This is the first draft of the letter we plan to send. Josh and I worked on it together: we went over and over the wording to make sure it covers both of our feelings. It has more teeth to it than my obsequious milquetoast letter (thank Josh for that), but not as much accusatory language as my primal scream of rage letter.
Josh and I appreciate the sincerity of letter that you wrote to us. This was the intent of the phone call: to open the lines of communication between us so we are not taken by surprise by sudden changes in our interactions. I have felt for a long time like I wasn’t getting all the information I needed in order to know how to act. Now, at least, I know where you stand.
I have come to believe we had a difference in our expectations and priorities from the start. I remember very clearly the moment we all signed a statement of intention outlining a very basic structure for an open adoption, which included a stated number of visits and pictures per year. I remember saying something to the effect that we would never need to fall back on such a structure, since our relationship would be deeper than that. I was never fixated on a certain number of visits or letters. I thought our relationship had a friendly, open, family-like quality that would never require imposing a structure. I thought that feeling would last beyond the first year. I have since wondered whether I imagined this closeness, whether it ever existed at all. It was the change in the quality of the relationship that caught me off guard. I feel like we are an obligation to be managed, and you are obeying the letter of the agreement instead of the spirit of it, at least the spirit as we understood it at the time.
I thought we would be closer to being like extended family. According to what I was reading during the pre-placement period, this did not seem like an unreasonable expectation. I can see now that to expect this from you was unreasonable, given the protectiveness of your family.
Having kept one foot in the adoption world since placing E., I have seen open adoptions like what I envisioned. Full biological siblings and inequities in birthfamily between adoptive siblings certainly add layers of complications that we didn’t foresee. We fully understand how these complexities might change the dynamic, but this situation is not unique in open adoptions.
Not being familiar with the particulars, I trust you know the best way to handle the situation with J. He is always welcome to talk to me, if he has any questions about his birthmother. I may not be his birthmother, but I know many birthmothers and I may be able to shed some light on why she won’t respond to him.
The disappointment that the adoption did not turn out as I hoped has been a major factor in my grieving process. Settling for a facsimile of what I planned for has been very hard for me, since it calls into question the very foundation on which I made the decision to place E. at all. The fervent belief of mine that openness would serve E.’s best interest is the only thing that kept me from cutting off contact entirely. I am sorry that you do not share the philosophy that honesty is the best policy. My principles do not allow me to continue visits if the condition exists that I must hide my children from E. I am saddened that we hold this incompatibility of opinion. I, too, act in what I feel is the best interest of my family. I will not send the message to my children that they should be hidden away from anyone, that their influence is damaging. They have nothing to be ashamed of. We have nothing to hide.
I am disappointed that Naomi (and her future sibling) won’t know E. I feel for their loss, growing up without knowing their birthsister. I can accept this change in our relationship. We will continue to send E. our love on her birthday every year, and we will wait patiently for the time when she has questions for us, if such a time should ever come.
I still have qualms about the ending. I'm not sure I want to throw down the gauntlet like that: E. sees us as a family or not at all. I want them to know that hiding my children from E. goes against my principles, but as it stands right now it sounds like an ultimatum. As hard as visits are for me, I still believe that E. should have us in her life. I wonder whether a letter, a picture (of our whole family) and a gift once a year on her birthday will be enough.
But when I think of going on a visit without my kids, I feel like I am sacrificing my principles to their insecurities, like I am admitting that my values aren't as important or valid as theirs. I am tired, tired, tired of that feeling. I am sick of being pushed around. But I don't want my anger and resentment to be the deciding factor in whether we continue visits. I want to do the right thing, for the right reason.
This letter will probably not be sent for a few weeks at least. Plenty of time to obsess over details.