Today I sent 5 photos of T. to our adoption worker at DHHS care of his biological mother. I did this, not because I am an evolved human being who realizes the person who gave birth to him would want to see what he looks like now, but because his biological mother’s lawyer asked us if we would as part of an informal agreement prior to her client signing away her parental rights. She first asked if she could continue visitation with him and we said “no.” There was then a counteroffer asking if we would send photos a couple of times a year of him and we said “yes.”
For almost four months we took T. to a weekly visit with his biological mother – but that’s for another time. Based on those visits and what had happened to him in her care we said “no.” I think this makes us good parents. But, that’s the million-dollar question for the duration of parenthood, isn’t it? Did I do the right thing?
We were asked to send the photos three weeks ago. We didn’t have to send them legally – it wasn’t written in to any court agreement. We had to do it morally because we said we would. We were also asked by our adoption worker to put in an update about how T. was now. I don’t know if that request was an oversight, or something she thought would be good for us, or something she thought would be good for his biological mother but it wasn’t part of the “agreement”. And, it became a sticking point for me. We had agreed to the photos and that was enough. It was enough delving in to the past for me – right now anyway. (Parenthically, we do have contact with one of T’s biological siblings also in foster care and that’s another story if that sibling deems it for public consumption.)
When my dad died life became “before” and “after” for me. Years become delineated for me by the loss of my father – what happened before and what happened after he died. I do the same thing with T. There are the months with his biological mother, the time he spent in the hospital, the brief time back with his biological mother, the time with his therapeutic foster mother and, finally, the time with us. He was 31 months old when he came to us.
One of things I remember from our foster/adoption classes is that adoption is about loss. When you adopt all parties acutely feel loss. There is “before” and there is “after”. There is also this thing for us that the person who caused him the greatest harm is also the person we are most grateful to for having him. No one else could have created him.
So, I choose photos where he was doing things he loved – photos that showed him laughing, playing drums, dressing up as a cowboy, wearing kooky hats. I want her to know he is OK. I didn’t send an update on how he is doing because it wasn’t part of the agreement.