What is open adoption? The answer to that is “whatever you want it to be”. Birth mothers never before have had the options they have today. When people refer to “open” adoption, they often mean something very different than the person to whom they are speaking. Why is that? Because there are many levels of open adoption. Rarely is an adoption today a closed adoption. “Closed” simply means that no identifying information is shared between adoptive family and birth family. Most adoption professions will tell you that unless a birth mother is adamant, they don’t advise closed adoptions. Across the boards, it’s virtually always a more healthy practice for everyone.
That said, it’s important that the level of openness is clear to all parties involved, so that no one feels that they were misled or misunderstood the terms. Open adoption can simply mean that birth parents and adoptive parents know the identity of each other. They may talk on the phone or meet prior to the birth. This is helpful to birth parents when choosing a family to raise their child. Or, it can mean that they have interaction, the adoptive parents are present at the birth, they room in at the hospital, and everyone gets to know one another. It may be agreed that letters, pictures, and updates are exchanged later, or it may even mean that periodically, the two families will get together and visit.
In one case, an adoptive family told their 16 year old birth mother, “If you continue your studies, when you graduate high school, we will come to your graduation and we’ll bring the baby and visit with both of your families” (referring to the young birth father’s family as well). They lived 2,000 miles away, so that was a big deal. They did take the baby to his birth mother’s graduation. The ensuing family time morphed into a yearly visit with all three families, for his entire childhood. Some families keep in touch by phone and now face time. Or not. Whatever situation that is agreed upon can evolve into more, but shouldn’t be reduced to less unless both sides are in agreement for whatever reason.
Some adoptive parents are nervous about birth parent interaction because they have bought into the myths about adoption. Once the adoption is final, the child belongs to the adoptive parents. No one can take the baby back or disrupt a final adoption, unless there was some sort of coercion. Using proper adoption professionals will eliminate that risk as well. So, typically, adoptive parents and birth parents are not going to have Thanksgiving together (it has happened, but not the norm). Typically, the level of contact or lack of it is determined at the onset of the adoption.
Often times, women who are considering adoption vs. abortion don’t have all the facts about what they can have. There are so many families available that there will always be a good match for the birth mother’s wishes. It has to be understood that the family is not just fostering a child, but adopting, which is a permanent placement, but there are plenty of families who are not intimidated by a birth family’s support and presence in the life of their child.
Are you looking for an adoptive family who you can trust to keep their promises on contact? These families are committed to open arrangements and would love to chat with you about an open adoption with you! Download their profile to learn more about them or contact them via Facebook.