My Open Adoption: Not What It Should Be

A grieving birth mother shares her sadness as her open adoption becomes closed.

Crystal Perkins April 11, 2014
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sorrowEarlier this year, my adoption closed. To say that I didn’t see it coming would be a lie. I had dreams about it, and I could almost taste it months before it happened. I knew to a certain degree that I was helpless in stopping it, so when my husband went to my son’s parents without talking to me first and requested that they be more open with me, I knew it was the beginning of the end. He had no idea that he’d simply just sped up the ticking time bomb.

I wasn’t surprised when movement halted, and my son’s parents refused any in-person interaction, even though they’d been saying it would happen for years. I wasn’t surprised when they reneged on their agreement to send letters between the two of us, but I was hurt. I suggested an alternate idea, and I was completely blown away when I was lashed out at for being honest about the entire situation. I simply told them that I was struggling to trust them, and given the pattern they were showing of saying one thing, but meaning another, I wasn’t off the mark in not trusting them.

The adoption closed. I made it clear they could give my son my information but that I wanted no contact with them. And then I mourned for the loss of the open adoption that never really was. I cycled through sadness, anger, and astonishment, but I also felt this sense of peace. For so many years, they had strung me along believing that I was this close to seeing and interacting with my son. I believed them because who would lie about that sort of thing. In fact, my last conversation with my son’s mother included her saying that she envisioned us all sharing the holidays together. I didn’t want to believe that they meant none of it. Maybe they did, but their actions definitely showed otherwise.

This peace I had came with knowing it was closed and that the pieces would eventually lay in my son’s hands. I can accept a choice from him, whether I like it or not, but to know that his parents may have purposely been keeping him from me was a roadbump I simply couldn’t get over. I had signed up for open adoption, and yet, it felt like I was being imprisoned in a closed adoption, begging for food. I felt pathetic. I felt lame when I closed myself down when I saw him last, just so I could see him. They didn’t want to introduce us, so as he stood at my right, trying with all my might, I barely looked at him for fear I might scoop him up and devour him. No, this wasn’t ever what open adoption was meant to be like.

I once was that girl who sat telling her story to other expectant mothers. Now, I’d never dream of it, because I have no way of telling them what their journey will be like. Maybe they will have the most miraculous adoption ever, but maybe, like mine, it’ll be full of grief, and heartache – some normal, some induced by events.  In fact, I struggle to think what I would say to my seventeen year old self, the one who was pushed into adoption originally, and had come to terms with what it meant. She’d be devastated.

Lesson learned? Don’t speak in the voice that you know, if it’s still an unknown. I didn’t know that this was the path I would wind up on and that I would have to deal with another loss of separation when the adoption closed. I have no idea what it means for my son and how he will cope with it. I just know, this isn’t what open adoption is meant to look like- mistrust, closed doors, and insecurities.

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Crystal Perkins

Crystal is the content manager for Adoption.com. In her free time, she enjoys honing her outdoor photography skills, going on hikes, and hanging out with her husband.


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