What Does Open, Modern Adoption Look Like?

by | May 14, 2024 | Birth Parent Blog

Birth mother B with her daughter and her daughter's adoptive parents in an open modern adoption“I never knew adoption could be like this until it was,” says B*, a birth mother who chose a Lifetime family for her newborn daughter. In honor of National Adoption Month, we’re sharing her open, modern adoption story and the possibilities that open adoption brings!
 
National Adoption Month is celebrated across the country every year in November. The goal is to spread awareness of the loving choice of adoption. Lifetime recognizes the importance of having authentic conversations and encourages birth mothers to harness their voices with this year’s National Adoption Month theme, “Every Conversation Matters.”
 

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Open Adoption Can Mean Even More Extended Family

Birth mothers often find that the connection with their child’s adoptive parents grows to become like extended family, or even closer–a relationship that may surprise both of them, in the best ways…all through the love of one child.
 
Pictured here is B at her wedding, with her daughter and her daughter’s adoptive parents. Recently, she let us know that she had gotten married and was thrilled that her daughter got to be part of the wedding. Every conversation matters when helping expectant mothers find their child a forever family through adoption, so we feel blessed to have B’s permission to share her words here.
 
B says, “Getting to have my daughter at my wedding was a dream come true. Never did I think placing her for adoption meant I could have her a part of my life like this. I love her and her parents so much. Raquel and Ricardo walked me down the aisle at my wedding, and Ricardo did the father-daughter dance with me. They are amazing.”
 
B’s words ring true for most people touched by modern adoption. Modern adoption is personal, and each story is as unique as the individuals involved.
 
At Lifetime, the potential for the connections that come out of each adoption match are limitless. Families today want to embrace a child AND her birth mother, and birth mothers often cherish the chance to be a part of the child’s and the new family’s life.
 

The Evolution of Adoption

As much as things have changed to honor and lift all parties involved in one child’s adoption, there are still many stereotypes and myths about what adoption is, or can be, like today.
 
Society as a whole still thinks adoption is much like it was in the 50s or 60s. They don’t have the fullness of understanding of the choices in adoption today. Some of the shows on TV now are about adoption reunions: when you hear about the adopted child finding their birth mother or the birth mothers trying to find their children. Those scenarios don’t happen much today because they’re a product of the closed, shameful adoptions of the 1950s.
 
Back in the 1950s and 60s, closed adoption was the norm. Additionally, young pregnant women back then went away to a home for unwed mothers to deliver their babies. Usually, the baby was whisked out of the room. Some women knew if they had a boy or a girl, but some didn’t. There was no contact; there was no choosing the family, there was absolutely nothing. These women weren’t given much of a choice; their parents forced them to do adoption.
 
In the 1980s, semi-open adoption started. Women started to get more choices; maybe they chose the adoptive parents. They got pictures and letters once a year as updates. Also, updates were normally limited to the first five years.
 

Modern Adoption

Today, in the modern adoption era, women have complete choices; they set the tone for how they want the contact in the future, and now, it generally includes visits, getting together once a year. Contact often includes texting, social media, or phone calls; it is a lot more open, a lot more like extended family.
 
It’s a lot better for everyone involved. The birth mother knows where her baby is; the parents have access to her if they need to for medical reasons. For example, if the child develops leukemia at two, they know straight where to go to maybe see about a bone marrow transplant. As medical technology increases, that connection becomes more important.
 
For the adoptee: that child grows up knowing from day one that they were adopted, they know who their birth mother is, they know, in an age-appropriate manner, why everyone came together. The child lives in the truth, not in fantasy. We’re seeing healthier children, healthier families, and more healed mothers who have chosen adoption.
 

Why is Open Adoption a Good Choice?

Open adoption gives expectant mothers peace of mind knowing that their child will be raised by a family that they chose and that they have the option of getting to know their child over time. Open adoption also allows birth parents to create a birth plan that works for them. From choosing the family to determining who gets to be there when the baby is born, birth parents have a say in how they want things to go.
 
These choices as a birth mother in an open adoption may not exist when choosing another type of adoption, like a closed adoption.
 
Lifetime Adoption agency encourages birth parents to determine how they want to be involved in their child’s life. Open adoption also means birth parents can pick the family that adopts their baby.
 
While they may be choosing other parents for their baby, the birth parents can create an agreement with the adoptive parents to stay in contact with their child and see them if they want to. If they choose, birth parents can be active participants in their child’s life.
 
