Why would I want to have an open adoption? Can't I just be my kids' only parents?

Why would I want to have an open adoption? Can't I just be my kids' only parents? 

Answers

  • An open adoption is beneficial to your child in so many ways. Adoptees who have closed adoptions spend their whole lives wondering where they came from. They wonder who they looks like. The adopted kids have awkward experiences in school when it's time to do the big family tree project. Sometimes they don't even know their ethnicity. Not to mention that they have little to no medical history. It's your choice on what type of adoption to have, but as an adoptee I wish mine had been open. I had a wonderful childhood, and I didn't miss out on anything. Humans have an innate need to know their biological history. It doesn't matter what kind of parent you have, that need doesn't change. My desire to know was in no way a reflection on my parents.


    I reunited with my birth family as an adult. I have four sisters that I missed knowing about growing up. My birth father passed away before I found them. I would really have liked to meet him. I know based on my birth mother’s steroid induced diabetes that I need to strictly limit the steroid use of my asthmatic son. None of them have replaced my adoptive family. They are like having an extended family.


    You can control how much contact you allow in an open adoption. You can use just email correspondence with photos. You can keep contact to phone calls and texts. Some parents in open adoption have joint birthdays and Christmas. It's up to you, and no matter how much or how little you communicate, the child is your to raise how you want and to discipline as you see fit. It really just depends on what works best for your family.


    If you choose open adoption you will take all the mystery surrounding your child’s history and the future of their health away. Open adoption isn't for everyone, but you owe it to your child to at least consider it.

  • An open adoption is not for everyone. It’s hard. It requires work. It requires a faith in believing what you are doing is what is best for your child. In fact, it is quite challenging, at times. But so is parenting. There are things we do as parents that we don’t always want to do. In fact, parenting in general is hard. 

    First, let’s look at what open adoption is. Open adoption is having an open relationship with the adoptive child’s birth parent(s). What that communication will look like, is up to you as the adoptive parents and the birth parents. I can tell you from personal experience, this is not an easy task. In fact, when we first started our adoption process, I was terrified of the idea of open adoption. I thought, why would I want someone else being a part of my child’s life. Then we had our son and I was proven wrong.

    We have a very open relationship with our adopted son’s birth mom and her entire family. We have gone on vacation together, we have celebrated birthdays and Christmas’ together and see them at least four times a year. We also call, text, and e-mail, at least weekly.  One of the many reasons I love having our open adoption is because I can ask our son’s birth mom questions about family history, medical history, hereditary issues, etc.  I also know as our son gets older, he is going to have questions we are not going to be able to answer. I also know, that when he has those questions, she will be there to answer them.

    And just to clarify, you are your child’s parent. You are who will be there to put a band-aid on when they fall down. You will be the one who holds their hand as they walk to school. You will be the one who teaches them to read, to write, to spell, to drive, etc. You will be the one who walks them down the aisle. You will be the one they call when they need their mom or dad. Just because you have an open adoption with his/her birth parents, doesn’t make you any less of a parent. In fact, if you ask me, it makes you a better parent because you are putting the needs of your child before what your heart wants.

    If you are questioning how you feel about open adoption, know that it is ok to question it. But if you continue to question it, you may want to reconsider your plans as you need to be in 100% to make the open adoption work.

    If you want more information, check out some of these links or check out my open adoption story at www.threeismyhappyplace.com:

    www.openadoptions.com

    www.adoption.com/guides

    www.adoptionmagazines.com

  • The responses above are great! I wanted to add just a few things from my own experiences, as well as things I have learned through the years. There are of course situations where open adoption is not an adoption such as when safety issues are present or in many international adoption cases. However, when open adoption is an option, it is incredibly life giving. 

    The first thing to note is that, yes, you are your child's only parent. However, you simply aren't their only mom. You never will be. I don't mean that at all to sound cruel, but blunt. There was a mother before you. The only thing that swoops in to try and negate that fact is pride. This is not to say that there are not good reason why an adoption should be closed. This is not saying at all that the birth mother of your child is a quality human being. There are extreme cases where closed adoption is the safest and only option. There are cases of horrific abuse where the child will likely not ever want to see or hear from their birth parents again. However, those cases are the minority. 

    In many typical cases, birth parents can be wonderful people who simply chose to place. Maybe they were too young. Maybe some life choices or simply life circumstances prevented them from parenting. This is typical. In these cases, if open adoption is an option, there is so much to support that it is the healthiest option for your child. It is not fun to "share." I completely get that it hits you in your gut when a child you love with all of you refers to another woman as "mom." I have been there. I am there. It is not easy. But it will be your child's normal. It eliminates the mystery and gives them a sense of self. If they grow up knowing their background, it eliminates much of the chance of your child experience a crisis in identity as they grow.

    Your child will understand the difference between her "mom" and her birth mother. The relationships will be completely different. Your child's love for each of you will be very different. They will not look at either of you in the same light. Children are resilient and much more intelligent than often given credit. A label may be similar, but the confusion ends there. Read more about confusion in open adoption here. 

    As mentioned above, open adoption does not have to mean visits or even contact at all. Open adoption can simply mean updates on the child as well as an open line of communication. It is important that your child know early on that they were adopted and also that they have a route to access their birth family if and when they are ready. Simply knowing that route is there and knowing that you are ok with them reaching out will do so much for their emotional health and trust in you. Whatever route you choose, you can read more here about how to make an open adoption successful. 
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