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Old 05-22-2008, 11:51 AM   #1
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Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

**Let me just start off by saying that there are ALOT of details and different aspects to my story, so some things may not come across right because I haven't shared everything that's happened. Also, I'm pretty stressed and jaded at the moment so things may not sound "nice" but I want to be honest so that I can get some honest feedback.

I am the adoptive mom of ds (26 mos, had him since he was 11 mos) and on the verge of a failed adoption with his half-sibling (15mos, had him since birth). Iím also miraculously pregnant after trying for approx. 6 years!!

About 2 years ago, dh and I decided we were finally in a place to adopt and found a small, private agency in our city. Although we always thought we'd want a semi-open adoption (in our minds this meant the child would know they were adopted and would have the opportunity to meet their b-parents...) the agency we found promotes VERY open adoptions. So although we were leery, we were told how good this was for everyone and basically that it all works itself out. We heard story after story of b-moms & adoptive families having such great relationships and even b-grandparents being like "real" grandparents to the children. So we decided to go for it (even though, looking back, we still did not feel 100% comfortable with it). We got a call about 3 months after we applied and the director asked if we would be willing to consider taking 2 boys: a 9 month old who was in DHS custody and his half-brother who would be born 3 months later. We were just so anxious to have children so we immediately said yes. A few days later we met the b-mom and her parents with a mediator from the agency and thought they were very friendly and fun. There was never really any formal ďis this family the right fit for usĒ, we just all assumed we were going forward with everything. I immediately started getting to know the b-mom (an immature 20 year oldÖhas had a lot of hurts in her life) and started going to drís appts. with her and buying stuff for the boys. We also began trying to get her 9 mo. old out of DHS custody. We didnít realize what we were getting into because the director of the adoption agency led us to believe that he would just be moved to our home and we would adopt him. It ended up taking 2 months before he was moved and another year before his adoption was final. We got him 2 weeks before his brother was born, so we did all we could to bond with him before the baby came. As soon as the baby was born the problems began with the b-grandmaÖ.. We had told both her and the b-mom that we would need some time at the beginning to adjust to having 2 kids at once and one being a newborn. I was exhausted from being up with the baby and basically just learning how to be a mom (especially to an 11 mo old). The b-mom came to our home just after we took the baby home, but within 2 Ė 3 weeks the b-grandma was upset, saying she was afraid we were going to keep the boys from her, etc. We tried to explain that we were just adjusting. Anyway, to try to make the story shorter, Iíll just say that that began an increasingly turbulent relationship with the b-grandma. About every 2 months or so there would be some reason for her to be upset at us (and her getting upset is not a ďnormalĒ upsetÖ.itís an explosive, yelling upset). Basically, now I see that most of the things she got upset over were when we had to tell her no about something (such as us not being available for her to come visit on the day she calls to ask, us having plans for after a visit and her being late so then being upset that she didnít get as much time, her wanting to take the boys out alone, etc.). I am not a very confrontational person anyway, so it has been a very difficult year and a half of dealing with her temper. Itís also hard because, although the b-mom is immature, annoying, irresponsible, etc. I can at least have a decent conversation with her. And when we got into this, we thought we were entering into an agreement with her, not her mom! So I basically feel like weíre stuck in this disrespectful relationship and thereís nothing we can do about it. And to make everything even more complicatedÖ.our youngest son is back with the b-mom because the b-father came back into the picture and lied saying he never knew she was pregnant and wanted his son (but then agreed to only have him 2 weekends a month!!). So weíve been in and out of court for the past 6 months and finally just lost him 2 weeks ago. We are appealing the decision but know that we donít have much of a chance, and in the mean time the b-mom is not wanting to take responsibility for him (which I do understand because she knew he was being adopted before he was born, so she never really bonded with him). AND in the midst of this I found out I was pregnant!!! Itís just been a very stressful year and yet we are still having problems with the b-grandma (she obviously doesnít see that we already have a lot of stress without her adding more). We would LIKE to tell her that we donít want anything to do with her anymore and that we entered this agreement with the b-mom so thatís how itís gonna be. But because of the uncertainty of our youngest son, we donít know if she could do anything to keep him from us, even if we won the appeal. So, we feel kind of stuck.

Iím sorry this is so long, but I would love some feedback from both adoptive moms and b-moms. First of all, I feel like we entered this agreement blindly and didnít really understand what exactly open adoption was, or at least not what our specific b-familyís expectations were. We feel like we wish we could have had a significant amount of time to bond with our children before the b-family was involved (mostly because we feel like they havenít really been able to let them goÖ.they want to show the boys off to all their family and friends and usually push us to the side while theyíre doing it). We also feel like this b-grandma is not respecting us as people and definitely not as the boysí parents and that she shouldnít be allowed to treat us the way she has, but what can we do about it? Because of the legal stuff, I donít know if we can do anything right now, but I just donít know how Iím going to get through the next several months until everythingís all over!!!

