I'm slowly gathering resources and contemplating the process of adoption. Its pitfalls, its joys, its unique issues. At the same time, in the back of my head, I keep in mind that living child free is an option. I wish I could know how I would feel about all this in 10 years...
Adoption sure has changed a lot! Ok, who am I kidding - my only experience with adoption up til now has been what TV tells me and I know TV cannot be trusted to give me an accurate portrayal. But there is a persisting social "truth" that adoption continues to be this secret...thing. You aren't supposed to know who your "real" parents are and your adoptive family waits until you are older before they reveal the horrible truth that you are not biologically related to them *gasp!*
Clearly this is a ridiculous caricature. Open adoption seems to be more common than not, now. When you adopt, you not only welcome the child, but as much of the bio family as you can into the child's life (and therefore, very much *your* life). I think it is wonderful that adoption has become a proud and public process where the good of the child is held up above all else. I worry about the flip side of this. Some adoptions are not open. Some are "semi-open". And if a fully open adoption is generally held as the gold standard situation for adopted children, what does that say for children in any other kind of adoption?
I ask this because, due to my family's situation, I cannot do an open adoption. I have an older brother with a high functioning form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome (although I think the new DSM has done away with this distinction). Life with my brother is challenging. The smallest change to his routine can put him in the *foulest* mood for over a week. Break one of his many (and often changing) internal rules and he will let you know in no uncertain terms. He struggles with dysthymia because he is high functioning enough to *know* that he is different, that something is "wrong" with him, but there's absolutely nothing he can do about it. My immediate family is an incredibly tight-knit group of 5 because we have all had to work together to get my brother and ourselves through some crazy low times. We strive to maintain consistency and constancy for my brother in a world that does not understand him, does not care, and assaults his senses with too much and rapidly changing stimuli.
Bringing an adopted baby (and blended-race baby at that) into my family will be complicated enough. I still need to discuss this with my mom and find out if she thinks he would eventually get used to it or if he would forever make incredibly inappropriate comments around the child (in which case it looks like we're child-free because I'm not bringing any child knowingly into that situation). Also, is there a way I can sloooooooooooooowly get him used to the idea so its not such a big, scary, crazy shock when we announce one day we have a baby. Please don't take any of this to mean that my brother is racist or anything else. He has autism, this is how life works with him, for better or worse.
Even if I can introduce an adopted baby into my family there is *no way* in heaven or on earth that I can open our doors wide to the bio-family. That sounds harsh. But it is the unfortunate truth. I got lucky when M and I started dating and eventually got married: his only parent in the area is his mom and his mom was (get this) one of my brother's former teachers. My brother LOVES her. So introducing the "in-laws" into my family was a walk in the park. God was truly looking out for the good of my family as a whole.
I can't introduce a number of perfect strangers into my family, who show up several times a year for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving... holidays are hard enough without this. (Did I mention my dad also has a mood disorder and becomes The Grinch [a less cute and funny Grinch] from about November through March every year?). I'm not saying I don't want my child to know the woman who gave birth to her, but I am saying we are not all going to skip off together into the sunset as I feel like it is portrayed in many adoption blogs I have creeped on.
Obviously any family will have a rough transitional period where the adopted and bio-families are getting used to eachother, but my family is heavy laden in land mines that I would like to do my best to avoid or at least put minimal pressure on. And spending significant dates (holidays, birthdays, etc.) away from my family in order to be with the bio-family would not be possible except on rare occasions (ask me how many holidays we have not spent with the 5 core members of my family together. I can count them on one hand). That is not a permanent solution.
Ugh, I feel like none of this is coming out right. I feel like anyone who doesn't know me or my family would read this and think "Is this girl for real?" Yes my family is almost unhealthily close. Yes my mom, sister, and I have to work together to keep dad and my brother from hiding in their rooms through every holiday get together. We are functionally dysfunctional, I like to say. Its a delicate balancing act we have learned and I'm not going to screw that up just because my lady parts refuse to give me a biological child.
So, long story short, am I a bad person if I go into adoption looking for only a semi-open relationship with the bio-parents? Obviously as the child gets older, she could get to know those people on her own terms. I don't intend to shut the door completely and they would be honored in our home whether she sees them regularly or not. I just can't move forward with this process and only think about how adopting will impact M and I - it is going to affect our entire family. I have to do right by my brother and take into consideration how bizarre and alien this will seem from his perspective - and then do what I can to minimize the weirdness for him. Otherwise I'm just creating a GIANT problem that will make my whole family (and adopted child) suffer.
Does any of this make sense to any one besides me?