When Open Adoption Gets Rough

Navigating complicated family relationships.

Sheyann Barger December 23, 2014
article image

In our family, we have one closed adoptive relationship with a child’s biological family and one open adoptive relationship with our other child’s entire biological family. My children’s adoptions couldn’t be any more different and unique. With both situations, our family has experienced the most joyous of joys and the bitterest of sorrows and sadness. Adoptive relationships will, at some time in their life-long commitment, meet with rough, difficult, challenging times as well as times of joy, celebration and overwhelming love. Such is the human relationship experience.


As we vacationed over Thanksgiving break, my family encountered a difficult situation with one of our children’s family. A rough patch, a challenging time, a difficult situation, a learning experience, a life lesson. Call it whatever; it sucked. My husband and I witnessed several safety situations that required intense communication with various family members. It felt as if we were walking a complex system of ropes and pulleys, which were really high, tight ropes…and we were meant to maneuver them while wearing high heels.


After two stressful, emotionally draining days, one phone call left me in tears. I wondered what was best and right. As I recounted the call to my husband I exclaimed, “I don’t know what to do or even how to handle or even process any of this!” He calmly responded, “We do what is right and best for our child.” As an adoptive mother, I am very passionate about open adoption. I’m going to fight to unconditionally love and do whatever I can for my daughter’s birth mother and extended family. I firmly believe they ARE what is best for my child.


The next day was Thanksgiving. All parties in our relationship had plans for Thanksgiving, which allowed us a day to step away from the stress and frustrations. That time, even one day, brought so much peace and clarity. On Friday, we spoke with our child’s birth mother and extended family members. We were all much calmer, able to focus clearly and able to communicate more effectively. We’ve learned and re-learned that open adoption is a life-long process of learning to love and communicate with each other. Sometimes, that process is scary, hard, rough, challenging, and/or frustrating. Personally, I feel that those nasty times seem to make the happy moments so much sweeter. I’m simply going to choose to be grateful to have them as my family through open adoption.

author image

Sheyann Barger

A country girl through and through, Sheyann was born and raised in Southeast Idaho. Sheyann is married to her college sweetheart, has two highly energetic children, and is currently learning how enjoy life in Utah--in the "city." Adoption has always been a part of Sheyann's life, and when her children came to her family through adoption, adoption became an enduring passion. Her other passions include photography, reading, motherhood, her faith, camping, spending time with family, and, right now, completing insane amounts of paperwork to bring one last child into her family.

Want to contact an adoption professional?

Love this? Want more?

Claim Your FREE Adoption Summit Ticket!

The #1 adoption website is hosting the largest, FREE virtual adoption summit. Come listen to 50+ adoption experts share their knowledge and insights.

Members of the adoption community are invited to watch the virtual summit for FREE on September 23-27, 2019, or for a small fee, you can purchase an All-Access Pass to get access to the summit videos for 12 months along with a variety of other benefits.

Get Your Free Ticket

Host: ws1.elevati.net