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ElizabethAnn

Open Adoption

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I wonder, sometimes, if there aren't two different schools of thought in this process. (Or more!) It seems that the world at large looks at adoption as an alternative "baby supply source" for couples that want to become parents but cannot due to medical or other reasons... but for those who work in adoption over a long period of time and witness the losses the process imposes on children, many come to view adoption as the marriage of two unrelated families for the good (and future benefit) of one very loved child. (Which is why experts like Rueben Pannor, Annette Baran, Jim Gritter, Sharon Kaplan Roszia and others who began their careers doing closed adoptions now fight that concept so fiercely.)

Historically, the process was terrifically unfair--juxtaposing the "haves" (aps) and the "have nots" (bps) and shielding the one from the other. But over time, with the input of thousands of adopted persons now grown, and with the shortage of responsible bioparents willing to relinquish parental rights to unknown "others" with no more than some agency's bland seal of approval, roles (and rights) have begun to shift.  Now, hopefully, adopting parents and birthfamilies are beginning to see each other as equal participants in this process which initiates a lifelong relationship, for the good of the child involved.

There are no college or grad courses on how to do good adoption casework, or how to do effectively homestudies, or how to see beyond those who "talk the talk" to be sure you place only with those who "walk the walk" after placement, just as there are no crystal balls on social workers' desks enabling them to determine the true intentions of everyone who enters the adoption process, be they birthparents or adopting. I like to think that the open adoption process offers children another layer of protection because of the depth of honesty required between parties to make it work.

There are no perfect adoptive families, no more than there are perfect birthparents or even perfect children. (In fact, we worry about applications or homestudies that seem "too" perfect--they're rarely reliable. And in all my years of adoption work, I've never yet run across a birthparent who is seeking "perfect" parents for her child; simply good people willing to work at being good parents!) I think that "perfect" open adoptions generally entail imperfect people who commit to being "in relationship", for better or worse, through good times and bad, out of respect for the children involved, so those kids have ongoing access to the love of both families--which has the added benefit of strengthening your roles as Mom and Dad, ironically! All relationships are subject to occasional conflicts, differences of opinion, etc. But how we work through them, as extended family, teaches our children how to also do so effectively.  It empowers them to be proud of their adoption stories with a crucial foundation of trust supporting every aspect of who they are. Easier said than done, to be sure, but well worth it all in the end!

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I'm so glad you shared your thoughts on this, ElizabethAnn. My husband and I are hoping to adopt this year and the more we learn about open adoption on Abrazo's Forum and in the books we are reading, the more excited we get. If done in the right spirit, it seems to be a wonderful opportunity. It really extends the whole "gift sharing" idea of adoption itself - that the BPs are giving us a gift and that we APs also have a precious gift to give. I think the only time we newbies get scared of open adoption is when we feel like with all the very personal information we are asked to share, that we are being judged and are expected to be perfect. Our family has the gift of faith, which has enabled us to get through some difficult circumstances even stronger than we were before. We didn't look at them as problems, but as challenges we overcame and that enabled us to build stronger relationships with God and each other. Unfortunately, some people don't always see things that way, and jump to other conclusions, so we tend to allow people to get to know us first (see the finished results!) before we share everthing about us. I am sure that most peole are that way. It takes time to build trust with people, which is what we hope to do with both an agency and birthparents, so we can have a closer relationship going forward. We're not worried about trusting the birthparents after the adoption is complete - as a recent article I read said, you're giving the child "double the love"! How nice that a child can grow up knowing that although adopted, they were never rejected!

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The thought comes to mind that I hope all children adopted thru open plans are never going to feel "unwanted"! In this type of plan we all are there to reassure the child and eachother that all is well and that God never gives us more than we can handle. My son was not a "planned" occurrence nor was he unwanted... his adoptive parents wanted him before the first little cell grew and I wanted him to have a relationship with myself and my older daughter but the circumstances were not condusive to that.... I hope he will never decide he was not wanted... many people want a child but God plans for them to get a child and a new family to go along....think of it as a "value package" (more love than expected )

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Lisa2,

  Just wanted to say that you expressed those sentiments perfectly...Thank you....

