Sunday, August 1, 2010

'Support From Professionals' Discussion

This is a discussion that was started on a site called 'Open Adoption Roundtable,' a forum for anyone who has been a part of open adoption. I can't tell you how much I appreciated the posts I read from this site when I was still pregnant, and now as I continue my relationship with my new family through Reed's adoption, it continues to be helpful and insightful. My post isn't nearly as interesting as some of the other experiences I've read about, but I'm thankful that I don't have any major horror stories to write about.

We each interacted with at least one professional during the adoption process (agency, lawyer, facilitator, consultant, hospital social worker, etc.). What was one thing that they did that was most supportive of open adoption? What one thing was least supportive?

There were probably as many different reactions to my decision on adoption as there were emotions I had about being pregnant. I'm not talking about professionals just yet, I'm talking about friends, families, co-workers, strangers, those were the people I was around. The only professional I saw of any kind for the first 6 months of my pregnancy was the general practitioner in the small town in the middle of Alaska whom I went to for my monthly checkups during the summer I was there. Once I met Doug and Maura through and we started making plans towards adoption, they put me in touch with IAC, the adoption agency they were using that was very supportive of open adoptions, and I talked to someone once on the phone and a couple of times through e-mail while I was still in Alaska. I know that doesn't seem like much, but I had already found the adoptive parents of my dreams, and we had already started building the foundations of our open relationship. I moved to NC where Doug and Maura were at the beginning of my third trimester and finaly met a representative from the IAC in person, and met with her once on my own, once with Bill, and once with Bill, Doug and Maura.

From the professional side of things, I had some very positive support, especially once I moved to NC where my son's soon to be adoptive parents were. The midwives at the birth-center were wonderful in respecting my wishes for my birth plan, which included Bill, Doug and Maura, my friend Shelley and sister Kathryn all present during the birth. But perhaps the most helpful thing that I experienced was how careful the IAC was to not push any kind of decision onto me or Bill. I already knew what path I wanted to take, but the IAC still assured me that even if I change my mind, or if Bill changed his, then they would support us no matter what decision we made. Our counselor never referred to our adoption as though it were a done deal while I was still pregnant, and she gave us lots of information on what our options were if we decided against it. I knew Reed was suppose to be part of Doug and Maura's family, I couldn't have been more sure of my decision to complete their dreams through adoption. And the four of us had already done most of the work in crafting our own unique plan of openness and how we wanted to be a part of each others lives. While the IAC did help us put that plan onto paper and offered helpful insights into how to go about designing the kind of openness we wanted, it sure helped knowing that no one was pushing me in any way, and it was all completely my own free will to go through with it.

As far as what was not supportive, well, I'm happy to say that on my end as a birth mother there was not a single professional that I encountered that was not helpful. When I told people my plan for an open adoption, there were no raised eyebrows from the midwives at the birth center, or even from the instructor or other couples in the birthing class that I went to (accompanied by Bill, Doug, Maura, and Shelley- Team Rachel). I'm so thankful for the professionals that I worked with as well as the people in my life that were constantly showing their support for me (as well as for Bill, Doug and Maura and our relationship together), because I needed them all the more when I also had to deal with the instances of judgement and criticism.

You can read more responses from birth parents and adoptive parents here.

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