It is a word that has different meanings to adoptive and birth parents seeking some child raising assistance. Open adoption is also the new norm when it comes to child adoption. Both the prospective and birth or first parents know the importance of ‘openness’ – an ongoing connection between both parties and other family members where application permits in as they familiarize with the growing child.
Results from ongoing researches show that the significant aspects that play crucial roles in this type of adoption are beneficial to anyone involved, and mostly, they reflect on the adopted child. On the other hand, many of us who would like to try and have heard about it still don’t know what it is, meaning they are not familiar with the pros and cons of open adoption. Giving away a child and then going ahead to establish a form of communication to them or visits tends to get complicated along the way according to those who have already gone through it. This is especially true if proper rules were not established during the early stages.
Depending on the journey people go through, some will face anxiety since this is a new setting in their relationship realm while others will overcome the hurdles regardless of how challenging or gross they appear to be.
To all interested parents out there, here, we will shed light on the following:
- What is open adoption?
- Open adoption facts
- Open vs. closed adoption
- Open adoption pros and cons
- What you need to consider in an open adoption
Table of Contents
What Is Open Adoption?
For those of us still asking what does open adoption mean, it is the mode of interaction established between the birth parents of the adopted child and the prospective adoptive parents. When considering this form of adoption, the identities of both sides are shared but what exchanges and how differs from one coalition to another. Mostly, people interact using emails, letters, calls or personal visits.
As we will see, there are benefits of open adoption and problems that may arise depending on the shape of your experience.
Open Adoption Facts
Today, the truth is that open adoption is more popular than before and more helpful to you as a foster parent, adoptee and biological parent than closed adoptions. Most adoptive parents are interested in and delighted about open adoption. Additionally, if you consider open adoption, here are facts that will assist your decision.
- The study shows only 5% of current adoption agencies are closed, and more open adoption is preferred by many. As a result, 95% of recent passages engage some degree of openness, either it is fully open or mediated.
- To begin with, you are permitted to seek open adoption and family services that are fully open adoption agency that is designed to help you through your adoption process.
- If you are in America, you are allowed to choose the suitable adoptive parents for your child, and again be able to interact with them before placement so that you agree on the kind of relationship you want to exist between you and your adoptive parents after birth.
- Adoptees being the center of adoption openness is very critical. Statistics prove that teens who communicate with their biological parents are contented with their adoption than those without contact. Besides, open adoption can comfort birth parents by giving them the assurance of safety, less regret, less grief and absolute peace of mind.
- Why do you want to adopt? Most importantly, why choose adoption as a means of parenting? California Long Range Adoption study realized a high number of adoptive parents are satisfied with open adoptions which offer openness to all three parties involved. In this situation, it lessens your fear and increases your rapport towards birth parents consequently boosting your prelateship with your adopted child.
- Structural openness forms communicative transparency which can curb open adoption problems within the families involved. Research shows that you are likely to benefit as adoption parent. When children are free to engage in conversation about adoption and communicate their feelings about their adoption they are likely to have high self-esteem, more believe in their parents, better understanding of the situation, fewer feelings of being separated, fewer social problems and better general family well-being.
- Finally, but not least, because of meaningful open discussion about adoptions within the family, almost 97 percent of all adopted kids are aware of their adoption stories.
Open Vs. Closed Adoption
Closed adoption is a rare case, and before going ahead to adopt a child, the involved parents should communicate about their decision on the kind of passage that will suit their needs and those of the child too. In other cases, there are semi-open adoption types where the factors between closed and open options meet in the middle.
The following explains how does open adoption work and how it’s different from the closed substitute.
Since this is the type of adoption where parents from both sides decide to keep the contact, it will primarily involve the following:
- Pre-placement connection:Before giving birth to the baby, the pregnant mother communicates with the adoptive side via the email or have a phone conversation. Later, the adoptive parents can travel to visit the birth mother.
- Information sharing:After matching the biological parent with the adoptive family or individual, they can exchange names, email addresses and any other form of communication that will allow them to keep in touch.
- Post-placement communication agreement:As both sides continue to share information, they can agree on how they will be communicating and the kind of relationship that each party will have with the child. They also settle on how the birth parents will be interacting with the child.
What the adoptive parents should consider
The benefits of adoption go all ways: to the adoptive, birth parents and the child. If there is an open form of communication among all the members involved, the advantages of the adoption for the child will reveal since he or she will contact the birth parents at will whenever there is a need to do so.
They should also be aware that open adoption does not only reflect on the relationship but the promise they made at the beginning too. Parents should always look forward to honoring the code of conduct as time progresses. In most cases, there is still contact, and the relationship between the adoptive and birth parents become stronger during later stages.
