Sunday, August 5, 2012

open adoption contracts, oh my!

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recently there was a hearty discussion or two in bloggy/fb land following an article about open adoption contracts and their enforceability in the salt lake tribune. you can google it, i dont need to link to it, as the comments on the article are abysmal and destructive towards adoption. 
the article itself was pretty great and featured an interview with ours truly, JLBills.

however, jessa and i were sorely perturbed when we read some comments from adoptive mothers, some of whom we know personally, even bigger ouch factor , on the r house blog post regarding the salt lake tribune article.

jessa and i had our own lil convo via text about the whole debacle and that lead to the creation of this post. we both feel it is important to address this issue from OUR perspective.

have you ever noticed how AGAINST open adoption contracts many adoptive (and hopeful adoptive)  mothers happen to be? shockingly, some of them that are the most against it, SAY they have healthy solid open adoption relationships with the birthparents of their children.

does this raise your eyebrows?? 
cuz it sure does cause ours to get a few inches higher on our foreheads.  

we dont for a single second understand the concept of not being willing to commit to openness on a legal and binding piece of paper. 

so heres a tidbit on how we feel about this whole open adoption contract 'debate'. raw and unfiltered no less. warning, you might not like this... 

reading what these adoptive moms had to say left us pissed off, baffled, frustrated, shocked, ashamed to know them personally, heartbroken for their childrens birthparents, appalled, infuriated, and downright beaten down. 


because the comments we read were laced with FEAR, entitlement, FEAR, insecurity, FEAR, infertility issues not dealt with, FEAR, authority, FEAR, more entitlement, FEAR, judgement, FEAR, lack of commitment, FEAR, unwillingness to communicate, FEAR, disregard for others, FEAR, lack of compassion, FEAR  and lots of really ridiculously LAME EXCUSES - that centered around FEAR! 

to think, that after ALL.THESE.YEARS, with so many resources out there at their finger tips, with so much positive advocacy, that so many adoptive parents are still SO AFRAID is beyond our comprehension. this fear factor you all have, that you all cling to, HAS.GOT.TO.END! 

dear adoptive mothers, and hopeful adoptive mothers, and mothers in current semi/open adoptions, and mothers in closed adoptions: please put aside your fears and replace those fears with knowledge via sound education, trust, and most importantly unconditional compassionate love. 
thanks, the birthmothers of the world. 

since the comments jessa and i left on the r house blog were pretty much glossed over - one comment even said something along the lines of 'itd be nice to see a birthmom comment'... um hello. my screen name is birthMOM, how, pray tell, did you miss that one?! im going to repost them here on our blog.
we beg you to READ them. 
they are full of IMPORTANT real.life.information. 