     Smile all,K.T.

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Guest Marta and Glen

The more that we learn about Open Adoption the more that we realize it is the right choice.  We look forward to letting our baby know that he/she is loved by four parents.  Thank you!  The Fewell Family :)

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During and after Abrazo orientation, we went through  a fairly rational analysis of the pros and cons of open v. closed adoptions.  The only "good" thing we came up with for a closed adoption was the fact that our identity would not be known to the birthparents of our baby if they "changed their minds" at a future date. I have to admit that had considerable appeal to us early on. We knew so little about the open adoption process, all we saw at first blush was the loss of the anonymity of the closed process. Very quickly, however, we began to see clear, tangible benefits of the open adoption process that outweighed the privacy of the closed process.

  Because we chose open adoption, we met and actually got to know our son's birth family before he was born.  They shared wonderful stories about their family and our birthmother's childhood that will give us guidance in understanding our son as he grows up. Because our birth mother talked to us about her decision to place and her parents talked to us about it as well, I have never worried that she made a hasty decision and would later change her mind.  I describe these benefits first because they are selfish reasons favoring open adoption and selfish motivations are the source of most fears of open adotion.  There are other benefits of open adoption that are equally if not more important.

   In the Abrazo orientation, Elizabeth drew a wonderful analogy comparing adoption from a birthparent's perspective to putting a beloved child on a train without knowing where the child would be taken or whether someone would be there to welcome and love that child.  Having spent time with our birth family, we heard a simple message, said in so many different ways over the days surrounding placement, that they thanked God for us and felt it was meant to be that this baby was conceived and we were to be his parents.  How could a birth family reach that kind of peace in a closed setting?  If our birth family had to go through a closed adoption, what kind of unnecessary torment would they be suffering not knowing their baby was with kind and loving parents who loved him as much as we do?  How many years would that torment last? Would it ever pass?

   Blended with the joy we felt at our son's birth was the indescribable grief and pain our birthfamily willingly endured to provide us with the greatest joy of our lives.  After witnessing what they went through, I could never imagine putting them through the pain of not knowing the baby they placed was loved and cared for, and by whom.  Although time is supposed to heal all wounds, the grief and sense of loss is bound to resurface at times and we want to be available to our birth family to help them through the pain, because that pain is in a sense, their continued expression of love for a child that means the world to all of us.  

   Every open relationship between an adoptive family and birth family probably has its own unique features that those involved have worked out.  There is no one-size-fits-all relationship required of every adoption that I know of.  When we talked frankly about open adoption with our birth family early on and knew that we both were happy with the other's expectations, open adoption wasn't scary at all.

Wow- sorry for the lengthy post- thanks for not charging by the word.

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Cloud Nine, I loved your post, I couldn't agree with you more. We felt the same way about open adoption, and now that we did it and we have our son thru open adoption, we can't imagine doing it any other way! We too have wonderful stories to share with our son about his birth family. Thanks for sharing! :D

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Okay all y'all dedicated forum folks out there - I need some help.

I have a friend (oh friend, please don't get mad at me for posting this on the forum...please please please... - I just thought we could get some good feedback from all these wonderful "been-there-done-that, bought the t-shirt" folks who have experienced just about everything when it comes to adoption - they're such a great resource and I hope they come through with some advice or even offers of communicating with you directly via e-mail, etc)

So, my friend adopted their child through an agency that has a different philosophy on "openness" than Abrazo - this friend's adoption is a semi-open and as it turned out, she hasn't had any contact with the birthmother since the placement day (due to some really unusual circumstances that would really jeaporadize the birthmother's safety should she attempt to make contact again (because she'd have to contact the agency that she placed through which would cause permanent problems for her) so, you could say...this adoption is now closed and it's highly unlikely that the birthmother will re-enter their lives until the child is 18 and they can make contact without involving the agency.

My friend is ready to begin the adoption process again but prefers to do a private adoption rather than an agency adoption (at least wants to try it this way initially but isn't opposed to doing another agency adoption.  She isn't totally comfortable with an open adoption and although isn't ruling out an open adoption, she isn't fully decided on whether that's the route they'll go - but I'm sending her some books tomorrow and she's very open to learning more about open adoption and what it means, etc and generally wants to understand it better before she makes a decision as to how to proceed with adoption #2 (and #3 & #4 if that happens - they want a huge family).  

We've been discussing open adoption but sadly - all I know about it is what I've read - I can not say I'm an open adoption expert of even someone who's experienced an open adoption (not yet anyway - I still have hope that our Kayleigh's birthmother will change her mind and want contact).

Here are her concerns:

1) First & foremost - how will an open adoption affect her child who does not and likely will not have contact with his birthmother?  If they do an open adoption with #2, etc and that birthmother visits them - will that make her son feel like his birthmother doesn't want to see him, etc and that she doesn't love him, etc (she is doing everything in her power to ensure he understands just how much his birthmother does love him but I can totally see where she's coming from, if one child's birthmother isn't a part of their lives and another's is - how does that affect the child who doesn't have any contact?

2) What if she's not comfortable with the birthmother visiting them and visiting the baby on an ongoing basis?  (primarily because she's not comfortable with the integrity of the birthmother (her experience with a previous birthmother was frightening, to say the least....even I think that and I'm about the most open-minded person in the world but I there is a point where I draw the line...I'll just leave it at that).

3) How does she approach the subject with a birthmother of how open a birthmother desires the relationship to be and how much does she share initially her feelings on how comfortable she is with fully open adoptions (this is of course in the very, very early stages of a discussion with a birthmother - before any type of commitment is made as to an adoption plan.)

4) Lastly - she only knows 2 people who have done open adoptions and both have had wonderful experiences.  She wonders if they all turn out so wonderfully or are there ever any hiccups along the way and what should she expect?

5) Lastly, lastly - please feel free to offer any thoughts, advice, etc that I can share with my friend as she begins this next journey - I've told her that there are so many people who intially were fearful of open adoptions who not only overcame their fears but later believed open adoption was the only type of adoption they were comfortable with and really enjoyed the relationship with their birthmother/father (even if they are quite different from the birthparents).

If you're not comfortable posting but would like to private message me or e-mail me, you can do that too at linlacor@yahoo.com

Thanks everyone!!

Lisa

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ok my fellow lisa- friend...

I will give you my personal thoughts...

MOST people are terrified of "open", or if they are borderline on that subject, their families arent so keen on the idea. So, my son's ap's simply told their families that their opinion didnt matter and that if they decided to adopt through an open agency then they would just have to deal, and no bad attitudes would be accepted.... when i call now(my son is almost 4) i sometimes get his nana on the phone, we talk openly and she has accepted that this is best for him

as for the thought of this system not working with everyone.. that can be so, but if you are secure in your decision and have discussed that "open" is a state of mind and not just a choice then you will be better off. You also have to truthfully convey your preferences on the open relationship with the birthmom... form the begining... if you want the whole shebang of holidays together or just simple note pics and an occassional call then say that... if you dont match just based on that all those involved are better off, eventually you will find a perfect match. And as a birthmom, i do have rough times in my life, just as the ap's do, and there are months when we have more contact than others, and that is ok... in the long run we are more open than not, and that is what we are okay with.

as for just simply not knowing what you are comfortable with and not, that will come in time, i think even in the undecided things there are deffinites.. you "know" what you dont want... and you can figure out the rest if you think, share and listen with others like those of us here on our forum. None of the members here want to force our ideas on anyone, but we have been down the road and will be glad to share, and listen and give you our stories.. that will help you know how we can all be better parents.. whether by birth or adoption

one last rambling opinion on the whole "absent birthmom". My daughter (who is 8) does not have her father involved. I have given her the answers to these questions.. most of which sound similar to those of a child of a "closed or absent" birthparent:

Why does my daddy not love me?

he does love you, but sometimes adults(i think i said big people) have to decide what they need in their own lives. And your father has made a decision not to be here with you because that is what he needs. But he does love you and sometimes just because we love someone doesnt mean we need to be there... plus look at all the people who are here and love you. Then we list 'em all and she goes on without another thought

Can i give my daddy this for a present?

