Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Open Adoption

People, in general, have a hard time accepting and understanding open adoption.

I've gotten looks, comments, and negative questions from strangers, friends, and family members. Why in the world would we want contact with our children's biological family members? Aren't we terrified they will want to take the child back? You mean, they actually have our home address? GASP!

Adoption openness isn't generally what it used to be, secretive and silencing, thankfully. (If you haven't ever read The Girls Who Went Away, I highly suggest it. It's captivating, horrifying, and raw). Many adoptions are "very open" or "open" (a 2008 survey by Adoptive Families)---in fact, 37% considered their adoptions "very open" and 28% considered their adoptions to be "open."

Some questions that we are asked:

Why did you choose open adoption?

We entered into adoption wanting only semi-open. We felt it would be a happy medium, a safe avenue. The birth parents could know how the child was doing, but there would be no "knocking on our front door." As we met birth parents, both in real life and online, we learned that they are generally not the druggie, immature, stalker-ish folks that they are portrayed as in the media. Anyone you meet could be a birth parent. He or she could be nearly any age, have various levels of education, hold various jobs, have other kids or not, be married or not, etc. Birth parents are every day people who found themselves in a crisis situation at some point. (And come on, who among us hasn't been in a crisis situation?)

Once we realized that birth parents are real people, which I know sounds silly to say, we knew that open adoption was for us. We realized it could be beneficial for all of us (birth parents, the child---the adoptee, and us, the adoptive parents) to have an open adoption.

To me, after learning more about open adoption and meeting my children's biological families, the question is: Why not have an open adoption? (There are certain circumstances where an open adoption isn't safe or healthy for the people involved or sometimes the biological parents choose not to have an open adoption). The birth parents have entrusted us with the children they bore, and I see no reason to deny my children access to a relationship with their biological family members.

This is especially important, I think, for transracial adoptive families. Brown kids need role models who are of their same race.

Aren't you scared one of your children's birth parents will come knocking on your front door?

Oh, the "front door" question! First, most people don't show up to someone's house unexpectedly. But if for some reason one of our children's birth parents stopped by, I'd open the door and let them in. Seriously. I feel that we know enough about them and have a trusting relationship. Why wouldn't I let them in?

A look I get: Open adoption is weird.

New relationships can be intimidating. Sure. But our relationships with our children's biological parents are forever growing and changing with time, and, I note, becoming more intimate. As with any relationship, it must grow organically in order for trust and love to build. Even though our situation is unique, it isn't wrong, weird, or scary.

What does open mean, really?

Various agencies define open adoption differently, but for us, an open adoption means letters and pictures (via snail mail), e-mail, texts, phone calls, and visits. Yes, sometimes heading to a visit can be a bit nerve-racking because adoptive parents have insecurities! Am I doing a good enough job with the child? Does he or she seem happy? Will I say or do anything to make the birth parents not like me? These questions can come up! But with time and trust, visits become more comfortable.

There are several books on open adoption, but the best education I got was through life experience. Yes, it can be intimidating to put yourself out there and be vulnerable to the unknown possibilities of open adoption, but it's a risk I believe is worth taking.

1 comment:

  1. Hello!

    I just found your blog today. Awesome. I am a white mama to two beautiful brown boys and love reading/meeting families that look like ours. Anyhow, I was wondering if you would share with me the agency you used and your perspective on them. We are considering adopting (domestically) again at some point. My email is rundmk at aol dot com. Thanks!


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