What the birth parents should consider
How people adopt nowadays is entirely different from back in the day. You can now land on various ways of how you want your child to be adopted and take control of the available plans. With your reason on why choose adoption, selecting an open adoption gives you the opportunity to know the type of family your child is growing up in and his or her overall welfare. This will put you at ease since you can still track your decision and make the adoption process more straightforward.
Moreover, birth parents have a chance to still know the child despite the distance, and they will also explain why it is the way it is. In future, all parties will have a peace of mind after knowing their status and being on the same page.
Some call it confidential adoption. It involves the following:
- Minimal to no information sharing:In some cases, both parties can communicate briefly but no identification exchange.
- Privacy protection:If there is information required from either side, the third party involved does not share the identity of either the birth parents or the adoptive family.
No communication after birth: After the newborn arrives, there is no more contact or visits. At times, the acting agency holds on to pictures that the birth mother can see later if demand arises.
What adoptive families should consider
An adopting side that accepts or is looking for closed adoption alternative will want that so that they don’t have to worry about complications brought by knowing the birth mother. Some parties go ahead to believe that bringing in the birth parents will make the child confused and the birth mother is vulnerable to wanting the child back.
While that constitutes the positive side, a closed relationship tends to eliminate the possibility of not fulfilling the child’s curiosity. Since the birth parents cannot claim the child’s ownership anymore, adopted children end up not knowing their exact origin which only the birth parents can explain.
Those seeking to adopt should know that there are only a few chances for closed adoption. So, you will have to wait longer if this is what you are looking for.
What birth parents need to consider
In a closed adoption, you won’t have access to the child’s welfare, and that helps you avoid emotional distress that results from you seeing other people raising your kid. The feeling is unique to the birth parents only, especially the mother so, she needs to know what is right for her proper state of mind.
If the mother starts with an open adoption only later to demand distance, there is a conflict of contact before decreasing. On the other hand, that is doable. However, if you opted for a closed relationship and then demand to know about the child later, the rules of the agreement have to change, and both parties have to come up with a solution. There is more friction in the latter than going from open to a closed relationship.
It is therefore essential for the birth parents to clearly know what they want.
Open Adoption Pros and Cons
Now that we are all aware of what open adoption is, we will look at some of the benefits that each of the involved parties gets plus some of the challenges incurred along the way.
Advantages and disadvantages for the child
Advantages of adoption for the child
The adoption experience is different from one child to another. Here are some of the benefits of adoption that the child will enjoy.
- Identification and confidence:Adopted children will have the opportunity to learn about their origin and family background. In that way, answering the question of who I’m I will not be hard since the adoption policy is not closed.
- The sense of relief:Since the child will be communicating with the birth parents once in a while, the child will get to know why he or she was adopted. This will help them not to feel abandoned especially if the adoptive family does not agree to answer the question.
- No need to search:They will not be yearning anymore to know their identity since all they can get all the answers.
- Updated medical background:Medical history is essential when addressing various body issues, and the birth parents will be around to provide that. Open adoption goes a step further to reveal medical information if symptoms develop later during youth or adult stages.
- A healthy relationship with birth side:The adopted child gets to know his or her birth family better and develop a close relationship. In some cases, they can view them as an extended family.
- More support:Since there are birth family members and the adoptive family too, the birth side can act as advocates since their concern about the child does not reduce as they progress.
Disadvantages of adoption for the child
Here are some of the problems that the child is likely to face:
- Difficulty integrating with birth family:At times, it is not as easy as talking and getting to know each other. If the child feels more attached to the birth side, they will not be able to absorb the adoptive family fully.
- Rejection feelings:If something happens and the child is not able to contact the birth parents, he or she ends up feeling rejected with nowhere to run to if need be.
- Complicated relationship with friends:Since they already know that they were adopted, they might have trouble explaining the story of origin to their friends especially if most of them have a stable background with birth families raising them.
- Confused identity:They have to involve more than one family in their story so, trying to make sense out of everything happening in their life will conflict at some point.
Advantages and disadvantages for birth parents
- Ability to control on their side:Birth parents have a chance to review and select adoptive parents for the child so, there is a sense of control and security for the child.
- Certainty:They are assured of their child’s well-being through frequent interactions with the adoptive party.
- Controlled mourning:Since they will be communicating once in a while, the feeling of grief will not be that much, and they will be able to deal with the adoption fog as time progresses.
- Relating to the child:They have a chance to develop a mutual relationship that is beneficial to the child and the adopting family too.
