Open adoption is a fairly new concept in the adoption world. If you haven’t seen it done, or even if you have, openness can seem intimidating. As with any major decision, it’s important to learn as much as you can about it to help you decide what is best for you and your family.
Here are five reasons why you should consider open adoption, from a birth mom who lives it.
1. Open adoption can help heal wounds.
Let’s face it: Adoption is a huge loss. Adoptees miss out on being raised by their biological families, sometimes not knowing why they were placed for adoption. This can lead to issues with feeling unwanted and abandoned. Birth parents live their whole lives missing their biological children, wondering if they are happy, healthy, or even alive. I have seen in my own life how much openness can help healing on all sides. Knowing how much baby R thrives with her family heals my heart more than anything else. I will always be there to answer any questions she may have about her story and to let her know that I love her and want her. Open adoption is in no way a fix-it-all, but it is definitely a catalyst for healing.
2. Open adoption can fill in the blanks. One sheet of paper cannot possibly cover a person’s entire medical and genetic history. Not having access to this information can cause a lot of harm. I know several women who have had health issues come up after placement, and being able to share that information with the adoptive family helped them know what to watch out for in the future.
I also know several adoptees who have struggled with not knowing their own ethnicity. A dear friend of mine once told me, “I hate not knowing where I come from. My whole life, I’ve been marking ‘other’ on all my forms. I feel like that’s who I am. Just ‘other.’” I had never before considered how blessed I am to know my heritage. With open adoption, adoptees can access important information that may not be available otherwise.
3. Open adoption means more love.
“We should not be asking who this child belongs to. Instead we should be asking who belongs to this child.” As a birth parent, I am not trying to take your child away from you. I am not trying to co-parent. I understand that I relinquished those rights. I’m not Mom. I’m not going to try and make your child like me better. I just want to love the baby I made. There can never be too many people loving a child.
Love is not without boundaries. Sometimes, for safety reasons, birth parent visitation is not in the best interest of the child. And that’s okay. But there are other ways to communicate love. Even occasional letters and updates can go a long way.
4. It doesn’t have to be confusing.
One of the biggest questions I get about my open adoption is “Isn’t that so confusing for her?” It could be. But it doesn’t have to be. We will tell her her story in an age-appropriate way and be very clear about our roles. She’ll grow up knowing that she came from my belly, and that I love her very much, and that she lives with her mommy and daddy who also love her very much. It’s that simple.
5. It doesn’t have to be exhausting.
Maintaining a good relationship between birth and adoptive parents is no more hard work than maintaining any other friend or family relationship. That means making an effort to keep in touch, a willingness to communicate, and loving each other through disagreements. Just like with anyone else. I text back and forth with my birth daughter’s parents at least once a week, and visit for a few hours every month or so. I don’t take up all of their time or expect them to take care of me or pay attention to me every minute of every day. We’re friends. Friendship can be hard at times, but it doesn’t need to be draining.
I love my open adoption. I get to watch my birth daughter burst out in a belly laugh as she plays with her big brother. She gets to know where she came from. And all three sides get to love and enjoy each other. Yeah, it’s hard sometimes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can help you get started on this journey of a lifetime.