What is Open Adoption?

Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/justin/2142821117

Open Adoption is a confusing term. Does it mean that you share identifying details with your Birth Mother so she knows where you live? Does it mean that you periodically send a few photos and an update through a third party? Or does it mean that you invite your Birth Mother for Thanksgiving dinner?

Closed Adoptions:
Back in the day, before single parenthood was socially accepted, before birth control was readily available and effective, and before abortions were legal, adoptions were most often closed. The Birth Mother didn’t get a say in who her baby went to and she had no expectation of ever seeing him or her again. The child was raised not knowing or celebrating their status as being adopted, and they often suffered because of that. Adoption was a term that was whispered behind hands and all parties often experienced feelings of shame. Adoptees felt abandonment and a loss of self. Who were they? Where did they come from? Why were they “given away?”

Open Adoption – full access:
We have come across many families who have embraced their Birth Mother with open hearts and arms. They share not only photos and updates, but invite them to birthday parties, school performances and even holidays and vacations. They are an active and vibrant part of their children’s lives. Some Adoptive Parents have taken their Birth Mothers under their wings and, after placement, helped with college expenses, counselling, and jobs. This is fantastic for the rare people who click like this, but those people and relationships are rare.

Open Adoption – some contact:
As with many things in life, moderation seems to be the better starting ground. For the mental health of both the Birth Mother and her child, it’s a good idea to keep things “open.” A child needs to know from the get-go that he or she was adopted. It’s the truth, and the truth is always the best answer. A Birth Mother will go through excruciating loss when she places her baby in someone else’s arms. She is trusting that they will love, cherish, protect, support, encourage, and raise her child to be the best that they can. That’s a lot of trust!

To help your Birth Mother feel that she made the right decision, to help her to progress through her grief and accept that her decision was the best for her baby, she needs to know that he or she is well taken care of and happy. Seeing him or her happy and healthy won’t make her want to take her baby back. It will confirm that she made the right choice and help her to move on with her life.

We recommend that Adoptive Parents send photos and updates to their Birth Mother 3-4 times a year for the first few years and at least yearly after that, until the child reaches 18. Updates can be sent through social media like private Facebook pages, Pinterest or Snapfish albums. Later, as your child matures, he or she may be interested in who their Birth Mother is, but will not ever forget that you are his or her parents.

Written by Jason Granillo

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