A little while ago I was asked if I would be interested in receiving a copy of a new book about open adoption and reviewing it for my blog. I was very interested – Lori Holden is the author of the book, and I have read her blog, Lavender Luz, for quite a while. I remember when she wrote about working on the book, and I have been looking forward to it ever since. It does not disappoint!
In her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, by Lori Holden and with Crystal Hass, Holden writes, “Adoption creates a split in a person between his biology and his biography. Openness in adoption is an effective way to heal that split.” This quote is the overriding theme in Holden’s new book. Holden and her daughter’s birthmother, Hass, explain why open adoption is beneficial and how to create a healthy open adoption relationship. Openness, according to Holden, is a process, not a point in time – it’s a journey, not a destination. She goes into much detail about how the process of openness should start even before the child is born and continue as the child grows up.
Holden offers suggestions on important topics to discuss with your adoption agency and with the expectant parents before you are matched or before the child is born. The author suggests asking specifics about typical wait times, placements, openness, and post-placement support and counseling for all those involved in the adoption. Waiting couples should also be aware of pre-birth expenses and what is allowed by law as well as how their agency handles birth father rights. Everyone involved in the adoption should also discuss what they imagine openness to look like and how it might evolve over time.
Throughout the book in various chapters, Holden and Hass describe what openness can look like and does look like in their relationship. They write about mutual respect, trust, being open to relationships, being open to giving and receiving, a willingness to work through issues and misunderstandings, and the ability to accommodate other family members all for the sake of the child. Being open to that, as well as being open to communication between the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive parents can be very beneficial in helping to heal the split that Holden writes about.
Holden describes specifics in terms of what should be discussed before the adoption occurs as well as after the child is placed in the adoptive home. She examines different areas of possible difficulty – communication issues, fear, lack of sharing of feelings, boundaries, and broken agreements. She writes about how the adoptive parents need to look at the relationship as what they are willing to “grant” to the birth parents or what they are willing to “welcome” as opposed to what they will “allow.” It is definitely a mind set that will honor the birthparents’ special role in their child’s life. Holden writes that the open attitude described in the book is more of a mind set or a “heart set.”
Throughout the book, Hass also shares stories about how openness has been a part of her life and her relationship with her daughter as well as her role as a birthmother. There are sections in the book that describe how a birth parent or adoptive parent can ask the other for more openness in the relationship or how to deal with difficult situations and issues.
I would highly recommend reading this book if you are waiting to adopt or if you are in an open adoption and looking for more guidance or information. Holden walks the reader through adoption – from the beginning stages, to the new relationship stage between the child, the birthparents, and the adoptive parents, to a relationship that will grow as time moves on. Holden and Hass share their views on what makes their adoption work and also share the views of others involved in their own open adoptions. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption is a great book and should be used as a tool that can offer advice, anecdotes, and knowledge to anyone navigating their way through an open adoption relationship.