When you hear the term, “open adoption,” what comes to mind? Have you ever wondered what all is involved and how it works? Would you believe that it’s the second most common type of adoption besides semi-open?
Open adoption is a path in the industry that is met with much controversy and a lot of questions. The concept itself is still fairly new and a work in process. But thus far, it has been deemed as the healthier option for birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees. Keep reading to learn more about why open adoption might be the best choice for your family.
Definition of Terms
Put simply, open adoption allows both the birth parents and adoptive parents to know about each other. Identifying information is exchanged, and in person meetings are permitted before, during and after the adoption process. Both sets of parents work together to establish boundaries and expectations for what life will look like moving forward, and to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected and protected.
Every open adoption plan is as unique as the people who are involved, so there is no universal way to view it. Depending on where you live, the definition of open adoption may vary slightly as well. Be sure to reach out to your adoption agency and specialist if you have any questions or concerns that pertain to your specific circumstances.
The New Norm
Back in the late 19th century, closed adoptions were seen as the social norm, and the typical way to handle adoptions. Adoption agencies officially processed everything, and didn’t permit any communication between either the birth or adoptive parents. Even after the adoptive parents were selected, all information about the birth mother and her medical history was withheld and sealed until the adopted child became a legal adult. It was then, and only then, that they were able to learn anything about their adoption story.
Between the 1960s and 1970s, open adoptions became popular. Birth mothers had more involvement in the adoption process, and the adoptees had access to their adoption origin, heritage and medical information. Unanswered questions and unresolved issues lessened dramatically, and helped birth mothers healthfully grieve and adopted children develop into more independent, self-assured adults. Open adoptions have become the new norm in the adoption industry, as it takes into consideration everyone’s voice and keeps the adoption triad’s best interests at heart.
Pros and Cons
As the old adage goes, “There are two sides to every coin.” In other words, when it comes to deciding which adoption path is best for you and your family, there are advantages and disadvantages to each one. With open adoption, here are some pros and cons for you to consider.
- Open communication. Your child will be able to learn where they came from and why their birth parents placed them for adoption. There will be no confusion or mystery surrounding their adoption story, and all struggle regarding whether or not they were wanted will be eliminated.
- Access to medical history. As an adoptive parent, you will be able to have access to all of your child’s health records. You won’t have to wonder about any potential genetic or mental health issues. You will also be able to learn more about your child’s family health history as it changes over time.
- Peace for the birth mother. In the world before open adoptions, birth mothers struggled to move on post adoption because they didn’t know how their child was doing. Being able to have pictures and communication with both the child and adoptive parents greatly helps her healthfully grieve and know she made the right decision.
- Two sets of parents. Adoptees can experience confusion if open adoption isn’t explained clearly to them. So, it’s important to tell your child from day one how they came to join your family. This way, as they grow up, they won’t question who their actual parents are.
- Possible boundary issues. After the adoption, it is up to the birth and adoptive parents to keep their end of the agreement when it comes to the boundaries. If this doesn’t happen, disagreements or differing viewpoints can cause strain and conflict in the relationship and negatively impact everyone.
- Birth mother disappears. It’s not unreasonable or uncommon for a birth mother to request space to process and grieve after the adoption process. Though, if she never resurfaces or refuses any future contact with the adoptive family, this can cause a lot of frustration, confusion and grief for the adoptive parents and child.
Open Adoption 101
Keep in mind that there is no right way to do adoption. That is why there are three options, because every family involved in the adoption process has their own set of requirements and needs. If open adoption sounds like something that best suits you and your family — awesome! If not, that’s okay, too.
The most crucial aspect to remember throughout the process is: what is in the best interest of your adopted son or daughter. Determining what kind of family you hope for is important, too, but don’t forget: adoption is all about putting your child’s needs above your own.
Adoption Choices of New York
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
Craft, Carrie. “Why Should Parents Choose an Open Adoption?” Verywell Family, Verywell Family, 14 June 2019, www.verywellfamily.com/why-choose-an-open-adoption-26609.
Milbrand, Lisa. “Open Adoption Is the New Norm and Here’s What It’s All About.” Parents, www.parents.com/parenting/adoption/facts/what-is-open-adoption/.
“Open Adoption – The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship.” Considering Adoption, consideringadoption.com/adopting/open-adoption/open-adoption-how-it-works.