As most of you know, my husband and I are involved in an open adoption with our daughter's birth mother which for us means that we send cards and letters with pictures three times a year and also have visits with the birth family 3X a year as well.
This past Saturday was supposed to be our first visit of 2010. We had communicated with the birth mother about the time and place and everything seemed like it would go as smoothly as it has for the past two years. The one caveat to this visit, however, was that it was going to be just the birth mother, our daughter's half brother, myself, my husband and our daughter. This probably doesn't seem unusual to most of you reading this. However, for us it was as all of our visits thus far have included the birth Grandmother and at times the birth Aunt even though our agreement does not involve having them there.
Needless to say, we showed up on Saturday at the appropriate time and place with a hungry toddler in tow. We waited for a half an hour for the birth mother to show up and she didn't. This has never happened before...we were in complete disbelief that this woman did not show up after not seeing our daughter for almost 7 months. I can't even begin to describe how disappointed we were that this happened. The disappointment wasn't for us but for her birth mother and our daughter as they have never really had the chance to get to know each other. We also thought about the long term effects of this missed visit and what would happen if it occurred the next time we scheduled a meeting.
As we talking to our respective families about the situation, an interesting topic was presented to us. That topic was "Adoption Confusion". Adoption Confusion can be defined as : contact with first families that could possibly make adopted children question who the ‘real’ parental authority is. It was suggested to us that maybe it was for the best that the birth mother didn't show to the visit because it might be confusing for our child to have that contact,I know that many of our relatives are confused about our relationship with the birth family and selfishly would like us to have these visits be as limited as possible. These feelings are completely understandable and valid as our daughter has become such a huge part of both of our families.
To be completely honest, I have never really given adoption confusion much thought. I guess we have always assumed that our daughter wouldn't have this issue because we would always be open and honest with her about her family of origin. We also figured that since she will spend the majority of her time with us, there would be no question as to who had the 'real' parental authority.
However, I can completely understand how a child could be confused by all of the extra branches on their family tree. Family trees are confusing enough when you just have one family let alone two or three. From everything that I have read, there are very mixed feelings about this myth in the adoption community. Some people say that it is definitely true , others not so much. I think the most important thing to remember about "adoption confusion" is how much more accepting kids are compared to adults. If you don’t give kids any information they will have nothing to go on. Lack of information breeds confusion in most people. We know that our child will eventually have questions but we are working hard to ensure that there isn't any confusion. Our hope is that she will show signs of acceptance, understanding, curiosity and, of course, love to her birth family throughout her lifetime.
I'd love to hear others thoughts about this topic. Until we meet again, shalom to you !