Bryan, Preston and Cole during a visit in June 2001.
"Although I understand that at this key time in the adoption process, the
adoptive parents are struggling with the issues of their own 'entitlement' to
the child. It is therefore understandable that this concern of entitlement can
progress into a very strong 'possessary' and 'exclusionary' attitude when it
comes to anyone that was involved with the child prior to its adoption by them.
However, if we focus back on the primary concern in any adoption matter, which
is to do what is 'in the best interest of the child', perhaps this exclusion and
'cutting off" of the rights and contact with biological grandparents is not a
Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov/)
I’ve mentioned before that because the adoptions were private, there was no “middle man” or person to help facilitate visitation or even give us any suggestions on what would be best for the boys (with regards to visitation issues). There was no one to assist us or give us advice on how to nurture the development of this kind of relationship. We were on our own.
Bryan and Preston eating pizza during our visit in June 2001.
In June 2001, Valorie came to visit the boys. She took them to the park and out to eat and when she brought them back Bryan asked if he could stay overnight. At this point things were going well and I knew he felt comfortable with Valorie so I allowed him to go. I had only intended on allowing Bryan to stay overnight, but then Mykel and I had to leave out of town unexpectedly and Bryan ended up staying for three days (which was my fault and not part of the original plan). When we finally made it back to pick him up my emotions were very close to the surface. I completely lost it when Bryan walked around the corner and I saw that Valorie had given him a hair cut.
Now I know that this probably doesn’t sound like a big issue, but for me it was my breaking point. I had that “exclusionary attitude when it comes to anyone that was involved with the child prior to its adoption by them.” Valorie had always cut his hair in the past and I HAD mentioned that he needed his hair cut so I cannot fault her as she was just trying to help me out.
Cole and Bryan with Ruth looking at Bryan's baby pictures.
By the next day I had calmed down considerably and wished I hadn’t been so hasty in passing judgment and making “final” decisions. I ended up writing her an e-mail with the subject line “Please read with love.”
The entire argument and basis of my anger was due in part to miscommunication (aren’t most disagreements started this way?). By the time I got home I was livid. (I should have taken the time to calm down and think things through, but I didn’t). I wrote a very mean and nasty e-mail to Valorie telling her that “if [her family] cannot be a good influence on our children, we don’t wish them to be a part of their lives anymore.” I am quite embarrassed to even share how irrational I was. I was being selfish and only thinking of MY feelings and not taking into consideration how hard it was for everyone else.
The final paragraph of my e-mail read: “I apologize for making you upset, but I didn’t write that last e-mail in hate. I was just writing as a hurt mother. I know this process has been hard and there really aren’t any guidelines to follow because this definitely wasn’t a ‘by-the-book’ adoption. I know that our Heavenly Father knows what is best, I just wish I did. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings so we can work through this.”
We were both able to write e-mails back and forth explaining each side of the story and why we acted and reacted the way we did. I am happy to say that this was the last time there have ever been cross words between us. It brought us to a whole new level in this “open adoption” relationship. We both realized that we had to stop walking on eggshells and trying to make everything perfect for the other party. We just had to be open and honest about how we felt (which is much easier than it sounds!) if we were ever going to make this work.