Are you facing an unplanned pregnancy? Are you considering open adoption?
Open adoption is a beautiful option if you aren’t ready to parent but you still want to see your child grow and thrive in a family. Many parents choose open adoption out of selfless love and concern for the child. If you are an expectant parent who is wondering how open adoption works and whether or not it’s in your baby’s best interest, this article is for you.
Here are some open adoption facts you should be aware of.
1. Most Adoptions Are Open
Believe it or not, 95 percent of today’s adoptions have at least some level of openness. This means that traditional closed adoptions are only happening about 5 percent of the time. In a closed adoption, adoptive parents have little to no information about the birth parents, and there is no contact between birth parents and adoptive parents.
In a semi-open adoption, communication between adoptive and birth parents gets facilitated by a third party. This can be an attorney or adoption agency. The birth parents and adoptive family will often keep in touch through letters or email updates on occasions like birthdays or holidays. Adoptive parents can provide birth parents with information about their child’s milestones, achievements, interests, and activities.
In a fully open adoption, birth parents and adoptive parents have one another’s contact information. This could include phone numbers, emails, and addresses. The birth parents come up with a communication plan along with the adoptive family and the adoption agency or lawyer. The plan may involve phone conversations, video chats, or texts. In some cases, the birth parents may schedule in-person visits with their child and his or her adoptive family.
Before you decide to work with a particular adoption agency or lawyer, remember your open adoption facts. As the expectant parent, you are in the driver’s seat in terms of the level of openness you’re comfortable with. Any prospective adoptive families should be amenable to the type of arrangement you hope to have. Make sure that you’re clear about your hopes and expectations in terms of communication with the adoptive family.
2. Most Adopted Kids Are Happy
Birth mothers sometimes worry about the well-being of their adopted children. Yet, the open adoption facts show that most adopted children are healthy and happy compared to the general population.
Most adopted parents give their kids lots of attention and the adopted children tend to do well in reading and math. Additionally, most adopted children say that they would adopt children themselves when they get older.
Compared to most children in the US, adopted children are more likely to read every day, participate in extracurricular activities, and have excellent school performance.
It’s normal to think twice about how your child will turn out if they’re adopted. The research, however, shows that there are very high chances of a favorable outcome.
3. You’ll Have Many Options
It’s estimated that there are thirty-six waiting families out there for every child that’s placed for adoption. This means that you will have several families to choose from when you’re looking to place your child for adoption.
You’ll be able to give a list of qualities and interests you want in an adoptive family for your child to your social worker or lawyer. They will use this information to find and present you with prospective adoptive families. You may, for example, wish to have a family that has similar religious values or traditions to your own. You may want your child to grow up with a family that has a lot of resources for extra-curricular activities or travel. You may want your child to grow up with siblings or to be raised as an only child.
Other birth parents may want their child to grow up in a rural neighborhood with lots of space for running around or an urban location with plenty of cultural activities. Or you may be drawn to a particular family’s interests in certain sports or activities. Maybe you’re hoping your child can have an Italian Christmas Eve or a traditional Hanukkah celebration.
Whatever you’re looking for in an adoptive family, make sure your adoption agency knows before they begin searching for the right family for you. Remember that prospective adoptive families will have gone through an extensive process before they’re allowed to be presented to you. They will have completed background checks, personal references, home studies and interviews, and medical exams. You’ll also probably have a visual representation of their family including photos or a video collage. There will be plenty of information available to you about prospective adoptive families to help you make an informed decision.
4. You Can Ask Questions
Once you’ve chosen an adoptive family or narrowed down your search, you’ll be able to meet with prospective families and find out more about them. For some birth parents, this is an “aha” time when they become convinced that they’ve found the right adoptive family for their child. For others, a little more information is required.
You may, for example, want to know about the couple’s meeting and romance and how they solve disagreements in their marriage. You may wish to know about their parenting philosophy and how they handle discipline. You can ask about their work schedules and how they like their job. Who will provide childcare if an adoptive parent isn’t home on certain days?
You can find out about prospective parents’ school districts and their philosophies on education. How do they plan on saving and paying for college? You can also ask about any pets, hobbies, or interests they plan on sharing with your child.
This is also a good time to find out about the couple’s comfort level with your openness plan. Discuss your plans for staying updated on your child’s progress. Remember that making things clear now means that you can count on a smooth transition to your role as a birth parent in the future.
5. Open Adoption Benefits Children
Believe it or not, open adoption can actually benefit children because it gives them information about their identity and can increase their self-confidence. It can also help to mitigate any feelings of abandonment they might have later on.