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Old 05-22-2008, 03:24 PM   #2
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

If this is all in the hands of the courts irt your younger son, then I don't see what power the grandmother has at this point. If the older son's adoption is finalized, then she has no option but to honor and respect your position on how and when she can enter his life. And, given that this is at the appeallate level with the younger son, then it will be the courts and not her who decides what happens with the younger son.

If this were *me*, I would enforce boundaries on G'ma now. I would tell her that your agreement is with bmom and not her. I would not allow any unsupervised contact, nothing outside of my convenience and at locations I choose...if even that.

Its not going to stop this battle for your younger son and its not going to impact a finalized adoption on your older son. It sounds like it won't make her any worse than she is. And, it will give your family more peace.

It's not even unreasonable to decide that for the emotional health of your family right now ALL contact needs to be written for now.

It is okay to exert your parental authority and it doesn't mean you have to shut them all out forever.

Does bmom understand that if she hasn't fixed what caused her to lose her first child to the state, they can and will remove this child if she regains custody and if she fails to get him back, they will give y'all first choice to have him back?

I'm so sorry you are going through this. A good adoption agency should have provided you mediation and boundaries from the get-go. They should have done their paperwork so overturning an adoption was not possible.
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Old 05-22-2008, 07:56 PM   #3
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

wow... no advice here.. just we'll keep you in our prayers.
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Old 05-22-2008, 09:37 PM   #4
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

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Originally Posted by TestifyToLove View Post
If this is all in the hands of the courts irt your younger son, then I don't see what power the grandmother has at this point. If the older son's adoption is finalized, then she has no option but to honor and respect your position on how and when she can enter his life. And, given that this is at the appeallate level with the younger son, then it will be the courts and not her who decides what happens with the younger son.

If this were *me*, I would enforce boundaries on G'ma now. I would tell her that your agreement is with bmom and not her. I would not allow any unsupervised contact, nothing outside of my convenience and at locations I choose...if even that.

Its not going to stop this battle for your younger son and its not going to impact a finalized adoption on your older son. It sounds like it won't make her any worse than she is. And, it will give your family more peace.

It's not even unreasonable to decide that for the emotional health of your family right now ALL contact needs to be written for now.

It is okay to exert your parental authority and it doesn't mean you have to shut them all out forever.

Does bmom understand that if she hasn't fixed what caused her to lose her first child to the state, they can and will remove this child if she regains custody and if she fails to get him back, they will give y'all first choice to have him back?

I'm so sorry you are going through this. A good adoption agency should have provided you mediation and boundaries from the get-go. They should have done their paperwork so overturning an adoption was not possible.

BGmom has nothing to do with your first son, he was still a ward of the court even though your agency help with placement. Its done. You need to stand up and put down some rules or you will be miserable forever and thats not fair to you or your son. Your agency needs to be helping you out.
It sure is terrible that you have this going on when you should be enjoying being pregnant
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Old 05-22-2008, 10:21 PM   #5
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

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Does bmom understand that if she hasn't fixed what caused her to lose her first child to the state, they can and will remove this child if she regains custody and if she fails to get him back, they will give y'all first choice to have him back?

I'm so sorry you are going through this. A good adoption agency should have provided you mediation and boundaries from the get-go. They should have done their paperwork so overturning an adoption was not possible.
All this happened because 6 months after our son was born we finally found the b-father (my husband did, the agency didn't really do much) and he claimed he didn't know our bmom was pregnant and he wanted his son. Well, we know he's lying and the judge even said he suspected that he knew about the baby, but didn't think the bmom was credible so he didn't believe her story either. Anyway, it's just all a big mess. And the bmom is really struggling too because she did not expect to have this child and is now having to readjust. I am not very confident that she will end up with him in the long run....if we don't win the appeal, I'm sure he will end up with his bfather.

As far as the agency goes, we really feel like they've failed us in a lot of areas...in not finding the bfather, in not hiring a trial lawyer to assist in our trial (the lawyer we had let things go out of order and let the bdad establish his "poor me" story before the bmom was able to establish hers), and also in not helping with the bgma. Basically, for over a year, whenever I tried to discuss the situation with the director she would just say "yes she [the bgma] is kinda crazy, but the more open a relationship you can have the better". She never let me know that we didn't have to put up with her. We finally started seeing a counselor (who works with the agency) a couple months ago and she suspects that the grandma has a personality disorder and that it's not really possible for things to get better with her. I think that we do need to establish more boundaries, maybe even saying that we don't want to see her for awhile, but we're really worried that she could do something if we won the appeal. I don't know exactly what she could do, but our (new) lawyer told us to be careful.

So, I'm curious, do any of you who have adopted let your bfamilies take the kids out alone? It's hard because we feel like we don't really have a good reason, but we don't really want them to. So we don't know what to tell them other than we don't feel comfortable with it and we're his parents. What do you think? Should we allow it?
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Old 05-23-2008, 07:38 AM   #6
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

There are a few things here that need to be addressed from my standpoint...
1) What state do you live in? In some there is something called the Punitive Father Registary. There are some specifics to it and I'm sure that those change by state, but, in short, if a first dad does not participate in the pregnancy, does not financially support the mother, (at least in the state that I live in) AND does not signup with the registry before a certain period of time then, by law, he does not have a way to contest the adoption. I would *ASAP* get in touch with a real adoption lawyer in the state that you are living in if you wish to proceed with the appeals process.
2) Had the first mom relinquished her rights? If so how is the child able to go back to her at this time? Maybe there are some specifics here that I don't know about? I've never heard of a contested adoption where, if first mom's rights were terminated that she automatically 'regained' them BUT I certainly don't know each states' law so it's entirelly possible that I don't know what I am talking about here.

