Open Adoption Expert Lori Holden Talks to me of all people: Part 2

Welcome back! (All except you over there... I told you never to come back.) So, if you were here yesterday, you know that all this week I have the privilege of interviewing open adoption expert, Lori Holden. Her Adoption/Loss/Infertility Blog: Her Book: The Open-Lori Holden's bookcover - open adoptionHearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole. And if you weren't here yesterday, why the hell not? Well if you want to catch up and/or get on my good side again, here's the link:

ed89166a2f439c05d52ea39738b4f7f5LSF: So yesterday Lori, we were just starting to discuss what really makes an open adoption open. I think people who are new to the whole idea will find comfort in knowing that there are a million options between: “Here’s the baby. Now go away.” and “So tomorrow we can all have lunch at my house and dinner at yours and then the next day we’ll switch.” Could you elaborate on various degrees of openness you’ve seen work?

Lori Holden aka Lori Lavender LuzLH: Some do see contact as a spectrum. But I encourage people to think of contact and openness as being two different measures. Contact may or not be possible, due to birth parent availability (they may live elsewhere) and willingness (some birth parents choose not to remain in contact). And don’t forget in some international and foster adoptions, contact may not be possible or wise.

But openness, the second measure, is about how willing and able you are over the years to deal with What Is, with What Actually Happened, with What Comes Up.

  • Have you healed your own infertility wounds? Or might you get triggered the first time your daughter says, “You’re not my real mom!” to you?
  • If your son asks for information on his birth parents, are you open to telling him?
  • Does your teen feel as if he can come to you with anything identity-related? Or might he think that to wonder aloud about his birth parents might come across as disloyal to you?

These are all bits of openness, of dealing with adoption-related things that come up over time. Openness is about so much more than just contact. I prefer thinking of open adoption as a grid rather than as a spectrum. No matter what degree of contact you have, or which set of parents is hosting lunch, parents should build trust continually with their child by remaining truthful and open.

LSF: Have you ever seen jealousies arise? It’s wonderful to have all of this communal love and sharing and communication between the adoptive mother and the birth parents but what happens if the birth mother learns to love the child so much through this open adoption process, she totally regrets putting them up for adoption?

LH: Oh, yeah. In the early years of an adoption, especially. I have heard many tales from birth moms that it’s so difficult to hear their child call another woman “Mama.”

LSF: It's difficult for me to hear anyone say "Mama". I'm from the North. We're strictly "Mom" and "Mommy" people.

LH: Okay anyway.... Likewise, it’s common to hear from adoptive moms that it can be downright painful to see the resemblances between their child and her birth parents, knowing it’s a connection you don’t have. Cultivating such emotionally-charged relationships takes a lot of self-awareness, excellent communication skills, and the setting of healthy boundaries.

LSF: And that’s something I definitely want to talk about: This birth mother person... Well, this seems like as a good place as any to bring this interview to a screeching halt. Please join us tomorrow for Part 3 of our interview... All except you over there who I told not to come back. I'm warning you. I find the prospect of making a scene... intriguing.

Lori Holden will present a free webinar for the Snowflake Embryo Adoption Awareness Program in March, and a workshop at the American Adoption Congress annual conference in Denver in April. Find her regularly at Lori does yoga and drinks red wine in Denver while raising her two now-teens with her husband.