Adoptions of the past were usually sealed, secretive events in which there was little chance that the birthmother and child would ever cross paths in life again. This has resulted in a great deal of confusion and even heartbreak as children who were adopted grew into adults and began asking questions about their past and there was little, if any, information about their birth families. And, not knowing how their child was doing in life and if they were well and healthy was often very painful for birthparents. Several decades ago, when open adoption appeared on the scene, many that it would put an end to all of the questions that birth and adoptive families and adopted people often feel — and research has shown that open adoptions – with birthparents staying connected to their children and their adoptive families are healthier for the children involved. So the answer to the question of whether you can stay in contact if you give your baby up for adoption is Yes! Here’s what you need to know about open adoptions.
Open Adoptions Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Like everything else that involves human beings, there’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint for making an open adoption work. For some, it could mean that the child enjoys multiple sets of grandparents, interacts often with their birthparents , and is considered an extended family member by those in a birthparent’s circle. Most open adoptions however do not literally mesh birth and adoptive families together into one, but instead birthparents stay connected in a relationship with their child and their family over the years and enjoy several visits together each year and exchange pictures and letters in between to help all stay connected. Some birthmothers may very much desire to have the baby/child in their life but want to keep this relationship private or separate from their family members and/or friends. Many birthparents report that it feels like a sacred and a very personal relationship and that they just want this connection to be “on their own terms” and not involve lots of their extended family members. Sometimes birthparents say it can be a bit overwhelming to involve many of their family members in their ongoing open adoption as it sometimes invites in some with differing opinions about whether their putting up their baby for adoption in the first place was the right decision. Other times, birthparents appreciate and fully involve their family in this ongoing relationship. Yes, all birthparents want different things! But, it’s important to remember that the key to having a healthy and vital open adoption is always putting the child’s needs first.
Other birth mothers find that they are most comfortable with an Open Adoption by just staying connected through pictures and letters with their child and their family on a regular basis and that that works better for them than visiting together. WIth Open Adoption, you determine the level of openness that makes you feel most comfortable. But, it’s important to know that Open Adoption is not the same as asking a family member to take care of your child or even for a family member to become a legal guardian to your child. Open Adoption is a forever and legally permanent decision. You are asking the adoptive family to raise your child till they are an adult. It is not a temporary situation nor is it an arrangement where you will participate in parenting. The family you choose to adopt your baby will be the sole legal parents of your baby forever.
How to Set Up an Open Adoption
The first step in setting up a successful open adoption is to speak honestly with the adoption counselor you are working with. She will need to hear from you to learn what type of contact feels best to you. Some women like to stay super connected to their child and their new family, while other women just like to know that the option to get pictures or to arrange visits is available for the future. At Open Arms Adoption Network, all of our waiting adoptive families are hoping for an open adoption, so identifying a family within our group of families who is also hoping to stay connected will be easy.
Or, maybe you might choose to work with Open Arms Adoption Network, knowing that you do not want to choose a family or stay connected with your child and their family. This is another option that is available to you. As a matter of fact, we often work with birthparents who choose to have a confidential or closed adoption when they put their baby up for adoption, but then years later, ask for our assistance in helping them connect with their child’s family to start visits or to start exchanging photos or letters. These choices are yours to make.
Forming an Adoption Plan
The decision of “should I put my baby up for adoption?” is one of the toughest decisions you’ll ever have to make. Because so much is at stake, this question deserves a significant amount of deep reflection. Please feel free to reach out to us at your convenience for more information on how unbiased options counseling can help craft the best possible outcome for you and your baby.
Call our 24/7 hotline at 1.888.OPENARMS to speak with a counselor who can learn more about your situation and answer all of your questions about Adoption.