About the birth grandma - I'm with the other posters - I think, for your own sanity that you need to establish the boundries with her - my suggestion would be to try and get the agency you worked with (but that doesn't sound like it would work very well so maybe another agency/social worker) to set up an open dialog for you guys to talk through the issues. If, under no circumstances this will work then, unfortunately, at the end of the day you aren't under any duress to MAKE this work with her. I know that you would like to have this not happen though!

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Old 05-23-2008, 10:01 AM   #7
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

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There are a few things here that need to be addressed from my standpoint...
1) What state do you live in? In some there is something called the Punitive Father Registary. There are some specifics to it and I'm sure that those change by state, but, in short, if a first dad does not participate in the pregnancy, does not financially support the mother, (at least in the state that I live in) AND does not signup with the registry before a certain period of time then, by law, he does not have a way to contest the adoption. I would *ASAP* get in touch with a real adoption lawyer in the state that you are living in if you wish to proceed with the appeals process.
2) Had the first mom relinquished her rights? If so how is the child able to go back to her at this time? Maybe there are some specifics here that I don't know about? I've never heard of a contested adoption where, if first mom's rights were terminated that she automatically 'regained' them BUT I certainly don't know each states' law so it's entirelly possible that I don't know what I am talking about here.

About the birth grandma - I'm with the other posters - I think, for your own sanity that you need to establish the boundries with her - my suggestion would be to try and get the agency you worked with (but that doesn't sound like it would work very well so maybe another agency/social worker) to set up an open dialog for you guys to talk through the issues. If, under no circumstances this will work then, unfortunately, at the end of the day you aren't under any duress to MAKE this work with her. I know that you would like to have this not happen though!

Ok, to address your questions:
1) I'm in OK and we were able to find a good adoption lawyer who has already taken a few cases to the Supreme Court and won. So far we feel very confident with him.... We've already filed the appeal, so I don't think there's any more we can do but that is his main argument: that the bdad knew about the baby and did nothing. And if he didn't know (as he claims) then it was still his responsibility to find out if she was pregnant (especially since they used NO bc!!!!). I'm not sure if we have the registry here, but our lawyer has not mentioned it to us....

2) According to the stipulations when our bmom terminated her rights, the only way she could get them back was if the bdad came back into the picture and contested the adoption. I don't know if this was just because his rights weren't terminated or what. But it is to protect the child so that he doesn't automatically go to the bdad. The really messed up thing with all this is that although the bmom wants the baby to stay with us, she had to be against us in the case and appeal so that the bdad would not use it against her and get full custody. It's just a crazy situation!!!

3) For the bgma, we talked to a counselor yesterday who is going to meet with us & the bmom to try to come up with something. It's really sad because this girl knows how crazy her mom is too and has to deal with her all the time!! Hopefully we'll be able to come up with something where we won't have to have much contact with her, but where she'll be able to see our son and not have a reason to try to keep the other one away from us....
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Old 05-23-2008, 10:05 AM   #8
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

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BGmom has nothing to do with your first son, he was still a ward of the court even though your agency help with placement. Its done. You need to stand up and put down some rules or you will be miserable forever and thats not fair to you or your son. Your agency needs to be helping you out.
It sure is terrible that you have this going on when you should be enjoying being pregnant
Yes, but since the younger one went through the agency, we kind of had the same agreement with the older one. But, your right, we need to do something because this last year and half has been MISERABLE!!!! And I can't live like this forever! Basically either she's mad at us & I'm stressed over things she said & yelled at us, or I'm stressing over when she'll get mad again. There's never any peace!! We're actually considering moving once this is all done just to get some distance. Maybe if we only have to see her a couple times a year it will be better?????
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Old 05-23-2008, 10:32 AM   #9
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

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Old 05-23-2008, 06:54 PM   #10
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Re: Desperately need help with open adoption (long, sorry!!)....

Well, first of all - if the father is fit, I do not think you should be trying to keep his son from him. And from what I'm getting - he may be irresponsible but that doesn't equate unfit.

As far as the natural grandmother of your adopted son, I think you should lay some honest ground rules. Simply tell her what the boundaries are, ask that she respect them or else explain what the consequence will be.

For example - you could say, "We will expect that you visit with your grandson one time a month for 2 hours. This will need to be on a day that we all agree. We expect that we will always be present.... etc, etc, etc." Then explain that as important as a role as she plays in his life, you want to provide your children with a structural family unit and therefor drama and commotion is not welcome.

Don't play baby and essentially mislead her because you want to adopt her other grandchild. That's manipulative, coercive and ethically wrong.
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