Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Name tag

A couple weekends ago we finally had our last required class through Ambrose's adoption agency. It was and okay class, except that it was 6 hours long and in many ways didn't really pertain to our family. Our adoption is already done and it's semi-open, via R's choice, not open like the adoptions they were discussing.

It was a bit of a struggle to finagle 2 naps, 2 feeding sessions, and a couple hours of keeping him quiet enough not bother anyone (or too many people anyway), but still... it was worth it.

Not because of the subject matter covered nor because of the advice received.

But because of the update.

You see, our adoption worker was there. M had been the person to call me about being matched with R. She'd been at the match meeting facilitating discussion. She'd worked with R and her family and knew them well at this point. She'd called us from the hospital a couple times, and before that she called after an ultra sound to deliver the good news that it was indeed a (big!) boy with a full head of hair. She was a necessary and important part of our adoption and we will never forget her.

When we saw her we immediately struck up some conversation. I asked how R was doing, if she knew, and she said she'd lost touch. Until I mentioned R's name and then she realized she'd had us mixed up with another first family and that she did in fact have info on R.

R is doing well! She started the classes she'd been hoping to take, her family life is going fine, she's still with her (wonderful, highly supportive) partner and her kids are happy.


Really, that's how I felt and still feel.

There's no way to describe how much your child's first family means to you until you've been in this situation. There's no easy word or phrase to truly describe our relationship with this person, these people, who mean so much to us and our sons. But hearing that she's doing well, that she isn't wallowing in grief or coping through bad habits, hearing that she got to make her plans a reality and is going to school for nursing... I'm so, so happy for her :)

M asked us later on if it would be okay if she took a bit of video with her phone for us to send to R. Of course! We were delighted to do so and as soon as there was a break we went up and asked to do it then.

We went outside and what followed was 10 minutes of playing with Mr. Teething and trying to keep him from fussing all while talking incessantly about, well, everything. His eating and sleeping habits, his relationships with everyone, how he plays, his favorite things, and of course how incredibly happy and grateful we are for this true bundle of joy.

Finally the 10 minutes were up and we were being rushed back in for the remainder of the class.

That's when Nik leaned in and said, quickly, "Honey... name tag!!!"

I looked down and sure enough, there it was. My full name, first and last, actually spelled correctly this time. It had been visible throughout the entire 10 minute video. "Don't worry," I whispered back. Because truly... I wasn't worried.

I started instantly to envision the repercussions. She'd have my name. She'd find me on facebook. We'd become friends. We'd email. We'd see each other. And I was actually very, very happy with that visual.

But then the class continued.

And, oddly enough, it continued on opening up adoptions, and legal protection, and the repercussions other families had encountered by going behind the agency's back. It was... thought provoking. And scary. And I was scared, not just for the agency, but for us. Sure I may feel like I can trust R and her partner, but what's to stop her from showing the video to a family member who was against the adoption? And once they have our full name they also have our address. And once they know who we are, without the agency's help, we would have no real "protection" or aid in contact.

No, I'm not afraid of Ambrose being suddenly kidnapped by his first family. But I am afraid of harassment from a family that did not support R, either personally or in her decision to place. And I'm afraid of needing help to navigate what would then be an open adoption and not having the help available.

And the agency could lose it's license.

So, somewhat solemnly, I talked to Maria. She deleted the 10 minute video. She only had time for a quick 1 minute video, which we insisted upon because, dangit, R deserves to see this little boy in action!

And I'm glad... that she's doing well and that she got something out of the day, and that we caught the error before it could get out of hand and that we're knowledgeable (or at least much more so) about openness in adoption in NC.

And now... the ball's in her court. Maybe, just maybe, the video will prompt R to want a bit more openness. And honestly? We'd be fine with that.

If the class taught us nothing else, it's that Ambrose's original BC, and his genetic history, will be sealed eternally from finalization onward. When he's 40 and she's in her mid 60's and they want to meet for dinner, they'll need agency representatives present to make sure that they don't accidentally (or intentionally) swap identifying information. They'll even have to make sure they don't see each other's license plates.

I... don't want that for my son.

I'm not sure exactly what I feel on the matter, but I would like to see her again. I think... I'd really like an open adoption now. I'd like to know how she and her little family are doing, I'd like to be able to email pictures whenever they happen, I'd like to keep her updated on the little milestones as they occur and I'd like to meet up once or twice a year so that Ambrose can see his bio brothers. It's not scary anymore.

I guess.... we just have to wait and see if she changes her mind.

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