I have been mulling over this idea for a few weeks and the best way to write about it because what I thought about openness before I adopted, soon after I adopted and now 3 years later are all really different. Last night read a post over at Roztime about Inclusive Foster Care and it got me thinking about how to write about openness and how I really should just say what I feel and think because maybe some others will have something to add to the conversation and that might give me some perspective.
I have never met my children's birth mother, I have read about her, I have made judgments about her but I have never met her. She is mythical in my sons minds, she has a pretty high pedestal and that is okay. Kevin has started to vocalize how if he if he lived his birth mother she would never _______________ (fill in the blank for whatever consequence he has ). We usually burst that bubble for him pretty quickly, I remember longing for a family where I did not have to follow the rules as well.
That all being said my children have no contact with their birth mother which is a complicated matter because they have 2 sisters who do have contact. It is messy and frustrating and frankly way more detailed than I can get into here, it is also not all my story to tell.
When we first adopted the boys we agreed to openness with both birth parants via letters twice a year. It was reasonable, the boys needed to write to her and to deal with the loss of her in their lives. They are still processing that loss but their need to communicate with her in that way has diminished a great deal as time has gone on. This year May came and went and they were not at all interested in writing to her. I respected that and guilty as I feel about it I have not written to her either. I have not written because I do not know what to say because we have stopped giving the boys her letters. We stopped last Christmas because they were just not appropriate and they tend to make the boys more upset than happy and that is hard for all of us. I have kept them and I have no doubt that the boys will be angry at me when they find out that I withheld them from them.
I think that a big part of the problem is that she has not processed her loss of them and so she writes to them as though they are just away at summer camp rather than moving on with their lives with another family. It is heartbreaking to see the pain she is in and yet I can not help but be angry at her for the choices that she made. She was given ample opportunity to learn to parent appropriately, the law was broken to give her more time, support was provided and yet she was unable to put her children first. I do not understand her choice, I do not understand why she was unwilling to change for them and yet then changed in order to parent a child who was born once the others were already in care.
In an ideal world I would like to be able to have a relationship with her in some way but I can not see how that is possible. I have learned in the last weeks that she is crossing all sorts of boundaries in other relationships and that concerns me. It worries me because I am afraid that she would undermine the work that we have done to help the boys heal from what happened to them as young children. It worries me because they deserve so much and yet at this time she has little to offer. Her family is of little help as they also continue to cross boundaries that are not theirs to cross and continue to try to have access to the boys in sneaky and inappropriate ways.
I think open adoption is a wonderful thing. I think that children who are growing up in adoptive homes are doubly blessed when they have birth families who can maintain healthy relationships with them. I think that when reunification is the goal it is great to inclusiveness in foster homes. I think that there are lots of families who make all kinds of things work in all kind of situations. A part of me would really like to be one of those families.
But, regardless of what I think about what might be or what could be I am faced with a situation that is none of those things. I have talked to our adoption worker and she is going to speak to the boys birth mother (again) about what can and cannot be included in letters. She is going to let her know that the children have not been receiving her letters nor the money that her mother has been sending them. The worker is going to try to get birth mom to begin to work through this so that she can have a realistic relationship with our children. Yes they are ours, hers and mine (well not just mine), ours. I will not for a minute pretend that she is not important to them but at the same time I want to save them from the heartache that her empty promises cause for the boys.
It is complicated, I wish there was an easy answer.