Monday, September 24, 2012

Open Adoption Challenge in Foster Adoption

One of Ty's favorite books, right now, is a hallmark book that Rebekah recorded for him. I've been letting the boys read, quietly, in bed for a few minutes before we come in for hugs and kisses. A couple of weeks ago, I heard Rebekah's voice floating down the hall. I poked my head in and Ty caught my eye.

"I'm reading my special book, mama, from Miss Rebekah."

I see that, honey. How cool!

"Can I call her, mama?"

It was the first time Ty has initiated contact. I assured him that she would love to hear from him and ran to get my phone. He held the phone and answered with a sweet, "Hi, Miss Rebekah" when she answered. I could tell she was tickled to have Ty on the other end. She asked what he was doing and he responded, "Reading my very special book you made me!" I could tell she was surprised to hear that (she gave him the book more than two years ago!)

They talked for a few minutes before we said goodnight and Ty thanked her for "babysitting him" in her belly. It's one of the new phrases he uses in his adoption story. It's one that he came up with on his own.

As soon as we hung up, LJ crawled off his bed and said, "Mama, can I call someone?"

Yes, you may. Who would you like to call?

"My G-Mama."

I tucked Ty in and then snuggled with LJ on his bed as we called his last foster mom. She didn't answer, but I let LJ leave a message. He seemed okay with that.

Ty said, "Mom, we both have special mamas!"

I know, Ty, isn't that cool? You guys have so many people that love you!

I walked away with a troubled heart. Before LJ came to live with us, I wondered a lot about how our future children, adopted from foster care, would handle the openness between Ty and Rebekah. Open adoption is such a special part of Ty's story, that we don't want to downplay the significance. At the same time, I want to be sensitive to LJ's feelings regarding his own story. LJ's last foster mom, genuinely, cares about him, but I'm not sure what her commitment will be long term. Once the adoption is final (we were pushed out a couple more months - I'll explain in a later post), I plan on doing two things:

1) Contacting LJ's birth mom to let her know that we've adopted her son and that he is a growing, healthy, boy. For his security, I will do this, anonymously (through an attorney). My hope is that through letters, we'll be able to foster a relationship that will ultimately lead her to having some sort of connection/contact with LJ (even if only through pictures/letters). I have no idea how this will go and will prepare for disappointment.

2) Asking LJ's G-Mama if she would be willing to be LJ's "special person".

I realized that while, ultimately, having a relationship with their first moms is ideal, the real significance to these relationships is that it makes my boys feel special. It gives them a unique testimony that few other people have. It gives credence to the idea that they are surrounded by community and love and that there is another cheerleader in their corner jumping as high as me. If we can't make meaningful connections with LJ's first mom or foster mom, than I will call on a friend to take this place in his life. I have several friends that live a distance from us that could fill this role in a similar way that Rebekah does for Ty.

Maybe none of this will matter in ten years....but for the time being, I need every card in my pocket to help LJ reconcile his adoption and feel secure. I think having a special connection unique to him will help.

It's always an adventure over, here!


  1. I love it that your taking this situation of how open adoption could hurt one child if there is another child without an open adoption and your thinking about contacting LB's birthmom or finding his special person. You Rock!! You could shut down the adoption to make things "easier" but instead you think outside of the box and want to try to find a way for LB to feel special in his own way! Loved this post.

  2. Rebekah, you are incredible! You inspire and encourage me with every post, your blog has been such a big blessing for me. Thank you for offering a glimpse of your life to all of us.

  3. THANK YOU for this post. I have two adopted daughters. The oldest has an open adoption and is free to contact her birth mother any time she chooses (she is 7). The youngest (age 2), has a closed adoption. The birth mother does not want contact. My heart has fretted many times how the openness of that first adoption will be hard to see, and impossible to mimic, for my youngest child. I am going to pursue finding a special "someone" to represent that void in her life. I just hadn't thought far enough outside the box.

    God is using you and this blog to help other adoptive parents. May He continually bless your family.

  4. I love how you are thinking about this....seriously, can I wrap you up, put you in my pocket, and take you out to visit the families we work with here in AZ? THIS is what I want them to do - always putting the child first. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been feeling so down in the dumps about this system, these poor children, etc - but reading your post reminds me that there ARE happy endings out there. So I will keep working. I think your ideas sound fantastic as far as helping LJ keep those connections. I look forward to hearing how that unfolds for all of you.

  5. P.S.- I put your blog on my blogroll. Hope that's ok...:)

  6. This was very sweet. I hope it all works out the way you want - the way God wants. Love you.

  7. Rebekah, after reading this I went to bed and in the middle of the night I awoke to nurse my 10 mo old and was thinking about this post and suddenly an idea hit me. In our church we baptize babies and when each child is baptized sponsors are chosen for that child. In the service they promise to "pray for the child, support him, and instruct him in the faith". It's an extra set of hands for the parents. We are sponsors for our dear friends oldest son and we just traveled a couple states away to be with him on his birthday and baptismal birthday. We quizzed him on his catechism, prayed with him, and gave him a special cross for his wall next to his bed. Anyhow, what occurred to me is that I know you are very active in your church and I wonder if you might find a special couple to be special spiritual sponsors for LJ. A couple that could pray for him, encourage him, and be a special presence in his life. You could do the same for Ty too! So often I think as parents we look much deeper than we need to. LJ just wanted to talk on the phone and know there was someone on the other side that wanted to talk to him too. Perhaps being creative could provide a very beautiful solution?

  8. Melrose, this is a beautiful solution, indeed! The real heart of the matter is that LJ wants to feel that HE matters. I love this idea of spiritual mentoring!

  9. {i'm a {domestic newborn} adoptee and an {domestic newborn} adoptive mama}
    rebekah, this is just wonderful!! my heart just smiled so big reading your words. what a wonderful mama you are!!

  10. :) I'm so glad this idea might help. Your parenting of your boys is so beautiful and has inspired and helped me with my 4 little boys on many occasions. Christ keep you and your family.

  11. I live far enough away. :) Let me know if I can help.

  12. For what it is worth, we started with letters thru DSS when we adopted our daughter through foster care nine years ago. Then we did a phone call through her adoption therapist.

    Fast forward to now - in the morning, her grandparents on her first mom's side are coming to visit. They'll stay the night here and all go do something on their own tomorrow night. They are really great people.

    It's taken years but our adoption is now completely open. There have been bumps, up and downs. Boundaries have been an issue and there is no question things ebb and flow. Everyone - even her first-father that she never even knew - is in contact, knows all our info and have been to our home. We see people a few times a year and our daughter is a lovely, funny, well adjusted 14 year old honor student who knows that a lot of people love her.

    If I can be of any help navigating anything, feel free to holler.

    1. Thank you, Michelle, this is really encouraging! I hope to have a similar story, years down the road...

  13. I love reading your stories and how you weave you sons' histories into their present. I'm trying to do that myself with a little bit younger son.