It’s no secret that the goal of adoption agencies is to find the perfect match between adoptive parent and child, but that doesn’t have to be both the beginning and end of your family’s story.
Open adoptions provide more than babies for adoption; they add depth and richness to your new family, as well as a wealth of knowledge about your child’s growth and development. Open adoptions have the potential to create a lifelong connection to your child’s birth parent; at a minimum, they provide information that will better acquaint you with your child and his or her biological background.
Keep in mind that it’s one thing to take home a perfect newborn or infant, and another entirely to parent adolescents or teens with unique personalities and ways of doing things all their own. This is true of both biological and adopted children, but in a closed or semi-open adoption, even more questions than typical are possible given the limited scope of knowledge about a child’s biological roots.
As most adoptive parents realize, questions about the health history of their child’s birth families will almost certainly come up, but it’s also true that questions and curiosities may arise about much more than health, such as academic and athletic abilities, genealogy, artistic talents, behavioral traits, and even mannerisms, just to name a few. Biological origins and histories can be deeply important to both parent and child and lead to a greater understanding of one another as well as help parents answer the inevitable questions that children will have about their biological parents. Having answers to these questions—even if just in the form of a letter written years ago or one face-to-face meeting had between both sets of parents—will prove invaluable over time.
Adoption agencies and facilitators such as Lifetime understand this, and offer adoptive and birth parents the opportunity to pursue open adoptions along a continuum, ranging from simple, brief contact, to an ongoing relationship with frequent lifelong communication.
Studies have shown that all parties in the adoption triad (adoptive parent, birth parent, and child) benefit from openness, and that reclaims are less likely to occur. Thus, when choosing an adoption agency it is important to inquire about philosophies on open adoptions, and how agencies facilitate wishes for frequent contact. Lifetime supports some degree of openness in all its adoptions while staying within the comfort zone of both birth and adoptive parents—both parties have a choice of how much or how little information and contact they have, and potential matches are presented in accordance with these wishes.
Having contact with a birth parent may seem scary at first, but most families find themselves blessed by their decision to pursue not just babies for adoption, but also a significant relationship with their child’s birth family. You can read about the personal experience of both a birth mother and an adoptive family on Lifetime’s website by visiting these links:
As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.