Lois Melina has been a voice of wisdom and authority in the world of adoption for decades. We connected with Melina upon the publication of her latest book, The Grammar of Untold Stories,a collection of personal essays, to discuss immigration and international adoption, transracial adoption and the Black Lives Matter movement, and the many ways adoption and infertility continue to surface in her writing.
Understanding Open Adoption
In an open adoption, you meet your child’s birth parents and maintain contact after placement. Find open adoption information and stories here.
Six months after she came home to us, our daughter stopped speaking. As I searched for clues as to her sudden silence, I became profoundly grateful to her Chinese foster father, a man I had never met, for teaching me a valuable lesson about selfless love.
“At what age should we start letting our daughter take the lead in birth parent contact? I know that my daughter will be able to call her birth mom freely when she gets her own cellphone, so how do we step back responsibly?”
“Would knowing that somewhere, out in the world, she has a biological sister—but one she can’t get in touch with or live with as a sibling—help our child, or be harmful?”
For years, my daughters’ birth mother dropped in and out of our lives as she battled a drug addiction. Now she is back in our lives, back in her own life, and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring for all of us.
We all imagine different ways our lives could have played out. For adoptees, these fantasies may seem particularly compelling: ‘What would my life have been like if I had not been adopted?’
A mother who adopted from foster care seeks advice about contacting the adoptive parents of her children’s birth siblings. Fellow adoptive parents weigh in.
We asked “Does your child have a birth sibling who lives with another adoptive family?” Parents respond and explain how they keep in touch (or why contact isn’t possible).
“My nine-year-old has been asking me about her birth mother. I was able to find her on social media, but I’m worried about sharing the photos I found.”
Christine Bauer’s revealing memoir begins when she hears those three words (“You are pregnant”) and faces an unplanned pregnancy, and takes readers through her open adoption decision, and the ensuing three decades as a birth mother and mother. In this excerpt, Bauer relates the complicated emotions that accompanied her second pregnancy, 11 years after placing her daughter for adoption, and the birth of her oldest son.
Our kids deserve to know who their people were.
Adoptive moms and dads share how their open adoptions have changed over time — whether they became more or less open, and why.
We set off on the 3,400-mile journey to meet my daughter’s birth mother in silence, our questions too big to put into words. In Colombia, communicating through an interpreter, but also through smiles, tears, embraces, and shared sensory experiences, all of us began to find answers.
We have a closed adoption, per our child’s birth mother’s request. How can I ever tell my child that I know who her birth mother is, but can’t share that information?
My love for my youngest child, who was born to me, takes a different timbre from my love for my twins through adoption. Accepting this helps me understand the inimitable bond they share with their birth mother, and the ache she must feel.
Our daughter knows she was adopted, but doesn’t know she has younger half-birth-siblings. I worry about telling her, but I also I don’t want her to feel like we were hiding information from her.
At a recent gathering, an acquaintance made a comment based on the astonishingly misguided and downright vulgar assumption that my child’s birth parents are unworthy or subpar. Here’s how I responded.
After adopting my children from foster care, we eased into contact with their birth mother. She and I—a conservative, suburban mom—couldn’t be more different, and I’m glad that’s the case. The kids have a special relationship with her that they can’t have with me.
“I know that my children’s birth siblings were abused by their birth parents, but my children don’t talk about trauma in their earlier lives. How should I talk with them about this?”
“When my daughter was in her teens, we sent a letter to her birth mother via our adoption agency, but never heard back. Yesterday, I got a social media message from her birth mother’s sister, which shared sad news. How do I break this news to my daughter?”