This is the first time I have participated in the Open Adoption Roundtable at Production Not Reproduction. The topic for the Round Table is “Does money have an impact on your open adoption?”
Money absolutely has an impact on our open adoptions. First and foremost, money probably had an impact on why the children were placed to begin with. There were certainly other factors, but money had to be chief among them. In Colin’s case, his mom also had to deal with drug addiction and a prison sentence for violating probation, but if she or her family had more money, Colin might have been able to stay with someone in his birthfamily. Similarly, although we know nothing about the circumstances surrounding Zoe’s placement for adoption, we would have to assume that her birthfamily would have been in a better position to parent her if they had more money.
I would say that my husband and I are middle- to upper-middle-class. We worry about finances and we have to budget, but we do not struggle. Colin’s birthmom struggles, and I would have to venture a guess that Zoe’s birthparents struggle as well. Money creates an imbalance in power in our relationships. We have money (and therefore “power”), and the kids’ birthparents do not.
As I mentioned in my first post about Colin’s open adoption and in my first post about searching for Zoe’s birthparents, this power makes things more comfortable for us, the adoptive parents in an open adoption. I really do not say this to be crass or unfeeling, because that is definitely not the case. I have completely opened my heart to open adoption, but I would not be honest if I did not acknowledge that money and power allow me to protect myslef and my children. As I said about the search for Zoe’s birthparents:
…we have absolutely no intention of “giving Zoe back,” and we would never be embarking on this search if we thought there was even the most remote possibility that we would have to. There is no legal precedent for children being returned to their birthfamilies against the wishes of their American adoptive parents. Adoptive parents have done it, but never on the orders of the US government, even when there is CLEAR evidence of fraud (speaking of specific cases in India, Samoa, and Guatemala). Also, if Zoe’s birthfamily did contest her adoption, Christian and I likely have more resources and money to fight it out than her birthparents would. I know that writing that sentence may make me seem like a horrible person, but it is the cold hard truth.
As I said about Colin’s birthmom:
I do not worry that Amy will try to get Colin back. She will have a lot on her plate once she gets out [of prison]. She will be on house arrest for a while and then on probation. If she decides she is able to parent, her focus would most likely be on Colin’s half-brother and half-sister, who are 10 and 12. Also, she has no legal standing to get Colin back. She has relinquished all parental rights and the laws are very clear in our state. If she did try to pursue it anyway, we would definitely have more resources to go to court than she would, and I also think we are in a much better position to say that it is in Colin’s best interests to be with us…
I don’t worry that she will just show up on our doorstep either. Although she will only be two-and-a-half-hours away, she doesn’t even have a car. If she could borrow a car, I don’t think she would have enough money for gas. It is sad that money puts us in the position of power here, but it is true. (Again, I’m just trying to answer the inevitable questions that people will have about this. I am not saying this to be a b*tch.)
Because we do have more money than our kids’ birthparents, are we obligated to share it? This is tricky. If we find Zoe’s birthfamily and they are struggling finacially, should we do what we can to support them? I don’t know. I imagine I would feel some sort of responsibility, but what is appropriate? Similarly, Colin’s birthmom will start out with nothing when she gets out of prison. Should we offer to help? We did send her a few dollars for her toiletries and such while she was in prison, but nothing significant. We also sent Walmart giftcards to her sister at Christmas so she could purchase gifts and clothing for Colin’s half-brother and half-sister. But now, how much is too much? How little is too little? I don’t know the answer yet, but it is certainly an issue that we may have to navigate soon.