Open Adoption with Your Child
Open Adoption Pros and Cons [Complete Guide]
Choosing adoption can be one of the most incredible decisions you’ll ever make, but it can also present some challenges. Choosing to have an open adoption can create a lifelong bond between you, the adoptive parents and your child.
Why choose an open adoption? Start by asking yourself a few important questions.
- Do I want the adoptive parents and child to know who I am?
- Is it important for me to maintain a connection to my child?
- How much contact do I want with the adoptive parents?
- Are there disadvantages to my child knowing me after an adoption?
You might also be asking yourself, “What is an open adoption, and how do I know if it’s right for me?” This article will define open adoption, what it means for you and provide you with pros and cons of open adoption.
WHAT IS OPEN ADOPTION?
Open adoption is defined as the decision to place your child for adoption and allow for your identifiable information to be available to the adoptive parents and child with the goal of building and maintaining an open relationship with the adoptive family and your child moving forward. These are some of the ways in which prospective birth mothers and adoptive parents communicate in an open adoption:
- Email – This can be a great way to exchange information, stories, pictures and other updates about the pregnancy during the adoption, as well as the child post-placement. Email also serves as a potentially easier method of getting to know the family in the initial stages of the adoption process.
- Phone calls – An initial phone call, along with an adoption professional providing mediation, is a common beginning to communication with the adoptive parents. As the adoption moves forward as well as after finalization, phone calls are a good way for prospective birth mothers and adoptive parents to stay in touch.
- In-person meetups – Meeting with the adoptive parents might be more likely later in the adoption process or even after the adoption is complete and the relationship has had more time to develop, but it’s possible for prospective birth parents to initially meet the adoptive parents in person.
A “semi-open” adoption is also an option for prospective birth mothers who may want to limit the contact with the adoptive parents and child. In some cases, the idea of constant contact can be overwhelming, so using less invasive forms of communication such as email can make the prospective birth mother feel more comfortable. The openness of the adoption and the type of contact that takes place is entirely up to you. You are in control of your adoption and the terms of the amount and type of contact that takes place.
PROS OF AN OPEN ADOPTION
With closed adoptions becoming far less common, the benefits of an open adoption make this option highly appealing for birth mothers. The idea of having complete privacy and no connection to the adoptive parents and child can be far too difficult, as the majority of birth moms want to know how their child is doing.
The benefits of open adoption are numerous and include the following:
- Seeing your child thrive – By keeping the lines of communication open with the adoptive parents, you can experience the growth and development of your child through pictures, videos or seeing them for yourself with in-person visits. The ability to enjoy milestones along with the adoptive family is a major benefit to choosing open adoption. Maintaining a strong connection also continues to provide you with the confidence in knowing your child is in a safe and loving environment.
- Getting to know your child – One of the biggest advantages in an open adoption is the chance for you to develop a relationship with your child. Your adoption professional will help you find a family that wants the same, allowing you to see the development of your child first-hand
- Avoiding identity issues – There are countless open adoption benefits for your child, as well. Open adoptions and the connection that you develop with the adoptive parents and your child helps to prevent any potential identity issues for them down the road. Having access to his or her birth mother can provide a sense of belonging or knowledge of where the child came from and an understanding of why the adoption took place. This is important to your child’s sense of identity, self-esteem, and feelings about his or her adoption story.
- Build a relationship with the adoptive parents – Because the adoptive parents are raising your child, caring for them and loving them as you would, building a strong relationship with them in an open adoption is monumental. This direct connection gives you both access to important updates, milestones and the sharing of happy moments in each other’s lives and is an incredible benefit of choosing an open adoption.
- Family medical history – Open adoption provides the adoptive parents and your child with access to your medical background and the medical history of your family, allowing for your child to potentially prevent or treat any health issues over the course of their growth and development.
When developing your adoption plan, the amount of communication and the types of communication used are up to you and agreed upon with the adoptive parents during the adoption process.
The amount of openness in your relationship can ebb and flow over time, as well. Your relationship may start off with limited contact, and as your comfort level increases, so may your interactions with the adoptive family. At some point, you may decide you want to dial back the amount of communication you have. It’s entirely up to you and can change depending on what makes sense for you.
CONS OF AN OPEN ADOPTION
As opinions on adoption have changed, openness in adoption has become the standard for most prospective birth mothers and adoptive parents. Developing relationships with both the adoptive family and your child comes with many benefits, but for some potential birth moms, the idea of connecting, communicating and providing identifiable information is too much. These cons of an open adoption may lead you to choose a private or “closed” adoption:
- Emotional struggles – In some instances, ongoing communication with the adoptive family and child may make mourning and finding closure with the adoption more challenging, emotionally. This can cause the openness of the adoption to have the opposite effect of what was intended.
- Disappointment in the adoptive family – Like any relationship, over time, you may run into open adoption problems in your communication with the adoptive family. As you learn more about the adoptive family through an open adoption, their attitude, parenting style or general personality traits may change from what you were initially introduced to. In this case, your feelings about them as parents of your child can be negatively impacted. Everyone has flaws, and for the sake of the child, it might make more sense to simply limit the amount of contact with the adoptive family rather than cut ties with them completely.
- Breaking communication agreements – Unfortunately, there are stories of adoptive parents breaking verbal communication agreements and failing to follow through on their promise to keep you in the loop. In most cases, the relationship with the adoptive family after the completion of the adoption isn’t mediated by an adoption professional and will rely solely on you and the adoptive parents keeping up with your sides of the contact agreement. Relationships can change and alter, but a common fear among birth parents is whether or not the adoptive parents will continue the relationship. Finding a family that is open and honest about them desire to have an open adoption with you will help avoid any potential communication breakdowns. A good adoption agency will help educate the adoptive family on the importance of keeping their promises to you and can help you if there is a breakdown in communication with the adoptive parents; however, this is still one of the potential disadvantages of open adoption to keep in mind.
Difficult decisions in life come with pros and cons. The pros and cons of an open adoption are no different. Prospective birth mothers can feel differently about whether or not frequent communication is helpful following an adoption, but there is no doubt that open adoption provides tremendous benefits for not only the birth mother, but for the child, particularly later in life. Communication and the ability to share important experiences and milestones with the adoptive parents and child far outweigh any cons to open adoption.
Are you ready to begin your open adoption journey? Still trying to decide whether open adoption is the right choice for you? Get free information and advice from a trained specialist now. Contact us any time to be connected with a helpful adoption professional.
Ready to get started? Contact an adoption agency now to get free information.