You sure can. (we emptied a file drawer and she puts in all those lil notes and pictures she wants to give him, then when and if he does ever decide to be involved she has all the memories to share with him, and catch him up on her life

She has a zillion of them but i have simply answered them as they come and in words she can understand and that are age appropriate. I dont tell her that he is a drug addict and has wasted his life and is missing out on the best thing he has ever done, or will ever do.... that will be her opinion to decide as she gets older. I also keep all info on whereabouts, and such, for her so that when she is grown decides to track him down, she will have everything possible to help her. If i could choose, i would not want this for her, but sometimes God works in crazy ways, and we dont always know th reason. Just as some open plans become closed for a time due to life's circumstances, we all have bumps in the road we travel, and maybe just maybe if they adopt again through an open agency they could end up with a bigger family and a birth family that takes both children as their own and supports them in ways the absent birthmom isnt doing... my version is the more people that love and care for a child, the better off they will be. this is the situation in many of abrazo's  "againers" stories, that were either closed on the first one or have mia birthparents.

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Hi Lisa,

Thanks so much for responding - I'll share this with my friend.  I sent her several books a few days ago on open adoption (the ones recommended by Abrazo) and hopefully that will also address some of her fears, etc and if nothing else, answer some of the questions she may have.

In speaking with her yesterday, I think she's coming closer to a decision on the level of openness she's comfortable with which isn't as much as I'd hope she'd be but it's a personal decision and one I don't feel as though I can intrude upon or try to persuade her another way, I do feel comfortable providing her with resources and educational materials (hence my original post) - we are very good friends and I wouldn't want to risk losing any of that because we disagree on how adoptions should be.  I do find that I have a hard time relating to her fears and her ideas on how/why adoptions should/shouldn't be fully open - I just listen though and try to explain things if I hear something that I think I can help her with.  She's having a hard time understanding what open means - how many visits, etc.  In my mind, an open adoption is what you & your birthparents agree it to be with the adoptive parents always being "open" to have more openness (I think it's always better to have APs who are willing and able to have much more contact/openness than a BP is because a BP can always change their mind and that's okay and in my opinion, the APs should always be available and accepting of them doing that).  It's also full disclosure of names and addresses, etc and most of all - the commitment to work at the relationship forever.  I guess the way I see it is you don't have to be best friends with your child's birthparent (although it's not out of the question to be that close by any means) but you do need to realize that this is your child's birthparent and they have a signifcant role in your child's life (duh, they gave them life ) and need to be recognized as such and that means getting to know this person, making sure they can get to know their birth-child and vice-versa, etc.  Basically, treating the relationship with respect and integrity as you would want to be treated.

I agree with you, I think the more upfront you are with the BPs (and vice-versa) about your ideas/thoughts on adoption relationships - the better.  Even if it's a "get-to-know-you" kind of meeting and neither of you have any clue as to whether you'll match - I still think it's better to just lay all the cards on the table and if either of you are turned off by the meeting or something one another said, then it's not meant to be - but if you're still willing to get to know each other further after all that, great!  Maybe it will work out.....  But that's me, I'm always like, "Here I am, take it or leave it" (poor Lance got my whole life history on our 1st date I think and if we didn't have time on that one, he for sure knew everything by my 2nd date - even read him my depressing poems I wrote back in High School during my "dark/depressing" days - and it didn't scare him off and now - we're so close, I think honesty is always best policy).

Boy, talk about rambling.....

Thank you again for your post - especially how you're handling your daughter's absent father.   That sounds like a very mature, very caring way of handling it.

-Lisa

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Guest Paul and Michelle D

I thought that this would be an appropriate place to post our story!  If you are having an issue with open adoption, please read the story below!  

Eleven months ago, a beautiful and amazing baby was added to our family!  

Our daughter's birthmom wanted a "semi-open" adoption which means that she wanted to know a little about us but she did not want to meet us.  We decided to adopt domestically because of open adoption and truly wanted our child's birthfamily to be in our lives...forever!  Our daughter's birthmom changed her mind and decided she wanted to meet us!  We were elated.  We not only got to meet her, but we also were able to spend some time with her son and her mother!  What an honor and gift that was!  (Amazing people)!  The only issue was that our daughter's birthgrandmother could not speak English.  I know a little bit I of Spanish and I could understand what she was saying but had a hard time communicating back.  The two most important comments were loud and clear.  She was very sad to have her grandaughter live so far away...but she was glad to get to know us!  She knew that we were very grateful to know her daughter, grandson and her and that we would love her grandaughter immensely!

Two weeks ago, we received a package in the mail with a note, "To (our daughter) FROM: Grandma".  In the package was the most unbelievable Easter dress with matching jacket, hat and purse.  We immediately had pictures taken and they were sent to her birthgrandmother!!  (She looks like an angel in the dress!;)

To those skeptical about open adoption, what a tragedy it would have been for our daughter to not receive this most precious package...and for our daughter's birthmother, birthgrandmother and birthbrother not to know where she is!

Is it hard?  Yes   Does it break your heart to say goodbye to the birthparents?  Yes.  Is it fulfilling to know that you are doing the right thing for your child by maintaining contact and a healthy, strong relationship?  ABSOLUTELY!  

Two weeks ago, a package arri

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That is really neat! Thanks for sharing, I am kinda proud of myself, tonight I finished Fiona's Baby Blanket, and tomarrow I will do the triplets' blankets!!  It turned out so cute!! i can't wait to send it to them!!

I am so glad my adoptions are open!!

-Angel

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Here's another awesome open adoption experience.

We've had an open relationship with our son's birthmom since she was 5 months pregnant.  He's almost 4 now ??? and we have maintained that relationship through letters, pictures, and phone calls.  We visited her twice the first year and she came to visit for a weekend when he turned 2.  For a while communication with her seemed limited and we were a little disappointed but kept sending pictures and updates determined to let her know what an amazing gift she had given us.  It paid off.

Last month she came to stay with us for almost a week.  It was the most incredible visit that I know we will all treasure forever.  She was thrilled to see how happy Jacob was and what a wonderful little boy he is.  We went to the zoo and SeaWorld and shopping.  We showed her around the community where we live and where Jacob will go to school.    But most importantly we all got to spend lots of quality time together.  She and I had a chance to talk openly about adoption issues that we've personally faced and ones that we think Jacob might face in the future and how we'll deal with it.  She had a chance to read to him and give him a bath and run and play and sit and talk and fall asleep together.  And it gave Jacob a concrete, real live person that he knows now carried him in her tummy... not just a picture or a name that we've told him about.  We just feel so blessed to have this angel in our lives...she is our son's first mother, our friend, an important part of our family.  

When she left she thanked us for letting her come and visit.  She told me she is so grateful.  Jacob is such a lucky little boy to be a part of our family and we have given him everything she couldn't.  It brought tears to my eyes, because all I could think was "we're the lucky ones and thank you for making the choices you made for him.  Thank you for the gifts you've given us."

One Lucky Mommy

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I can not tell you how thankful I am for this forum.  There are so many issues related to adoption that I have never thought of, even though I have wanted to adopt since I can remember.  One issue that I am really interested in hearing more about is the issue of open adoptions.  

I stand corrected and convicted of the fact that I too was one of those people who would stay clear of open adoption because of fear.  Through your comments I have learned that being ready to adopt involves much more than being ready to have a baby.  It means being ready to love the one who brings your baby into your arms (the birthmother) and being ready to accept heartbreak and trials by sharing the pain with my future babie's birthmother.  One birth mom on the forum described the pain of letting her child go as hole in her heart that weighed # pounds and # oz., and was # inches long.  This really moved me and made me think.  

I need to get to the point where I would be okay with understanding that my child is also another woman's child.  This is hard.  I think I will be there some day, but honestly it is going to take some time and I'm not going to make things all messy by just rushing ahead because I'm so ready to have a baby.  I want to show love in every part of the process.  

