Thursday, September 4, 2014

Broken Promise?

I have been blessed in my adoption journey. I have never had a promise broken.  I have never had an expectation of something and it not happened the way it "should have".  
That could be a good and bad thing to some.  As i have said numerous times, our contact/openness was dictated for the first 6 months by the agency in which I placed.  Pros and cons to that(I'll post on that later).  In that six months we never really had much talk about what life after six months would look like.
It wasn't discussed what type of openness they were comfortable with. It wasn't discussed what I wanted. It all seemed to just... fall into place. I never questioned, and learned to adjust to what I THOUGHT I needed versus what I actually needed.  

I have been blessed. Because I have never had a promise broken.  I have never had my heart torn to shreds because of words spoken that weren't followed through with. I have witnessed, though, the broken hearts, and broken promises. So I guess this post is mostly to educate... I hope anyway... to educate, or make aware of what I think is important.

Its never fun to admit that there are some REALLY REALLY  crappy adoption situations.  There are some couples who say what is necessary to gain the trust and love of expectant parents. Only to turn around the moment those babies are in their arms, or the moment they can't take them back, and close off all communication.  There are some who automatically assume that no contact, or minimal contact, is helping a birth parent in their post placement growth.  
Some are intentional, some are not.

SO, here is MY opinion and thought on the matter.

COMMUNICATE.
There are so many couples out there who would do anything to get a child. The ones who would do anything for the expectant parents, anything for the baby, for the extended families, etc.  So many who love unconditionally, not only the baby, but the expectant/birth families. 
 Make sure you communicate to each other what you think is important to keep/incorporate into your triads. Talk about the hard stuff. Talk about how much openness you want post placement. Nothing has to be definite, set in stone, unchangeable; make changes when necessary.  Take time to listen to the birth parent, and what they are looking for in a post placement relationship. Listen to their needs and desires at the time, and see what works for your family.  Find a common ground where you can both be present and happy with what boundaries are set. Have a knowledge, repeated often, that change is possible, and that you are open to hearing what each other has to say.  That you are available to listen to what they need(again) on BOTH sides.  

There is no reason to be dishonest in what you think you will be able to do after a child is placed with you.  I know that if you are an expectant couple that wants a closed adoption, and foresee that not changing, there are expectant parents out there who do want those same things.  Do not assume that we, as expectant parents, are automatically going to be fine post placement. That we won't need anything, and that if we say we do, that it will probably change the moment we place those babies in your arms.  
Make sure that if someone needs MORE that you can give that to them.  Respect needs to be present on all sides of the adoption relationship.  What works for one, may not work for another.  What has worked for a past birth parent, may not be what works for a new birth parent.  Just as in our daily relationships, all are different and require different attention and needs.  

We are PARENTS.  That is why we are called "expectant parents", and post placement, "birth parents".  Because we are parents.  We are making a decision that a parent would make in a hard situation (yes though so so different).  We love those babies more than anything, just like any parent should.  We TRUST and sacrifice to better the lives of those children of ours.  And even though we know that they are not ours, we are still a parent. Often carried for months before an adoption plan is made, we are parents. We want the best for them.  

In the beginning its hard to navigate through the emotions that come after placement, on both sides.  Being that I've only experienced the birth parent side, I can tell you it won't always be easy. But with communication, trust, faith, and boundaries, it can be navigated and made into good.  I was up and down often in the beginning. For many months just wondering how HE was and not to concerned with his mom and dad... or their families.  But, it didn't take long to remember the people that I came to LOVE and TRUST and ENVY, and wonder how they were. They deserved to be happy in all this, they needed to be. I put so much of my pain on their shoulders, I hope they can forgive me for that someday.

As an adoptive couple, remember that those who placed are experiencing a loss. Regardless of the moments that came to us reiterating over and over the RIGHT choice we were making. The moments of clarity and peace. Of love and joy, we are still heart broken.  We may not like you very much for a bit... but we still love you. And as we heal, and grow, and communication is prevalent, it can be quicker and with more love.

Birth parents, they are experiencing all new emotions as well.  Some adoptive couples deal greatly with post placement pains as well, and truly wan the best for you!  Be patient as they adjust to a new member of their family. Ad they experience the lack of sleep, crying, diapers, spit up, crying, more diapers, formula... its all new for them as well.  It doesn't need to make you feel like grieving shouldn't be happening, all your emotions are valid, and allow yourself to feel.  WRITE DOWN the reasons you chose adoption, why you chose the family you did, what you wanted for your child.  

BE HONEST.  Do not make commitments that you can not uphold.  Do not promise the world, when you can only deliver a bag of dirt.  Both can be beautiful, both can be fulfilling, and healing, if they are right for each of you.  If you or your couple need "more" and its something that you initially thought you couldn't do, LOOK OVER IT MORE.  Look more deeply at what you are currently providing, and see if it is something you can do.  Sometimes a little change helps more than you know!  Sometimes something as simple as a letter and pictures once, or twice a year even, for the birth parent alone, can be healing and helpful.  It can allow them to know that they are cared for and loved.  That even if they are seeing them grow on public avenues(facebook, instagram, etc.) that it is something SPECIAL just for them!!!  

Don't take for granted the idea of your family GROWING. That there are that many more people that will love you and that child.  It can be amazing!!!

Don't make a promise you can't keep. Or a promise you don't intend on keeping. In the end, it will not only hurt you, but the child, and the expectant/birth parents.  And same goes to birth parents.  BE HONEST. Allow them to know what you want and hope for, and don't get angry if it isn't something they can do at the moment.  Take time to sit back and asses what you are asking, and if it will truly help you.  

Communicate, set boundaries, be honest and real, and GROW together. 
You're all in this for the same reason, a beautiful child, that is going to grow and thrive!