Monday, June 2, 2014

Guest Blogger: Adoptive Mom: A Different View

Hello! This is Alliene, the adoptive mom. :) Kylie asked to me share why I like open adoptions. I'll let you in on a little secret...I haven't always liked the idea of open adoption. I actually fought it for awhile. Our first adoption was a little over 15 years ago and the adoption laws were very different then. When we adopted our oldest, by law we were only required to send letters and pictures the first year of his life, with a yearly letter and photo the next two years. That was it. And that minimal contact was all through the adoption agency, which in our case was LDS Family Services. (We mailed the letters to the agency, who in turn read them to make sure there wasn't any identifying information, then the letters were forwarded to the birthmother's agency and they would get them to her.) So after our son turned three years old, by law, we didn't have to have any more contact with the birthmother. It was referred to as a semi-open adoption. Or semi-closed depending on how you look at it. Now looking back, I can't believe I ever felt this way, but it was totally fine with me at the time. I was okay with ending it at three years. I had had a somewhat unnerving experience with his birthmother that made me nervous. (Long story but she had made contact with my parents and found out where we lived.) At that point in my new adoption journey it scared me. Would she try to come get our son? What was she trying to do? What did she want? These were questions constantly going through my mind. Remember this was 15 years ago. Adoption in general was viewed differently then it is today. As adoption has become more open, so have people's opinions relating to open adoptions.

Fast forward to eight years and another semi-open adoption later...(the laws had changed a little, so with our daughter we would send a yearly letter and photo until she turned 18. I had chosen to continue sending our son's birthmother a yearly letter too to follow the new law). Our oldest was getting close to turning 8 years old and our daughter was nearly 5. We had again applied and been certified to adopt and were just "waiting". Our social worker knew how I felt and tried to explain that it was rare anymore that a birthmother didn't want an open adoption and I said well then we'll wait for the "one" who does. Sheesh. It's crazy to think I was even the same person then. But I guess I actually wasn't.

We were contacted by our social worker with LDSFS that there was a birthmother interested in placing her baby with our family. We were thrilled! By this point open adoptions were becoming the norm...statistics were showing that more birthmothers were willing to choose adoption if it were more open and they didn't have to cut off all ties permanently. (Makes perfect sense right?!) This particular birthmother wanted yearly visits and regular email contact, pictures - nothing unusual or too hard to comply to. You'd think anyway. I was still a little gun shy. I realize now in looking back I felt threatened. Biological moms didn't have to worry about impressing the "other mom" or be critiqued on their mothering. Biological moms didn't have to plan special birthday parties to appease birth moms. Oh I had every reason in the book why even once a year seemed like an awful lot to give. To give...back. *gulp* And really what if I didn't measure up? What if somehow they could take the baby back, because they decided they didn't like who we were once they started spending time with us. (Don't tell me adoptive moms don't go through all the hormones of pregnancy, because I sure did!) Haha! :)

Sorry long story but the gist of it is after having this sweet baby boy in our lives for three days (yes, we bonded...yes we planned for it to be forever) the birthmother changed her mind and wanted him back. Worst. Day. Ever. Instead of meeting her to sign the final papers, we were preparing to give this sweet baby back to her. I struggled with this for awhile. I couldn't understand the "why" of it all. But that's another story...the beautiful blessing that came from that devastating experience was that one day after that, I suddenly had a change of heart. I went from merely feeling sympathy and distanced love to feeling empathy and heart wrenching love for birthmothers. "My" two in particular. I had a small glimpse of what it felt like to give up a child. You could argue that little boy wasn't mine when in reality that was true but the emotions...the feelings of my heart were that I had lost him.

Knowing the adoption laws had changed and after discussing it with my husband and social worker, I chose to open our two adoptions. The time of this "failed adoption" happened to fall around our two children's birthdays so it was time for me to send their yearly letters. This time I was so excited while adding to what I had already planned to send. I told each of them that if they wanted, we would like to open our adoptions. I gave them my email address and told them they could email me and basically we would just go from there. And I can honestly say I have never looked back. I cannot imagine what it would be like for my three children to not know their birth moms. Not having visits with them. They are a part of our life. A part of our family. My birth moms are my good friends. They inspire me. They love my children as much as I do. They are cheering for them to succeed, praying for them, just as I am. I love when we get together. The first time my daughter met her birth mom she saw her a little ways away and asked me if that was her, got a huge smile on his face and ran into her arms. Honestly it was the best feeling ever. My husband and I cried happy tears.

So this has been a long explanation to Kylie's question of why I like open adoptions. The short answer is...I would say I like open adoptions because I think it is the best scenario for everyone- for the children, the birth parents (extended family too!), and the adoptive parents. I just think it is the way it's meant to be! In my experiences I thinks it's what Heavenly Father wanted and knew our family needed. I'm so grateful for the "failed adoption" experience I had, to help my heart grow to recognize that.


  1. Hi Alliene (and Kylie), I am a friend of Kylie's mom and am following her blog. I appreciate your heartfelt words and I know how hard the decision to have an open adoption was. I too am an adoptive mom but my circumstances and feelings are very much different. My children were forcibly removed from custody of their family by CPS and the police because of abuse and neglect. As we were getting ready to finalize the adoption we were asked by the social worker if we would consider parental visits (ie. open adoption). Our answer was absolutely, positively NO to parent visits. At the advice of a mediator we did allow once-a-month visits or phone calls with a grandfather, but over the course of 7 years that has tapered off to nothing.They haven't seen him in over 2 years and had to go through the feelings of abandonment all over again.
    My reason for sharing this is to warn potential adoptive parents that while yours and Kylie's situation (and most infant adoptions) are ideal, there are those where an open adoption is not the right choice - and in fact could be dangerous. (on a side note, we were called by a social worker in another state 3 years ago to see if we would take placement of 2 younger siblings the mother was giving up. Then last year another worker called needing placement of another younger sibling by from the father - will it ever end?)

  2. Nancy,

    I completely understand that my decision is NOT the best decision for everyone since every circumstance is different. I have tried to make that clear in my writing - I hope you don't mistake my blog for such. It definitely sounds like you did what was in the BEST interest of the kids. How lucky are they to have you to raise them! You're obviously a strong woman! I wish you the best of luck Nancy!