Open Adoption Expert Lori Holden Talks to me of all people: Part 4

So thanks for joining us again for Day 4 of our interview. (If you need to catch up, click on the link under "Recent Posts".) Once again I bring to you open adoption expert, author, adoption/loss/infertility blogger, Lori Holden. ed89166a2f439c05d52ea39738b4f7f5LSF: Welcome Lori. You don't actually say all that when you introduce yourself to people do you? I screw people up just having my name hyphenated. Yeah you laugh. Try picking up a prescription. So yesterday when you abruptly got up and walked out (Okay, she didn't really. That was Cam Newton.) I was asking what happens if the birth mother agrees to an open adoption and everything's fine, then one day she's in a new relationship and starting a new family and she's having second thoughts about continuing this open relationship.

Lori Holden aka Lori Lavender LuzLH: Here’s where having a vibrant relationship comes in handy, for when you’re already in a relationship, you can call on the other when you need to. In this situation, I suppose the adoptive parents would make their case with the birth mother, reminding her that being around is a healthy thing for the child she loves. And assuring her that she will always be welcome in the family, and pitching “the more the merrier” arrangement -- “we’ll include your new family, as well!” She doesn’t need to stay in an Either/Or mindset. She can have both her old and her new lives (and my experience with birth mothers suggests that her love for her placed child would not be so flimsy).

LSF: One of the things I think you’ve done so masterfully in this book is demystify and truthfully-- de-stigmatize-- the birth mother. I think for years, she was just some nameless, faceless person whom people either judged and sentenced in their own minds or forgot about altogether: Someone who just dropped off this kid somewhere and went on with her life. Then here you come with Crystal and turn birth mothers into, of all things, people! She has thoughts and plans. And imagine that... she sounds intelligent and educated and worst of all... extremely nice! That can't be right! Tell us about her... Dish on the real Crystal.

LH: She is super nice! Yes, I got a daughter but I also got a friend.

I think a lot of people come to adoption with stereotypes about the kind of woman who would “give up a baby.” And then they actually get to know that kind of woman and end up thinking: “There but for the grace of God -- and effective birth control -- go I.!” Over the years I’ve gotten to know hundreds of women who placed, and I would say they are loving, conscientious people who want to make the best of a really difficult situation. That makes them not much different than anyone else... I’m sorry, Lori. I’m not going to talk further about Crystal out of respect to both her and my daughter.

LSF: I totally respect that...but just tell me: Have you ever all been together and your daughter introduced you as her two mothers and then you had to explain that you and Crystal never actually dated?... I'll take that piercing look as a "no". Okay then...And moving on...

Even writing this, I keep wanting to put Crystal’s name in quotation marks like I do when I'm mocking someone in my family in my blog and I tell them it's not them even though I was too lazy to even change their name.  But Crystal Hass is really Crystal Hass. There’s the birth mother putting her name right on the cover of a book about adoption. Wow! It’s almost like a symbol of how open she really is about this open adoption. Your daughter’s a teenager now. How has the relationship between you and Crystal evolved over the years? Do you consider her family? Do you guys have cute matching T-shirts for when you go out together: “No, I’m the mother!”?

LH: What a fantastic Mother’s Day gift idea!

LSF: "Hello? Shark Tank?"

LH: You are right that this openness movement has done a lot to dissolve the shame in adoption, and she felt compelled to put her name and face on the book. We do consider her -- and the other three birth parents of our children -- as extended family members. An adoption professional I met uses the model of a kaleidoscope to show these ongoing relationships: Images coming in and out of view, moving around, receding and becoming more prominent and receding again. Over time, this is how our open adoption relationships feel with these four special people. There is a strong connection, but that doesn’t mean we talk every week, or even every month.

LSF: One thing you don’t hear much about during adoptions is the birth father... and you won't hear it here either. At least not today... Please stop by tomorrow as Lori Holden and I wind-up our interview with info about birth fathers as well as things I forgot to mention and more questions I had no business asking in the first place.

Lori Holden's Adoption/Loss/Infertility Blog:

Her book:

Lori Holden's bookcover - open adoptionThe Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole.