New Directions For the Family Tree

At NPR's , a panel discussion about nontraditional families, including an adoptive mother in an open adoption, a gay adoptive father in a transracial, closed adoption, and a mother via donor insemination.  You can read the transcript and/or listen to the story here. Here's a snippet:
LYDEN: So, everybody, moms and dad - let's start with you, Carrie. Your daughter was adopted through what's called an open adoption. You have a relationship with the birth mom. And you wrote in your blog that having an open adoption is complicated. There's so much beauty in allowing an adopted child to know and love a birth family, but with that knowledge comes the burden of truth. And we wondered, what is that burden of truth?

GOLDMAN: The burden of truth is - I look at it this way. Most adopted children harbor a fantasy about their other family, and in their minds it's just this perfect alternative to the family they're in. And, when you're in a closed adoption, the fantasy might just live. When you're in an open adoption, you know the conditions that the birth family lives in.

And, in Katie's situation, her birth family's life is very difficult at times. And we have to balance how much to reveal to her so that we're honest with how much to keep back from her because she's just a little girl and I don't want her to feel anxious or stressed when she learns that her birth family is struggling.

LYDEN: Jay Rapp, you and your partner, Gene, have two daughters. You guys are gay. Both these girls are adopted. How much have you told them about the birth families?

RAPP: We've been honest from the very beginning. My oldest daughter, who's eight, she actually has pictures of her birth mother and her half-siblings. She has two sisters and a brother. And our younger daughter, who is four, actually doesn't have any of those things, so we know very little about her family. And, of course, these are both closed adoptions.

But we've tried to be very honest from the beginning when we talk about our family. And really, although this may sound cliche, really conveying that they came from a very loving family who, of course, would have wanted to keep them were circumstances different, but for a variety of reasons, were unable and, as a result, wanted to provide them with what might be a better life.