Adoptive mother and her child visit with the birth mother in open adoptionIn over 30 years of working in the field of domestic infant adoption, I’ve enjoyed witnessing the evolution of open adoption. More and more, birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents are seeking openness in their adoption, and want to remain in touch after placement. But sometimes we’ll still get a birth mother who requests a closed adoption. She’ll say, “I just want to get it over with and go on with my life.” In my experience, closed adoption is typically not good for her emotional health. There is no closure for the birth mother, and there will always be uncertainty about what became of her child.
The fear of open adoption typically grows out of a birth mother’s low self-esteem and her impending sense of loss. At my adoption center, Lifetime Adoption, we provide a network of past birth mothers to speak with those women considering placing their children. After speaking with a peer, the potential birth mother feels reassured and generally then requests an open adoption. Once she knows that her child is going to a family who can offer the solid parenting and loving home she wants for them, the healing can begin.
Similarly, prospective adoptive parents often ask for a closed adoption. They do not want to meet the birth mother or have any contact with her. They are motivated by the fear that the birth mother will one day take back the child. Often, they don’t understand what open adoption means or that there are varying degrees of openness. Usually, after some discussion, they are willing to consider at least a semi-open adoption and meet once with the birth mother prior to placement.
Two families visit the beach in an open adoption visitUltimately, the reluctance to explore open adoption is based on fear. But 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. This fear turns the concern inward, to the birth mother or adoptive parents. However, the main concern should be the benefit of the child.
Open adoption is healthier for both the adoptive family and the birth parents. The birth parents will be satisfied that they made the correct choice, and the adoptive parents will have access to the medical information necessary to raise their child. That’s what adoption is all about: raising a child in the best atmosphere possible. This can mean putting your emotions aside until you make peace with the situation, but it’s worth it. The benefits far outweigh any risk.
If you’re hoping to adopt, I encourage you to take the time to research open adoption. There are varying levels of contact in an open adoption arrangement, from emails sent through an adoption professional to annual in-person visits. Birth parents understand that open adoption does not mean that you’re sharing parental custody. You are the parents; the birth parents simply want to know how their child is doing. This knowledge is power: for many, it can reassure them that they made the right decision by making an adoption plan (and by choosing you!) I’ve seen many great open adoptions over the years, and wonderful birth mother relationships!

Questions about open adoption? Call Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 to get answers from the experts.

And you can begin your open adoption journey today by filling out Lifetime’s free online application!