Talking about open adoption
It’s strange, talking about our adoption plans with friends and family — not only for us, but for whoever is on the other side of the conversation as well. With normal family planning, things are a bit simpler. Perhaps people are more used to that type of conversation. “We’re trying to have a baby” or “we’re working on our family” is pretty much all that has to be said. After that people normally get excited and start talking about how happy they are for you. There aren’t any follow-up questions — mostly because follow-up questions can potentially get really awkward.
When people find out you’re planning to adopt, the concept of awkwardness evaporates in their minds, and no question, no matter how personal or potentially offensive, is off limits. This appears to be true for anyone involved in the process: adoptive parents, expectant mothers, etc.
We have learned that in most cases people have a lot of questions because it is their first real exposure to the idea of adoption — and in particular to open adoption, as it’s the “open” part that raises more questions. In any case, we had decided from the beginning to be very open about our process. Maria has talked with most of her colleagues about it, and we’ve even shared the blog we prepared with our closest friends so they can accompany us during or experiences. This was particularly important for our friends living abroad, and it has definitely helped in demystifying many aspects about adoption.
Naturally, our parents and siblings know (we told them immediately after we took the decision) as well as our closest friends. With cousins, aunts and uncles, and people that is not as close, things become fuzzy. We become more opaque with our plans and dreams. It is not different with adoption than with other plans, you do not really get the chance to see them often and you normally do not get to share your day to day routine. You slowly communicate with them when you have the chance to meet in special occasions, and that was not different with the adoption.
We have noticed it that in some way, it feels like it’s easier to talk to strangers than the people closest to us, mainly because while we don’t want to keep those we care about in the dark, we’d rather they didn’t check on us constantly for status updates (friends do that — they wouldn’t be friends if they didn’t) like “have you heard anything?” or “how long do you think this is going to take?”, or “have you had any contacts?”
The longer we wait, the more difficult it becomes to field these questions. They unavoidably make us more conscious of the time we’ve been waiting, and it’s sometimes difficult to stay positive and not let them bring you down.
We have been moving forward however, and it’s nice to feel the support we’ve been getting. For us, keeping the people important to us about each step in the process has been the best option — and we’ve gotten used to answering the same questions over and over. With time and repetition, we’ve become less sensitive to personal questions.
Even the most awkward of them.