"dear birthmother letter"
two of our closest friends are in the process of adopting a child, and i'm looking for some advice about how to help them.
k & p are wonderful people and have a two year old biological daughter. they do not have any fertility issues, but want to grow their family through transracial adoption (they will be adopting an african american child; they and their daughter are white), and are as well equipped as anyone i know to do that thoughtfully and ethically. they are very interested in having the adoption as open as possible, and while i don't think they have thought through all the ethical issues in adoption, i know they are very much open to and trying to have a very ethical adoption. (i know that may be a contradiction in terms; i just mean as much as adoption can be ethical, they would like theirs to be, even if they don't know all of what that means yet.)
they are working with a regional open adoption agency which requires that they create a profile with a "dear birthmother letter" on one side and photos of them and their family on the other.
i've read the first draft of their letter, and it feels pretty typical. they have included all of the things that the agency has told them are important: their thoughts about open and transracial adoption, descriptions of their family, their community, their jobs, interests, etc. the first paragraph is fairly typical: "we admire your courage in making this difficult decision ... we desire openness but want to honor your needs ... if you place with us your child will always know you loved him/her and made this difficult decision out of love..." (this is my paraphrase; i don't have the letter in front of me.)
i have a couple of things i'm wondering and would love guidance from you, especially those of you involved in adoption reform and/or ethical open adoptions:
- i find that it's very hard to share your own insights into anything you've learned through experience with someone who hasn't yet experienced it. sometimes the only way you can really learn something is through experiencing it. one of the things i've learned as a la leche league leader is to give information, rather than advice, to hold judgement, and to try to empower women to make their own good choices. more and more i'm learning that's a good way to approach life (the older i get, the more i find that being a righteous know-it-all has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt!) so i guess i'm wondering what you all think is the "bottom line" of ethical adoption, the stuff you would always be blunt and up-front about with prospective adoptive friends (as opposed to the nuances that folks might need to learn for themselves). i guess another way of saying this is, what do you wish a trusted friend had said to you as you embarked on your first adoption, and what would you not have been able to hear, because you needed to learn it yourself?
- k & p's agency calls k & p's profile a "dear birthmother letter" and probably every other profile in the book will begin "dear birthmother." if you were k & p, what would you do in this situation? how would you advise them if you were their friend?
- what about that ubiquitous "courageous, noble birthmother" paragraph at the beginning of the letter? how would/have you handled that?
thanks internets! i hope you're share your thoughts.