At the same time, I don't know if I would personally ever desire to have the close, ongoing friendship with my child's birthmother that some of you describe.  I do believe that being open is best, but I think there must be different levels of openness that people are comfortable with.  I don't see myself ever wanting to have weekly or even monthly contact with the birthmother.  I wonder if that would feel threatening?  I wonder if that is why so many people adopt children from overseas where there is no chance of having contact with the birthmother.  

My beautiful little nephew is adopted.  I know that once a year his mom and dad send pictures and a letter to the birthmother.  They do not talk to her on the phone nor do they meet with her.  When my nephew is 18 he will have the freedom to meet his birthmother if he wants to...and I know that his mom and dad do hope that he will want to.  I guess this is a semi-open adoption?  I'm not really sure.  

So does abrazo do semi-open adoptions as well, or is it all totally open or nothing?  

I hope I haven't offended people here.  I want to be really clear that I want to be open. Like I said, I think all of this is so good because I am learning that while I may be ready to have a baby, I guess I'm not ready to adopt until I can work through some of this.  I would really value your input.  

Blessings,

Laura

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AHHH!  I'm so sorry.  Somehow I posted the same thing twice.  I guess I posted when I thought I was editing.  Sorry about that.  -Laura

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Laura,

I used to feel the same way that you now feel, but once I attended Abrazo Parents of Tomorrow weekend my thoughts on open adoption totally changed. I learned during that weekend that my husband and I would  need our future birthparents. I have to admit I was still a little nervous about the role our birthparents might play in our lifes until I finally talked to our daughters birthmom & dad. Once I talked to them, I realized what a  wonderful support system my husband and I could forever be a part of.  Our daughter's birthmom calls me whenever she needs someone to listen to her, and I do the same to her. I can't imagine what my life was like before Grace Ann came along or her wonderful birthmother. They are no longer our daughter's birthfamily, they are just our family.

Her birthmother and I have become best friends, which is very hard to explain to the general public. I couldn't have understood it before Abrazo came along. They do such a wonderful job of educating future adoptive parents.

I know that I have just rambled on, but I hope I may have helped you understand open adoption in some way.

Warmest Wishes,

Melissa

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Hi Laura,

I think there are a lot of people who have either adopted in an open adoption relationship or in the process of adopting in an open adoption relationship who have had fears and doubts as to whether or not this was a relationship they could really make a commitment to.  Sometimes, after educating oneself on what open adoption is all about (either through joining an adoption support group and discussing with others involved in an open adoption or through reading books about open adoption or seeing movies, etc or even logging on and reading through posts from us)....one realizes that there are just too many benefits of an open adoption to let a little worry get in the way and they find themselves embracing and even wanting an open adoption.

I was actually a bit on the hesitant side when Lance and I first began our adoption journey.  I remember filling out the initial paperwork that Abrazo sent us and saying, "sure, I'm all for an open adoption - we'll be glad to meet the birthmother and birthfather and share the pregnancy with them, etc and even have minimal contact with them after they place their baby with us (i.e. we'll send them pictures and videos and Christmas cards) and someday, when our child is old enough - we'll tell them all about their birthparents and even let them have some contact if our child decides that's what they want".  I seriously said those types of things - I thought that's what open adoption was - when the adoptive parents and birthparents meet each other and have contact.

It didn't take me long to realize (mainly through Elizabeth's patient explanations of why open adoption is so important) that there is so much more to an open adoption than contact.  My interpretation is that it's about building a relationship with these people who will ALWAYS share a connection with the child that is your son or daughter.  Some connections are stronger than others but ultimately - there is a connection there and the reason why you want to make a commitment to these people to always be open to be a part of their lives and them a part of yours is because 9 times out of 10 - your child is going to need to know where they came from, who they were born to, what is their heritage, what are their birthmother and birthfather like and do they share any similarities...even something as simple as wanting to know where their feet came from or their nose or eyes....  You want to make sure that you've created an environment for your child where they feel comfortable talking about and talking to their birthfamily - I don't think a semi-open adoption accomplishes this.  

