Most birth parents today seek some form of open adoption, and many adoptive parents do too. Once you’ve adopted and are joyfully living out your open adoption story, you may get questioned by those who are unfamiliar with the concept, asking “how does open adoption work?”
Lifetime is sharing 7 of the most frequently-asked open adoption questions adoptive parents might hear about their relationship with their child’s birth parents. Plus, we’re providing the answers to these questions, too!
1. “What exactly is open adoption?”
Having an open adoption means that there’s some level of direct communication between the adoptive family and the birth family. They communicate directly with each other through emails, letters, photos, or visits, instead of relying on an intermediary such as an agency, attorney, or social worker. The type and amount of contact is mutually agreed upon between the adoptive couple and the birth parents.
2. “Can the birth parents come back and get their child?”
No, once the adoption has been finalized in court, the adoptive parents are the child’s legal parents. The adoption becomes permanent once the birth parents sign the legal paperwork consenting to the adoption and their revocation period passes.
3. “Does your child know who their birth parents are? What does he call them?”
Nowadays, adoptive parents are encouraged to talk about adoption from the start, even when their child is an infant. By doing so, the child doesn’t grow up confused about his origins and his birth family. Check out our post from a couple days ago, “How to Talk to Your Children About Their Adoption.”
4. “Is it hard for your child’s birth mother to see him?”
Most birth mothers have shared with Lifetime that although open adoption visits are emotional, they actually make her feel very positive about the decision she made. Open adoption visits, emails, photos, and other communication allow the birth mother to see that her child is growing up happy and loved. Instead of feeling regret, she feels validated.
5. “How long do you have to stay in touch with your child’s birth parents?”
This depends on the open adoption agreement made between the adoptive parents and the birth family. Lifetime has seen that some birth mothers need lots of contact early on, but not as much years down the road. The reverse can also be true; it depends on the birth mother and her needs.
6. “Won’t this relationship be confusing for your child?”
No, actually experts have found that open adoption lessens the amount of confusion and mystery for adoptees. With open adoption, the child will know his birth family, genetic roots, the circumstances of his conception and birth. Most importantly, the child will be aware that they’re loved both by their birth parents and by their adoptive parents. As you can see, the truth isn’t confusing; the truth is liberating.
7. “Do ever you wish you had a closed adoption?”
The adoption isn’t just about the adoptive parents; it’s about everybody involved. And the most important person involved in the adoption is the child; everything is done in the best interest of the child. The birth parents are choosing to place their baby with an adoptive couple with their child’s best interests in mind. For a variety of reasons, they’re not able to be parents right now but choose adoption out of love for their child. In the end, the adopted child benefits most of all from an open adoption. They will never question, never doubt that they were and are loved by his birth family. And, if they ever do, all they have to do is ask them.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”