We have our daughter (aged 3) through a private arrangement with a birthmom. Her parents are well known to us and our circle of friends. Birth mom raised our daughter for a couple months, then placed her with us for temporary care, eventually agreeing to terminate her rights to facilitate adoption. Birth mom also has an older child (10) and a 5 year old; they are both raised by birthmom’s parents. Birthgrandparents are people with some pretty major character issues and while I don’t mind some friendly contact, they are not people that I can warmly embrace as family. I love birthmom although she continues to live a life of drug abuse and irresponsibility.
We have several children in our family and our adoptive daughter is the youngest. Our children know our daughter’s bio-siblings. The oldest bio-sibling has been hurt plenty and has offensive behaviors that have not gone unnoticed by our older children.
As we discussed details of adoption, I expressed a strong desire regarding the names that would be used. I admit that I didn’t ask for input from the b-family. I simply stated…. “This is what I expect.” The birthmom and grandparents agreed to this… That birthmom and grandparents would be referred to by first names. We would reserve “grandma and grandpa” as titles for grandparents shared by all of the children in our family. Because I find the characters of the birthgrandparents offensive, I feel pretty strongly about this.
I also had a request that we could never agree on. I told the family that when I spoke to our daughter, I would refer to biological siblings as (birthmom’s) children. In time, she will make a connection that birthmom’s children are her biological siblings. Also, I refer to bio-grandparents as (birthmom’s) mom and dad. I requested that when they spoke to the bio-siblings, (who were then 8 & 2) that they refer to our daughter as (our children’s) sister, or as (birthmom’s) biological daughter, or as (my) daughter. The 8 year old had never been raised in the same home and had only minimal contact with our daughter. This request was met with great resistance. Eventually, birthmom and I went to visit an adoption counselor. Admittedly, she was not particularly pro-open adoption. She felt that rather than try to explain the changes in relationship to the older b-sibling, that we should simply keep contact to a minimum… no more than one contact each year. She felt that this would give the two siblings raised by grandparents a chance to grow together as family and would allow the older b-sibling a chance to heal from her loss of a biological sister. Because we couldn’t agree on terms for biological siblings, my request was simply that they would refrain from using the term “sisters.” This has NOT happened.
We have had little contact in the past year. Perhaps 3 contacts from the bio-mom (I’d love to have more). And 5 contacts with bio-grandparents and siblings… this happens when they show up at community events they believe we will attend. We also all had one planned visit in our home…. I had hoped for a couple of hours, but it ended up being a 5 hour visit. At this time, bio-grandma referred to our daughter as her “granddaughter” and to her husband as “grandpa.” She used the term “sisters” many times when referring to bio-siblings. Older bio-sister also used this term many times.
So, I’d like to put severe limits on contact with family other than bio-mom… I’d like to leave the events they show up at and limit planned contacts to a couple of hours once each year. I want to be there when our daughter understands that birth-mom’s kids are her sisters. I’d like to affirm that if she’d like (and they’d like) she can refer to them as such (or not). I don’t want her to come to an understanding because of something said by an older bio-sibling, bio-grandparent, or other person in the community who has become accustomed to hearing those terms. Really, I’m not sure that she’ll like the association. Yes, those are my feelings coming out!
My questions…. Am I way out of line in my expectations? Am I making too big of an issue out of this? I acknowledge that one of bio-grandma’s faults is that she does whatever she pleases without consideration of others and I’m ticked that she is doing this with me… sweetly smiling and agreeing and then doing whatever she pleases.
Is insisting on limited contact with bio-siblings and grandparents for the time-being an appropriate response? I think I’m more comfortable with contact once my daughter understands the relationships and chooses them for herself. This does not include birthmom… I’d love for them to have more contact.
I really want to do right for all involved, but mostly for my daughter since I have a responsibility to protect her. I have battled fears and definitely don’t want to do wrong because of some untamed and unfounded fears. Can anyone shed some light for me?