Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dear Sugar: Your Burning Open Adoption Questions

Dear Sugar,

Today's focus is on open adoption.  We have four children, all of whom have open adoptions with their birth families.  Each relationship is different, each experience is different, each dynamic is different.  Now, let's get to those questions!  

Photo of one of my kiddos kissing her bio brother on the cheek, many years ago.  So precious! 
Q:  Our child's birth parents have cancelled several visits last-minute, and I'm tired, frustrated, and confused.  What do we do about this?

A:  I believe in keeping your promises, but I also believe that your #1 job is to protect your child. With that said, if the cancellations are disruptive to your child (emotionally), perhaps it's time to stop scheduling visits for a season.  However, a difficult season is not your permission slip to bail on the relationship.  

Q:  We're getting ready to begin our adoption journey, and we don't know what to promise in terms of openness.  I mean, we haven't even met our future child or his/her family yet!  Our agency is pushing us toward more openness, but we just aren't sure. 

A:  I believe in short-term promises.  Meaning, don't promise a visit once a year until the child is eighteen.  Why?  Because the CHILD will eventually have (and should have) say so in the openness. Now, I believe in a COMMITMENT to open adoption, but I don't believe in making concrete guarantees beyond the short-term.  I also believe in letting the relationship develop organically and over time.

Q:  What does open adoption require of the parents? 

A:  Grace, empathy, honesty, flexibility, and commitment.  Open adoption is NOT easy; it has both its joys and challenges.  Open adoption is an ARC and not a marathon.   Also, open adoption isn't for every person and every adoption.  That's OK.  Just because open adoption is popular (and pushed upon birth and adoptive families by adoption agencies and attorneys), doesn't mean it is the correct avenue for every person.    

Q:  Doesn't open adoption confuse the child?

A:  Not in my experience.  Lots of kids have family dynamics that aren't the "norm" (a mom, a dad, who are married, and bio siblings, all living under the same roof), and it's not confusing as long as parents are open and honest.  There are some great children's books that explain family dynamics which can help you explain to your child what his or her family is like.   

Q:  I think we should choose open adoption, my partner doesn't.  How do we decide what to do? 

A:  I think it's SO difficult to say what's best when have yet to meet your future child and his or her family.  Choosing open adoption before adopting is almost like that TV show Married at First Sight.  You make a life-long promise to someone who is a stranger?  That said, I do think your job right now is to get educated.   If you sign up for my e-newsletter, you'll be sent a free e-book that explains why education is critical!   Learn all you can about open adoption prior to adopting so when you are presented the opportunity to adopt a child, you can make your decisions out of education and not ignorance.   

What are your thoughts on open adoption?  Let's chat on Facebook. 

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