One of the most common experiences for those of us who have adopted through the domestic infant adoption route is managing the correspondence with the birth parent(s). Although ideally I would be more than happy to share all of the details of our shared child’s life, the letters and pictures have been a source of friction inside my head. That is tough for me to admit. For this week’s Tuesday’s Trials I want to discuss what it is like to always have someone to be accountable to.
I have the idea in my head that because my children’s birth parents made such an incredible sacrifice, I should be overjoyed to communicate all of the details of our children’s lives. Here is the thing, sometimes it feels intrusive to HAVE to share everything. Although there is an overriding tremendous appreciation for what the birth parents have done for us, there are times that I don’t want my children’s status as “adopted” to be so pronounced. I just want to be a “normal” family.
As I write the letters I am never completely sure what I should share. I want the letter to be genuine and accurate, but I feel like I need to sound like life is absolutely blissful. I worry that if I share something we are struggling with the birth parent will think less of me or less of the decision they made to make an adoption plan.
In sharing the photographs, I want to paint a picture of a storybook family. I want to match the life that I think the birth parents envisioned when they embarked on this journey. I feel a continuous sense of pressure to capture every moment as proof that we are trying to give our kids a great life.
I feel like I have someone that I have a constant sense of responsibility towards. Each time it is time to mail the letter and pictures I find myself wondering if I have done enough to prove that I am giving these children the best life possible. While that is what I strive for, it is hard feeling like I have to provide evidence to show that.
Logically, I know that providing pictures and letters for the birth parents to see how their child is doing is the least I can do to express my gratitude for the decision that they made. My emotions sometimes resent the need to be accountable to someone else. So often I want to just relax and be a regular mom. The critic in my head already scrutinizes everything that I do with the kids. Having this secondary source of responsibility to compounds that.
Adoption is a balance between wanting to reassure the birth parents, wanting to honor and validate our children’s feelings about being adopted and yet striving for a sense of normalcy so that our children can develop other parts of their identity.
I am hoping that as the kids get older they will help in selecting the pictures and giving feedback about the things that they would like to share with their birth parent(s). It will be less about how hubby and I are interacting with the kids and more about the accomplishments and experiences the kids have.
For now, I try to stick with discussing milestones and funny stories. I hope that as the birth parents read the letters it brings a smile to their faces seeing the lives that the kids have. I do my best to express our gratitude for the privilege of sharing in these experiences. With each new letter as they grow, I hope that the birth parents will be proud of the people they are becoming. I am sure that we will be!
Thanks for sharing this! As prospective adoptive parents hoping for an open adoption, I wonder what to share. Do you only share the good parts or do you share the challenging parts as well? And the burden of raising another person’s child isn’t lost on me, that it is a great responsibility and you want her to be reassured that her child is in safe hands. I’m glad you shared this!