Monday, May 27, 2013

Open Adoption: What Does It Take?

I'm asked A LOT about open adoption.

Well, I should say, I'm told a lot about open adoption from people who aren't adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents, or adoption professionals.    It goes like this.  Someone learns that we have open adoptions---three, in fact.  

Scrunched up face followed by, "You mean the kids SEE their real parents?"



"Aren't you scared they will take the child back?"


"Aren't you scared the kids will be confused?"

Ok...deep breath...

Yes, the kids see their biological parents and siblings.   We are real parents.  Their birth parnets are real parents, too, but they aren't the only REAL parents in the equation here.  Thank you very much.

No, they will not be taking the children back.  That's why there are adoption laws and lawyers and counselors (separate representation for birth parents and adoptive parents) and proceedings and one very, very ethical adoption agency.     However, I'm not fearful that seeing the children will make the birth parents go crazy and try to grab the kids and take off running.    Because why?  That's not what sane people do.   And because they can see the kids when they want to.   And just because they are birth parents does not make them unstable, scary, unreliable, crazy people.  

No, I don't think my children will be confused.   We are very clear in our conversations about who is who.  We use the terminology we have decided is appropriate based on our adoption ethics and personal situations.    The kids only use the name "dad" for one person and "mom" for one person (me).   We use the birth parents first names, we discuss who they are and why they are significant people in our lives.   It's not confusing.    It's matter-of-fact, honest, and heartfelt.

I believe people sense that open adoption is a weakness in me.   Or that I'm trying to be PC and smooth over or force contact.    Maybe I'm a bit mentally ill?   Is this really the right thing for the kids?

Here's a great blog post from last month that touches on how I feel about open adoption.

As the author says in the title, open adoption is about commitment.

For me, it's commitment to my adoption ethics, to my children, to the biological families.  It's commitment to not let my personal feelings or emotions overtake the goals of open adoption.  It's a commitment to dive on in to an adoption visit, not matter how awkward or uncomfortable it can be sometimes.  It's about loving the people who created my child and love my child, and in turn, love my whole family.  It's about giving my child a gift:  to have communication with the people who created them and gave birth to them.    It's about having current medical information and family history.  It's about possibilities and joy and moments.  It's about displaying Christ's love to my children and their biological families.  

It's not about me.

And it's not about outsiders who spew birth parent stereotypes and media-driven fears.

It's about my children.

That's what a real mom does.  :0) 


  1. This is quite beautiful. I want to adopt and, where possible, I want to do open adoptions. A friend of mine has an open adoption with a child who was a drug baby and her goal in keeping the birth mom in her baby's life is so that one day he can look her in the face and tell her "You did this to me" (referring to all his physical handicaps as a result of her drug abuse). When she told me that I was so heartbroken, because that is a terrible reason to keep an adopted child in contact with his birth mother! We should be about reconciliation and forgiveness as much as possible. So this post was really refreshing to read. Thanks!

  2. So well said, Rachel.

    I love how Jim Gritter addresses the notion of confusion. "Is it your experience that when you're well-informed you're confused?"

    Sounds like you are a terrific ambassador for openness in adoption.


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