question my family and friends have asked is how I, as her mother, specifically feel about all this. And let me state categorically that first off, assisting my children in their search for identity has NOTHING to do with my feelings and secondly, I believe there is room for all of us to love each other. I was chatting to a friend recently, a very wise, dynamo of a woman, who is also a kangaroo mom and she summed up for me perfectly what this means:
I always say to people ‘we understand fully that a child can love a mother and father equally yet differently and we get that the love a child has for parents is absolute yet completely non-threatening to the other parent. It should thus be easy to see that a child could love two moms and two dads equally, yet completely different, without any threat to the other’.
When I think about how many modern families are blended families and this logic works perfectly for them, why shouldn’t it be the same for adoptive families?
You’re not my real mom….
Some with slightly more old-fashioned views on adoption & specifically open adoption, have expressed a concern that heading into the teenage years, allowing this openness could result in a lot of “you’re not my real mom” comments. But the truth is guys, teenagers are selfish little shits at the best of times, so I’m pretty sure my children will say this to me anyway, along with the I-Hate-You’s that bound to go hand in hand with teenage angst and tantrums. I don’t see having a more open adoption would change that at all.
What does she want?
We have had a frank and age-appropriate conversation with Ava about what it is she wants out of this meeting and really it’s quite simple. She wants/needs to see her first mother in the flesh to feel anchored to her identity, to know she is a real, tangible person. She has expressed her desire to tell her birth mother that she has been searching and longing for her, in fact, her exact words, in her 8-year-old vocabulary, that scream of loss and questions about identity were this:
I just want to tell her I’ve been walking in a forest, searching through the trees to find you!
So we’re doing it.
I am so incredibly excited for her. She has been beside herself with excitement since we made the decision and told her. Of course, Ava’s first mother is super excited too and I think she’s going to love and treasure the hundreds of paintings and letters Ava has been creating for her in the build-up to the meeting.
So no, I’m not threatened by Ava’s love for her first mother. I only wish we could have the same arrangement with Hannah’s birth mother. But we’ll have to deal with that when the time comes.