What Does Open, Modern Adoption Look Like?

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Birth Parent Blog

Birth mother B with her daughter and her daughter's adoptive parents“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 adoption story and the possibilities that open adoption brings!
National Adoption Month is celebrated across the country every year in November, and is about spreading 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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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. 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, and maybe they were limited to just the first five years, which was typically all.

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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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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