Thursday, August 11, 2011

Closed or Open?

When I placed my daughter, I was so glad to be part of a closed adoption. What I learned that first year was how hard the emotional rollercoaster was for me. I would get a letter and some pictures, and it would send me into a tailspin. After a few weeks, I would finally get my bearings back and level out only to get another letter and more pictures in the mail.

Part of me was honestly glad when that first year was over. The adoption agreement with the family was only to receive letters and pictures through her first birthday, and then nothing more. And you know what? That was fine with me.

Fast forward about 16 years. By this time I had college, graduate school and several years of marriage under my belt. I had a home, a career, and life was good. And I began to wonder... Maybe I could have handled letters and pictures. Maybe I could have handled knowing how she was doing. Maybe it would have been easier instead of having all of the questions about her health and wellness.

I had told myself for years that closed adoption was the right answer for me. Of course at that time in that state, it was the only option. But I told myself that the 'end point' is what allowed me to move on with my own life and move past being a new mother. I had this challenged recently by a foster parent telling me, "That might be different if you had met and gotten to know the adoptive parents."

I never thought about it like that. I mean, really. I know you birth moms in open adoptions are probably giggling right now, but I just hadn't. I chose Katie's adoptive parents based on a single type-written sheet that listed their occupations, income, hobbies and physical descriptions. Period. It's a far cry from the slick booklets adoptive parents put together to try and 'sell' themselves to the birthmother now, eh?

What's my point here? It's this: We all have different stories. What unites us is a single act of unselfishness, but that may be the only thing we have in common. And that's ok.

I know you have a lot to say on this subject, so let's hear it!


  1. I got to know my sons parents. they helped me become "solid" in my choice. Ill never regret that. we have a semi open adoption, he just turned two. I still have no idea which would be better for me, open or closed. I think I would do nothing but constantly think of him if i knew id never know anything. But all i do is wait for these precious pics and short updates. I get them and its terribly, overwhelmingly joyous. Then I start over. wondering will i even get more, will they stop sending them, should i just have them stop so i dont worry. To add to my situation I have two older children as well 7 and 4 (all 3 same father im no longer with) and they know about their little brother.

  2. I think that both types of adoption are painful. In open adoptions, you see your child calling someone else Mom and you are a part of their life but it's always bittersweet. In a closed adoption, there is the wondering and not knowing that you have to deal with. I don't think one is better than the other - they both have their own burdens and that can sometimes divide us as birthmothers but it's important that we all realize as you said that while we may have different circumstances that led us to adoption or different adoption types, we have a common bond and we should embrace that.

    Ok, stepping off my soap box now. ;) This has been on my heart a lot lately.

  3. I have an open adoption, fully open. I get pictures constantly, visitation (my home state or I can go to their home state), and updates as much as I want. It is hard, like Coley said, because you see the child calling another mom but to me it is also a relief somedays. I have a two year old and somedays I wonder how I am going to make it with him (let alone if I kept the other child). But I am grateful for the open adoption. I love my cousin, she adopted my son.

  4. wow..
    yeah...i dont think there is any right or wrong way. my adoption was 20 years ago, it was private, and it was open. ..i recieved pictures and updates, through the attorney. this could have gone on indefinitely, but i stopped requesting them, stopped writing back. i wanted to deny this had happened.

    my concern now isnt for my feelings, or whether pro or con open/ closed...

    my concern is for how my now 20 yr old daughter is feeling about my disappearing. how she feels about herself, and her life. the end, i can deny deny deny...but eventually, the day comes when all the wreckage has to be cleared away...

    im just a human being...i didnt have the best teachers in the beginning, i did some selfish things...but i dont want my daughter to have to pay for my mistakes.

  5. Just getting back here.. thanks for your vulnerability and honesty ladies. I know this isn't an easy subject and I in no way am trying to make it that!