Open Adoption and Parenting
Open adoptions are becoming more and more common. Even though both birth parents and adoptive parents may enter an open adoption willingly, there may be underlying fears that need to be addressed. We asked one of our adoptive mothers to weigh in on the issue. Here are her contributions:
Q: Did you have any fears about parenting in an open adoption? If, so what were they?
A: Yes! Any time you begin something with a lot of unknowns it usually creates fears. My husband and I shared similar fears, but also had our own individual concerns.
Our biggest fear was that we would commit to an open adoption not really knowing if the birth parent(s) and/or birth family were people that we would connect with. How long would it take to establish a relationship? What does that even look like?
I had concerns about how the birth parent(s) would be long term with an open adoption. Would it be healthy for them or would they change their mind? How would that impact us and our adopted child?
Q: Now that you have been parenting for some time, can you say that any of those fears were realized?
A: Not a single one!
Q: What has been the biggest challenge of open-adoption parenting?
A: The biggest challenge for me in our open-adoption was after we brought our adopted son home. There were no guidelines to follow. (i.e. How soon do you talk to the birth mom? How often? When do we get together for the first time? Where should we go? For how long? etc.)
I had spent many hours messaging back and forth with our birth mom for several weeks leading up to the delivery. Our biological son and I went to her doctor visits with her and would grab lunch afterwards. It gave us a great foundation before our son arrived.
Once we brought our little guy home from the hospital my heart was longing to talk to his birth mom. I wanted to know she was okay. I reached out to her and she was overjoyed! I wanted to do whatever I could to help her through the process so I simply would ask her questions. Does she want me to text her pictures? How often? We would talk about how she was doing. I left it up to her as to when she was ready to see us and where she felt comfortable going. After meeting for the first time, I asked her how she was. Was the visit too long/too short?
The dynamics of every open adoption will look different but I would encourage everyone involved to be open and honest. I never hesitated to share what was on my mind. Some days I just sent our birth mom a message and told her I was thinking about her. How much I loved her and was praying for her.
Q: What has been the biggest reward of open-adoption parenting?
A: The biggest reward of open adoption parenting has been our family growing by another family! Over the past almost 3 years, we have grown closer with our adopted son’s birth family in ways I would have never dreamed. I have watched his birth mom thrive as a result of the amazing relationship with her son. She doesn’t have to wonder how he is doing or what he looks like or acts like. Being a part of his life has given her peace in knowing she made the right decision. Seeing him happy makes her happy.
Q: What suggestions would you give to others exploring open adoption?
A: For those exploring open adoption, I would suggest the following.
Become educated about open adoption. Discuss your fears with your social worker. Ask to be connected with families in an open adoption to ask questions and have as support.
Be open-minded. You don’t have to have all the answers as to what the relationship will look like. It can evolve into something far greater than you could even imagine.
Commit to being open and honest. Communication is key to a healthy relationship.
Q: Knowing what you know now, would you change anything? If so, what?
A: I wouldn’t change a single thing! Our open adoption has been one of the biggest blessings in my life!