When we adopted our daughter the state entered into an agreement with her birth parents that enabled supported contact post-adoption. At least in our area, this type of agreement is called a Rule 11 agreement and typically includes things as simple as annual cards or letters to birthday presents all the way up to in-person visits. I'm told the way it worked out in our case was funky because the Rule 11 is actually an agreement between the state and the birth parents signed upon voluntary termination of rights where the state promises to try and find adoptive parents willing to agree to the terms of the agreement but cannot promise they will be able to do so. In our case, the state agreed to find foster parents, which, by definition upon adoption makes the adoptive parents not a party to the agreement. Whatever - it was in our adoption agreement as well and whether or not we were named specifically we intended to try to abide by the agreement. Afterall, the state had asked us what we'd be willing to consider for an agreement (and they automatically put ALL of it in even though we just said we'd consider it).
Anywho - the terms of our specific agreement included cards and letters and visits 2x a year, specifying the months they were to occur. The family doesn't have our full name, our address, or our home phone number but they do have my cell phone number and I let them talk to her from time to time (like maybe 2-3 times per year). We required that the agreement have stipulations to protect our family and our daughter in particular so that the agreement was null and void if they violated our privacy (showed up at our front door), if it was harming her, or if after she turned 12 she didn't want to go see them. It also became null and void if they missed 2 consecutive visits and/or cards and letters.
Her father texted me over the weekend to let me know that they would not be coming this month to see her.
This marks the 3rd consecutive visit they have missed. Though I setup a PO box at their request I have never received anything in it for her. Therefore, as I understand it, at the end of the month the agreement will be null and void.
My hubby and I were talking about how mixed our feelings are about this new chapter. We fully expected it to happen at some point, especially after they moved out of state and we knew their resources to travel back at any frequency would be limited. Now that it is has almost actually happened though - well, we're so ambiguous.
On one hand - we are so happy to be free from the obligation to move our lives around to enable contact. The agreement was essentially an extension of the relationship with CPS and all that entails - it was just another form of control over and intrusion into our lives that once you adopt from foster care you want to have gone. NOW. In this case it has nothing to do with her birth parents but rather a desire to have the permanency and independence of our family recognized after having spent years tied to the rules and oversight CPS requires of foster parents. So, we're happy to not have this hanging over our heads anymore.
On the other hand - as much as the agreement is a reminder of our relationship with CPS, the nullification of the agreement is a reminder of the severed relationship between our daughter and her birth parents. We are her parents. I am her mom. She is our daughter. She wouldn't recognize her birth parents off the street and though we don't keep adoption hidden it isn't part of our daily lives. Even still - she was conceived in another womb. She grew there. Another woman gave birth to her. For 9 months they "cared" for her as best they could. Though we believe the heritage we will give her will be much greater than that she received from her birth parents, her biological family and their history is something we cannot and should not try to ignore. It is a significant part of who she is and I hate that she will likely not know it. I hate that they could not care for her and that she had to be removed in the first place, however much that meant that we benefit from having her as our daughter. Not having that agreement, finally, is just a reminder of the truly yucky things about adoption that cannot be ignored.
I kind of feel like a single mom who is struggling to protect her child from the father who makes promises to pick her up for the weekend and then never shows. There is a part of me, if I think about it, who is fiercely protective of her and angry that they don't see what they're missing out on, that she's not a priority to them, and that one day she'll have to face the truth that they couldn't raise her. I don't dwell here - it's just events like this one that remind me about the trauma of adoption.
Most days are great and as if I gave birth to her myself. She is ours. We are hers. I know that someday she might struggle with the way she came into our family but I hope that through healing and the way we handle the communication she'll find support, encouragement, and most importantly self-worth and purpose here on Earth.