Adoption Interview Project 2012; Endure for a NightPosted: November 14, 2012
The amazing Heather, at Production, Not Reproduction, has put together the third Adoption Interview Project. This is a chance for all people in the adoption triad to get to know others in the adoption community, by interviewing each other. Go here to see the rest of the interviews!
This year I was paired up with Susiebook of Endure for a Night. She is a birthmom to Cricket, placed in an open adoption, and is parenting Cricket’s two younger full siblings Joey and Kit, they are all adorable little boys. We got to know each other over the last month or so by reading each other’s blogs, and then answered a series of questions that we asked of one another. You can see Susie’s interview of me, here.
Here is my interview of Susie.
Me: Now that you have Joey and Kit at home (adorable boys!) have you and Mr. Book decided if your family is complete? Or are you going to have more children?
Susie: I’m 90 percent sure that we’re done . . . but there’s a part of me that would like to have another in four or five years. It’s hard to tell whether that’s just the nagging sense that there should be one more born of Cricket’s loss, and since my husband is very clear that he’s ready to stop here, we probably have all the children that we’re going to have. I also want to be a foster parent when our kids are older, but Mr. Book is even more clear that he does not even a little bit want to do that, so—maybe not.
Me: It seems that your main connection when communicating with Cricket and his mom’s is through Ruth. Have you ever had communication with Nora in the same way, or has most communication come from Ruth? Now that they are divorcing do you think that this will change?
Susie: Early in the adoption, I wrote to both of them, and Nora simply didn’t respond. Now that they’ve been separated for a year and are formally divorcing, I haven’t had any contact with Nora since July of 2011. I’ve asked Mr. Book to write to her, and he is willing, but he hates both of them and so somehow it just keeps not happening. I’d like to have that door open, though, and will send her a Christmas card myself, although I would be quite surprised to hear back. Of course, to send a card I will have to ask her for her new address, and I am interested to see whether she will give it to me.
Me: Have you thought about enforcing the legality of your adoption contract? What reasons would do you have for either having it enforced or not having it enforced?
Susie: Since we signed TPR, Mr. Book and I agreed that we’d never pursue legal channels of enforcement; if they don’t want contact with us, even if we were granted visits by a court, being in a room with people whom his parents hate doesn’t seem like a value add for Cricket. At least for now, and for the last couple of years, the visits don’t feel like they’re for us; they are uncomfortable and painful and I don’t get a warm feeling or any sense of connectedness. Right now, only the sections dealing with phone calls and photographs have been violated, and I think that pursuing enforcement would only hasten the full closure of the adoption.
All that is to say nothing of the fact that we can’t afford to take Ruth and Nora to court and that neither of us believe that a court would rule in our favor.
Me: Do you openly talk to people about Cricket? When asked how many children you have do you say three? Or does it depend on the circumstances?
Susie: I don’t—I really never do. For the first year or so, I would tell people, but certainly by the time I was visibly pregnant with Joey I had stopped. “Is this your first?” I would say yes and feel weird about it. Now I say that I have two kids and don’t feel that weird about it anymore. The deal I made with myself is that if Cricket ever expresses a preference, I will immediately start claiming him—but our connection is so tenuous that it doesn’t feel more true to say three. Also, early on I believed that people might end up meeting Cricket, because I thought we would be more a part of each other’s lives; I have accepted that that isn’t going to happen.
I do, however, tell doctors about Cricket. That’s the only exception that I can think of.
Me: What is something you would change about your open adoption?
Susie: My sister Tammy and her husband own and operate a bakery in New England, and my other sister Kate and I have been having some serious conversations about moving out there when she and my husband are done with school so that we can help at the bakery and see each other’s kids grow up and just generally be around to babysit or go to the movies or sit in each other’s kitchens and take soup to sick sisters. I have never wanted to live in that part of the country, but the idea of being so close to my sisters and being able to help with their kids and really get to know them makes me so happy.
That’s what I want with Cricket, too. I never would have asked for that, of course—it’s an incredible commitment, and I can already hear the voices of some adoptive parents talking about co-parenting and so forth—but that’s not it at all. I don’t want to give input on their parenting, I don’t want any kind of control, and I don’t want to be the good-time gal who’s telling him to call her “Mommy” or anything inappropriate like that. But if I could have it, I would very much want that kind of closeness and family feeling with him and with his moms, they as his parents and me as the lady who’s raising his brothers. I want to be close enough to know what he wants for his birthday.
Me: Anything else you would like to share?
Susie: Joey and I were watching the episode of Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood in which Mr. Rogers explains that a woman places a baby for adoption if she can’t give it everything that it needs. I bristled, the way I always do when this explanation is given, but this time—finally—I realized that he is (or should be) right. I placed Cricket believing that any child would be better off without me in his life, but now, with marginally better self-esteem and a few more years under my belt, I am filled with regret. What should he say—“When a woman can’t give the baby everything it needs, or when she hates herself and buys into the rhetoric of courageous choice”? That’s not how it ought to be.
I encourage everyone to go check out the rest of the interviews at Production, Not Reproduction. Learn something new about adoption from some of these amazing bloggers.