Guest Author - Karen Ledbetter
Once youve made the important decision to create or enlarge your family by adoption, you need to consider which type of adoption will work best for your family. If youīre interested in adopting domestically--especially an infant--youīll need to consider open adoption. There are varying degrees of openness, and each family must choose what degree of openness best fits their desire and personality. An open adoption can be completed through an adoption agency, facilitator, or attorney.
The adoptive and birth families may not share identifying information right away. This may come as trust develops and a relationship forms. Although most families in open adoptions meet at least once, many choose to limit their contact to correspondence, especially if they are geographically separated. Others may include phone conversations as well as correspondence. Some families even visit in person and may be very involved in one anotherīs lives.
The advantages to open adoption include easy access to medical histories and almost instant answers to questions a child may have regarding his/her adoptive family and his/her adoption, as well as making telling their child his/her adoption story much easier.
As for disadvantages, one adoptive mother wonders if her daughterīs knowing that her birth mother is parenting her other children is painful or confusing to her. Another adoptive mother feels responsible for the birth motherīs other children and feels bad that she cannot help them. She also wonders what kind of effect this will have on her daughter in the future.
Occasionally adoptive parents feel that members of the birth family over-step their boundaries during visits by making plans with the child without consulting her parents first. Obviously, this can put the adoptive parents and the child in an awkward position.
Other disadvantages include birth parents being present in the childīs life for a few years and then gradually (or suddenly) losing contact; or, even worse, adoptive parents promising a birth mother openness before the baby is born, only to completely discontinue contact for no reason once the adoption is final.
Of course, there are instances, such as abusive birth parents, or birth parents who stalk the child and his adoptive family, where any openness in an adoption would probably not be in the childīs best interest. However, most families that I know who are involved in a healthy open adoption, where everyone respects each other and stays within their boundaries, feel the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Open adoption isnīt necessarily better than closed adoption, and one degree of openness isnīt better or worse than another. Each family must do what works best for them. If youīre considering open adoption, itīs important to determine the degree of openness that you feel comfortable with before making promises to a birth mother. Try not to make promises that you canīt keep.