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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The adoption triad

After my last post, someone commented that, like all relationships, the ones in an open adoption take work and effort and time. I was like, "well, yeah. I know this". It seems obvious, right? And I'm a social worker - I deal with relationships all the time; relationships are kind of the basis of the work I do. But then it hit me that there's a relationship I totally neglected to consider.

As an essentially selfish creature, I'm surprised to find that I never stopped to think about how an open adoption relationship would affect us - hubby and me, and how it would affect me personally. In so wanting an open adoption, I considered how it would be beneficial for our child, and for the birth family. I wanted our children to have access to their birth families, to get answers to those questions, answers we'd have no way of knowing. I wanted my children to know where they come from, to know who they look like. I wanted the birth family to have some peace about their decision. I wanted them to be able to see that their child is loved, healthy, happy. I thought about the relationship as being between those two factions of the adoption triad. I saw hubby and I as only facilitators of that exchange. I forgot to consider how it would affect us, how we would be directly involved ourselves, how we would feel.

So, that, I think, is the reason I am struggling with how things are between us and R - because I never even thought that there really would be an "us and R". Stupid, right? Not to have realized that before. Because it's so awkward, and we feel so territorial right now, I think we're trying to keep it about R and baby E, when what we really want - a long term relationship with all of us, has to come from hubby and me building a relationship with R, not just facilitating a relationship between her and baby E. By keeping conversations about just baby E, we're further focusing the relationship on the two of them, instead on all of us. What we really need to do is get to know R, and let her get to know us, in ways that have nothing (or at least less) to do with baby E. What can I say? Sometimes I really do miss rather obvious details. It's a character flaw, I suppose.

Today's lesson - sometimes we all miss the forest for the trees. Sometimes, though, we also miss the individual trees for the forest. It's about finding a balance between the two, which is, of course, easier said than done.

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