Open Adoption Roundtable #36:
"Write about open adoption agreements. Is there one in
your open adoption? What effect does it have on your relationships? If
you could go back in time, would you approach the agreement differently?" From: http://openadoptionbloggers.com/2012/04/10/open-adoption-roundtable-36-agreements/
Well, to be honest, I don't think about our agreement much anymore. We see her every summer when she comes back to Canada. I could probably dig up our original agreement; but since it's invalid now, we go by what works year to year.
By adopting, I agreed to do whatever was in Bugs' best interest. I
cannot speak to C's personal view of our adoption; but I can, and will,
say that I think we're doing a bang up job of honouring the spirit of our
open adoption agreement.
But here's how it started out:
First off, as we're all Canadian, our original adoption agreement was legally binding- which I realize is not the norm for most adoptions. But it should be. And luckily for us, and C, we had an extremely moral and ethical lawyer- who presented open adoption to us as the BEST and only 'right' course of action (at the time, when we were both so hurt and angry, we might have tried to close her out if we got irritated with her).
Our adoption agreement was 2 days a month, under supervision. It was legally enforceable had we not held up our end. But we did follow though, and even offered completely unsupervised visits (I wouldn't 'supervise' my mother spending time with my kids, why would I supervise her family????) 1 day/ week instead. That was C's stipulation. 2 days/ month.
Our stipulation was much different. Ours was that since we'd had abandonment issues in the past, we wanted a firm commitment that she would not leave Canada again for more than 30 consecutive days. In short, we wanted her to promise she wouldn't run out of his life after we invited her back in. We were afraid a 4 year old could not handle that loss twice.
We spoke with C and her new husband and both agreed that they were here to stay. Less than two years later, C came to me crying because her husband was moving back to Scotland- with or without her. She didn't want to stay either; but, she was afraid we would stop contact. She was afraid we'd shut her, and her family, out completely for breaking the agreement.
We had family members tell us we should. We had friends tell us that the "open" part was null if she moved overseas again. We would be within our 'legal rights'. My moral compass and overall ethics said otherwise. We took a lot of 'flak' from certain family and friends for the decision to accept her choice and simply agree to summertime visits instead. But it was the right thing to do, then and now.
We were no longer talking about a 3 year old who didn't know her at all. We were talking about (an almost) 6 year old who'd spent one day every week with C and her (fuckhead) husband for the last two years.
It did hurt. It still hurts that she chose that bastard and his fucked up family over our shared son.
It breaks my heart that she gave up having a steady relationship, weekly one on one time, with Bugs. For what? To stay with a guy who doesn't give a flying fuck for our son? Who calls her names in front of her family? A man whose mother came to visit but didn't want Bugs over when she was there? A man whose mother once hung up on Bugs when he called Scotland to talk to C- then she lied about doing it?
It hurts that Bugs was passed over TWICE for this family- he's got a better heart, and a more loving spirit than that whole family combined.
In the end though, it's not about what I needed from her. Or what I wanted from her. It's about Bugs and what he needs.
He needs to know her, to know her parents, her brother, her cousins, her aunts, uncles and grandmother. To know he is loved. And if that means he only gets to see C, herself, in the summertime- well, we take what we're given and we make the best of it.
He has been let down repeatedly over the years. Ignored; treated like a show piece; picked up late; returned early; passed over so C could go to concerts and parties; or, have her in laws around instead. But he loves her, and he is supposed to. I would do nothing to change that- even if I could.
The way I look at it is this: no family is going to be perfect, or get along without a hitch. We are doing the best we can.
And it's a work in progress. Maybe by the time he's 30, I won't still wonder if things might have been different had she chosen Bugs over the D-bag husband. But then again, maybe I will.
As to whether I would approach the agreement differently, I would insist that neither her husband, nor his family, be introduced to my son- ever. The man is an emotional abuser, plain and simple. And that is something I don't believe any child should be exposed to- especially not my child. Intentional neglect and disrespect can do as much harm as a fist.
Agreements? Ours is now totally on the honour system. My honour. I know what's right, what's important and what's best for him and for the rest of us. That doesn't mean we don't run into snags sometimes- when more than 1 family member decides to visit during the summer, at the same time as C is here- but we work around it.
We find a way- because THAT is what family is supposed to do.