Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crossing the Line to Co Parenting

Relinquish is an ugly word. It will cut you to the bone. I feel the need to touch on this subject and talk about what it really means. If it just so happens to come off offensive, I am sorry but I am all about honesty.

Open adoption is a fantastic tool that we have nowadays that people didn’t have even as little as 4 years ago. It is a great way to stay in touch and and help you to know that the child you relinquished is growing up happy and developing well. It is also a great way for the adoptee to learn where they came from, their medical history, and most importantly- that they are loved by their birth families.

Unfortunately Open Adoption can also be a toxic relationship if not handled with care and compromise. I am talking about an ever growing trend called co-parenting.

The past few weeks I have been getting emails from quite a few Adoptive Couples talking about how they wanted their birthmothers to be a part of the adopted child’s life but that she was overstepping her boundaries and making it hard for the family to go about their life. It is important for all birthmoms everywhere, at any stage in the journey, to have boundaries that are made between herself and the Adoptive Couple. It is important to remember that you did in fact RELINQUISH your rights. That means you don’t really get a say in how the child is raised and what or how the child is taught... you chose the parents, it is THEIR baby. You can still be a part of the child’s life but you are not Mom #2, you are honestly and truthfully, the birthmother. What you did was something extraordinary, selfless, and sacred. You chose what you felt was best for the baby. I encourage you to remember this as you go throughout your adoption.

I think coparenting is a lot like coming from a divided home. Your parents are in two different households so their parenting styles do not always jive. Having come from a similar situation I know personally this can be detrimental and confusing.

Your boundaries, needs, and wants are going to change. But make sure that you are not stepping on your adoptive couple’s toes. You made such a hard choice; it will not make grieving any easier if you are co parenting. I have asked 12 adoptive couples what they classify as co parenting and I thought it might be helpful to know what to watch for in you.

· Excessive Visits (i.e.  multiple times a week, once a week, etc)

· Excessive phone calls and/or texts (every day or every other day)

· Sharing your parenting style and then asking them to follow it

· Asking to take the child for a certain period of time

· Babysitting- esp on a regular basis

I just think it is important for our healing as birthmothers, to remember that relinquishment is truly relinquishing your rights as a parent.
I love you all! I would love to hear comments! Jessa


Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for posting this! We didn't know how to navigate open adoption but wanted our birthmother to be, in some degree, in our son's life. What we didn't realize is that you can be too open and that it can cause problems. We've had to recently request that we all take a step back because it was making it hard on us the parents, but it seemed like it was making it harder on her to heal too. Open adoption is a wonderful thing but I wish I would have known more about the in's and out's before our son arrived.

Bean Sprouts said...

This is one reason why I'm glad I only have a semi open adoption. While I long for more visits and more openess, I don't have to worry about crossing any boundaries as they are clearly defined for me. Great post!

Megan said...

Oh, Jessa, you are a wise woman.

birthMOM said...

co parenting is definitely one of my pet peeves in the adoption world. relinquishing your parental rights means you are NOT the parent anymore. it means you are NOT involved in any decision making. it means you are NOT entitled to be involved, at any level, at all.

but thank goodness for open adoption and kind wise loving adoptive couples who choose to share. there are only a few states in which open adoption is legally enforceable, but in all states, relinquishment papers are absolutely enforceable.

it makes me sad and mad when i see and hear birthmoms giving the rest of us a bad name by co parenting the children they RELINQUISHED.

Alli said...

I absolutely agree with this post. I have sat in stunned silence while listening to a birthmom tell her child's mother how often the child should be allowed to play video games, be given treats and even what time bed time should be. Who's the mother here?! We as birthmothers need to remember that we are not the mother and we shouldn't be acting like one.

Danielle said...

FYI- open adoption was available 4 years ago. It was also available 10 years ago when my sister placed her baby. It is most definitely more wide spread now :)

Amber said...

This was an eye-opening post for me. We have had two almost-adoptions and one completed adoption, and all three of those birthmothers were so very respectful of boundaries and our role as the child's parents-to-be, and then parents.

My son's birthmother is one of the most easy-going, flexible, caring, wonderful people I have EVER encountered. Thank you for giving me yet another reason to be thankful for her!

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