First lets address what open adoption is…
Open adoption is an adoptive family and birth family keeping in contact for the benefit of a child. Contact in an open adoption can mean different things to different families as contact can range from letters and emails, to phone calls or regular visitation. It all rests on the adults to create a plan that fits everyone’s needs and expectations.
Most people’s knowledge of adoption is based on what they know or have heard about state run adoptions or foster to adopt situations. In many of these cases, the child is being removed from the parent for the best interest of the child. When this happens, the parental rights are not always completely severed. The goal of the state is always to try to eventually have the child placed back with their birth parent, extended family, or someone in their community. For these reasons, we are not pursuing a state run adoption or foster to adopt situation. We are instead going to go through an agency adoption with adoption attorneys and everything else that this entails. This will give us much greater protections moving forward because the birth parents will be selecting us and signing a termination of parental rights. This is an irrevocable court order. This of course also means that agency adoptions can be much more expensive than state adoptions, but as adoptive parents we receive greater legal protection and rights.
I’ll admit, when we first entered our hats into the adoption ring, we had such restricted views on open/closed adoption. Our views were mirrored by fears we had absorbed through media and the limited stories we had heard from within our community. Myths about open adoptions rang loudly in our ears.
“The birth mom will try to take the baby back if you let her see the baby.”
“The child will be confused on who his mother is if you let the birth mom be in his life.”
“The birth mom won’t want to give up the child. Will she be involved the child’s whole life?”
Initially, we thought there was NO WAY we would entertain an open adoption. We wanted to adopt our child and have it live in our world, solely. The more we read and spoke with our agency, the more we realized how unrealistic our views were. How selfish they were. Our thoughts slowly shifted with every conversation. How cool would it be for our child to be loved and celebrated by so many people.
The more we researched and began to understand the adoption process, an open adoption made more sense to us. John and I discussed at length what we wanted for our future children. The one thing we kept landing back on, above all else, is for them to be happy. We want them to have a rock solid knowledge of who they are and where they come from. We want our child to know their own story.
Since beginning this journey we have had an opportunity to meet many people that have been touched by adoption and read many more stories from people who have been adopted. One common thread that has run throughout many of these stories is that often times the adopted child grows up with uncertainty in their lives. They have questions about their birth parents. They often feel rejected or abandoned by their birth parents. Many become fixated on trying to find their birth parents as they get older. We do not want our child to have any of these feelings of uncertainty. They deserve to know their own story.
A thought that constantly shifts through our mind is what would we tell our child when they come to us with questions about why they were adopted. I think of this daily. How can I make my child know whole heartedly that they were given up for adoption because of love. I want to be able to share with my child that their birth parents gave them up out of love and selflessness to give them a better life. And better yet, I want them to hear it from their birth parents.
What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear them in the comments!