Having an open adoption often means putting aside your personal need to be in control of all situations. It also means having to confront your own insecurities and become more accepting of others. Before closing an adoption, it is important to look at why you are consider closing it and really question if it is in the best interest of your child. Pinpointing your exact issue and breaking it down to the actual core problem can often make it easier to decide if closing an adoption really is the right step.
Many adoptions are closed because of the following 3 reasons. But in the long run, is it really the right choice?
Are you annoyed by their quirks or are they actually dangerous?
Are you annoyed because your child’s birth mom shows up late? Or because they play on their phone the entire visit instead of interacting with your child? What exactly is it that bothers you, and is it truly life-threatening to the child? Chances are it isn’t. It can be very hard to not over-dramatize a situation when emotions run high, so be careful to not speak out of anger. Be annoyed. Vent to your spouse or best friend. And then move on. It isn’t worth explaining to your child when they are grown up that a single annoying behavior kept them from knowing their birth family.
Does their alcohol and drug use really affect your child?
Of course, being under the influence of drugs is not the key to building a healthy relationship. But many people cope, especially in high-anxiety situations, by turning to self-medicating. Many of us have grabbed a glass of wine to help us relax in an awkward social situation. Is it really that different? Obviously precautions need to be taken, and a child should never be left alone with someone under the influence, but consider if it is possible to meet in a local place.
Simply having an open and honest conversations about not being under the influence during a visit can go a long way as well. You always have the choice to meet in public but end the visit before it even starts if you see the birth parent is clearly under the influence. But keep in mind that your child will some day be an adult and will manage their relationship themselves. Being able to have open conversations about choices birth parents make and kids seeing the repercussions of those choices can actually be beneficial in the long run. Be honest about your child’s birth parents’ situation. Kids are smarter than you think.
Can you teach your child to cope with difficult emotions after visits?
Open adoption and the feelings that surround it can be difficult for an adult to process at times, let alone for a child. Many adoptive parents report changes in behavior, tending toward acting out or depression, after visits with birth family. Yes, it can be difficult to watch your child hurt and the deal with the seeming tsunami of emotions that follow (or sometimes even precede) visits. But feeling these emotions is normal and healthy. When a situation doesn’t make sense to a child, they tend to act out. Avoiding the situation doesn’t actually benefit them in the long run. In fact it actually teaches them to avoid emotionally difficult situations. If you don’t know how to help your child, seek the advice of a professional. Otherwise you are setting your child up to really struggle when they are confronted with their emotions later in life.