Adoption Books | Review of ‘Open Adoption, Open Heart’

This memoir shares the happiness, the sadness, the many unknowns, and most importantly, the love involved in adoption.

Meghan Rivard January 31, 2016
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Open Adoption, Open Heart is a true story revealing the many trials and joys and ups and downs of adoption, as told by an adoptive father. In this memoir, Russel Elkins shares his family’s adoption story and all the emotions they experienced: the happiness, the sadness, the many unknowns, and most importantly, the love.

Compared to many years ago, open adoption is much more common than closed adoption. Birth mothers and adoptive families are realizing the positives of open adoption. Adoptive parents acknowledge the benefits of the adoptive child knowing their birth parents. Open adoption does not mean co-parenting, but that the birth parents may have a role in the child’s life.

Russell Elkins states that, “especially during the earlier stages of the adoption process, I realized how little I knew about the adoption world. Adoption is a lot more than filling out paperwork, saving up some money, and waiting for someone to bring a child to my home. I wanted to help people understand how scary it is, how frustrating it is, and how it was the best thing that has ever happened to us! To me, the best way to do that wasn’t going to be by writing a textbook-style book about adoption (although I have written some of those as well), but the most important thing I could do was to tell our story so that other people could live it along with us, whether or not they have ever adopted.”

Russell Elkins does a wonderful job of sharing his family’s adoption story. He starts his story describing wanting to start a family and the struggles with infertility he and his wife, Jammie, encountered. After failed infertility treatments, they turned to domestic adoption. After a failed placement, Brianna entered into their lives. She was 15 years old, lived out of state, and was pregnant. They begin a relationship with her through emails and phone conversations. The adoption agency established a match between the Elkins and Brianna, and their adoption journey began. There are many hurdles that had to be overcome, but their relationship with Brianna grows into one of love.

Because she lives out of state, and because of the different adoption requirements between the states, it is decided that she will have the baby in the state where the Elkins reside. They all open their lives to each other during a period of many unknowns and uncertainties: Will Brianna change her mind? What role Brianna will want in the baby’s life. The anxieties and unknowns experienced by Russell and Jammie are revealed, as is their consideration for Brianna’s feelings following the birth of a baby boy. During that time and the weeks that follow, the book reveal the grace and consideration given by everyone.

Russell discusses their fears, the unknowns during the birth, and the many questions and uncertainty of Brianna’s future role after adoption. How would Brianna react during their initial visits? Would she accept them as the parents and not just babysitters? As an adoptive mother, reading this eased my questions and thoughts and feelings about what an open adoption can look like.

Simply put, Russell states, “My two kids are the best thing to ever happen to us, so it’s easy to say that’s the best thing about adoption. They are 4 and 5 years old now, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about how lucky I am. It has also been wonderful to be able to make a difference in the lives of our children’s birth parents. My son’s birth mom is about to graduate from nursing school, and she tells us all the time how grateful she is for us. She doesn’t think she would have been able to do that if she had been raising a child (she was not quite 16 when she gave birth to our son)”.

Open Adoption, Open Heart is a wonderful book that reveals the many, many hurdles of the birth mother, the birth mother’s family, and the adoptive family involved in the adoption circle. They opened their hearts to create an awe-inspiring story that everyone should read!

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Meghan Rivard

Meghan is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!


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