Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #35 - Grandparents (Better Late Than Never)

Awhile ago I mentioned that I had joined Open Adoption Bloggers.  Part of the Open Adoption Bloggers is the Open Adoption Rountable.

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption.
It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community.
You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption.
If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table.
The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Rountable #35 was to write about Grandparents in open adoption.  This was posted a few weeks ago but with everything going on this is the first moment I had to write about it.  I think that it is an important topic so I had to take a few minutes to share my feelings and our experience.

In our open adoption our daughter's birth Grandmother (L) played (and continues to play) a staring role in our open adoption experience.  She was the person who initiated contact with us and in many ways orchestrated how our adoption would go.  Because her daughter, Gaby's birth Mom (A) is so young she looked to her Mom for information and reassurance that she was doing the right thing.  At the beginning I thought L might keep us from having a fully open adoption but in the end everything worked out.  Once we explained our vision of open adoption L and A decided it was their's as well.

For the most part having L so involved in our adoption experience has been great.  I have allot in common with her and find that she has good insight into what A is thinking and feeling.  Because A is so quiet, at times in the beginning stages of our adoption I could not tell what she thought about what was going on or what Nic and I were doing or saying.  L in many ways worked as an interpreter and helped us form the relationship we now have with A. 

Throughout the formation of our open adoption agreement and hospital plan we often found we were taking L's feelings into account just as much as A's.  I at times felt that L over shadowed A which to me was a bit sad.  I thought the focus of the adoption should have been kept on A and that was not always the case.  Nic and I did our best to make sure A's feelings were the priority but it was difficult when she very rarely spoke up for herself.  She did so more at the end of her pregnancy when the important decisions had to be made, which was good.

We know that L will always be a big part of Gaby's life.  Her and her fiancee (H) have made it clear that they want to be and we have included them in our open adoption agreement.  Both Nic and I are thrilled that this is the case.  We know that A's life will change as she gets older and she may not always be able to, or want to be involved with Gaby.  We are happy that L's close relationship with us will allow Gaby to have a constant connection to her birth family even if it is not with her birth Mother. 

We value L and H in our life and know they will always be part of our extended family. Our daughter will just be that much more spoiled with love having one more set of Grandparents. 

I also want to take this opportunity to talk about Gaby's adoptive Grandparents who I know have been challenged by the idea of open adoption.  At first I think the idea of having an open relationship with our birth family was very scary for them.  They were having nightmares of them kidnapping our child in the night, invading our lives or some how taking away parenting duties for Nic and I. 

As we learned more about open adoption so did they and in time they came to accept it.  I think the fear was still present for awhile but the more time Nic and I spent with our birth family and talked about them they became a part of not only our lives but our parent's lives as well.  When we eventually we took pictures of all of us and our parent's could put faces to names you could also seem them relax a bit.  I'm not sure what they were expecting our birth family to be but I think the unknown was daunting. 

The get together we had with our birth family a couple weeks ago was truly amazing and Nic and I had a private moment where we celebrated our parents coming full circle in relation to open adoption.  They welcomed our birth family with open arms and we could see their stress and worry of the past months melt away.  Their granddaugther's first family love her just as they do and she is something that we will all always have in common.  It was wonderful to see everyone sharing stories, laughing and talking. The truly amazing thing was that after the visit they just "got it".  Our parents understood what we had been trying to tell them about open adoption and how we hoped it would all come together.  They were no longer intimidated or scared of our birth family and it was obvious they genuinely liked them. 

Gaby is my parents first grandchild and Nic's parents fourth.  She is a very special little girl to all of us especially Nic and I because in many ways she is our miracle.  We had basically given up on ever having a baby, baby and we feel truly blessed to have not missed one moment of her life and to share such an extraordinary bond with her first family.  We are lucky that she has three sets of Grandparents and they all play an important role in her life.  We would not have it any other way.

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