My last post explained the great relationship I have with my daughters’ maternal birth grandmother and step grandfather (Open Adoption Part 1).
Because of that connection, I do have access to Sloane* and Elise*’s birth parents.
There were a lot of mistakes and shortcomings that led to them loosing their children. Kids in foster care are there for a reason. In this case, addictions played a part. Possibly that’s no longer a factor.
The birth father is far away in the US. For the past two years, the birth mom has been living relatively close by. There’s a bit of guilt that passes through me when I think about that. Just over a year ago, Sloane and I met with her (for details on that see We Belong Together). I said it was a one time deal. In some ways the visit helped. In other ways it hasn’t. Knowing her birth mom is accessible keeps Sloane asking for more contact.
Her birth mom was amazing in explaining Sloane can never return to her. But that doesn’t keep the child from hoping. There’s a strong bond between the two of them that isn’t there with Elise. Sloane came into foster care just before turning 3. She’s as sharp as a tack and remembers so much from the past. Elise, on the other hand, was in foster care from birth. She returned to her birth family just before turning 1. It was a brief reunion that ended in her and Sloane coming into foster care together. There’s a big difference in the way they’ve attached to me and how they see adoption.
It may be right. It may be wrong. But for now I’ve decided to keep the door closed on contact with the birth parents.
Before Christmas I compiled several pictures and wrote a summary of the girls’ year. This package was passed on to their grandmother, Sandra*, to give the birth mother, Becka*.
Recently while talking with Sandra, she mentioned planning to visit the birth father. Sloane and Elise have older siblings who are living with him.
“Would it be ok if I copy some pictures of the girls to give him?” she asked.
“Of course,” I answered.
“I didn’t want to do anything without asking you first.” That right there is why our openness agreement works so well. Without me ever having to say anything, Sandra sees me as the mother of her granddaughters. She respects my position.
When Sloane sees Sandra or speaks with her, she’s drawn back into the past. Her heart begins to bleed all over again for the birth parents and siblings she’s living without. With prayer, love, and time I expect that wound to heal to a greater degree. As she grows, Sloane will gain perspective. At 6yrs old she’s still wishing for a life where, “I always got lots of candy and Lucky Charms.” That’s what she recalls of being with her birth parents. It’s not so with me. Candy is a limited commodity and now that Sloane’s completely off wheat Lucky Charms are out of the question. Maybe it wasn’t so with her birth family, but that’s how she remembers it.
As a parent everyday I make hundreds of decisions that will impact my kids now and in the future. With that responsibility comes a great deal of insecurity. “Am I making the right choice?” I wonder all day long. In the case of contact with birth parents, I don’t know. But I appreciate the opportunity to chose. Openness to any degree can be an amazing gift to children and birth families. For now the extent of our openness with the girls’ birth parents will be pictures and letters I’ll send through their grandmother. In the future that might change. It might not.