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Open Adoption's Balancing Act with Ben Coolman - Ep 123

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 12/11/2023

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More Episodes

I think that it's definitely a complicated thing, no matter how great the conditions are. But it definitely did something for me to have contact with my biological part of the adoptee experience. - Ben Coolman

If the adoptee in your life is feeling overwhelmed by conflicting loyalties and uncertainty about where they belong, we want them to know they are not alone! Despite their efforts to maintain relationships with both sets of parents, they may find themself feeling torn between two worlds and struggling to find their own identity. This is a common experience for many kids and young adult adoptees who grew up in open adoptions, but there are ways to navigate this journey and find one’s authentic self.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Gain insight into unique open adoption experiences.

  • Navigate the challenges for adoptees of maintaining relationships with multiple parents.

  • Discover the need for support tailored for young male adoptees.

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✨Healing the Adoption Constellation database: UnravelingAdoption.com/Healing

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My special guest is Ben Coolman

Ben Coolman, a 23-year-old philosophy grad student at Boston College, joins Beth on this episode. Ben's unique experience as a same-race domestic adoptee in an open adoption from birth brings a fresh perspective to understanding the dynamics of open adoption. Growing up with other siblings (not biologically related) in open adoptions, Ben offers valuable insights on navigating relationships with multiple sets of parents and the impact of openness on his life. His candid approach and personal journey provide a relatable and insightful take on the complexities of open adoption, making this episode a must-listen for adoptive parents, young adult adoptees navigating similar experiences, and community members who want to understand adoption's complexities better.

Here's how to find Ben:

Other Resources:

Navigating the Complexities
Navigating an open adoption's complex dynamic demands strength and an intuitive understanding of human emotions. Ben discussed how managing relationships with four parents can occasionally be challenging, especially the pressure to spend equal time with each parent. He also emphasized the importance of personal growth, self-security, and following intuition when managing the demanding task of evenly divided attention and care.

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Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Support Unraveling Adoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption

Check out our website: www.UnravelingAdoption.com

Create your own podcast through Libsyn: https://signup.libsyn.com/?promo_code=ADOPTION

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Timestamped summary of this episode:
00:00:00 - Introduction and Background
Beth introduces the podcast and her guest, Ben Coolman, a 23-year-old adoptee in an open adoption. Ben shares his origin story, highlighting how his biological parents selected his adoptive parents before his birth.

00:03:55 - Childhood Perceptions
Ben reflects on his childhood perceptions of adoption, including his naive belief that everyone gets adopted. He also discusses his experiences with visits from his biological parents and their influence on his understanding of adoption.

00:08:18 - Contrasting Relationships
Ben explores the differences between his biological and adoptive parents, highlighting their unique sensibilities and the distinct ways he bonds with each of them. He also touches on his evolving understanding of the adoption experience as he matures into adulthood.

00:10:01 - Navigating Relationships
Ben discusses the challenges of managing multiple parental relationships as a young adult. He shares his experience of balancing holiday visits between his biological and adoptive families, highlighting the complexities of maintaining these connections.

00:13:47 - Personal Reflections
Ben reflects on his personality traits, noting his fluctuation between being assertive and considering others' needs. He also shares his attempts to integrate and balance his relationships by finding a sense of belonging between his adoptive family in Providence, Boston, and New York.

00:14:08 - Building in the Woods with Biological Father
Ben sets aside a month every summer to build in the woods with his biological father, sacrificing time with friends. He shares about their construction projects and the intense experience of working together for a month.

00:16:20 - Advantages of Open Adoption
Ben reflects on the positive aspects of growing up in an open adoption, including exposure to diverse experiences and the interest his biological parents have in him. He emphasizes the unique nature of his own open adoption experience.

00:18:13 - Disadvantages of Open Adoption
Ben discusses the complexities of open adoption, including the internal struggle of feeling pulled between his biological and adoptive parents. He shares how the contrasting backgrounds and careers of his parents have influenced his perspective.

00:23:16 - Impact of Open Adoption on Identity
Ben delves into how open adoption has helped him make sense of his story, providing insight into his background and the reasons behind his adoption. He explores the concept of the adoption constellation and its influence on his journey to self-coherence.

00:24:53 - Nature vs. Nurture
Ben reflects on the interplay between nature and nurture in shaping his identity, acknowledging the impact of both sets of parents on his development. He discusses how his career path aligns with his adoptive parents' backgrounds while being influenced by his biological parents' sensibilities.

00:27:46 - Connecting with Young Men
The host expresses the need for more young men to connect with her son Joey and highlights his son's deep thinking. Ben offers to interact with people on social media and shares his contact information.