Why Open Adoption Means This is Just the Beginning
If you are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, you have probably come across the term “open adoption.” You may have found other birth mothers’ open adoption stories describing how wonderful these types of adoption arrangements can be, or open adoption facts explaining its history and benefits. But what does open adoption really mean?
Open adoption is an increasingly common type of adoption that allows you to maintain a relationship with your child and his or her adoptive family long after placement. Below, learn more about open adoption and the reasons why so many of Peter Wiernicki’s clients choose to have this type of adoption relationship.
What is Open Adoption?
Openness in adoption refers to the type and frequency of contact that is shared between adoptive families and the expectant mother during and after the adoption process. Every adoption relationship is unique, and there are many different degrees of openness that can be present in an adoption relationship.
In a fully open adoption, you might share identifying information with your child’s family, including last names, personal phone numbers, and home addresses. These adoption relationships often involve frequent phone calls, text messages, in-person visits, and/or social media use.
While fully open adoptions are becoming more common, the overwhelming majority of today’s adoptions are considered semi-open.
In semi-open adoption, you may engage in communication that is mediated by your adoption professional, and most of your identifying information is kept private. Semi-open adoption agreements usually involve the exchange of pictures and letters for the child’s first 18 years of life. This post-placement correspondence is often handled by your adoption professional or another third party to preserve your identifying information. Some families also choose to keep in touch through emails, phone calls, or other, non-identifying communication methods.
Because these adoption relationships can vary so greatly, it is difficult to provide a single open adoption definition. The most important definition of open adoption is the one you decide on — it is up to you to decide how much openness you would like to have with the adoptive family before and after placement.
The Benefits of Open and Semi-Open Adoption
Together, open and semi-open adoption comprise about 95 percent of today’s adoptions. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Until the 1980s, the majority of adoptions were closed, meaning expectant mothers often had little or no choice regarding the adoptive families their children were placed with, and would not share any contact with the family after placement.
These adoption relationships were harmful to everyone involved. They left a void in the lives of birth parents and adopted children, who would always have unanswered questions.
In contrast, open and semi-open adoption addresses many of these issues and offers a multitude of benefits for all members of the adoption triad, including:
- Pre-placement contact: In addition to a post-placement relationship, open and semi-open adoptions give you the chance to get to know the adoptive parents before your baby is born. This can reassure you of your adoption decision and ensure you are choosing the best family for your child. You can choose to have as much or as little contact with them as you like during your pregnancy, whether that involves phone calls, emails, or even in-person visits.
- Hospital interaction: You will also have the opportunity to interact with the adoptive parents at the hospital when your baby is born. You may choose to watch the adoptive family meet your baby for the first time, introduce them to other members of your family who are there with you, and more.
- Sense of closure: In an open or semi-open adoption, you will always know that your child is happy, healthy and well-adjusted. You will never have to wonder how your child is doing or what he or she looks like as they grow up. While making an adoption decision is never easy, knowing that you can maintain a relationship with your child may help you process your feelings of grief and loss following placement.
- Health benefits for your child: You will always be able to provide updated family medical information to the adoptive parents. This can help keep your child safe and healthy in case a genetic medical condition is discovered in your family.
- A voice in the adoption story: When you stay in touch with your child and his or her adoptive parents, you will always be able to remind your child of your love for them and your reasons for choosing adoption. You will have an opportunity to tell the adoption story from your perspective and answer their adoption questions as they grow.
- Meaningful relationships: Open adoption not only allows you to maintain a relationship with your child, but it can give you the opportunity to develop a deep bond with his or her adoptive family.
Open and semi-open adoption can be a wonderful way for you to provide your child with all of the opportunities an adoptive family has to offer while continuing to play an important role in his or her life. However, not everyone is comfortable maintaining a relationship with the adoptive family after their baby is born. Some women feel that post-placement contact would only serve as a reminder of their pain and loss, and believe it would be easier for them to process their emotions in a closed adoption. If you are not interested in continuing communication post-placement, closed adoption is an option for you. Peter Wiernicki can work with you to create an adoption plan that is sensitive to and respectful of your wishes.
Whatever type of adoption relationship you are looking for, there is an adoptive family out there who is ready and excited to have that type of relationship with you as well. Peter can help you find the perfect family to meet your adoption goals and give you the resources and support you need to develop and manage a relationship with them. To learn more about open adoption in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., contact Peter today for a free, no-obligation consultation.