Monday, March 21, 2011

Open Adoption

When people hear about our adoption a natural question that is asked of us is, "is it open?"  Usually, the person asking this doesn't even know what he or she is really asking.  An open adoption is such a broad term and is different for each birthparent and adoptive couple.

Before our adoption was finalized my husband and I attended an adoption conference.  At this conference they had a panel of birthmothers who shared their experiences and answered our questions.  I learned many things from them, but one thing that I learned was how different each of their "open" adoptions were.

And the interesting thing was that for each one of them, how they had their communication and level of openness set up, worked for them.  I was reminded not to promise to a level of openness I was not willing to commit to.  Equally important, these birthmothers shared how the thing they feared the most was that the level of openness decided upon would not be honored by the adoptive family.

Everyone has heard horror stories of this happening and understandably, nobody wants it to happen to them.  Our son's birthparents were concerned about this happening to them as well.  No one enforces your relationship with one another after placement, it is between you and your child's birthparents.  The tricky thing about adoption is that not until after papers are signed and our son was placed with us, we didn't have the opportunity to prove ourselves and that we were good for our word.  Our son's birthparents had to trust us at our word, which is a hard and scary thing to do.  We could often sense that they were nervous about this, so we tried to be proactive and remind them of our commitment to them and the level of openness we had decided upon.  So this was also nerve wracking for us.  Prior to the placement, we trusted them in their commitment to the adoption, and then after placement our son's birthparents would have to trust us in our commitments to them.

Is our adoption open?  Yes.  What does that mean?  Well, in our adoption we send emails and pictures.  We felt that the first few weeks, and then also on holidays and birthdays would be especially difficult for our son's birth mother.  So we sent texts and pictures on a daily basis the first little while.  We also told her that if she was having a hard day and just wanted to see a picture of the little guy, to call or text us and we would send one.  She always sends a text saying hello when he turns another month old and I send a picture of him to her.

Our son's birthparents asked if they could visit the little guy at Christmas time and give him a gift.  We told them, "Of course."  It was nice to see them and they seemed to enjoy seeing the little guy.  I am happy with how the communication we have with our son's birthparents. They are great people and we care about them.  They gave us one of the most wonderful gifts we had ever received, and I will never forget them for that.

I am happy with the relationship we have with our son's birthparents.  And I am grateful for the love and respect they show to us as well.


  1. Thanks for explaining and sharing this. I realized that I didn't know much about open adoption and had never thought about adoptive parents going back on their commitment to the birth parents. That must be so difficult. Thank you for educating me on this important topic.

    Happy ICLW! (#95)

  2. We have what is termed a "medium-closed" adoption, we have limited contact with our birth mom and its all done and facilitated by our Social worker. Interestingly enough, our birth mom decided, when our daughter turned a year old, that she no longer wanted to receive the updates and sms's, all sent via our social worker, she felt it was counter productive to her being able to move on in her life.
    You are so right, adoption, whether open or closed, is different every time.
    Here from ICLW

  3. They are equally lucky to have you two :)

  4. I think people learned the term from "Juno".

    Congratulations on your happy family - I think it's great that you have such a nice relationship with the biofolks.

  5. Reading this right now is so helpful for me. I am learning that being honest with what we will be comfortable with is the key. Thank you so much for pointing out the levels of trust on both sides. I keep trying to imagine what it is like for the birth parents.


  6. what a wonderful and special relationship...i wish i knew more about cb's birth parents and could communicate with them. i think they would be so proud of our remarkable boy...

  7. Your arrangement sounds like it's working so well for you all. Makes me happy to read your happiness! Congratulations!

  8. What a wonderful arrangement; it sounds like it really is working well for you. Your little guy will benefit so much from your willingness to share and include.


  9. Happy ICLW!

    What a great post. I don't know a lot about adoption and have heard the term open adoption thrown around but never really gave it much thought.

    It sounds like you have a great relationship with the birth parents and I admire that you are willing to let them share in your baby's life.

  10. Thank you for sharing this. We are pursuing an "open" domestic infant adoption. We have encountered so much ignorance on this issue. Even from other adoptive families. I hope and pray our relationship with our child's birthmom will be as healthy as yours.

  11. Here from ICLW - I'm so glad to hear that you have an arrangement that is working for you. I would be very concerned that I wouldn't really know what I was comfortable with until I was in the situation. I have no doubt that some degree of openness is best for everyone, but I'm sure it makes things complicated.