Monday, January 3, 2011

Open Adoption in Foster Care

After the R House did their post on this topic it got me thinking. Even though I love our open adoption through foster care I know it's not for everyone. Heck, a month before Sam decided to relinquish my mom asked if I'd have an open adoption with Sam and I said NO! But, when it was Samantha's decision to place Emma for adoption I felt differently about it.

These are just my feelings but, if someone did something wrong to get their child taken away and then couldn't even do things like stay off drugs, have a stable job or housing, then maybe this person isn't the healthiest to have an open relationship with. But when they decide that they want to do what is best for their child and want to give them a better life and they are straitening out their own life, it changes things. I know that when I heard that Sam was considering placing Emma for adoption because she wanted Em to have better, I instantly felt more comfortable with the idea of an open adoption.

I have never set any ground rules or have told Sam things she can or can not do. I thought about writing up some thing for baby's adoption, but I haven't. Sam also has a semi-open adoption with her other kids. She gets pictures of them once in a while and has had a few visits with them. Their adoptive parents aren't as comfortable with her as I am, which is perfectly fine. I get their fears and them wanting to protect their children. It has also helped me that Sam is extremely respectful to my husband and I being Emma's parents. She has told me numerous times, you guys are her parents and I am never going to come in and try to parent her. So far she hasn't and she always asks us if certain things are okay and she doesn't want to undermine us with Emma.

Like all adoptions, each case is different. I can not say for sure that my next adoption through DCFS will be open because I'm not going through it and don't know all the details yet. Do I want another open? YES! Do I honestly think it will happen? Maybe.

Another big factor for me is drug use. If Sam was still using drugs heavily I don't know if I would of felt it was safe to have an open adoption with her. Or at least not as open as I have been. The fact that she is so very honest with me I also feel more comfortable with her. Some of you might be thinking, how do you know she's being honest? Well, obviously I can't know for sure, but she will admit to me when she has or has not used. She has flat out told me about when she has relapsed (not while being pregnant though) and that she did use while she had Emma in her care. Other then her mom lying to me and I thought Sam was lying to me, which she wasn't, I have never once caught her in a lie (yet). Wait, there was once that I don't know who was lying, her or her mom, but it wasn't that big of an issue.

I also think it is something you have to work at. The first day that Sam and I discussed our open adoption I didn't feel comfortable with her knowing where I lived, my phone number or things like that. She told me that she was okay if I didn't feel comfortable giving her my info. The very first step I took on giving her info was I gave her our adoption pass along card that had our adoption blog and e-mail address on it and I wrote down my personal blog too. I try to keep my blog somewhat discreet. I do not use our last name and I try not to put the town we live in or where our parents live and other info like that. Even though Sam knows our last name, where we live, I keep it discreet for other strangers out there.

The next step was about 6 weeks later when we had our closure visit at DCFS. I got all sorts of info from her for Emma. I got her e-mail address and a few days later I e-mailed her pictures from the visit. That same day we added each other as friends on Facebook and Myspace. Less then a month after that we had our first non-DCFS visit at the park. My husband and I have 3 cell phone lines and that day I gave her our 3rd line's #, because we don't use it very much. I didn't set any time limit, just however long we were there. We had a second visit less then a month after that over at her place. I then gave her my phone number. Again, no time limit we just hung out and then went to the park.

While she was in jail I would go and visit her. I am not going to go into the details about why she was in there but, it was something she had done just a few days before she decided to place Emma for adoption. There was a few weeks that I wasn't going to be able to go see her so I decided to write to her. The jail has strict rules that there must be a return address, up till this point she didn't know our address. By now it has been 6 months since we agreed on an open adoption and I felt comfortable writing to her and her then having our address. Then just this past week she came over to our house. And next week... she is going to baby-sit Emma for about an hour! I'm kind of nervous, but at the same time I'm anxious to see how things go. They will be at our house and my husband gets off work 30 minutes after I have to leave. This will be the very first "un-supervised" visit she will of had with Emma since she was taken in April. After all, she did raise Emma until she was 4 1/2 months old.

Extended family relationships: Not too long after Sam and I became friends on Myspace and Facebook I was first contacted by Emma's birth father's (Will) brother. At first I didn't know what to do or think. I thought a LOT about it and eventually told him I would like to keep in contact with him, but I would not make any contact until we finalized the adoption. Because we were still working with DCFS I did not want to mess anything up by contacting this guy and letting him get any info. It was about a month after we finalized before I contacted him and I just sent him a current picture of Emma. I also asked Sam how she felt about me contacting him, she told me he was a good guy and he just wanted to keep in touch with his niece.

A week or two after I was contacted by Emma's birth fathers brother I got a Facebook friend request from Sam's mom. I immediately sent her a message asking her if she was okay with that because I know they have a rocky relationship. She told me she would love it if we were in touch so I confirmed her friend request.

1 comment:

Elyse Ted said...

Foster and adoptive parents can play an important role in helping children overcome struggles and develop positive visions for the future.