July 17th, 2013

doorIt’s been just over six months now since the doors on my so-called open adoption closed. Six months where I have gone through a plethora of emotions ranging from anger to sadness and even to peace. Six months where I wonder if I would be told if my son ever got sick, or if something terrible happened. I know that they don’t wish to share his life with me when it’s good; why would I be subjected to knowing when it’s bad?

I never expected this to be the way my adoption story turned out. I mean, I didn’t really know what to expect, but this wasn’t at the top of the list when I signed the relinquishment papers. I felt strongly that I chosen good, trustworthy people to raise my son. Ones that understood the importance of his original family, and would honor that. I didn’t know that if they were given a chance, they would close this adoption faster than I could even think. No, I didn’t think that because I know I wouldn’t have chosen them if they had suggested they would eventually leave me hanging.


It’s funny how they told me everything I wanted to hear. More openness, they said. We’re family, they said. They wanted him to know me. Yet, I waited for years, waited for them to make good on all of their hollow promises. Eventually, trust fades. It fades as the dawn rises and you realize, you’ve just spent another night expecting for good to come, and nothing changed. It’s the same day, the same as it was yesterday, and you get this overwhelming feeling that it may just always be like this.

They never wanted openness, the true meaning of it, anyhow. They wanted it on their terms, and what was comfortable for them. Every resource I handed to them, other adoptive families doing open adoption, articles, blogs, anything, they rejected because they were just fine with the way things were. Even if it was going to provide issues for them in the long term, because, they’ve failed to realize it’s not me they have to answer to. How will they answer that question, I wonder. How will they tell this son, our son, this boy they raised that they did everything in their power to keep him away from me, when all I ever wanted was to be apart of his life?

Open adoption was what I told I would get, and for a time, I got a small glimpse of what it could be. I never really saw it in action so I can’t speak to how great it is when the right people are doing it, though I’ve watched it happen through other people. I was held back, an enemy almost, never trusted, always lied to, and expected to remain in the position they wanted me to be in- The Dutiful Birthmother. When I couldn’t do it anymore, because I wanted them to explain why they couldn’t make good on their promises, it was over. As if I was nothing, as if I didn’t hand them my child in a form of trust. As if, I don’t even belong to him.

Closed. They don’t tell you this can happen, and that it does. They don’t tell you how it makes your heart ache, and how it’s like saying goodbye all over again. Because, how would I have been able to hand him, my son, over to these supposedly trustworthy people when I knew they would try to erase me? I wouldn’t.

I just wish, most of all, that they had said what they meant from the beginning. What they wanted for real, and what it would mean for all of us. Including my son. Honesty, that would have been the first step in being truly open.

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4 Responses to “Open is Now Closed”

  1. patricekata says:

    I guess I am naive because I thought once you signed papers for open adoption that was it………an open adoption forever……….what happened…….I truly dont understand…….what state did this take place?

    • Danielle Barnsley-Cervo says:

      There are only a couple of states where OA is actually legally binding. Most are just contracts that have no real obligation to them, and most definitely no legal consequences should they be broken. I signed a piece of paper, and actually had no idea it wasn’t legally binding until a couple of years ago. I was devastated, although, the adoption was still open at this point so I figured I had nothing to fear.

      Definitely look at the laws in your state or province. But most OA’s are not at all legally binding at all.

  2. chuck says:

    We are hopeful adoptive parents, waiting for our birth Mother and child and think it is horrible what has been done to you by your childs adoptive parents. Have they given you reasons why they have closed you out? Isn’t there anything legally you can do to make them keep their promise to you? Your story is so sad and I am sorry you have to endure what they have done. Have you written them a letter explaining how you feel? How sad you are and how much you need to atleast know what is happening in his life? Sometimes if people do not know they do not understand.

    • Danielle Barnsley-Cervo says:

      Yes, there has been letters written, and the last letter, I gave them my personal information and told them that when my son wanted it, to give it to them. However, I have made myself incredibly visible on the internet so he can find me should he need to search without their permission.

      Our adoption was semi-open to begin with, and I still knew very little about his life. They held me off for many years, always touting that they wanted more openness, but they never went in that direction. Last Christmas, my husband emailed them and told them how desperately I wanted to be in my son’s life (I had no idea), and they responded by saying that they would send letters. A month later, no letter, and they said that he just wasn’t interested and might be at 15. I asked if I could send him a letter first, and they freaked out. It basically disintegrated from there. The story is on my personal blog.

      Good luck in your journey, and hopefully hearing my story will help you in that path.

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