Saturday, April 9, 2011

Adoption Option: Openness In Adoption

When I was in college, I had to write a research paper and give a presentation for an English class.  The topic I chose was 'Adoption: Open vs. Closed'. I learned a lot from this research and came to the concluding opinion that an open adoption seemed to be the best option for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents.  Little did I know, some years later, I would be sitting on my couch with two beautiful daughters and their birth mother. 

I have now lived in an open adoption and my opinion has not changed.  First of all, I want to bust some myths about open adoption. 

1.  The fact that our daughters know their birth mother, will not make them confused. I have had several people ask me if our daughters will be confused if they have any kind of relationship with their birth mother.  They ask if they will wonder, even more than they would have, why she chose to place them for adoption with us, and wonder who their mother is.  My answer to that is, No.  Imagine back to when you were a child.  Your life situation was what it was, right? You didn't know any different and you were fine with it.  It is the same for our daughters.  They are adopted and they know their birth mother.  I think it will be to their benefit, because they never will have to imagine what she was like, or what she looked like, or why she made this decision because they will already know.

2.  Just because we have an open adoption and our birth mother visits from time to time, does not mean that she will want to take them back.  I have a lot of people ask me about this as well.  I don't know how things were in the past, but it is not like that anymore.  All that drama is for the movies in my opinion.  Our birth mother was firm in her decisions and I am sure that most others are too. And, if anyone wonders, they cannot take them back.  Birth parents give up all their rights to the child when they place them for adoption. 

There are several different levels of openness in adoption. Open can mean anything from sharing identifying information, letters and pictures, to interaction between birth and adoptive families.  The level of openness is chosen depending on the adoptive parents preferences, and the birth parent preferences.  There is also closed adoption were there is no contact between the families and no identifying information is shared.  

In our open adoption, we have a lot of contact with the birth family. One reason is, we live in the same town.  But, even if we lived in different towns, I believe our relationship would be much the same as it is now.  We know a lot about our birth mother's life and she knows a lot about ours.  Since we just adopted a new baby girl, we email and send pictures frequently, and she can visit every three months for the first year of the baby's life, and then once a year around her birthday.  For our first daughter, we send her birth mother letters and pictures every three months and then she can visit some time around her birthday. So, we will eventually end up visiting with her twice a year, along with continued letters and pictures, for as long as she desires.  We also really enjoy seeing her and her family around town and we call her or she calls us on the phone from time to time.  

Every situation, and every person is different. For us, we found that it is important to set boundaries. That way, everyone knows what to expect and when to expect it. When we are around our birth mother,we just really want to give her the world.  But, those kind of deeply emotional feelings can become very hard to deal with all the time. So, I have the opinion that it is better, for our family, when everyone knows what to expect.  Creating boundaries does not diminish the love we have for our birth mother.  It is just a necessary thing for us in order to bond as our own little family and live our lives normally. We respect her very much and we know that she respects us.  Open adoption has become a great blessing in our lives and the lives of our daughters.  We look forward with peace and happiness, to what the future brings.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post Julie; it was so informative and I think will really help a lot of people with deciding what to do with their adoptions. It's so much easier to learn from someone who has been there before! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and wisdom!