Making Room in Our Hearts: Keeping Family Ties through Open Adoption
by Micky Duxbury
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This book was "required reading" given to us by our adoption agency, and after reading it I can see why. The sheer number of personal stories alone, from adopted children, adoptive parents, and birth parents all served to put a real human face on the concept of openness in adoption that we keep hearing so much about.
First things first, I couldn't stand the editing in this book. Or really, the lack of editing. There were a ridiculous number of grammatical errors that really made me cringe. It's one thing if I'm reading an e-mail, blog post, or some other informal writing - people make mistakes, and that's fine. In the case of a published book, though, it was really grating to see commas so badly abused!
But this is a book about adoption, not a grammatical treatise. Once I got past the superficial errors, the content of this book was really great. In talking with our agency, engaging with other families, and even reading other books about adoption, everyone keeps extolling the virtues of openness without really going into what it entails. I know that openness could mean anything from sending a few photos once a year to having dinner with a birth family every week; but what would that mean for our family on a normal, day-to-day basis?
Each chapter in this book includes stories from actual people talking about their personal experiences of openness. Most of them were what I would deem "successful"; a few had bad experiences in trying to forge a relationship with a birth family; practically none of them had the relationship that they expected. One of the overarching themes that I noticed was that respect for everyone else involved is paramount. Adoptive parents and birth parents need to recognize that each has their own separate grief and emotional baggage to work through, and they need to make sure to be cognizant of the others' needs. And at the end of the day, the entire relationship is for the good of the child, so their needs always have to come first.
This was an interesting read for me before we really start the process, and of course before we meet the birth family that we'll eventually forge a relationship with.