Children who know their birth parents will have the medical information they need as they get older, and they won’t need to search for birth parents if they grow curious as adults. They will already know their birth parents and probably also know why they chose adoption. There will be no mystery to uncover later on the way there is with a closed adoption. Children can grow up with a confident, well-adjusted view of their history. They will have plenty of time to understand, respect, and honor their history and the divine plan for their lives.
6. Open Adoption Benefits Birth Parents
Open adoption has become increasingly popular because it provides peace of mind for the birth parents. They will get regular updates on the progress of their child and get some reassurance about their health and well-being.
Open adoption also allows birth parents to develop a positive relationship with the family that’s raising their child. They may even find that they have common interests and shared hopes. Many birth parents prefer open adoption because of the extra confidence it gives them that they made the right decision.
7. Resources Are Abundant
When you decide to make an adoption plan for your child, you’re by no means deciding to run your race alone. In fact, many birth parents form relationships during their journeys that end up becoming lifelong support systems.
Many adoption agencies provide counseling for birth mothers both before and after the birth that’s free of charge. In addition, your agency or adoptive family may be able to assist with providing for your basic needs during your pregnancy. You may need housing assistance, medical care, or assistance in terms of paying your utility bills or purchasing maternity clothes. You can speak to your agency or lawyer beforehand about how they can help you find this kind of support while you’re expecting.
Also, you’ll probably need a great deal of emotional support before and after the adoption. Any emotions you could be experiencing such as feelings of loss or grief are normal and will subside with time. A skilled counselor, however, can help you process your feelings and begin to make a plan for the new direction of your life.
Many birth mothers look back on their adoption plan as a time of tremendous growth and building maturity. It’s when they made the decision to go back to school or start on a new career path. The right professionals can help you make a realistic plan for the future.
8. Choosing Your Team
Your usual support system of friends and family may not understand or support your decision to make an adoption plan for your child. If that’s the case, it’s an opportunity for you to find a new group of confidantes who will encourage you on your journey.
You can find lots of support groups for birth parents through adoption agencies and attorneys or on social media sites online. Just be sure that the one you join has positive, encouraging people in it. Of particular importance to you will be those who have been in a similar situation and emerged with a successful ending to their stories. You won’t want to listen to a lot of negative voices as these can often be discouraging and leave you feeling hopeless about your future.
Reach out to your agency or lawyer to find other birth mothers you can connect with. You can also find them through your house of worship or community. Meeting for coffee can be a great way to find lifelong friends.
If you are more of an introvert and don’t want to reach out to make new friendships, you can find support through books or podcasts that speak to your situation. Read stories of women who’ve had success and happiness through making adoption plans. Most of all, remember to take care of yourself.
Sometimes writing down your goals or meditating can help you to center yourself on what you want for your life. Focus on who you want to become and how you plan to get there. Voices who are warm and encouraging will go miles toward helping you through feelings of sorrow and into a better frame of mind.
Small “treats” can also help you stay upbeat. Never underestimate the power of a manicure or blow-out to get your spirits up! Avoid overeating or using other unhealthy ways to deal with your emotions. Do your best to make wise decisions so you’ll feel good about yourself and so that your life is always improving.
9. You Can Maintain a Good Relationship
Maintaining a good relationship with your adoptive family is crucial to things going smoothly for your child. It’s important, for example, to remain as positive as you can. Sharing good news with your child’s adoptive family and letting them know you trust them can help to build a strong bridge of communication.
It helps to start building a good relationship with your adoptive families before you give birth so you’ll have a good foundation to build on after the baby is born. You can do this by sending photos of sonograms. Some birth mothers are even comfortable inviting adoptive parents to prenatal visits.
You’ll also want to be careful to respect any boundaries you’ve previously set. Make sure you stick with your initial communication plan especially at the beginning of the relationship. Any conversations you have should focus on the long-term health and well-being of the child. This will lead to increased respect and facilitate an excellent relationship.
Some birth parents begin to see adoptive families as a kind of extended family after a time. They develop a bond and learn to respect the others’ strengths. As with any relationship, the key to making things work is gentleness, respect, and patience.
Open Adoption Facts
Facing an unplanned pregnancy can be a tricky time. You may be wondering if open adoption is the best plan for you and your child’s long-term well-being.
Knowing open adoption facts helps you make a thoughtful, careful plan for your child’s future. With the right agency and the right support system, you are well on your way toward a bright future.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.