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Open Adoption Visits when Children are Reluctant

birthmother

Looking for positive open adoption stories? Do you have an adopted child with biological siblings? What are your adoptive parent responsibilities when it comes to open adoption visitation? Birth mother Susie Book shares her open adoption experiences and says it means a lot when her son’s adoptive family make open adoption visits a priority, even when children are reluctant.

The morning of our last Skype date, I was explaining to Kit that we were going to talk to his brother Cricket on the computer. Kit looked up at me and said very calmly, “I don’t care ‘bout dat.” “Well, okay,” I said, “Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t care about. This can be one of those times.” Once we were on the call, Kit clearly remembered Cricket and he turned on the charm. Cricket and Nora were clearly having a bit of a rough morning. Cricket announced to us that he was having Jell-O for breakfast. I could be projecting, but I thought I saw a look on Nora’s face that I can imagine on my own under similar circumstances that read: Honey, maybe we don’t need to announce to the world that you’re having Jell-O for breakfast. While we have not had a Jell-O breakfast, I (and I assume every other parent) have had an Okay, fine, let’s just do cereal for lunch/we’ll take a detour to the park/everybody gets to pick a Hot Wheel moment or two myself, on a not-so-good day.

It means a lot to me that Nora sticks around and keeps dates during tough times in our open adoption visits. One morning, months ago, she texted me to ask whether we could push the call back half an hour because Cricket didn’t want to do it. So they were going talk about it for awhile. I thanked her and said that if he didn’t want to talk, we would understand. She said no, they would call, but just needed some time first. Sure enough, when we talked later that morning, Cricket seemed happy enough to Skype with us. I’m sure that if he felt strongly about not talking to us, all the adults would feel okay about skipping a Skype call. However, Nora treats the contact with us as though it is important, and that means a lot.

We haven’t yet had to deal with any real opposition to contact on my end. Joey, who is autistic, is usually happy to watch himself grooving in the corner of the screen. Kit has announced his disinterest a couple of times, but when it comes down to it, seems fascinated by Cricket, and Cricket likes to make him laugh. However, if and when Kit and Joey resist contact with Cricket, I plan to handle it the way Nora does. The same way I would handle it if they were any other family members. If Kit and Joey don’t want to talk to their granddad, that’s not a decision you get to make as a small child. We can talk about feelings, but in the end, we are going to be in contact with the grandparents. When they’re older, we’ll all have to make those decisions differently. For now, I’m glad of the precedent that Nora has set.