I'm not saying you shouldn't proceed with a semi-adoption if in fact that's the most you're ever comfortable with (because I think it's a real shame when someone makes an empty promise to have an open adoption in order to adopt a baby (because that's what a birthparent wants to hear) then after all is said and done - they aren't able to keep that commitment and then you've basically betrayed a very special person which hurts an incredible amount - it's better (in my opinion) to work with an agency who do semi-open adoptions where the birthparents are very aware that the adoption will be that type of adoption so their expectations are in line with what they will have following the placement...that's not to say that a day or a week or a month or even years after the placement, they won't have regrets on that type of placement and wish that they were more a part of their child's life and could be available to them).

Abrazo's adoptions are always open - at least that's the intention but in the event that a birthparent decides they're more comfortable with a closed adoption - Abrazo won't turn them away (our daughter's birthmother wasn't comfortable initially with an open adoption (still isn't) so Kayleigh's adoption is sort of open and closed - open because we so badly want contact with her and would love to be able to have a relationship with her (other than just through my imagination) - we've left things completely open on our end and at her request - all the updates, photos, etc are sent to Abrazo so should she (actually, "when" she) decides she is ready - it's all there and we're merely a phone call or letter away.  I never in a million years imagined how important it would be for me to have that kind of an adoption (open) but once Kayleigh arrived and especially once she came home - I found myself longing so much to be able to talk to her birthmother and tell her all the things Kayleigh does and would have loved to have asked her questions about her baby years, etc.

Anyway - you certainly haven't offended me by posing your question and also your concerns - you're being honest and that's really important - keep an open mind and keep reading and talking and try to find a support group in your area where you could maybe even meet some couples who have open adoptions (check out Resolve's website - they have some adoption resources - www.resolve.org) and you never know - you may realize that it's really a fear of the unknown that may be holding you back right now -

I can tell you though that a closed adoption is just really not an ideal situation.  I placed my daughter for adoption nearly 15 years ago in a closed adoption (not because of my desire to have privacy - it was because that's just how things were done for the most part back then) and it's taken me years to resolve some of the feelings I have about that.  And now that my birth-daughter is a teen-ager - I just can't help but wonder how she's dealing with everything - knowing very little about me and her birthfather (non-identifying information which "ain't" much...).  I've never wanted to intrude on their lives or their role as parents - it's hard for me to describe exactly what kind of role I do want to have in her life - it's that of a birthmother - there's really no other way to describe it....Anyway, hopefully someday she'll choose to find me and I can come back and tell you all how the closed thing went on her end......I know from my perspective, if I had it all to over again - I would have done it a lot differently...for her sake.

Keep the posts coming..... :D

Lisa

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Hi.  I just wanted to let you know that I am so glad to have touched your heart with what I said about the void in my chest.  I have said that many times.  I am glad that it has sparked some sort of challenge.  I truly believe that you will be matched with the perfect mother of your child.  

Abrazo has a weekly meeting for birthparents.  I met so many different girls-some were very aprehensive of relationships like the one I have with my AP's.  Many birthmoms want semi-open relationships also.  

I hope that you are finding all of the answers that you are seeking.

hugs-and God Bless

A.

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Dear Laura,

I will do my best to try to help you understand about openness in adoption and how you may feel toward the birthmother of your baby.  When you commit to an adoption plan and you have been matched, you will start the beginning of one of the most important relationships in your life.  You will feel or become to feel closer to this person than anyone else at a time when she needs you as much as you need her.  It's totally natural, you do not have to work at it, if it is mean't to be.  You will feel protective of her, just as you will of your baby that is brought into the world with two lucky set of loving parents.  You will feel it is okay to share your love, you will have bonded with her.  Besides who will understand the way you feel about your baby better than your very courageous birthmother that will place total faith and trust in You!  It's a powerful unconditional gift that cannot ever be duplicated, except maybe by another successful adoption.  As you begin your life with your new baby and your loves grows and grows, that love overflows to the birthmom whether you see her or talk with her on a regular basis or not.  Your birthmom should not and probably will not be someone you fear, sure you may have some irrational fears at first because it is like a dream come true and you will have to pinch yourself to make sure it's real!  Your emotions will be in high gear as you try to make sense of your overwhelming joy and at the same time grieve for the huge loss that your birthmom faces for the rest of her life.  Impossible, you ask?  No, it is not.   An adoption plan is successful when it is reinforced with good honest intentions and respectful of all placement agreements.  Your baby can truly have the best of everything, which is what every parent strives for.             Karen

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Hi Karen,

I just wanted to say - that is BEAUTIFUL!!  It is people like you - with that type of attitude - who reinforce to me that adoptive parents and birthparents are not on opposing sides - for a really long time - I felt this way (before I became an adoptive parent myself - back when I saw things just from the birthparents' point of view).

