As anyone in an open adoption knows, openness is not the "solution" to the pain of loss. I believe in open adoption, and I honestly wish every person I work with could be given the opportunity to have an open adoption. But visits come with hard parts to them too, including the anticipation and anxiety beforehand and the emotional let-down after. I heard someone very wise recently say – you can be a good birth mom if you are able to feel two opposite emotions at the exact same time. And I think visits are a physical manifestation of those conflicting feelings.
NotMother wrote about her experiences with the tough parts of openness about two years ago. As I was going through an old email, I saw her posting "Do I Ever Want to Walk Away" and wanted to share. To give you a taste,
Round is Funny asked if I've ever wanted to pull away from my open adoption. The short answer is yes, many times.
She also wondered how my daughter's parents handled it, but the thing is, I've never really pulled away. I don't initiate contact much and they have asked me to make more of an effort in that area, though I think they've given up on that by now. The truth is I stink at keeping in touch with everyone and it pretty much runs in my family. I have no idea if they ever have to do damage control for my lack of communication or how they do it if they do.
But…..I do have lots of thoughts about why it's so tempting to pull away.
First things first, it is a myth that open adoption somehow makes things easier. You know that whole group who might admit that closed adoption is wrong and harmful, but argue that open adoption is all sweetness and light, especially for birthmothers. Because I can see my daughter and know that she is okay and be a part of her life, there is this misconception that I don't (and shouldn't) have any of the well-documented negative effects of relinquishment. Um, it's not true (though I confess to having no personal knowledge of being a birthmother in a closed adoption). I do have plenty of those same loss-related issues.