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Grown In My Heart is a series written about the adoption process from a mom who has been through it. She will be sharing her entire experience with you all in hopes to help other parents who are looking into adoption or going through the process.
“For those considering adoption, you may already realize how convoluted it seems. There are so many options and it often feels like there is not a lot of support out there. When we began the adoption process, I vowed to help other women who were considering adoption, or were already in the process. Let me start with a small disclaimer. First, I am not an adoption professional. I am simply an adoptive mom who wants to share her story. Second, I am speaking only about my experience. While I know many that have a similar story, each process is different. My goal in sharing this is to help other women know where to start and to have some idea of what could happen.”
If you type “open adoption” into Google, you will find 46,100,000 results. As with all things adoption-related, there are far too many options for the common man or woman. The open v. closed debate is no different. Many agencies and research articles will now tell you that open adoption is the way to go. Gone are the days of back alley adoptions where the adoptive parents pretended like they were the biological parents.
My husband and I went into the adoption process feeling very strongly against open adoption. In speaking with my friends that have adopted, they have acknowledged the same initial mindset. After all, you hear horror stories about birth parents stealing back children or at the very least, brainwashing them during scheduled visits. Why would we risk that? With very little knowledge on the subject, we feared that visits would be uncomfortable. We wondered if they would negatively impact our child. We tried to plan ahead in the event that the birth mom showed up under the influence of something. While these are all valid fears, they were unfounded. These scenarios are the exception rather than the rule in open adoption relationships.
After reading a lot of literature, taking an infant adoption class, and hearing from birthmoms, I began to feel very strongly that open adoption is (typically) the best. Before you remind me that there are crazy people out there, I will acknowledge the fact that there will be exceptions.
We learned very quickly that there are many ways to have an open (or semi-open) adoption. We’ve seen various combinations of visits, letters, photo-sharing, e-mails, and phone calls. I’ve heard from adoptive families that went on vacation with their birth moms, or families that allowed the birth mom to live with them for a period of time. While we weren’t comfortable to go that far, we knew that we wanted to keep a relationship with our birth mom, Sara (not her real name), as she was part of our family.
A few weeks prior to our son’s birth, we met with Sara to discuss our covenant (our agency’s name for an adoption agreement). We talked about the various forms of communication, and what we were all comfortable with. Amazingly, we had almost the exact same idea of what would be the ideal amount of communication. That meeting got me very excited for the times that we would be able to see her or talk to her on the phone.
Now that our son is approaching two years old, I can see so many pros to an open adoption. If we ever have questions about medical history, I am able to call her and ask. Provided our relationship continues for many years to come, CJ will never have to ask the identity of his biological mother because he will have a relationship with her. Unfortunately, we do not have any connection to his birth father (that was the birth father’s decision, not ours). For Sara, she is able to stay up-to-date on CJ’s life as long as she wants to know. For me, the biggest reason for keeping our adoption open is that she is now a part of our family. She gave us a very special gift, and I was not comfortable simply cutting her off.
Ultimately, every adoptive mom/dad/couple needs to identify what they are comfortable with when it comes to a relationship with the birth parents. I hope that after reading this, you will at least consider maintaining an open relationship. I know that I would not change anything about our adoption agreement; we have been blessed by our relationship with Sara.
The Grown In My Heart series is brought to you by Katie, a stay-at-home mom from Las Vegas and amazing older sister to our own editor, Emily. After years of trying to conceive, Katie and her husband Matt welcomed a son to their family on January 11, 2011 through adoption. She will be sharing her story through the month of November , so check back for more and leave comments if you have any questions for her! If you are interested in more of her story and following along in the future, you can find the entire blog account HERE.