Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Dear Sugar: Doing the Best We Can (and Letting That Be Enough)
Lately I've been reading a lot of posts in adoption groups about open adoption and relationships between birth families and families-by-adoption.
I've written a lot on our open adoptions, especially what you need in order to be in an open adoption, what open adoption is and isn't, and why we have chosen open adoption.
In a nutshell: openness in adoption is NOT easy. Anything worthwhile is going to be difficult. Loving is HARD, and because open adoption requires love, open adoption is hard.
If you do your research and decide to love BIG, flinging open your arms and your heart, you are going to face challenges. There is no way around it. But the goal is to love and love big for the sake of the child, the adoptee. We know that secrecy, avoidance, and unknowns can create difficulties that should be avoided if possible. Parents need to be like doctors and pledge to first and foremost do no harm.
So you've said yes to openness, but now what? I mean practically, how does all this work out when there's a triad, and sometimes multiple individuals within each point of the triangle? When we're all raised differently, believe differently, have different communication styles and expectations (oh, expectations), then what? What is the guiding belief or goal or mantra?
Lately I've been thinking about relationships---people I'm close to but those who I predictably struggle with. Nothing dramatic (I have pretty much a nonexistent tolerance for drama.) Times where there is tension, uncertainty, awkward conversations, and emotional distance.
First, I will place blame on myself. I think, if I were only more _____ or less _____. I'm too much of this, or too not enough of that.
Then I think, no, relationships are a two-way street. The other person is more/less this or that. I roll my eyes. Sigh. Feel sad or angry.
Then there's stage 3: reflection and reality check.
And my conclusion is this: Most people I know are trying the best they can with what they have. So instead of complaining, pouring energy into yearning for more or less or different, or beating up oneself, the answer is just to BE THANKFUL for what is present, what is working, and the fact that we all just keep trying because LOVE is worth it.
I'm not, at all, supporting toxic relationships. Sometimes, you do have to cut someone off, distance yourself from that person dramatically, or at minimum, have a come-to-Jesus conversation with firm boundaries.
But overall, we're all just trying to figure this relationship thing out, whatever that relationship is, and true commitment means riding out all the storms. When it comes to relationships within open adoption---there needs to be a lot of forgiveness, empathy, open-mindedness, and compromise.
The next time there's a hurdle in your open adoption relationship, ask yourself: What is HERE, RIGHT NOW, that I can be thankful for and appreciative of? Sometimes you have to look hard. Sometimes the beauty is right in front of you.
Either way, we need to remember that no matter what, we have to do what's best for the adoptee, the child.
For more information on open adoption, I suggest this book: