Original post: Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Last night’s class was amazing. We first did an exercise that was slated for last week, but due to the ice storm, the agency let us go early. So this week, we made up for lost time.
We played the “Banana Game”. Each couple gets a banana with a number on it, which represents your phone number. The Case worker who teaches the class, Sarah, called out a number. If your number was called, you had to pretend to pick up the banana phone and take the call. The calls were about being profiled by a birthmother, and went something like this…
ring…ring…“Hi Michelle. We have a birthmother who would like to see your profile. She is 16, and is due in May with baby boy. She is Caucasian and the baby’s father is Hispanic. She has no history or drug abuse, but admits alcohol use until she found out he was pregnant in her 3rd month. Her mother has heart problems, but the rest of her family is physically healthy. She has has problems with depression in the past, but was not medicated during her pregnancy. The birthfather has no involvement, and the birthmother is asking for $1000 in expenses. Would you like to be profiled for this case?”
So here’s where we would start asking questions like these:
Is there any medical history on the birthfather?
Has the birthmother been depressed during her pregnancy?
In what state does she live?
What are the legal fees in that state?
It was a great learning experience, and gave us an idea of what to expect, what questions to ask, and so on.
The rest of the class was talking about the open-adoption concept and how communication works with the birthmother. You can chose the level of openness you desire, but they stressed the important of honesty here, as the birthmother relies on this communication and it’s really unfair to promise something you don’t intend on delivering.
The levels are this:
1- Photo and letter communication with the birthparent (this is the minimum the agency requires)
2- Meeting to make personal contact prior to placement with agency as an intermediary
3- Phone calls to make personal contact with each other
4- Face-to-face contact on a scheduled basis
5- Sharing full identifying information
David and I are a solid 4, leaning toward a 5. If the birthmother is not a drug addict and is in a healthy place, we are happy to communicate at a level 5. If she isn’t, a 4 works for us.
There were also two birthmothers at the class and they talked about their experiences with us. They explained why they chose their specific families to parent their child, how their families felt, how they feel now, etc. It was fascinating.
I have to say, I have so much admiration for these girls. They have been through one of the most difficult times in their lives and have come out on the other side stronger, healthier, and more mature. They have the strength to look at their pregnancy and decide they want more for their baby than they can give, and decide to make a birth plan with a family. They are really amazing women, and I have more admiration for them than I can even express.
What was hard for me, was to hear these stories and not tear up. The day their baby is born is probably the saddest day in the life of the birthmother, but the happiest day in the lives of the adoptive families. It is this reason, as well as for the mental health of the baby, that we want to have such an open adoption. It’s just healthier for all involved.
I am also a people person…you guys know that about me. Having a new extended family member is great! The more the merrier, I say.
Next week: Child Identity (giving the child a healthy sense of self).