An adoption is often described as a triad. To most, this definition is a given, and makes sense, but most of those involved in an actual open adoption relationship will find that an adoption is not made up of only three individuals, and it's far more complex than the simplicity of this symbol.
Ultimately, what makes up a family's adoption constellation, or dynamic will depend on how active all those participating are. When we begin to look at adoption as a growing relationship that doesn't end with the legal work being signed, and rather view it as an embracing of family, we can see just how exclusive the adoption triad can be. Is it stopping us, like a lot of preconceived ideas do, from being able to expand ourselves into a world of familial adoption?
When we look at our own family trees, we see everyone who we've come to know as family. This can include cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and sometimes, it can include close family friends that have become family over the years. As our children grow, they add to this tree with their spouses, and possibly with their own children. Our families are never just one basic shape. With the all of the dynamic personalities, and growth, we watch as they blossom, and spread throughout the years. None of our family trees look exactly the same. Some will have more than others, and some will just continue to grow, and grow. There is no “perfect” family tree, and this is also why there is no “perfect” adoption triad.
The idea of the triad focuses on perfection. It doesn't allow for the growth of the birthparents family, which includes the adoptee's half siblings. It doesn't allow for grandparents, or aunts and uncles. It doesn't allow for the reality of life events- divorce, death, separation, etc. When our own family trees change, you can't erase someone who participated in helping to grow the family. They will, be forever, a branch on that tree. Adoption, of course, is no different. The triad definitely allows for no growth, and oversimplifies relationships that are far more complex and incredibly imperfect.
When we stop viewing adoption as just an interaction, and look to encourage it as an act of joining families together, we can begin to see how confining the idea of the triad truly is. However, if we look at it like a tree, or a constellation of stars, you can see that there is no limit to the growth, or the additions that can made. Branches often fall off trees, stars will burn out, but that doesn't mean they weren't there. When we fail to remember an important part of our family history, we do a disservice to our own history, and our own family.
Think of it like this: Your daughter or son brings home a spouse. They just got married, and the deal is done. You can embrace him or her, where he came from, and how he made it to your life, or you can ignore him, and his history. When you ignore his history, you fail to properly acquaint yourself with who he is. You also risk hurting your child who has obviously invested in this person. Would it not make the most sense to invite this person to sit at the table, with his history, and even his family, if it's possible?
This analogy can be used for the children who are welcomed into our homes through adoption. Can we fully embrace these children if we are not also fully embracing the family that they came from? It's not a terrible stretch to think we could add onto the family tree, or make room for these relationships. The notion that we can forget about the biological pull that adoptees feel is based mostly on insecurities. The person who winds up hurting the most from this attitude will be the child. There is no reason to fear the biology of this child, and in the future, the adoptee will surely benefit from knowing that they have access to it as well.
When adoptive parents and the birthparents develop a relationship with each other, it allows for the adoptee to note that we have no issue with one another. Often adoptees note that they feel torn between the two parents. Instead of feeling this, they'll be surrounded by those who have their best interests at heart. There would be no real separation of family, because the adoption wouldn't be about separation entirely. In short, they won't feel like they have to choose because in this truly open adoption scenario, no one would be dividing the families.
When we begin to change our perspective, and evolve from the stereotypes that we can find ourselves placed in, we are able to correct the societal ideas about adoption that don't work for us. Open adoption shouldn't just be about being open; it should be a life long commitment to family.
Credits: Danielle Barnsley-Cervo
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