When I first placed, I thought there were only 2 types of adoption: open or closed. Though closed doesn’t leave much room for interpretation, there are many different versions of open.
If you’ve been involved with adoption for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the term “semi-open.” I’m not certain, however, that I’d use that term at all. Just as there are many different relationships out there, there are at least as many different types of open adoption.
When I placed my daughter, we had what might’ve fallen into the “semi-open” category. We didn’t know their last name, their home address, or have their phone numbers. However, we agreed upon visits and update letters. I would still consider that an open adoption. To call it “semi-open” almost seems too picky. It seems too critical of a relationship. Just as most of the birth moms I’ve spoken with hate to be lumped into a box that tells them what they’re “supposed” to do after placement, to quickly make a judgment call about the kind of relationship a birth mom has with her child and his or her parents seems just as negative.
I’m certain many of us have experienced a dating relationship that didn’t fall within typical expectations of what a dating relationship should be. It might have worked and turned into a long-term relationship or it might not have and ended. What worked for one couple might not work for a different couple because there are different people and personalities involved. Different people are comfortable with different boundaries. The same is true when speaking of adoption.
For instance, I know a mom who has 2 daughters from different birth moms. Her oldest daughter’s birth mom lives several states away, and her youngest daughter’s birth mom lives about an hour away. Due to necessity, the contact is different for both. Obviously the birth mom that lives farther away can’t see her daughter as often in person simply because traveling all the time would be cost and time prohibitive. Though I’ve not talked personally to either birth mom, I can imagine each birth mom feels differently about the relationship though each is included in their daughter’s lives quite often. However, I doubt that the birth mom who can only see her daughter in person (though they are able to Skype fairly frequently) once a year feels that her adoption is any less open than a birth mom who sees her child in person a lot more often.
Though Nick and I still don’t know our daughter’s last name, her address or have their phone numbers, I now consider us simply in an open adoption versus a semi-open one. The relationship has continued to grow and her parents have continued to make efforts to include us in their lives. I think that’s the key. No matter how the contact is facilitated, if efforts are made on both sides to continue the relationship then there is openness. There doesn’t have to be a specific label on the relationship to consider it a working one.
What do you think? Do you agree or do you think that there should be more lines drawn defining a particular type of adoption relationship?