The best way to evaluate the success of any adoption, perhaps, is to periodically self-review. Ask yourself, from time to time: “what is the state of our adoption union?” Even our nation’s leaders do an annual “state of the union” address. So it’s just as important for adoption providers and consumers to periodically assess how their adoptions are actually working out.
Adoption is about relationships, after all. And all relationships are always subject to change. Open adoption is about building adoption relationships. These are both solid yet flexible enough to grow and thrive despite the tests of time, all for the ultimate benefit of the adoptee.
In this union, our status is OPEN!
At Abrazo, open adoption is our trademark. We wholeheartedly believe that adoptees deserve to know about and personally know the parents who joined together to plan their placements. (All across their lifespan, right from the start.)
Our adoptive parents sign a contract at placement. In it, they promise to start telling each adoptee the truth about their birthparents and their adoption from Day One. There should never be a day that any Abrazo adoptee doesn’t know their own adoption story. (It’s theirs, after all.) This is why Abrazo fights so hard for OBC (original birth certificate) access legislation in Texas, year after year. And it’s why our agency is so big on post-adoption contact. It’s why we hold an annual reunion (Camp Abrazo) to help facilitate annual visits between birthfamilies and adoptive families.
Any adoption union needs everyone’s cooperation to keep it strong. Adoptive parents often do initiate contact, because birthparents sometimes worry that doing so may seem intrusive. Still, it’s important for birthparents to also make efforts to keep the adoption union healthy, too. How? By responding to the other party’s calls, texts and/or mailings and following through with planned visits and genuinely caring about each other. These are all essential tools for keeping open adoption relationships thriving over time.
The adoption union is a measure of your truth
When an adoption is being planned, the prospective birthparents and hopeful adoptive parents ideally have time to get acquainted. This enables them to know whether or not they’re going to be compatible, to ensure that their expectations are similar, and so they have a chance to build trust. (That doesn’t always happen, though.) And even when it does, the best of relationships take work if they’re going to grow over time.
Nobody’s relationships are always perfect. (Not even in the best of open adoptions.) As with all relatives, you don’t have to always like each other. Even when everyone tries to be on their best behavior, someone is likely to mess up, sometimes. Lines get crossed. Disappointments arise. Tempers flare. If (and when) that happens, the best way to clear the air is to genuinely apologize, and then try again and do better in the future.
Here’s the awkward truth: adoption unions are always borne of pain, and built on loss. The people that enter into them have all come through their own challenges. Their ability to build (or sustain) healthy adoption relationships may vary, understandably. Still, open adoption allows for growth and change, so be sure you do, too.
Even in the best of relationships, communication sometimes breaks down. Technology fails us. Real life interrupts our best of intentions. Post-adoption guilt, grief and/or regrets can sometimes interfere. If your adoption union is less than you’d hoped it would be at this point, please contact your adoption provider for help rebuilding it. Abrazo is always happy to assist past clients with reconnecting, when we can.
So make “forever family” your mantra, and mean it.
Even if you’re currently happy with the state of your adoption union, do reach out to confirm that the others in your adoption circle are, too. Remember to periodically express genuine appreciation for the effort/s of the other(s). After all, promises kept are definitely something worth celebrating.
One of the most important lessons of open adoption is that all of us together are greater than the sum of our parts. What does that mean? Basically, it comes down to the truth that we’re better united. Adoptees learn more about resilient families from seeing their birthparents and adoptive parents together than by listening to either just talk about the other.
A healthy open adoption relationship becomes a partnership. It’s one in which both the birthparents and adoptive parents maintain a positive connection that entails both across-the-distance and in-person contacts over time. This enables the adoptee to ultimately decide for himself/herself to what extent they choose to stay in relationship as adults. (And yes, this permits the parents’ friendship to live on even if they don’t.)
Keep this in mind: although everyone else’s life may looks picture-perfect on social media, what you see isn’t how it all always is. And all open adoption relationships are complex. So don’t judge your own book based on somebody else’s cover.
The State of our Adoption Union at Abrazo
Coming off of another successful Camp Abrazo reunion, the Abrazo staff is so grateful that so many in our adoption community continue to support the work we do. We are also delighted to hear of so many of our birthfamilies who are getting to enjoy visits with the children they placed and the adoptive parents they chose. We’re gratified to know from annual reports that the vast majority of AbrazoKids are happy, well and thriving. Since we opened in 1994, Abrazo has seen our gold medal position on fully-open adoption increasingly become the national standard, which gives us great pleasure.
Yet we do wish all our former clients sent in their annual reports as promised. We wish more of our out-of-state families made the effort to bring their kids back for annual open adoption visits. We wish we could do more to help birthfamilies stabilize their lives, over time. (So much more could be accomplished if we had the funding to expand post-placement services.)
Coming off of a global pandemic and facing a forty-year low in the birthrate, however, we are mindful that adoption is changing. Thus adoption agencies nationwide are facing major challenges. Like most programs, Abrazo is having to rely on the generosity of donors more heavily than ever before, if we are to stay relevant and avoid major fee increases or program reductions.
Additionally, we are currently exploring new ways to be of service in the field of child placement, which includes provision of services to parents of older kids and those with special needs. Domestic open adoption will always be our passion, of course, but Abrazo has always sought to serve where we’re needed so we plan to continue doing so as long as we can.
The state of our adoption union is “just as committed as ever“… what’s yours?