Open adoption is one of the many ways that women in your position take control of their adoption plans.
If you do indeed decide that adoption is best for you and your child, not only will you be able to choose the adoptive family, but also you will be able to get to know them throughout this process and even have a relationship with them and your child after the adoption is complete. This is all possible through open adoption.
Adoption Relationships: Then and Now
In the past, nearly every adoption was closed. This was believed to be less confusing and stressful for everyone involved, but that was not the case. The stigmas surrounding adoption – especially the idea that women were “giving up” their babies – made people want to keep adoptions a secret, often even from the adopted children themselves.
This led to many children finding out about their adoptions in less-than ideal circumstances, sometimes not even until they were adults. And when they did know, they struggled with questions that they could not answer: Who were my birth parents? Why did they place me for adoption? Did they love me?
Then there are all the questions that can plague the birth mothers in a closed adoption. Where is my child now? How is he doing? Does he know that I think about him every day?
In today’s adoptions, you can be there to answer your child’s questions and get the answers to your own. Birth mothers are no longer misunderstood the way they once were, and they are in fact celebrated and respected for the decision they make – a decision that is in the best interest of both the mother and the child while giving hopeful parents a way to grow their family.
How Does Open Adoption Work?
The open adoption process is different for every family because every relationship is unique. The shape your adoption relationship takes is largely up to you. In determining your adoption relationship, you will have to consider pre-placement contact, your hospital plan, and your post-placement relationship with your child.
After you have selected an adoptive family, you will usually have a preliminary phone call, which will be mediated by your adoption specialist. From there, as you get to know each other better and begin talking about the big day, you can schedule more phone calls and keep each other informed through email.
Usually, you will meet an adoptive family in person at least once before your baby is born. This is the best way to get to know the family and reaffirm your decision to pursue an adoption plan with them. Family profiles, emails, and phone calls simply don’t have the same effect as being able to sit down with them; in person, you can get a real sense of a family’s excitement and love for your child – a child they have not even met. Pre-placement contact of any kind is one of the many advantages of an open adoption relationship.
As your due date approaches, the time will come to put together a hospital plan. Your plan will include the kind of delivery experience you want to have, but it will also let the adoptive family know what they can do to help you have the best possible hospital experience. When you’re creating your hospital plan, you should ask some of the following questions:
- Do I want to see the family at the hospital?
- Who do I want to be with me when I have the baby?
- Do I want to see/hold my baby?
- Do I want to leave the hospital with my baby?
You should begin to consider your hospital plan as early as possible; that way, you can make your wishes clear to your adoption specialist and the adoptive family.
Once the baby has arrived and placement has occurred, it’s time to start looking ahead to the budding relationship you will have with your child. How much contact you have will depend on the agreements you and the family made and can include the following to varying degrees:
- Pictures and letters – Sending letters or photos through the mail is common in both open and semi-open adoptions, and mail correspondence is a great way to get keepsakes of your child and even send small gifts.
- Email or phone updates – With the increasing frequency of open adoption and the rise of electronic communication, many families choose to keep in touch through these quicker methods; some even connect on social media.
- Visits – As your child grows older, you and the adoptive family can schedule holiday visits and playdates if you choose. This becomes especially valuable when your child begins to have questions about adoption.
In some states, post-placement contact agreements are legally enforceable; in states where they are not, your adoption specialist will be sure to hold the adoptive family accountable and be sure they keep their word.
The Takeaway: Open Adoption Benefits Everyone
As open adoption has become the norm over the years, the numerous benefits it offers have become increasingly clear. Not only will open adoption give you better closure and peace of mind, but it creates the opportunity for a beautiful relationship between you, your child, and the adoptive parents. If you are taking the next steps on your adoption journey, you can do so knowing that you will be part of the family you are helping to grow.