Our Associate Director Michael Hill discusses the differences between his sons’ open adoption plans
My husband and I have had the incredible fortune to adopt two amazing boys with the help of Adoption STAR. Like many couples initially starting down the adoption journey road, we didn’t know very much about the concept of open adoption. The only bits of information we had on the subject were questionable at best, as they were primarily garnered from sensationalized news coverage or Lifetime Network movies about “worst case scenario” adoption stories.
As we learned more about open adoption from Adoption STAR’s classes, reading books, and talking with folks that had adopted successfully and were “living” open adoption, the more comfortable we became with the topic. Interestingly enough, we reached such a level of confidence regarding both the importance and benefits of open adoption that we found ourselves hoping for a more open arrangement once we were “matched” with an expectant parent.
This desire for an open adoption is very much the reality for our oldest son (who is nearly four years old now), and we couldn’t be happier. Our son sees his mother and the siblings she is raising every 3 months or so (and that’s not a formal arrangement written in stone; it’s just an organically developed level of contact that seems mutually agreeable and “right” to all parties involved). We have a great time when we get together, as the kids run off and play while the parents socialize, laugh and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Openness in adoption has become our “normal” when it comes to our oldest son’s adoption story, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Open adoption is actually a source of joy for us (and if someone had told me that I’d ultimately feel this way about open adoption when we were just starting our journey, I probably would have laughed at them).
Things are dramatically different for our youngest son, who is just seven months old. His mother, although willing to meet us briefly on the day we picked our son up from the hospital, has requested that we provide her with pictures of our son accompanied by letters…..and that’s it. In these letters we’ve expressed our willingness and desire to see each other face-to-face, and we’ve made it crystal clear that more contact (as opposed to less) is our preference, but we’ve gotten no response from her thus far. I understand and totally respect the fact that as the adoptive parents we don’t “call the shots” as it relates to wanting more contact. The decision to see each other (or not see each other) rests solely on the shoulders of our son’s mother. However, I find myself feeling concerned for both of my sons and the gross disparity in their adoptions as it relates to openness. Will my youngest son resent his older brother for having connections to his biological family? Will he find himself wishing he too could see his mother and his siblings? Will he be haunted by questions like:
“Do I look like anyone in my biological family?”
“Why doesn’t my biological family want to see me?”
If our youngest does wind up asking these very questions (or similar ones), we’ll be there to support him, provide him with answers to the best of our ability, wipe his tears away, and wrap our arms around him with loving hugs. However, the void he may feel at the hands of these unanswered questions is not something we will be able to fill without the help of his mother. Our deepest desire is for her to reach a point where openness is something that she ultimately wants, chooses and embraces. We can’t control whether or not she’ll every get to that point, and there are undoubtedly no guarantees that she ever will, but we’ll continue to wait with hope in our hearts. If we had our way, openness it what we want….. for our youngest son, his mother, his biological siblings, and for our entire family.
Read More: Open Adoption Explained, A Clear Definition of Open Adoption, Speaking with Sharon Roszia: Open Adoption Pioneer, 10 Idea for Open Adoption Visits
Michael Hill is the Associate Director of Adoption STAR. He has been with Adoption STAR since 2009 when he joined the agency as the Project Lead for the federally-funded Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project (IAATP) which he will continue to facilitate. As Associate Director for Adoption STAR, Michael plans, organizes and directs the day-to-day operations of the Development Department. Michael resides in Snyder, New York with his partner Scott and their sons Elijah and Seth. Michael’s favorite pastimes include singing, playing tennis, gardening and taking the boys for long walks at local parks or around their neighborhood.
1 thought on “One Family Two Different Adoption Plans”
Our 3 children from Ethiopia arrveid home here the end of February. They were ages 11, 6, and 5. I had talked with other homeschooling moms on their blogs about their approach to schooling their newly adopted children. There was a wide range of approaches given, with some families starting schooling as soon as their children were home, and some families waiting for 6 months to a year to begin. I believe this is one of those kind of decisions that is very individual and varies with each individual child. But for us, after much thought and prayer, we decided to have our new chidren begin school within a couple of days of arriving home. We did plan their school to be such that it would be positive outcome activities, nothing that could cause frustration. We also made sure that there were a lot of fun snacks that were a part of completing school subjects, so that homeschool and completing schoolwork had a positive/ happy feel to it. I tried to combine my time in helping them with their schooling as a bonding time as well, with lots of praise and positive touch, such as a hand on their arm or shoulder while I viewed their work. Or sitting on the couch together with my arm around them as we worked together or I looked at what they had done. I made check-off sheets for their school subjects, since my other children had check-off sheets for their school, and the new children really liked that being able to mark off that they had completed their school work and feeling like full, participating members of our homeschool. One of the reasons we decided to start school soon after arriving home was that we wanted them to feel from the start like full-fledged members of the family, and in having them participate in school while all of their siblings were doing their school seemed like it would help accomplish that. I will say again that their school involved things that I knew they could accomplish without frustration, but left them feeling like they were doing real school and like they were learning. Now that they have been here for 7 months, we have stepped up the pace, and they are doing more standard type school work, and it seems to be working. This is what has worked for us. Every child is different and has different backgrounds and different needs, so what works for one may not work for another.
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