birthMOM said on July 30, 2012 at 3:29 am
oh dear… here we go ;-)
a contract is created to protect both parties involved.
a contract includes clauses, contingencies and exemptions.
that being said, an open adoption contract would need to be one that indeed protected BOTH parties.
i think they are a necessity and should be legally enforceable in all states. they are a necessity because, lets get serious mrs R, hardly anyone [that ive seen] other than a small handful of wonderful people in the adoptive parent realm, has the honest open loving desire to build a sincere relationship with birthfamilys the way you do/have, you are a splendid example but most definitely a unique gem in the adoption world. no you do not need one, you never did. but for the majority, esp in the lds community, i say yes! yes yes an open adoption contract is needed, warranted, and should be desired by both parties.
if you arent willing to agree to what is laid out in the contract, if you arent willing to commit, then you should not be entering into that adoption. and if you ARE willing to agree to what is laid out in the contract, to the commitment you are about to embark on, then you probably dont ‘need’ the contract and therefore signing it doesnt matter in your moral dept. its like locking your luggage- it doesnt keep anyone but the honest people out so what really is the point of locking your luggage when someone who really wants to get into it can simply slice thru the fabric. but by locking it you feel protected, and on some level, you are protected.
i think the PROCESS of creating the contract is an essential part of the whole idea. it forces both sides to look at what it is they really want and are really capable of committing to. which is often (from what ive seen and experienced) the biggest problem – one or both sides isnt sure what they ‘want’, what things like timelines and amts of pics and updates and visits REALLY means, which leads to massive miscommunication and unmet expectations [often not far] down the road. by sitting down and figuring out what the contract should say and include, when to re evaluate it etc, would be an excellent piece of starting that open honest trusting relationship. if the adoptive couple is uncomfy maybe they need more education and knowledge, if a birthparent is uncomfy maybe she needs more support and more options/ideas. with creating a contract, each side knows what the other expects, each side knows what they are being held accountable for, each side is on.the.same.page! this is important in any relationship, so why shouldnt the open adoption relationship be just as prioritized as any other? a contract creates the initial steps of communication and we all know how well any sort of non communicative relationship works out. 
i only see good coming from an open adoption contract. any negatives that could come from having a contract are negatives that are also going to happen, and possibly more detrimental, from not having one. and i see more negative from not having one any way you spin it. as far as enforceability, i guess that would depend on the state… what would the punishment be? a fine? not being able to adopt again because you wouldnt be in ‘good standing’ with the state or agency or both?
biased time.
lets also get serious for a moment abt the birth parent aspect.
yes adoption is really all abt the child and whats best for them blahblah. preachin to the choir.
in the long run, yes the open adoption is better for the child (we’re assuming, lets see what bunches of adoptees say in the next 10-15 years) but in the short run, the first 0-5 yrs, open adoption is best for the birthmother.
it most certainly facilitates healing. healing allows a full and happy future filled with endless opportunities.
why wouldnt you want that for your childs birthmother?
the birthmother sacrifices her heart and soul for the love of her child and then all too often is massacred by the ultimate betrayal via the adoptive couple not doing what they said- what the birthmother trusted them to do. so who really needs to be protected, who really needs an ‘enforceable contract’, who really benefits from such a contract… the birthmother.
and if you truly love that child, the child she trusted to you, then you should be begging to sign on the dotted line, as its the least you can do to honor her sacrifice, to demonstrate your love for her precious flesh and blood.
if youre planning on doing 
what you say you are going to do, 
then put it in writing and 
sign the [expletives withheld] piece of paper
- own it.


I think what a contract does, is it forces the adoptive couple to be honest about what they can/will handle so that the birthmom is assured in what she is walking into by placing with them….For me it is more about the couple being forced to be honest.
I also don’t think some of you are seeing it from a birthmom’s perspective or an adoptee’s perspective. A lot of the comments I see are me, me , me and a lot of them are based on fear or hypothetical, or not “norm” situations. If you look at the majority of birthmoms it isn’t going to be that scary. We as birthparents are turning OUR children over to you for time and for some of you eternity. The LEAST you could do is sign a legally binding document saying that you will promise to send us a letter once a year with a picture. I mean come on….
I also would like to point out that if you reevaluate the contract on a yearly or as needed basis this helps work any kinks out and goes with the flow of an ever changing relationship. this way if someone is not respecting healthy boundaries it can be fixed, it also prevents those adoptive couples ridden with their own insecurities of their infertility issues.
It saddens me to read so many of these comments. It makes me curious as to how my birth daughter’s mom truly feels about me.


*** by far the biggest joke we have come across in all our years of adoption involvement, of reading and trying to debunk endless adoption/birthmother myths, years of pouring our blood sweat and tears into open adoption advocacy... is the idea that having an open adoption contract would PREVENT the relationship from being able to evolve, PREVENT it from being open and personal and PREVENT it from being even more open than originally decided upon with said contract. *** 
thats right people, you read correctly. that idea is a laughable JOKE to us!! and an insulting one at that. 
please please we beg of you, on behalf of every single birthmother there ever was and ever will be, to please look inside the depths of your soul and do some serious self evaluation. 

and when you get there, and if you happen to find a hint of admiration, trust and/or  love for the birthmother(s) in your life, please go out of your way to do something nice to honor your commitment to openness. 
and then encourage your entourage of adoption peeps to do the same. 
adoption luvs

thats all for now, but certainly not the end of this topic. it will get PERSONAL in future posts =) 
sorry, but no comments will be accepted, do feel free to email us your thoughts, but dont bother trying to argue with our feelings on the matter. 

Also, let the record be noted that mrs r has personally apologized to me for the comments left by her readers on her blog post. which is something i told her she didnt need to do. 

ps. if you feel like anything said in this post was directed at you personally, then PLEASE email us, lets talk about it, so we can still be friends. 

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