All this week I'm featuring an interview that I know you'll like. Please join us. It's all great info about open adoption by someone who's living it. But there will still be some nuttiness. I mean, you know... I'm still me. I have here today with me Lori Holden--That's her in that picture right there. I'm the one above who looks like she's up to something. (And no, I didn’t pick her just because her name is also Lori and she spells it right, although I am that shallow.)
Lori is a nationally recognized expert on open adoption, an ALI blogger (Adoption/Loss/Infertility), and the author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole.
I’ll admit I hesitated having her on my blog because her book has five stars on Amazon which is half a star more than mine. Although I, myself, was already hooked by her fab title. If I’d come up with that title, I would have been like: “Wow, I think I just earned me an extended ice cream break. I’ll write the rest of the book later.” Anyway...
LSF: Lori, thanks for being here. It’s a really nice change for this blog to give people some useful information. Before you and I started talking about doing this interview, I didn’t know a thing about open adoptions. I mean I was pretty sure it wasn’t like an open marriage where you leave the front door open and see what walks through it with tight clothes and a bottle of wine. Please enlighten those of us who know so little.
LH: Thanks for having me, Lori-spelled-correctly. Well, I guess open adoption IS a little like open marriage, now that you mention it, in the sense that “it’s OK to have more than one.” Except with adoption, “more than one” refers to sets of parents. Openness means not just contact [between the birth mother and the adoptive parents] , but also the way in which the grownups in the adoption constellation comport themselves. We are open to co-creating a relationship together. We are open to being clear and honest with ourselves so that we can be clear and honest with others in our adoption relationships. We are open to having tough conversations as our child grows and develops cognitively. We are open and vulnerable and authentic, for it is from this openness that we can best give our child the space to wonder, to develop, and to integrate his identity that come from all of his parts.
LSF: It sounds so logical when you say it. Everybody involved should obviously want what’s best for the child but when did this all happen? Years ago, who ever heard of open adoption? The typical scenario was: Parents struggled with how and when to tell their child that they were adopted and many kids felt disconnected, sometimes even tortured, for decades fantasizing about and trying to piece together the “life they’d left behind.” (Not to mention the other family’s medical history) How, when, and why did open adoption come about?
LH: The similarities are mounting! Again, this IS a little like “open marriage” in that people think it’s a new thing, but really, there were dudes in the Bible having tons of wives and concubines waaaay back when.
LSF: Hey wait… Are you making jokes? This woman’s trying to take my gig…
LH: Anyway... People are often surprised to find out that adoptions have historically been open. It wasn’t until after WWII that we decided that the shame of being “illegitimate” needed to be hidden. We began to act as if the child were born to the adopting parents, as if there were a biological connection, as if a secret birth had never happened. To cover all this up, we even had state-sanctioned lies on vital records, a practice that still goes on in many states today.
LSF: Wow. I didn’t know that and yet I can almost guarantee that the state I live in is one of them... You do discuss in the book that there are all levels of openness in open adoption... And I'd love to discuss it... but this is my bus stop. So if everybody (Wait! I'm getting off!) would please join us here the same time tomorrow... (Will you people let me through? I said I'm getting off!!)