- Reduced to no fear:Birth parents are always communicating with the family when the baby is young so, there are no major concerns on how the kid is performing.
- Relating to the adoptive family:There is a chance to build a healthy relationship with the adoptive members and get to know them more. For some, they become part of the extended family.
- Reduced regrets:After their decision to place their baby under adoption, communication and interaction delete the later regrets especially if the birth parents start to think maybe they made a mistake.
- Trust issues:Interacting with the adoptive family may progress to not respecting the trust bestowed on them. They can do this by manipulating some aspects for their benefit.
- Not achieving as expected:As you continue to engage, the birth family might feel the adoptive family is not as per the expectations and may request to change the terms of the agreement.
- Parent obligation neglect:The adoptive family takes care of the kid, and this may make the biological parent feel less obligated to foot some of the responsibilities. This especially applies to the financial commitment.
- Changing their mind:At times, the birth parents may push to terminate the adoption. At this point, the child is left between a rock and a hard place which may prompt him or her to go to a foster care as the issue gets settled.
Adoptive family Advantages and disadvantages
- Reduced to no fear:Since they are communicating with the birth party before and after the child is born, the adopting family is sure about their intention for the child and the adoption process.
- Relating to the birth family:Interacting with the birth members strengthens the relationship between them and may later become part of the extended family.
- Access to medical information:Since the child has different genes from the adopting side, there is a need for medical information from birth parents in case of symptoms that the child might face later in life.
- Certainty:The adopting side feels encouraged after being chosen to raise the child.
- Added pressure:At time goes by, the birth parents will need to access more information about the child. On the other hand, the adopting side may be unwilling to disclose everything or feel the pressure is too much.
- Instability:If the relationship between both parties is unhealthy or full of emotions, the resulting connection becomes unstable and may cut off if a remedy is not found in time.
Lack of additional support: The adopting family will feel pressured if they require some assistance in child raising and it’s not readily available.
Open adoption is different from one coalition to another. For all the parties involved, communication plays a crucial role in the established relationship, and it is the main reason why the interaction will progress or crumble.
What You Need To Consider In an Open Adoption
To guarantee child safety, feelings, emotions and be able to embrace love and support from all family members, both the biological parent and adoptive side has to look at some of the following issues:
a) It’s normal to be concerned and worried
Adoption has not been a friendly thing to discuss openly for so many years until open adoption came. Subsequently, a lot of misconceptions and assumptions continue to create chaos and concern. The idea of connections and openness to the birth parents is getting very complicated to comprehend and practice. Open adoption has a different level and description of transparency. You and birth parents are not well informed and supported which motivates their concerns. However, with more support from open adoption and family services you experience openness effectively and constructively.
b) Always put the child first
It can be challenging to incorporate openness in your adoptive family. Studies show that an adopted child has a positive growth when they have access to their history. You need to always put in mind the needs of the child so that you sustain your relationship with the birth parents which at the end strengthen the child’s identity. Enforce a strong correlation between the two families and concentrate on what is essential for your child. Openness will result in overall satisfaction with the choice and live happier.
c) The meaning of ‘family’ is not the same
Whom we consider a family has now evolved and it elevates our thinking. Adoptions will develop new relationships in your life, and it comes with open adoption problems and strengths. The idea of extended family and who is connected to passages is similar to any other relationship.
d) Communication and commitment are vital
It is essential to have a communication channel with birth parents when you experience the highs and lows. Start with small steps as you move upwards, feel empathy and try to emphasize other personal roles and understand where he or she background. The relationship between you and birth parents is vital for sustaining and developing a strong commitment and connection that will benefit your child wellbeing and future adulthood.
e) Contracts are not the final thing
Open adoptions offer an agreement to be signed between you and biological parents to seal transaction and legalize the adoption. In the deal, responsibilities are written such as when to send photos, updates on the health and progress of the child and social association. Even though the written document serves its purpose, it does not give guarantees that it will help involved parties live genuinely in a relationship with one another, because the logic in life rarely conforms to promises that we write down as contracts.
f) Support resources are there to help
There are support and resources that can be very useful to you if you have decided to have an open adoption. For instance, some organizations provide support to adoptive families. They help link the gap between the approach of openness and real experience. The aim is to transform the idea of open adoption from being a transactional one to a more helpful strategy that will help both you and adoptive parents by producing skills that comfort each of you to see the worth in everything. This is very vital as it creates a safe space for the child to examine and establish all aspects of his or her character. Get support from open adoption family and services near you to strengthen your relationships with the child and birth parents.