Open Adoption Through A Father’s Eyes By Phil Weglarz

Open Adoption Through A Father’s Eyes By Phil Weglarz

For me, becoming and being a parent in an open adoption is like a kaleidoscope:

  • Intricate and multifaceted
  • Dynamic and ever-changing

It can be beautiful, perplexing, or revealing, and, sometimes, allude to things just outside of view or bring my attention to the empty spaces.

The construction of a kaleidoscope reflects the evolving discourse in the adoption community. For example, most toy kaleidoscopes use a three-sided reflective surface inside, which reminds me of how adoptive family systems used to be rendered as a triangle or triad, interrelating three core positions of birth/first parents, child, and adoptive parents. But today, we speak of adoption constellations to better evoke the complex, dynamic, intergenerational relationships created through adoption, like the infinite facets and unique, intricate patterns seen through a kaleidoscope. Openness in adoption is like trying to see and appreciate the multiplicity of perspectives and experiences. 

If you look into my kaleidoscope of open adoption experience, you might get a sense of the relationships between myself, my wife, our daughter, her birth mother, and other family members. You might catch glimpses of the times I informed people that I’m a parent by adoption when they said, “Oh, she looks just like you!,” or notice the photo of my daughter with her birth mother on the family photo wall in the living room. You could see my daughter and I role-playing and narrating the imagined reunions between Disney princesses with their birth parents who’ve been left out of the story. You might see me text my daughter’s birth mother each Father’s Day to thank her for choosing me to parent her baby or notice the cards we exchange on other holidays and birthdays. You might hear my daughter and birth mother talking during their annual face-to-face visits. You’ll be dazzled by flashes of joyful laughter and also moved by moments of sorrow, grieving, and tears. In the corner of your eye, you might also sense the doubt or anxiety I harbor about the responsibility of being an adoptive parent, committed to fostering a life-long connection between my daughter and her birth mother, as well as other members of her birth family. 

My daughter is now almost seven-and-a-half, a first-grader who’s been mostly at home with myself or my wife for more than a year now due to the pandemic. Often, I wish I had a telescope, crystal ball, or magic wand to help me see what’s ahead and how to navigate it all. In lieu of such magical tools, I rely on the community, especially folks with adoption experience. 

Bryan Post’s unique model of trauma-informed, adoptee-focused parenting has been crucial for helping ground me and stay in a relationship with my daughter through the tensest moments this year – and there have been many! This paradigm also helped me appreciate the increased intimacy of this unexpected time together at home. 

Over the past year, to continue learning and to grow my peer support network, I’ve also been meeting and interviewing fathers of adopted children, both birth/first fathers and adoptive fathers, which, combined with an abundance of adoption-related books, articles, webinars, blogs, and podcasts, has dramatically broadened and deepened my awareness and appreciation of the diversity of family systems created by adoption, especially the wide-ranging experiences of openness in public and private domestic adoptions. 

Peering inside this larger kaleidoscope of fathers’ experiences of open adoption reveals many facets. Some reflect my own experience. Mostly, these conversations have widened my perspective. One dimension that really catches my eye is transgenerational influences.

While each adoption story centers upon each man’s relationship with a particular child, I’ve been equally curious about how men navigate relationships with other family members in open adoptions. The narratives I’ve heard usually span three or four generations. Men begin by reflecting upon their own experiences being parented. Fathers have shared stories of their own birth or adoptive parents, single parents, step-parents, in-laws, and grandparents. Based on my own experience, I feel a special camaraderie and compassion with the many men whose fathers, for various reasons, were absent for all or part of their childhoods. Some men have parents who were adopted themselves, typically in the era of closed adoptions, and they’ve participated in searches and reunions with newly discovered grandparents. The men I’ve met with have also shared how they navigate relationships with their child’s other parents over the years, and most have spoken about building relationships with those folks’ other children, and relatives, such as cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc. Visits, holidays, weddings, as well as the use of texts, phone/video calls, social media, and ancestry websites, all offer opportunities to interrelate, practice naming and narrating their relationships, and to ‘do family.’  

