The summer after we got Quinton, we took a trip to South Carolina for a friend’s wedding. We were going to be gone a week, so we needed to kennel Quinton for the week. We asked our veterinarian for a recommendation, and they recommended a kennel not too far away. Once we returned from our trip, we went to pick him up we were shocked. He had lost a pound or two in the week we were gone, which usually wouldn’t be a problem, but when you’re only 8-9 pounds to start with, that’s a problem. He wasn’t eating well, and they noticed that he was extremely nervous around the other larger dogs. They brought him in the cat room for periods of time to get him to eat and be less nervous.
They might be a good kennel. They took some initiative in trying to limit his nervous time, and for all we know it could have been because this was Quinton’s first kennel time. In the end though, once you see the rib bones, you’ve lost our trust forever. We never used that kennel again, and to this day there is a distrust of any kennel caring for our little buddy. We currently use the Pets Hotel at Pet Smart, and have had positive experiences with them every time Quinton stays. Yet, the last time we went, they receptionist kind of hurried along, missed going over some of the details, and did not seem overly excited to take Quinton. Normally they go over each detail, and are eagerly excited about taking Quinton, but this time was more neutral, and just that slight difference almost ruined our trip and had Steph in tears. All because we had our trust broken by an unrelated kennel seven years ago.
Trust is like youth. You don’t know how valuable it is until you lose it. More importantly, once it’s lost, it’s hard to get back. We’ve built up a fair share of trust with our birthparents, but you tend to be cautious when the stakes are high. You build up fences. Sometimes we build fences around ourselves to protect from danger, but we end up keeping life on the outside.
All birthparents are different, but when it comes down to contact, they seem to fall into three categories. The first is the birthparents who don’t want contact after placement. I hate to generalize, but this tends to be the birth father. There are birth mothers who want no contact, which may be because of circumstances, such as an affair baby, or because of the tough emotions attached to situation. The second are the birthparents who want contact, but are incapable of sustaining contact. This could be emotional again, drug related, etc. Sometimes when their life situations change, such as getting married and having a family of their own can change that communication too.
I believe our situation falls into category 3, the birth parents who keep up communication with the visits and pictures. Sometimes we get wrapped up in worrying about whether or not we can trust them, and we forget that they need to know they can trust us. They know the agency has vetted us, and through visits with us they can get the general feel that we’ll be good parents. What they don’t know is what our relationship will be like post adoption. We will sign an open adoption agreement with them. This will entail what kind of contact they want moving forward. Typically this will be pictures monthly for six months, every three months or so after that. Also included would be two visits a year. This document is not legally binding. Once the adoption is approved, we are legally free to sever ties. Morally and emotionally though, we will honor this contract.
How do we build that trust? How do we get them to believe that we won’t run away and cut off contact? I don’t know.
In one of our conversations with birthmother, she had a request for us. It was simple, could we take a picture of our girl with her daughter at the hospital? Of course! We want that connection from the start with her sister. The question made me realize something though. She might feel that this may be the only time they are together. I hope that’s not what she’s thinking. I hope that by the time our girl is born, she’ll have a good feeling that in blessing us with a child, she’ll be gaining a family.