Open adoptions allow the adoptive family, the birth parents, and the child to work together. It allows some level of contact as the child grows up. And once the child is a teen, they can have some say about meeting their birth parents.
 

B’s Open Adoption Story

Open adoption allowed B’s daughter and adoptive family to be there with her at her wedding. Her story is an excellent example of how adoption is a blessing for a child. Today’s adoptees are able to stay in contact and be a part of their birth parent’s life. Lifetime Adoption has helped many birth mothers and adoptive families stay connected to provide the perfect forever home for a child.
 

* Name hidden for privacy

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Another Birth Mom’s Story

In this adoption story, a birth mother, who has chosen to remain anonymous, shares how she decided adoption was right, how she chose her baby’s parents, and the open adoption she maintains with them.

“When I became pregnant at 19, I was terrified. Single, working full time, and taking night classes at the community college, I was in no position to provide the life I wanted for my baby. I was sure that adoption was the right choice, but I didn’t know much about the process. I initially thought that my baby would be taken from me as soon as I gave birth. She would disappear with her new adoptive parents, and I would never see or hear from her again. Maybe she’d somehow track me down when she became an adult, as I’d seen in the movies.
 
While this was not the path I wanted, I thought this was my only choice. Little did I know that adoption has changed dramatically. I am so grateful for the warm, judgment-free help I received from Lifetime Adoption. Their help inspired me to choose an open adoption plan, which has given me a future with my child I never dreamed could happen…
 

 

Getting Started With Adoption

I got started with adoption by looking at adoptive family profiles online. At a time when so much of my life felt out of control, it was empowering to take charge of this important decision. I didn’t want my baby to disappear from my life. I needed to know that she would be safe and cared for by a wonderful family.
 
When I met Ashley and Michael, I just knew they were the perfect match. They were so loving with each other, and they had an extended family who was very supportive and involved. It was reassuring to know that everyone in their family so loved my baby.
 
Since I matched with Ashley and Michael three months before my due date, we had time to get to know each other. I would never have imagined that we would grow so close… they’re like my extended family. Whenever we discussed my daughter’s future, they asked what I wanted. I really appreciated that my wishes were being respected and valued in my adoption story. My relationship with Ashley and Michael made any fears I had about choosing adoption disappear.
 

At the Hospital

When I went into labor, Ashley and Michael raced to the hospital. They were so excited and greeted me with a present: a beautiful adoption bracelet that I wear to this day. They gave me my space while I settled into my room, but then I wanted Ashley to be with me. She held my hand through my labor, and she was there when our daughter came into the world.
 
The time I spent in the hospital with Ashley and Michael was such a blessing. When the time came to place my daughter in Michael’s arms, I was filled with mixed emotions. My daughter was no longer mine, but I took comfort in knowing that Ashley and Michael would give her a beautiful life. Seeing Ashley and Michael’s joy reassured me that I made the right choice.
 

Keeping in Contact

From day one of our adoption story, Ashley and Michael have kept in contact with me. We share a private Facebook page to exchange pictures, we video chat, and we visit each other in person about once a year. I get to be a part of their family from the sidelines, and it’s more than I ever could have hoped for. My daughter gets a loving family who will support and provide for her while knowing that I did not just give her away.
 
Adoption was a decision that I came to after lots of soul-searching. Choosing an open adoption plan was not only great for me, but I knew it would ultimately benefit my daughter. I wanted her roots to be transparent while she was growing up. I wanted her to know she was (and is!) loved. Children placed through open adoption benefit from a stronger sense of identity, surrounded by love from their adoptive parents and birth parents. My daughter won’t have to wonder where she came from.
 
And because of open adoption, Ashley and Michael know my daughter’s family medical history. Some of the info I shared when I made an adoption plan was important genetic information. Knowing my daughter’s family health history could mean the difference between life and death. My daughter will need to know that her mother’s side of the family has a history of high blood pressure. This info could be life-saving!
 

Adoption Gave Me Choices

As a pregnant woman who was scared and alone, it was a relief to find out I had so many choices. Choosing adoption is a personal decision for everyone. For me, the benefits of open adoption were obvious. It means I’m not spending my life wondering if my child is safe and if I’d made the right choice. Open adoption was the right choice for my daughter and me. Now we both can explore our dreams and take control of our futures.”
 
If you’re considering adoption, call or text 1-800-923-6784 to find out about all of the options available to you. Let Lifetime Adoption’s supportive, knowledgeable, and caring Adoption Coordinators assist you in creating a bright future for your baby and yourself.
 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

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.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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