Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unrealistic Expectations

Someone e-mailed me a question a few weeks ago and I've been sort of sitting on it since then, unsure of exactly how to answer it because I'm unsure of exactly what the point of the question was.

But I've been thinking about it, and I've got an idea or two about what I want to say, and so here it is.

The question (I've paraphrased):
Do you ever think that your blog might give birthmothers an unrealistic idea about openness and their relationship with their baby's adoptive parents? Or that potential adoptive parents might get wrong ideas about their birth mom's maturity and the relationship they might have?

My knee-jerk response is to be a bit defensive - understandably, in my opinion. My story and the people in it are all precious to me, and I turn into an angry mama bear if I feel like my adoption story is being criticized at all. Take exception to me and my personality and attitude if you want, but you'd just better leave P and M out of it.

But as I've thought about it, I think I can sort of see where this question is going. Mine is a happy adoption story. Maybe it seems too good to be true to people who have had unhappy adoption experiences. Of course, I think y'all know how I feel about people who let their bad experiences ruin things for the rest of us. But I thought, maybe the question-asker is in the pre-placement phase of adoption and isn't sure what to expect. I like that point of view better, and that's the one I will respectfully address here.

As I said, Roo's adoption story is a happy one. It started off as a happy sad, and now it's mostly a happy happy. This is my blog, and I tell the adoption story I know best. I've tried to emphasize that my story is just that: mine. I don't pretend to speak for anyone else, or set myself up as an example of how everyone's adoption should be. I'm not saying, this is how your adoption should be, or how it could be. I'm saying, this is how mine is - it's imperfect, but it works.

I'm acutely aware that my situation is what many would consider a best-case scenario. I know that a lot of people aren't as lucky as I am in that regard. But you know what? There are a lot of negative, angry adoption stories clogging the internet, and I feel like my happy story helps to balance them out.

Every adoption is different, because every person is different and they're going to relate to other people differently. My story - Roo's story - is the way it is because of who I am, and who P and M are. The only adoption in the world that is going to be like Roo's is ... well, Roo's. I do think that maybe my story is an example of the potential that there is in an open adoption and of the kind of growth and healing that openness can foster. If all the parties involved are mature and willing to communicate with each other and be honest, open adoption can be an amazing, wonderful thing.

But it depends on who you are, and where you are in life, and if you're willing to work for it. You get out of a relationship just what you put into it. I'm not going to say that my relationship with Roo's parents is perfect - far from it, with my lousy people skills! - but I do feel like it gets better as time passes. It is continually evolving, and I do feel like we're in a place where if anything needed to change or needed to be said, it could probably be changed or said. I think that's the important thing - not that we're at some level of openness that others perceive to be ideal, but that what we've got works for us, and that we're comfortable discussing things when we need to.

I'll say it again - my relationship with P and M is far from perfect. But no relationship is perfect! Not a single one. People are imperfect. I am an abysmal communicator, and I made mistakes early on in our relationship that I'd take back if I could. But we love each other. They are Roo's parents, and I love them. No matter what happens, I know that P and M love me, too, and most important, they love Roo. I'm not going to say that love conquers all, but it helps.

So, I guess the short answer (I'm no good at those) is that, no, I don't think it does. I'm going to credit my blog readers with being smart enough to know I'm just one person writing about one experience.


Jessica said...

Beautifully said! You make two excellent points: that your story balances out the negativity out there about adoption, and that you show the potential for what an open adoption can be. I don't think you pretend to speak for everybody or promise that every adoption will be like yours, but as a future adoptive parent I know that when I read a negative adoption story I think something like, "Well, there's always the possibility it could go as well as Jill's experience. I want to do what I can to make it as positive as possible." So thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and your story.

A Life Being Lived said...

Love this! I have a "positive adoption story" as well, even though I share some struggles on my blog I tend to talk about the good stuff. I respect and appreciate that there are adoptions that aren't ideal, or one or both parties have communication issues or difficultues and I feel really lucky for mine. Sometimes I feel bad that I'm not complaining or upset over the adoption all the time, but I have learned that each and every adoption is different and so are the people. Just like a marriage, just like other relationships, it depends on the people involved and their willingness to work at it.

LisaAnne said...

I am thankful for your happy story. You are right. We should have more happy adoption stories. And I know the other side.

My open adoption is not like yours. I wish it were. But my realtionship with her birthfather is nothing like your relationship with Roo's birthfather either.

We are all different people, in different relationships.

Some people have good marriages and will tell others to get married. Some people have miserable marriages and they tell their friends not to ever get married.

I am an adult. I take the good and the bad stories and try to learn a little from each of them.

So thank you for your happy blog. It makes me smile. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm glad you have a happy/positive adoption story/blog...because it does help balance with all the others...and I came here through another positive story seeking to find others who had positive stories like mines because I was getting tired of all the negative ones.

Reena said...

I think most people in the world realize that you cannot look at the outcome in one situation and think that is how the outcome will always work for all situations similar to it.

I hope that makes sense.

Mystic said...

(I am a blessed and happy adult adoptee who was adopted through a closed adoption in 1968.)
I think there are a lot of positive/happy adoption stories out there. Here is the rub; many of us who were adopted whose lives have been happy and normal are not compelled to tell our story. Adoption is just a non-issue. Does that make sense? The only reason I am active in any way in the adoption community is that I needed medical information, and couldn't procure it via my non-identifying information.
I think your blog is a reminder to those of us who do have happy stories that we should, perhaps, be more vocal.
There are some questions that I have wanted to ask you about closed vs. open adoption. The inquiries might be a bit uncomfortable, and by no means do I wish to offend you. If you are interested in discussing the issue with me, please let me know, and I'll send you an email. :)

Lara Zierke said...

Well said, Jill. While I didn't come across your blog before we adopted (I believe Roo is younger than Jocelyn anyway) reading Mrs. R's blog is what cinched the deal for me to pursue an open adoption. In fact, we were very hesitant when we were matched and Joci's birth parents didn't want an open adoption. They changed their minds in the hospital. :)

Now, we don't see them every other weekend and call and text like girlfriends, and sometimes I honestly wish we did, but I think it is good to know that I can strive for more openness. I would like to have a better relationship, which I actually do kind of base on your blog and the R house (don't know many adoptive couples in real life, so I have to use blogs as a base). Maybe that kind of expectation has ended up being unrealistic for us, but i never felt fact, I feel inspired to strive for that.

BobandColista said...

I appreciate your story and willingness to share.

Open adoption was scary to my husband and I because of stories you can find online. It wasn't until we attended birth parent panels that we actually desired an open adoption.

Our open adoption with our daughter's birth mom has grown through the years into an even more open adoption because I have read your experiences. Even though we wanted an open adoption with our birth mom it was still hard in the beginning. It was uncharted waters for us.

Thank you for showing me what our birth mom might have been feeling, and probably was, but couldn't express to us. Our birth mom has grown into one of my friends as well as family. Your blog helps to keep me focused on what is most important, my daughter. My insecurities have almost dwindled completely away and I'm sure one day will be gone forever. Love for your child and trust is the key.

Sarah Buttenwieser said...

One thing I think very often about adoption is how individual it is, & that makes it hard to have maps or blueprints.

What I like about the name of your blog is that the happiest sad implies nothing is going to be all happy or all sad about adoption (for you). The word bittersweet comes up for me a lot. And imperfect. None of these things are bad. They just are. As life is, really.

Lovely response to the question.

Stacey said...

Every story is different and I think it is great to hear both sides. You have a wonderful story and it gives hope to everyone involved in the adoption process.