Friday, April 13, 2012

Open Adoption Agreements

Open Adoption Round Table Discussion #36
Open adoption agreements are the documents signed by placing parents and adopting parents that establish post-adoption contact expectations and boundaries. Discussions often focus on their legal weight (e.g. Are the agreements enforceable in court?) or the practical details (e.g. How many visits?), both very important issues.

When we first began our adoption process I was totally cool with Semi Open adoption but not so sure of "Open Open Adoption!" We had friends that had open adoptions with both of their children but still it was kinda scary. I thought it was going to feel like a divorce situation but instead I have been so surprised that it feels more like a family extension. We stepped out on the edge when our agency's Pregnancy Counselor asked if she could show our profile to a Birth Mother who wanted 1-2 visits a year. Frankly, I was just excited to have my profile shown and was thinking I could handle 1-2 "supervised visits" a year!! When Kaycee's BM chose us and we met her, our whole perception changed. Before then it was just words and stories we had heard. Then there was a real, amazing, beautiful woman who I just wanted to hug and hold and love on. I always giggle when I think of the conversations my husband and I had on the car ride to and from meeting our perspective BM.
It went something like this:
Car ride there...
Husband: "Um, she's never coming to our house ya know. We can meet her at Bethany's office or at a public park with a social worker there." Me: "Ok yeah we'll see how it goes.... I mean I don't want this to be like co-parenting or anything."
Ride Home 2 hours later:
Husband: "Wow-- she is amazing. I think we should have her over for Christmas this year."
Me: "Um, ok let's just see how it goes..."

And we did have her over for Christmas last year.
One thing we did do (which is why I am responding to this round table discussion) is have a written agreement in place. I had another friend who had adopted her son and had an open adoption a few months prior but no written agreement made. She recommended we do it to prevent any miscommunication or hurt feelings. So we did and I was glad we did. We set it up for pics and letters every month for the first 6 months, then at 9 and 12 months and then visits every October, February, June or something like that... As you can tell we haven't really followed it because we have opened it up to where we can text or call and set it up whenever but it was sooooo important to me to have that in place in the beginning. Not because I was afraid she was going to over step her boundaries but because I never wanted to let her down or hurt her feelings by not letting her see Kaycee. So now I send pictures when I get them or I'll text them to her. We saw her at Kaycee's birthday in October (she came to our home for the party) but have not seen her since. I have tried and left that door open for her. Whenever she wants a visit I'll be there with arms wide open. I pray that she will continue to want them...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Created for Care Retreat-- Part Two

Sooo I've been thinking how I'm going to sum up the retreat in my "Part 2" post and it's really difficult to put in words the amazing weekend. So I'll try now:
I knew this was a "Christian Adoptive Mom's Retreat" but didn't know that I was going to be so filled by the Holy Spirit all weekend long. It was awesome having people talk freely and opening about God in their lives and families and how we need to TRUST HIM. I have been a little anxious at times this go around with waiting and this weekend reinforced the need to put it all in HIS hands. Boy, He has not disappointed me yet and I know He won't with Jenna. When I wake up to Kaycee singing on the baby monitor every morning I think "Wow-- I am so blessed. What a gift she is to us." I know Jenna will be an incredible gift as well. Anyhow, the weekend surprised me with so much praise and worship and I LOVED it!!! I felt like I was at a Women of Faith conference for a group of Adoptive Moms Only!! As I was inspired after I left Women of Faith back in October, so was I when I left this retreat. On Sunday, I went back home to Central Florida and posted on our Central Florida Adoptive Families FB page and set up a Moms Only Lunch in April. Since our group started in July we have always done family play dates (which I LOVE) but after this past weekend I knew that we needed a time to just connect as adoptive moms and share our stories, struggles, and joys. I'm really looking forward to it!

So what did I get out of the Created for Care Retreat??
1) Rejuvenation of Faith filled with goosebumps from so many worshiping moms together
2) Stronger Trust that God has our adoption story written and we must be patient
3) New understanding of different types of adoption-- international, foster, domestic
4) True connections with my "Blogging Buds" and new friendships
5) Education on racism with adoption and tips on raising our daughter of a different race
6) A sore jaw from talking so much....

I decided next year I am going one day early just to rest and enjoy the retreat center. I did not rest much at all-- I didn't want to miss anything!! This was an amazing weekend and I am so grateful to the women who put it together!!