Monday, April 22, 2013

The Open Adoption Option

Despite it's ever-growing popularity, open adoption is one of the scariest, most risky relationships a person can enter into.

Because, in most cases, open adoption stems from complete strangers coming together over a joint interest, a child, and that may very well be their only commonality.   

We have three open adoptions.   But like most adoptive families, we started out only open to a semi-open adoption (at most) where we were most comfortable with one-way communication (pictures and letters going to the biological parents a few times a year).   This decision was made out of a lack of education and out of insecurity (WE ARE THE PARENTS.  THE ONLY SET OF PARENTS.  PERIOD.).

Many international adoptive parents have confessed that they have chosen to shy away from domestic infant adoption (despite it typically being less expensive and requiring less travel) simply because of domestic infant adoption birth parent horror stories.  No doubt, these stories are scary.  And I fully understand why adoptive parents are quite scared of the Other (the birth parent).  After all, the media vilifies birth parents while idolizing adoptive parents.    (I talk a lot about this in my book).  

We have a range of open adoption experiences and of birth parents.    In one case, both birth parents are involved in an ongoing relationship.  In one case, it's a biological brother and his adoptive family, with occasional contact with birth mom.  In one case, we have contact with birth mom and some extended birth family.  

No one-size-fits-all.

My motto in adoption is this:   don't make choices out of fear; make them out of education.  

I have gobs of resources listed on this blog and in my book.  I hope you'll check them out.

When we are asked why we chose open adoption, I often share these things:

1:  Who are we to keep our children from their biological family members when these individuals pose no harm to our children?

2:  Why shouldn't our children have access to as much information as they will want/need in the future, information we, as their adoptive parents, cannot provide them?

3:  Why should we not have access to family health history which can help us better meet our children's needs?

4:  Why should our kids' birth families not have access to updated information and photos of the children they gave life to and love?

Also, something to consider, is that if you, as an adoptive parent, are insecure in your position in your child's life, that is unhealthy for your child and unhealthy for your emotional health.    Your child will eventually understand that you were the gatekeeper in his/her life, either fostering or diminishing the access the child could have to his/her biological family.

So ask yourself:

1:  Will the birth parents cause harm to the child?  

2:  Are the birth parents supportive of you as the adoptive parent (meaning, they respect your role as the child's primary parents)?

3:  What is going on with me, emotionally, that I'm holding back from open adoption (and anything, really, adoption related)?   Where can I seek help for these issues?

4:  Does the child want a relationship with his/her biological parent?   Or, if my child is very young, would the birth parent knowing information/seeing the child bring the birth parent joy, peace, and assurance?

Open adoption is not an easy option.  In fact, it can be quite uncomfortable for everyone involved at times, or even for many seasons.  But ...

what is right isn't always easy

and what is easy isn't always right.

Blessings to you, friends, as you make decisions along your adoption path.  I'm cheering for you and praying you have an open mind, open arms, and an open heart.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing! Wonderful post! If you don't mind, I'm going to add this to my pinterest page to remind myself when things sometimes get awkward. :)And that's with just ONE birthfamily. I imagine it will get more complicated when we have (hopefully) have more children and birthfamilies in the future. :)


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