The Dignity of Silence

IMG_2461In the world of open adoption, there is an ebb and a flow. And just like any relationship, there are complications. As the adoptive parent in the triad that includes August and his birthmother, though, I have experienced a metamorphosis that has been as powerful as any other aspect of this amazing journey.

It has always been my contention that open adoption, when it is a positive force in a child’s life, is the absolute best gift adoptive parents can give. To grow up knowing your birth family, to know (not merely be told) that your birthmother made an adoption plan because of the deep, abiding love she has for you is an opportunity unparalleled. And, of course, the more people who want to step up and love your child is nothing any parent could ever deny.

Parents, though, have a habit of being protective, to want to shield their children from anything that could not only harm them but cause them even a moment’s angst. Whether that’s right, wrong, or something else depends upon so much; but in an open adoption, it is not surprising for an adoptive parent to continually assess and reassess: Is this relationship in my child’s best interest?

Yesterday August was supposed to spend time with his birthmother. She was not able to come. August and I waited patiently for her at the appointed spot at the appointed time (and for 40 minutes after). August had a gift to give her and her new baby. He was looking forward to running up and giving “her the hugest hug ever.” He was disappointed when she didn’t come.

As I drove home, I listened to him come up with reasons why she might not have come–as only a three-year-old can. He rationalized: “Maybe she was dusting,” then, “Maybe it was too cold outside.” In any other situation, I would have been compelled to comment: People don’t miss important appointments because they’re cleaning. The cold didn’t keep us away.

But I stopped myself . . . in the nick of time. And I realized that this is HIS relationship with his birthmother. It is not my place to judge, to comment. My only jobs are to drive him until he’s old enough to drive himself, to answer any questions he asks, and–most importantly–to listen. It will unfold as it will and needs no help or hindrance from me.

Putting my sons’ needs before my own is nothing new. Turning off my steady stream of commentary is. I’ve always known there is power in saying “no.” I am now learning the dignity that resides in silence.


5 thoughts on “The Dignity of Silence

  1. Kids take disappointments personally–they don’t understand reason, for the most part, and they do not yet comprehend excuses. All they know is, “What did I do wrong?” At all costs we must try to spare them for too soon Life wedges its way into reality and the longer that reality can be avoided the more securely it can be faced with more maturity.

  2. I guess in this situation… I would tell her that she should have called. It’s one thing can’t make it… Entirely different if it feels like a stand up… Poor little guy!!! That mom needs a wake up call. Good for you in not saying anything but be supportive….

  3. This is beautiful! My heart would be breaking and also: I think you handled it just amazingly. So true that what we *don’t* say is often more important than what we do.

    It sounds like he’s doing a great job of *not* internalizing this, which is exactly what you want–for him to understand that whatever troubles she has, it’s not about him.

    It is so difficult, when we’re annoyed on behalf of our children and also on behalf of ourselves–I mean, you took time out of your day to get him there, instead of any thousand other things you could have been doing–to hold our tongues and not spread our own perceptions to the children.

    I am looking forward to following your journey. I’ve always been fascinated and my heart warmed by open adoptions. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

I would love to hear your thoughts . . .

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