An Open Adoption Holiday Horror Story

  • Comments: 2
  • Written on: November 21st, 2007

My wife and I adopted our son Jacob from an awesome woman in Hastings, NE about 16 months ago. We have an open adoption, which means he will always know who his
birthmother is and she will always know how he is doing and is always welcome to visit in our home.

We chose open adoption because it was the best thing for our son. When we finalized his adoption, his birthmother became a member of our family as well. We all get along really well, swapping MySpace comments (she is really the only reason I log in once in a while there), laughing over photos, and trading those little tidbits that only parents would care about.

While things have been relatively smooth for our open adoption, that’s not how it goes for all families who enter into this socially complex situation. What happens when the adoptive grandparents, aunts, and uncles simply can’t or won’t accept the role of a birthmother in an open adoption?

What would you do if you had invited a birthmother to Thanksgiving, and your parents went behind your back and called the birthmother to uninvite her?

That is exactly what happened to one adoptive family. This family adopted at about the same time we did, and has an open adoption as well. Some members of their family have been resistant to the idea of an open adoption, saying that the birthmother is not a “real part of the family.”

I guess its just amazing to me that “family” can do something so hurtful to an adopted child (because that is who is really going to be hurt by this in the end).

Kids are not stupid. They figure things out even though they don’t always understand them entirely. If family members continue this negative path, the child is eventually going to figure out that these family members care more about their own feelings than the welfare of a child.

Its normal to have family arguments and the drunk uncle sprinkled here and there on Thanksgiving. But there is a line that should not be crossed for the well-being of the child. Calling a child’s birthmother and uninviting them to Thanksgiving is waaaaaay over that line.

  1. Lori in Denver said on January 26th, 2009 at 12:04 am

    What those members of the family did was wrong on many levels. Dis-inviting ANYone without consulting the inviter would not make Emily Post happy.

    These people are doing a disservice to the child. If the child’s parents cannot help the extended family members to understand OA, they may have to make some tough decisions about contact.

    And I DON’T mean with the birthfamily

  2. stef Kramer
    stef Kramer said on January 11th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    we’re a lesbian couple in tennessee and we’re starting the adoption process. we found you while researching the IAC. would love to hear opinions, facts, experiences. thanks!

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