Open Adoption, Open Heart
The world of adoption has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. No longer do biological parents have to say goodbye to their child forever. They now have more options when deciding the type of adoption to pursue, such as open adoption. Open adoption creates the opportunity for a special relationship between biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the child.
Open Adoption, Open Heart is an inspiring and true story, which takes the reader deeper into the feelings and emotions experienced by adoptive parents. As you read this incredible story, you will experience the joys, difficulties, and amazing victories facing adoptive couples. Russell and his wife, Jammie, invite you to share in their inspiring and heartwarming journey.
From the Author: While my book's primary audience was thought to be those hoping to adopt, close to half of the books I've sold are simply people who want to read about our story and how adoption is different now than it used to be- and they have not adopted nor do they plan to adopt.
About the Author:
Russell Elkins was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family movedaway from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. He and his family now live in the Boise, Idaho area.
Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.
Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell also writes a weekly post for Adoption.com and contributes regularly to Adoption Voices Magazine.
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash from Author Russell Elkins
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Blog Tour Schedule: http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2012/10/open-heart-open-adoption-blog-tour.html
My Interview With Russell
I am going to preface my questions with the following. I am adopted, my adoption was in 1966, I always knew I was adopted it was never hidden from my brother and I. I have gone through a divorce and my youngest daughter was pregnant in her senior year of high school, and considered adoption, so I understand the process from the birth mother’s side as well as an adoptee.
1. Was your choice to have an open adoption with the birth mother your way to “seal” the deal . . . to insure you would be guaranteed the adoption would go through?
Not at all. The one thing that makes me saddest when I look at other people's adoptions is when they make promises that aren't from their heart. That only causes problems. Adoptions, especially when they're as open as ours and we communicate so often- they're not easy. I know you know that since you've been such a big part of the adoption world. We love love LOVE our children's birth parents. We would be sad if they decided to close the door between us, just like they would be sad if we closed the door on them. We think it will be healthy for our children to have that connection, never having to wonder about their past. They'll be able to see firsthand that they were placed for adoption out of love.
2. I have read 50% of your book and you use the phrase “adoptive” parents. Once the adoption is complete you are the parents . . . or do you not see yourself that way?
I use the term "adoptive parents" only when I'm talking in context to distinguish us from the birth parents. Ira is my son. I am his dad, his parent, etc. I only use that qualifier when the context could be confusing otherwise. So, no- we do not call ourselves "adoptive parents" very often, just like I never ever refer to my son as my "adopted son". He is my son. I am his dad.
3. Have you and your wife thought about how much contact the birth mother will have as your child gets older, into his teen years? For example my 4 year old granddaughter just told her mother that she wasn’t nice and she didn’t like her, that she liked Nana better. How would you deal with something like that coming from a teen?
We are doing our very best to pave that road between their biological side and our own family. We want that road smoothed out as much as possible now. My 2 kids are still pretty young (we have adopted a second time since Open Adoption, Open Heart was written) and they don't understand what adoption means yet. When they do understand the dynamics, we'll hand the keys over to them. We want to them to feel that love, but it will be their decision about how to run that relationship. It's something unique in life that most people can't directly relate to because they've never been there. Right now we have great communication and there's a lot of love. The birth parents don't try to overstep their bounds and we respect them as well. Right now this adoption has mostly been between us adults, but ultimately this is my son's adoption (and my daughter's for our second adoption) and he'll be running his own show once he's old enough to understand.
4. In regards to question number 3, have you and your wife thought about how having an open adoption with the mother of your child makes it hard for her not to have a clean break and not heal?
Trust me, we've thought about that A LOT. We used to worry about it with Brianna (first adoption) a lot more than we do now. We just make sure to have the best communication we can with her. She's pretty good at being open and honest with us. There are times when she needs to pull away, and we let her. There are times when she needs to draw close, and we let her. We just want to give her the tools she needs to heal and she's always been very kind in her words about thanking us for our flexibility with it. She's done the same for us. There have been times when we've needed more space and she's given it to us. It hasn't always been easy, but we're a good team. We do this together. We have found the balance that's best for everybody and it's not the same balance we are finding with our second adoption even though that adoption is amazing as well.
5. Before choosing open adoption did you talk to other families who had also chosen open adoption who had adult children?
We went to discussion panels and made friends with adoptive couples as well as birth parents. We did our homework. That's very VERY important. That's why I wrote Open Adoption, Open Heart the way I did, because there were still a lot of things we didn't anticipate emotionally. The idea of the book is to come as close to living through the situation yourself without actually going through it. That way, people can know a little bit what to expect. Not everyone is going to feel the same way we did in each situation, but I wrote it in a way of hoping people would read it and put themselves in our shoes thinking, "what would I do, and how would I feel?"
6. How much parenting input does the birth mother have?
Honestly, close to none. That goes for both of our adoptions. They don't make any requests like "put them in preschool at age 3" or "to spank or not to spank." All those decisions are ours. They know we are the ones in charge of those things and they don't try to- or even want to take that away from us. It would be difficult to keep contact as open as we do if they were trying to take over the role as parents when they came over to visit.
(Thanks so much for doing this interview and for reading my book! I'm always excited to get to meet new people in the adoption world. If you ever want to tell your adoption experiences, contact me at RussellElkins.com )
As a child of adoption whose adoption was private, I am not a huge fan of open adoption. I think it poses a huge issue for the parents and puts them in a no win situation. I know for myself when my parents were doing their job had I known who my birth parents were at that point I would've been out the door like a shot.
Russell tells a beautiful story of the adoption of his son and I don't have to agree with Open Adoption to be touched by someone giving up their child to a couple who can't have one.
This is a great book to not only read if you are looking at Open Adoption, it is a touching story of what a family experiences.