Friday, December 11, 2009

Adoption and the holidays

I am finally going to participate in one of the Open Adoption Rountables -- the topic this time is to write about adoption and the holidays. So here we go.

Lauren's birthmother (I'll call her Elise) saw Lauren several times in her first year, a couple of times in her second year, and now I can't remember how long it's been since we've seen her. Maybe this time last year? She mentioned at the time that she was planning to move out of state.

Last month I sent an email to Elise's mom (who had asked me way back when if I wouldn't mind sending pictures of Lauren now and then and I certainly don't mind as she is an extremely nice lady) to say thanks for the card and gift card she'd sent to Lauren for her birthday, and also a link to the pictures we had taken of Lauren. I asked her to share them with Elise since I didn't have an email address for her. She said she would do that, since she would see Elise at Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving day, I got a text message from Elise saying how beautiful Lauren is and how she can't believe she's three. She said she'd call sometime and that she had a bad cold, and ended her message with "lol."

I don't have a texting plan (what? I'm not 12), so I didn't text her back that day. I figured I'd give her a call closer to Christmas and offer to get together. In the past, she's always called us to ask to see Lauren, but I feel like I need to keep letting her know that she's welcome in our lives and in our home. Anyway, today I checked my phone for her number, and discovered it was an out-of-state number -- from the state she said a year ago she was going to move to. So I sent her a text (I figured it was worth the 25 cents or whatever Verizon's going to charge me for it) saying I see you've moved, give us a call when you're in town, we'd love to see you, blah blah blah. She texted me back right away and said that she's still in town; her dad bought her a new phone for her birthday so the number is from where he lives (which is kind of strange, but I'm thinking that she must still have plans to move there at some point). She ended by writing "my phone is dying, lol, text you soon!"

Okay, so what's the point of all this? It's the holidays, I'm texting with my daughter's birthmother. And I get the sense that she's moved on, as our social worker told us over 3 years ago would probably happen. That as time went on, and she dealt with her own feelings about the adoption, Elise would want to see Lauren less and less. That she would move on with her life, pursue her goals, etc. This is, apparently, pretty normal stuff in this world of open adoption. Doesn't happen to everyone, but it's not uncommon.

There's a part of me that finds this easier. It means I don't have to deal with my own feelings as much. I don't have to feel a pang of guilt when Lauren calls me "mommy" in front of Elise, wondering if she's hurt by that. I don't have to feel guilty about "taking her baby." (Yes, I know she's the one who made the adoption plan, but I still feel somehow like I "did" something painful to her and I like her very much and want the best for her.)

But not having Elise visit with Lauren also makes me sad for Lauren. Not so much now, since she's only 3, and although we talk about adoption, she doesn't get the concept yet. But for later. When she wants to know her birthmother. When she wants to know that Elise cares. When she's dealing with feelings of rejection.

I'm afraid we're going to lose track of Elise and when it matters to Lauren, I won't know where to find her. Luckily I have the connection with her mom, so that helps. I just want to be sure that if and when Lauren wants Elise in her life -- be it in the form of a birthday card or a hug -- I can give that to her. And I can't. It's not my choice. All I can do is keep the door open.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if the phone issue was her moving on as much as it was a sign of an age gap between you and her.

About 10% of the people I know have cell phone numbers with area codes that are different than where they live. I think that is pretty common, actually. And ending messages with "lol" is pretty standard.

It just seems to me that she is very open to communicating with you (as she did text you right back). She is just communicating in her way...

Just my two cents, for what it is worth.

Kris said...

Sure, there's an age gap (she's 24and I'm 40) but it's not the texting or the cell phone number or writing "lol" that has me thinking she is moving on, it's the infrequency of visits. We saw her 3-4 times during Lauren's first year and it's just gotten more infrequent from there. That's okay. It's all part of open adoption, figuring it out as we go along. For lots of reasons, I'm just glad we know (and love) her!

Leigh said...

I find it so interesting how different I am from Elise...since I was NOT okay with seeing my bdaughter in the beginning (too hard) and now I feel ready (eight years later).

But I guess I can see how initially she really needed to see her daughter and maybe there is some truth to the fact that she feels okay with a little more space, maybe to heal more, maybe just to feel "normal" and to escape from the heavy reality of her situation.

If she's anything like me, then she will drift back. Maybe that's not comforting as it can paint an inconsistent and unreliable pattern for your daughter, but if she's been in contact before, she will be again one day.

Blobby said...

It's a great post and horribly honest.

If I were on either end of this equation, I don't know how I'd feel about open adoption, for many of the feelings you're experiencing.

THose 24 year olds w/their LOLs. Kids!

Jenni said...

The part about you texting with Elise is so me and my daughter's adoptive mom! I'm 30, she's 40, and we text at least once a week. It's a quick way to touch base, make plans, etc.

As for the increasing distance, it could be that in the beginning Elise felt the need for more frequent contact to assure herself that she made the right choice. Now that you've fully become "mommy" to Lauren, Elise may feel like she doesn't have to check in as much.

Whatever the reason, navigating the waters of contact in an open adoption are tricky at best!

Other Mother said...

I just placed my baby boy for adoption last month and haven't seen him yet. I told his parent's that I wanted to wait three month's before I saw him and I'm starting to realize how fast that three month's is going to come. I was thinking about it the other day and started to feel anxious at the prospect of seeing him and them together because I know it's going to be difficult and I'm afraid of what I'll feel. Open adoption is a blessing and I hope I never lose contact with my son's parent's. Thank you for writing so honestly about your experience. It helps me to read and to understand what the perspective is like from the perspective you are living it. Thank you.