Monday, March 8, 2010

What do you think?

I was talking about my last post with another member of an adoption board. She was asking if I felt open adoption was the best option for every situation. She and I "talked" about it online, but I realized that I really should have addressed that in my last post. I figured I would write about it here.

I think every adoption situation is different. There are so many variables that you have to consider. No, I don't think open adoption is the best option for everyone. If visits with my childs' birthparents would put her in danger, I would not allow them to continue/to happen. If visits with my child's birthparents would be unsafe for my child, I would not want to agree to them, either. What kind of danger or safety issues am I talking about? Drug use, a history of violence, negative 'influences' such as gangs...those types of things.

I do think there are times, though, when there are exceptions. For example, if a birthparent had been using drugs, but he/she had decided to seek treatment. If they were in some type of recovery program that might be a situation where we would consider visits. It really seems like it would be a case-by-case decision.

I also want to mention that you need to make a decision that you are comfortable with -- if you make a promise to have contact with your child's birthparents, you need to be prepared to keep that promise. I cannot imagine the hurt or pain a birth mother or birth father would feel if the adoptive parent broke that promise. If you research open adoption and still feel like that much contact would not be the best fit for you, then maybe a semi-open adoption would work better for your family.

What do all of you think? Are there times when you don't think an open adoption agreement would be appropriate?


Karen said...

L's parents are both deceased so open adoption is not a possibility for us. We do have contact with his brother and his adoptive parents. If L's parents were alive, I don't think open adoption would be appropriate. I know L's SW would not consider an open adoption with L's birthdad when he was alive. She was willing to push TPR for as long as it took rather than letting him terminate voluntarily and have any degree of openness. He was extremely unstable and not really living in reality. I think if L's birthmom were alive, and not in a relationship with birthdad (that would be a key consideration), then an open adoption would be a possibility for her.

L's paternal grandmother, who has never met the boys, wanted a visit with them recently and SW said absolutely not. In this case, the family situation is too dangerous for openness.

However, I think our situation is probably somewhat unique because we're adopting through CPS. I do feel challenged by how to talk with L about his birthparents without having him idealize them somehow. In some ways, I think it would be easier if they were in the picture so they couldn't just be products of his fantasies. We've decided to just go for honest (not a positive spin, just honest) and age-appropriate.

Karen said...

Sorry for the book I just wrote! I didn't realize how long it was until I hit publish!

Lost in Space said...

I agree with your thoughts completely. Every situation is truly unique and it has to work for everyone involved.

Safety is such a big one and likely where I would draw the line too.

Leah said...

Great post! I agree with you. . . the times open adoption may not be the best is if there are major issues with the birth family, such as drug use, etc.

I think the most important thing in adoption is communication. Like you said, if you state you'll be open, it's so important that you follow through. Knowing the arrangement up front seems like the best thing possible.

Wendy said...

Karen -- I can understand why it would challenging to figure out how to explain certain things about L's birthparents. I think what you said - honest and age appropriate - is the best way to do it.

Lost in Space -- You said it well: that it has to work for everyone involved. If it doesn't feel right (the amount of openness or what is being asked of you) then it's just not the right situation for you.

Leah -- We knew early on what Zoe's birthmom wanted in terms of an open adoption agreement and we felt comfortable with it. I think it's in everyone's best interest to discuss it early on in the process.

Anonymous said...


Your blog is amazing, and it's wonderful how you and Steve continue to try to help other couples. Dad and I are very proud of both of you.

Love, Mom and Dad

Melba said...

I agree with your statement that it is completely dependent upon the situation. I think both parties need to be comfortable with the agreement and feel that it is honestly something they can live with for the long term.

Boundary lines need to be made clear early on and communication should always be an open two-way street. Honestly I think there are too many variables to have a blanket statement about what level of openness is best.

I also completely agree with your comments about child-safety. If we are truly keeping our children at the center of adoption, as they should be then their safety has to be our top priority all around.

LL said...

Another great post.

Some open adoption arrangements might need to change throughout the course of life, birthmom/dad lifestyle etc. Especially regarding visits. I have one blogger friend who had an agreement to visits. But the birthmom was continuing to do drugs, had warrants (6) out for her arrest, protsitution and some other was tough for my friend to call a halt to visits and just send letters and photos instead but she felt like it was the best for her daughter. And I can't help but agree.

Patti said...

I agree with the prev comments. The only thing I would add is that the "comfort" issue should not be used as a cop-out. Being in an open adoption forces you out of your comfort zone, at one point or another. I think it's best for the adopted child to have as open a relationship as is safe/possible with his birth family. I hate seeing that relationship stunted because one of the adults wasn't willing to get "uncomfortable".

Wendy said...

Patti - That's a good point. I guess for me, I just think you have to be comfortable with your decision so that you keep your promise to the birthparents. But yes, open adoption isn't always "comfortable." And I agree it may take you out of your comfort zone, but if it's in the child's best interest, that's important.