When we were first waiting to adopt, we swiftly checked the “semi-open adoption” box and moved on. We thought it would be the easy option, the best of both worlds, the sweet spot. But as soon as we went to court to gain guardianship of our first child, we got a call saying her birth mother wanted to meet us. The semi-open adoption door swung wide open. Today we have three children and three open adoptions, and here’s what I’ve learned are the must-have five qualities needed to succeed:
Agreeing to an open adoption means being brave. Brave in the face of a misunderstanding. Brave when it comes to meeting a birth family member for the first time. Brave when others outside of our adoption family don’t understand why we choose open adoption.
Empathy can be tough to learn and navigate, but it’s a necessary component of any open adoption. Empathy toward the child’s needs and feelings and questions. Empathy toward the child’s birth parents as they face grief and personal challenges. Empathy toward the partner we adopted with as he or she faces uncertainties with open adoption.
Education isn’t something that is learned and done. Education occurs over a lifetime. It’s never-ending. Education means listening to all triad members, reading blogs and books and articles, listening to podcasts, considering the viewpoints of others. Education means letting pride fall by the wayside.
Being vulnerable is scary, but it’s necessary for any parent-by-adoption. Vulnerability means demonstrating to our children that it’s okay to “put it on the line” and see where open adoption takes us. Vulnerability provides opportunity for good things to happen.
In our seven (plus) years of parenting, we’ve learned that open adoption requires a lot, and I mean a lot, of patience. Patience when a visit gets cancelled. Patience when one of our children struggles with adoption questions and emotions. Patience when a birth family doesn’t meet our expectations or breaks a promise. Patience with those who don’t quite “get” what open adoption is.
If you are ready to embark on your open adoption journey, click here to speak with an adoption professional!