Part of this vacation includes returning to Massachusetts to visit with our children's birth families. We have a good relationship with Corazon's birth mom and sister and have an open adoption agreement that we have had no trouble adhering to. The agreement gives her birth mom one visit per year plus cards/letters twice a year and gives her birth sister (who is 20 years old) 2 visits a year with the stipulation that her sister submit psychological assessment at my request prior to a visit. I have the right to "deny" the sister a visit if she doesn't submit that assessment. Her sister relocated to another state and has the burden of meeting us in MA if she wants to schedule a visit. Luckily we have never had to deal with much of the letter of the agreement. When we still lived in MA we saw Corazon's birth mom every 6 weeks or so depending on what other special occasions were coming up. When her sister was in town she joined in on the mother's visits or called and spoke with Corazon on the phone. Since we relocated we made one quick trip to MA in September and made sure to visit with her birth mom. Since then we have kept in touch via mail, email, text messaging and phone calls. We have been planning this trip to maximize visiting time for Corazon with her mother so we will probably see her two or three times during our time in MA. Her sister is also in town so we will try to visit with her and her son (18 months) as well. Corazon is happy to see them all but she hasn't yet developed any real sense of them as her "family." She knows who they are but partly because she has almost no memories of living with them and partly because we have seen them often in the past 4 years they are like family friends to all of us. It feels very "natural" and doesn't seem to cause much anxiety or stress for her (or us). I think this will change as she grows older and begins to truly question her identity, roots, etc. I hope that by maintaining this contact as strongly and positively as possible we are giving her a chance to see her families as more integrated and connected rather than feel pulled in two separate directions. Only time will tell but that is our hope.
This visit also has an additional piece which is that we are seeing Corazon's niece (her 21 year old brother's 3 1/2 year old) who is currently in foster care. We have had periodic contact with the niece and her parents since she was born so Corazon especially has a slight connection to her. We have been approached as a potential family for her if the CPS goal changes from reunification to adoption. I refused to take her as a foster child because it would be too hard for our current kids. When they heard she was in foster care both Corazon and Tortuga insisted that we could "make room" for her and that she needed to be with us. Right now her mom isn't making adequate progress towards whatever CPS wants her to do (she has substance abuse issues combined with just being young) and we have opened the door for contact again. We will see where that goes.
The visit with Corazon's birth family will raise anxiety for Tortuga so we are trying to figure out whether we bring him to the visit or not. Either way he will know about it and I need to sort out which is better or worse. I have tried to schedule a visit with the boys' mother but she doesn't want to visit. Legally, we have a "closed" adoption with her but she and I stay in touch via telephone and I send pictures and letters whenever she is willing to talk with us. Our dilemma is that she wants to see Pollito but she doesn't want to see Tortuga. I have told her she needs to see them both if we visit and she isn't opposed to it but it isn't her preference. I think part of it is that Pollito is her "baby" and perhaps there is remorse when we consider that he is the one she had custody of for the longest time and he suffered the most neglect. Her favoritism towards the little one is apparent to all but Tortuga so when we do see her he doesn't notice her increased interest in Pollito. It is so sad because he loves and misses her so much. I don't know but it is hard to get Tortuga to understand that it is her choice. He believes with all his heart that I am the one who keeps him from her. While I have the "proof" that this isn't the case (her voicemail messages are clear) I believe it would be more painful for him to hear them and he still isn't ready to believe otherwise. So I will spend the next week or so calling her and seeing if she has changed her mind and regardless of whether we see her or not we will have fallout.