What I Wish You Knew About My Son’s Closed Adoption

One adoptive mother’s perspective.

Kristy O'Neal October 25, 2017
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The more I hear and read from adult adoptees, the more this is confirmed in my mind: adoption, and the discussion of it, is an extremely emotional thing. I’m not an adoptee, so I won’t presume to know how that feels. I also won’t presume to understand the complex emotions and desires and opinions of a birth parent. The only experience I can speak from is my own, as an adoptive mother.

There is an interesting line to walk in adoption regarding how we share our stories in a way that honors the right of the others involved to share (or not share) their own perspectives. For that reason, I won’t go into the details of my son’s story, because I believe it is his story to tell. I will only say this: From the time he was two days old, I have been the only mother he has known. His adoption is closed.

I wish this were not the case. As a foster parent, I never expected that if or when I adopted, I would not have any contact with my child’s birth parent. I have worked hard, as much as it is possible, to build healthy relationships with my foster children’s parents, and even spend a lot of time talking to other foster parents about this relationship. I think it an important part of being a foster parent.

In some practical ways, I suppose it is easier right now. Just as birth and foster parent relationships are difficult to negotiate and navigate, I am sure the same is true for birth and adoptive parent relationships.

Still, I think of my son’s birth mother often. I wonder what she looks like, which of his features come from her or perhaps someone else in her family. I wonder if he has siblings or if there is family medical history we should know. I see myself in his personality and mannerisms, and wonder if I would see her in those, too.

I wish I could thank her for the beautiful gift she gave to me, even if unknowingly. I wonder if she questions or regrets her decision, and I wish I could assure her that she is not forgotten, that even at his young age we talk about her and how she made the best decision she could for him. I want my son to know that I honor her.

One day my son will ask questions that I can’t answer. I’ll tell him everything I can, but I know that it might not be enough. If he wants to look for more answers, I will help him – but I know that the nature of his adoption might make that more difficult. This is the part of our closed adoption that grieves me the most.

Birth parents, I would love to hear from you. If you have a closed adoption, why did you choose that path? Would you do things differently if you were to do it again?

If you have a closed adoption and want to find birth parents, visit the new adoption search and reunion website.

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Kristy O'Neal

Kristy is mom to two sweet, funny, wonderful kids and works full time in information technology. During her spare time, she likes to browse Pinterest and thrift stores, create things, and hang out with her kids. As a foster parent, Kristy cares about advocating for the needs of kids in foster care and supporting foster families. You can read her thoughts on these and many other topics at her blog.

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