I go to the bookstore in search of resources to help us navigate the world of adoption and find nothing. There are books on how to start the process; the impact of transracial adoption; managing the trauma of the foster system; and helping children with bonding issues. Nothing for just plain infant-domestic adoption. I find myself in the same boat when I research support groups for adoption in our area. Several groups that are specific for issues, but nothing for plain adoption. Sometimes I find myself wondering if we are too normal.
When an outsider looks at our family I assume adoption is not in the forefront of their minds. A blond hair, blue eyed dad with blond hair, blue and hazel eyed children. Once in a while I’ll get a question about the kid’s blond hair if hubby is not with me because I have a darker complexion, but that is the closest we ever get to people being curious about the children’s biology.
On one hand, it is nice. I am not always emotionally in a good place to be an adoption ambassador. Plus, it allows for our children to have control over who knows we are an adoptive family. Not that I want them to feel they need to hide it, just that they won’t be a constant curiosity to outsiders.
On the flipside, looking like the all American family seems to lead researchers to overlook the impact of adoption. Certainly, I do not begrudge the time dedicated to helping adoptive families with issues specific to how their family was formed. I know that transracial and foster adoptions come with sets of difficulties that I will never face. But, although their struggles are different, it does not mean we do not have our own.
Our family is navigating the road of open adoption. We maintain contact with both of their birth mothers and their extended families. Turkey-man, at age four, is just starting to get that how our family was formed is not how most families are. To some degree he gets that he did not grow in my belly, but in Mama-A’s. He seems to grasp that she holds a special place in his life that is unlike any other relationship that he has. But, with that it appears that he is confused as to why everyone does not have a birth mother and an everyday mother.
The resources to help him come to grips with that are simply not there like they are with other types of adoption. The research to show me how to do open adoption best is not out there either. Essentially, we are winging it and hoping for the best. This does not work well in my mind which craves concrete, black-and-white answers.
I understand that there is a wide spectrum of relationships that fall under the “open adoption” umbrella. It is probably difficult to establish research that fits each circumstance. Both of our children’s birth mothers were simply not prepared to provide the life that they wanted for their children. Some open adoptive families see drug use, neglect, domestic violence, older biological siblings, etc. We have none of that, but some sort of base point would be nice.
I know that funds for adoption research are scarce and the problems faced by families formed under other circumstances are more severe. I do not want to take away from that. That does not mean we do not face any. Infant-domestic adoptions need some sort of resources to help us as well, especially with the rise in open-contact adoptions.
We do our best, but I do not want to find out in twenty years that we have created psychological difficulties in pursuing the open relationship. We need answers now before we leave our children with unintentional emotional scars. Our children deserve the validation that research leaves behind. They need the connections to know that they are not alone on this road.
We may not stand out as an obviously adoptive family, but looks are deceiving. We are not “normal” in our culture and could use help to come to terms that what we face is valid. Behind the mirage of a perfect family, the struggles are real. As a mother I want to do what is absolutely in the best interest of our children. I need direction and connection to other families. We may look the part, but we are certainly not too normal to need the help.