Question: My wife and I have been through several rounds of failed IVF treatments, and so we’ve started to look into infant adoption. We heard that to adopt an infant these days you have to have an open adoption with the biological mother. We’re worried that might be like co-parenting or that we wouldn’t be seen as the baby’s parents. Does open adoption mean the birth mother could just drop by anytime or have a say in how we raise our child?
Answer: No. As the adoptive parents, you’ll be your child’s parents and will make the decisions about how to raise your child. Many people who have just started to look into domestic adoption have never heard of (or thought of) open adoption and are wary of it. In the best interest of your future child, it’s important that you learn what open adoption is. Educating yourself on open adoption also allows for a positive ongoing relationship with your child’s birth mother.
The majority of domestic infant adoptions in America today have some level of openness. There are many different variations of open adoption regarding levels of ongoing communication between adoptive families and their children’s birth families.
With most domestic infant adoptions, the birth parents will choose the adoptive family for their baby. Then, the adoptive parents and birth parents considering adoption meet each other, whether in person, over the phone, or via email. Openness will continue in infant adoption after the adoption is finalized and as the child grows up.
The amount of openness varies from exchanging emails and pictures through the adoption professional, to Facebook connections, to regular phone calls and texts, and even to scheduled in-person visits. It’s important that both the birth parents and adoptive parents know their options in open adoption before they’re matched. That way, both of you can find the right level of openness for the future.
So why choose open adoption? Though there are a number of benefits of open adoption, the main reason is that research has shown it’s best for adopted children as they grow up. It turns out that it’s also better for adoptive parents and birth parents, too! Adoptees are able to know where they came from and the reasons why their birth parents chose adoption. Birth mothers in open adoption report less regret and worry, and more peace of mind since they’re able to see their child growing up. For you, the adoptive parents, open adoption allows you to know your child’s medical history in case anything should happen.
Learn what open adoption looks like in real people’s lives in Lifetime’s FREE open webinars.
As Vice President 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.