Open adoption has often created fear for prospective adoptive parents or at least generated common questions of uncertainty. The practice of open adoption has been around for a few decades now. However, it has transformed dramatically over the past several years for the better.
Although open adoption has become more normalized, prospective adoptive parents often still have those fears or questions of uncertainty. Those who venture outside the box discover their fears were usually unwarranted, and blessings follow that they didn’t expect.
Although there are reasons for a closed adoption, an open adoption, or at least semi-open, is the healthiest for all involved.
From Closed to Open as an Adoptive Family
My mother was outside the box, not waiting until the magical age of 13 to let me know I was adopted. I knew I was adopted even before fully understanding what it meant, so much so that I would let people know that I was not born; I was adopted.
She was my rock. My mother knew she was my mom and welcomed my questions about my birth family without feeling threatened. She would even encourage me to search for and find my birth mother. With her blessing, I felt the freedom to do just that.
I met my birth mother, Gayle, just before turning 20 years old. Her sacrificial choice gave me life and a family; it’s a gift for which I am eternally grateful.
Even after I met Gayle, my mom remained secure in her both her love for me and her parental standing. When I first moved away from home, I lived only an hour away from by birth mother and four and a half hours from my mom. When my mom sensed emotional stress in my voice, she’d encourage me to visit Gayle as a source of care for my soul.
She never felt threatened by my relationship with Gayle. Instead, she recognized that there was enough space in my heart for both of them and enough room in my life for the role that each of them would play.
This is one of the potential blessings within the world of open adoption.
Adopt a Family
Early on in our marriage, my wife and I discovered infertility would be part of our story and embraced adoption as the route to grow our family. We both desired an open adoption though we weren’t exactly sure what that would mean.
Our adoption journey allowed us to witness God’s mighty hand at work as He connected us with Ryan, my son’s birth mother. We met her even before our son was born and were able to visit a couple of times over the following weeks. During the week of Christmas, she called my wife and me to give us the most fantastic Christmas present ever, the gift of parenthood to her son.
We made plans to meet with her in person in January. My wife and I sat in our kitchen, questioning how long our visit should be, not wanting to stay too long. At the same time, Ryan sat in the kitchen with her parents asking the same questions.
Both parties eagerly agreed to a quick weekend stay. However, when it was time to leave, the five of us stood in a group hug in the Walmart parking lot, saying, “We don’t want to leave!” and “We don’t want you to go!” As tears flowed down all our faces, my wife and I knew we were not just adopting a baby, but also adopting a family.
Both of my children are blessings through adoption, though we have much more openness with my son’s birth family. Through the years, both birth families on my son’s side have visited and stayed with us, and our kids have even gone on vacation with them.
Thankfully, my son’s entire birth family have equally loved my daughter. As parents, we are grateful for their love and support of her, but it just wasn’t the same to her.
The limited interaction with my daughter’s birth family certainly played a part in her identity questions and struggles. These struggles would have been minimized had the contact with her birth mother been more prevalent. Thankfully, she and her birth mother have reconnected after several years of absence, and new memories are being made.
Open Blessings with Open Adoption
My kids grew up with five sets of grandparents, one more grandmother, and two great-grandparents. You can only imagine the amount of spoiling going on. Most of these “grandparent” people were accounted for by the open adoption and new extensions to our family.
No one cares about your child’s milestone achievements more than the birth family. Yes, you can share with friends, but no one gets as excited as you do except for a birth mom when you share the news with her.
If my kids have questions about their history or family tree, their birth families are just a phone call away. Now, my daughter and her birth mom text and chat regularly. This is a blessing to my daughter and in no way threatens our status as parents.
I would highly encourage any prospective adoptive parents to prayerfully consider open adoption. Any fears will quickly get replaced with blessings as the relationship develops. Open communication and expectations help this happen in a healthy way.
The lack of a relationship between the birth family and the adopted child can lead to identity struggles, as it did with my daughter. Now that she has connected with her birthmother, there is a greater sense of peace and confidence. This is what every parent wants for their child.
This openness also provides an additional resource to the adoptive parents as they guide and shepherd their child. Just like my mom found support for me from my birth mother, you can find support in one another as well.
Open adoption can be a blessing for all parties. My prayer for those looking to adopt is that you let go of the fears and trust in the blessings – God’s got it.