Open adoption is becoming more understood and desired among birth parents and adoptive families, and for a good reason. Studies have shown open adoption benefits all involved, including adoptive parents, birth parents, and, most importantly, adoptees. In addition, the growing popularity of open adoption is positive because it moves away from adoption stereotypes connected to shame and secrecy.
However, from time to time, we still are asked by expectant mothers, “Can I have a closed adoption?” We realize that just because open adoption is positive in a big-picture way, it doesn’t mean it’s right for her situation. That’s why some expectant mothers wonder if it is OK to want a closed adoption.
The simple answer: Yes, a woman can create a closed adoption for her child. Every expectant mother who chooses adoption can determine what’s right for her and her situation.
However, after learning more about adoption, it’s common for a woman to at least want to know the names of her baby’s adoptive parents or to speak with them before placement. That’s why a conversation is needed to determine how she wants the adoption.
In an open adoption, a birth mother can be as involved the process as she wants. If desired, she may choose her baby’s adoptive parents and get to know them, spend time with her baby at the hospital, and stay in touch after the adoption takes place. It’s up to the birth mother; she has a say in every step.
Open adoption means she decides how things go, whether she wants an adoption without contact or to have an ongoing connection after the adoption.
Myths About Open Adoption
As an expectant mother tries to determine the best choice, she’s probably thinking a lot about open adoption. And chances are, she’s actually contemplating several myths and public misperceptions about open adoption.
In our experience, many fears about open adoption come from common myths and misunderstandings. Here are some examples:
Myth: Open adoption would be too confusing for my child
Truth: Thousands of adoptive families have successfully navigated an open adoption relationship with their children’s birth parents. And research shows that adopted children do better in open adoption situations because they can learn about their birth family and background.
Kids are naturally curious. Most adopted children have many questions about their adoption and birth family. Who better to talk to about their adoption than their birth parents? The more kids can speak freely about it, the more secure they feel and the more loved they’ll feel by you. Knowing their birth family gives a child a sense of who they are and where they came from.
Myth: Open adoption means I will still be responsible for some parenting.
Truth: Open adoption is not co-parenting. As the adoptive parents, you’ll be your child’s parents and make the decisions about raising your child. Keeping in touch through an open adoption allows for a continued connection. What contact looks like in open adoption can take many different forms, but no scenario involves the birth parents still having parental responsibility.
What Does Lifetime Say About Closed Adoption?
Here is a look at what usually happens when a woman asks about closed adoption:
Kara: Can I have a closed adoption?
Lifetime: Yes, we can help you make a closed adoption plan. May I ask you a few questions to find out what you’re looking for?
Kara: That’s fine.
Lifetime: Would you want to choose the adoptive parents for your baby or at least know their names and what they are like?
Kara: Yeah, I think I’d like to choose the parents. Could I talk with them and tell them why I’m doing adoption? I want to make sure my baby knows I love him but couldn’t do this on my own.
Lifetime: Yes! The adoptive parents would LOVE to talk with you and learn as much as you’d like to share with them. You can also meet them if you want.
Kara: I’m not sure…maybe at the hospital after he’s born. It would be good to see them in person there.
Lifetime: They would love to meet you if you want. Open adoption is different for every woman; it’s really about what you want for your child, how you want it to go. What made you ask about closed adoption?
Kara: I just want my child to be loved and to know he has parents that accept him like he is their own. I worry if I stay in touch, it would be confusing for him or that it would be too hard for me.
Lifetime: I understand, Kara. Those are heartfelt reasons for adoption and it’s obvious you care about your baby. These days adoptive parents embrace their family’s adoption story…your child will grow up knowing you loved him. Your baby can know you and still know his mom and dad are the parents you chose for him. Sometimes women don’t know how they feel until they find the right adoptive family. It’s ok if you aren’t sure about contact after adoption at this point.
Kara: Thanks. I would like them to know how to reach me if needed or if my son has questions when he’s older.
Lifetime: It’s totally up to you what feels right and best for you and your son. It’s ok if you decide later on if you’d want photos or to talk with them. The adoptive parents are ready for open adoption at your comfort level; it’s really up to you.
Kara: OK! That’s good to know I could decide later if I want to know how he’s doing. How do I get started?
Lifetime: Let’s talk a bit about your pregnancy and what you’re looking for in adoptive parents. Then we can send you links to adoption profiles and paperwork to get started…
If you’re thinking about adopting a child, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the process. Call Lifetime Adoption at 727-493-0933 or apply online to help us learn more about your family and the type of adoption you’re seeking.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 30, 2015, and has since been updated.
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.”