Many fears having to do with adoption revolve around this issue of open vs. closed. I’ve read statistics that anywhere from 70% – 95% of adoptions are open…at some level (most domestic adoptions are open). What drives this fear – the questions of whether the birth family will try to take your baby away? I understand this. I had the same fear when I was first starting the adoption process.
Not too long ago, I attended a birth mother panel; one of the birth mothers nailed it (read her story here). She said to, “act out of love and not fear,” and that one phrase has been ringing in my ears ever since. She assured the group that while choosing an adoption plan for your baby is an extremely difficult decision, that birth mothers know what they are doing and don’t have any intention of ever trying to take their baby back.
Lori Holden, from Lavender Luz, talks about that same concept. Lori is an adoptive mother and blogger about open adoption. In her blog, “How I Embraced Open Adoption,” she writes, “Every spiritual avenue I’ve steeped myself in teaches that at each moment you can live from love or from fear. Love is rooted in abundance and is unlimited, originating from our true, divine nature. Fear comes from separation and from our false self, our ego. Our small, scared, limited ego.”
So, now that we’re all comfortable with open adoption 😉 (don’t worry, if you aren’t there yet, you are NOT alone. It takes time. Sometimes a lot of time – try not to let it take too much time though, as you potentially lose out on a beautiful relationship)…
What does “open” adoption mean and why is it the norm now?
In truth, most adoptions are “semi” open. This means that some information has been exchanged…likely first names…and possibly some interaction…a phone call upon match, maybe even a face-to-face visit and then letters and pictures sent periodically through your placement agency.
When you are matched (or hopefully even before), you will have a feeling about what level of openness the expectant mother is looking for, which is one of many factors you will need to factor in when deciding if a situation is right for you.
In fact, when it comes time for placement, you will both sign an agreement with the terms you’ve decided on. My guess…as time goes by, things will change. Perhaps the birth mother, who originally was dead-set on an open relationship, has disappeared and you can no longer reach her, and perhaps you have gotten so comfortable with each other that you spend holidays together. All I’m saying is, you may go in with one mindset and see things differently later. Just leave that open as a possibility.
I always recommend that when you begin the adoption process, you also seek out a counselor or coach who specializes in adoption. This is a perfect issue to talk through and really begin to understand as you embark on adoption. Openness and contact with the birth family is just one of many adoption-related issues that will arise along your journey, and to have someone that you have already established a relationship with is invaluable.
What is your experience with open adoption or what thoughts might you have around this topic? I’d love to hear from you.