About the author:

Phil Weglarz is an adoptive father in an open adoption, a marriage and family therapist, an associate professor of counseling psychology, and a Ph.D. candidate at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. In 2021, Phil is completing narrative research with birth/first fathers and adoptive fathers about their experiences of open adoption. https://tinyurl.com/fatherstoriesofadoption

 

Adopt Salon Support Group : Sept 1

Adopt Salon Support Group : Sept 1

A monthly open support group for all members of the Adoption Constellation: First Birthparents, Adoptees, Former Foster Youth, Foster, Adoptive Parents and Kinship Families.

A place for the Adoption & Foster Care community to come together to share stories, thoughts, feelings, and ideas, receive psycho-education, process grief/loss, and build strong bonds and connections. The group is facilitated by Adoptions/Foster Care Psychotherapist, adult adoptee Jeanette Yoffe, MFT, founder of Celia Center.

Time and place shown in Events Calendar. Meetings held virtually via ZOOM until further notice. Please make a donation to receive further registration and ZOOM link for event.

Suggested Donation: $20

Please donate $20 (. . . or $10, or $5, or $1 ) to complete registration.
Your donation supports Celia Center, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  Thanks very much!

National Foster Care Awareness Month May 2021

National Foster Care Awareness Month May 2021

Foster Care Bringing awareness
Showcase on May 15th, 2021
for National Foster Care Awareness Month

We are Seeking Creative Artists Ages 13+

We are looking for paintings, sketches, photographs, sculpture, film, poetry, jewelry, any piece of art created by foster youth “showing the experience”.

Artists’ pieces will be on display in the VIRTUAL exhibit at our LIVE EVENT on Saturday, May 15th.

Along with the application below, please provide jpegs, mp3, mp4, and/or a website and/or photos of the piece(s) of art being submitted.
DEADLINE: April 30th, 2021.

No PHYSICAL ART will be received. We are accepting digital submissions only.

***You may submit anonymously.
Please write Anonymous for your last name.

Ready to apply

 

The Magical Realism of Colombian Adoptees By Leslie Whitaker and Craig Askinazi

The Magical Realism of Colombian Adoptees By Leslie Whitaker and Craig Askinazi

What is it like to have been adopted from Colombia in the late 1970s and raised in the US? The answer of course will vary for everyone, but there are some things most of us have in common…

Extra-complicated search and reunions. The geographical and cultural divide of continents, corruption, language, governments, laws, DNA tests, and often inter-married families collude to make the search and reunion of adoptees with their Colombian families quite challenging. Often, when trying to put together a family tree, it becomes apparent that due to the above complexities, this task is not easy and may come with more questions than answers.

Growing up with a stigma. Although the height of infamous Colombian cartel wars and kidnappings have long since passed their peak, from the late-70s to mid-90s corruption was at its height. During this era, many babies and young children were kidnapped and trafficked for adoption revenue, adding layers of stigma and further complicating searches for some adoptees. The notorious reputation of such lives on in the assumptions and impressions that many outsiders have of modern Colombian life. This is not to say that danger or violence no longer exists there, but those statistics are now far below that of many American cities. Unfortunately, these stereotypes are often still thrust upon Colombian adoptees in the media and tend to arise in casual conversation when discussing our backgrounds.

Forming connections. Despite the obstacles, many of us have found ways to connect with one another and our inner selves to hone a stronger sense of identity. We have formed Meetup, Facebook, Clubhouse, and support groups to connect with one another and share encouragement, tips, and advice. Many of us relate to our adoptions via our professions including authoring books, hosting podcasts, and creating visual art. Others are often therapists or legal advocates. Naturally, our interests and occupations run the gamut, but unifying us at the core is our exceptional resilience.

It can be so uplifting to seek the support of other people like ourselves to stand in as cultural mirrors, help support the process of searching for biological family, or simply to help us feel more at peace with ourselves.

There is power in numbers, and connecting with other Colombian adoptees (or any group one identifies with) can be invaluable to satisfying the human quest to feel heard and understood.

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PSA: It’s Colombia, not Columbia!

Learn more information about  Colombian Adoptee Support and Discussion Groups.