Friday, September 14, 2012

Choosing Open Adoption

I’ve been thinking a fair amount recently about the reasons one would choose open adoption versus closed. This isn’t an argument for adoption over any other choice. Once the decision is made to choose adoption, whether you are expecting a baby or whether you’re a hopeful parent who has chosen adoption as a way to complete your family, there is a subsequent choice to be made. Do we want open or closed?
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I grew up around adoption. My dad was adopted by his parents at the age of five from foster care. My dad has never been reunited with anyone from his birth family. When he initially expressed curiosity at the age of 40 about meeting his birth family his mom responded so negatively he dropped it. Once she passed away he found out a little more about his birth family and now he’s tormented. He’s tormented with the desire to know his biological relatives but afraid that they might have grown up in negative circumstances and just use him as a paycheck if and when they meet.

If you’ve read anything of my story, you know that my daughter was a complete surprise. I didn’t find out about the pregnancy until the day she was delivered via emergency c-section. My agency caseworker told me that I could have an open adoption and might be able to watch my daughter grow through letters and pictures, so when I said I’d like that I had no other knowledge of why open adoption should exist and the reasons we should choose it.

With the prevalence of open adoption today you would think it would be easy to find reasons to choose open adoption instead of closed. I’ve learned much of what I’ve learned about open adoption from people who are and have been living it. I’ve seen the benefits from all sides of adoption – the birth parent(s), the adoptive parent(s) and even some from adoptees that have grown up in open adoption situations. However, you still have to search for many of these accounts. They’re easily accessible to me now that I’ve immersed myself in adoption the way that I have, but it took me a while to find the stuff. The most valuable resources to me in this search have been personal blogs.

I would like to think if I had the same decision to make over again that I’d do it with much more knowledge of the benefits involved besides just the benefit of being able to watch your child grow. Though that is definitely a benefit, I believe that it shouldn’t be the only benefit considered. We as birthmoms relinquish our children to adoption to give them a chance at a better life than we feel we can provide for them, which is an unselfish choice. If we choose open adoption solely for our own benefit then it focuses that decision for our child’s benefit into a choice for our benefit.

The following are the reasons I would choose open adoption if I had the knowledge back then as I do today:

  1. My daughter won’t be tormented, like my father is, thinking that her biological family will find her and try to use her and/or her family someday. She will know without a doubt that my intentions, as well as those of her birthfather and extended birth family, are pure and loving when it comes to both her and her family.
  2. My daughter will grow up secure in the knowledge that her parents won’t feel betrayed if she wants to contact me or other members of her birth family at any time.
  3. My daughter will grow up with a complete picture of who she is, including both the parts she gets from her biology and the parts that she explores because of her adoptive family’s nurture.
  4. I will not live in fear that I made the wrong choice in the family I chose for her because I will know (and do know) that I made a good choice.
  5. My daughter will have more than just access to her history of disease as she grows.
  6. My daughter’s parents will have the opportunity to love their daughter for everything she is, including the parts she gets from her biological family.

Open adoption is not an easy choice. It comes with days of pain as well as days of pure joy. But I’m glad that I as well as her parents chose and continue to choose an open adoption relationship because it benefits her.

Why would you choose open adoption? Any reasons that I didn’t address?

1 comment:

  1. I was almost in the same situation as you were. I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter only eight weeks before I had her. Her birthfather was only semi supportive through out the process and only wanted to close the door when it came to our daughter. I have chosen to have a truly open adoption with her and could not be happier. I am glad to have the relationship with her that I have. I enjoy not only letters and pictures but I talk to her about three of four times a month just to see what is going on in her world. I am really thankful that I have what I have and chose to have the opportunity to be able to share in her life.