My feelings toward adoptive parents were always that they felt as though they were better than the birth parents...better suited at raising my birth-daughter (well, I guess in some respects...they were/are or else I wouldn't have decided to place her for adoption)...anyway - I just felt they had this condescending view toward birthparents and that their interest was about my baby...not so much about me (like they kind of forgot the part I played in everything once they took her home).

Anyway - through the positive posts from so many loving, genuine, & honest parents on this forum...and from some hand-holding & reassurance from Elizabeth - I accept that my feelings aren't totally justified (however!  I have run into some people who are parents through adoption and they do actually fit the stereo-type I had... )...also, just knowing how I feel about Kayleigh's birthmother (I totally get that protective thing - I've never even met or spoken to her and I find myself wondering if she's okay and wishing there was something I could do for her and wishing and praying that noone hurts her emotionally (good grief, she's had enough pain to last her for the rest of her life after what she went through to place Kayleigh) or any other way)...I know that there are lots of adoptive parents out there who have the very best intentions and don't view their birthparents as just a way of completing their family...rather they feel fortunate to have been brought together with these people who they may have never met otherwise and who they share a very important (actually...the MOST important) thing with - their love for their child.

Anyway - your post really gave me a good feeling about adoptive parents overall...thanks for that!

-Lisa

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We went to a wedding the other weekend. I didn't know the bride, it was a friend of our relative kind of thing. But the amazing thing was, the ring bearer!! He was her son who was put up for adoption like 5 or 6 years ago. Sitting there watching it I thought, I hope when our child gets married WE remember to invite the birthfamily. And have them sit at our family table for the reception. That's something we would NEVER consider beforehand. So it makes me think how far we come since we did Open Adoption!!! (Thank you for that Abrazo!) smile.gif

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I just saw something interesting on the Bio Channel on cable. They were profiling Ray Liotta (of the movies "Goodfellas" and "Field of Dreams" among others) and mentioned he was an adopted child (obviously through a closed adoption....he had no information on his b/mother.) Even in his late teens and early 20's he had much self-doubt and sadness, wondering how his b/mother could "give her baby up." His way of dealing with these emotions was to channel his feelings through his acting, which actually gave him a more intense persona. It wasn't until he was in his mid-40's, married and with a child on the way, that he knew he HAD to locate his birth mother.

Ray's wife used a professional locator service, and after talking initially by telephone, Ray was finally able to meet his b/mother. She told him that at the time he was born, she was a single mother who was not financially able to care for a second child, and give him the life he deserved. So she placed him for adoption so he could have a loving family. This knowledge of the circumstances under which he was placed for adoption brought him the peace of mind that he had not had for over 40 years!!! He then understood that his mother placed him out of love, and he was then able (I think) to truly begin to love and accept himself.

How sad that the closed adoption practices of the past caused this man to wonder about himself for over 40 years!!!! But how wonderful that open adoption is becoming the norm and that Abrazo has been on the leading edge of this "revolution" for 10 years!! Bravo!

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Open adoption is both a means of becoming a parent, and a description of both the process and the ongoing relationships. An "open" adoption is one in which identifying information is shared between birth and adoptive families. Ideally, the families meet one another, establish a relationship and maintain that contact for the benefit of the child.

In our case, we have two children by adoption. The first was placed with us when the birthmother selected us after her son had been born. By her choice, we do not have ongoing contact. We do, however, send in yearly reports and letters to Abrazo which they hold for our birthmother until she requests that they be sent. We do have a very thorough medical background from her, which could be helpful if something were to happen to Samuel. And, the door to future contact is not completely closed, as we always remain open to that possibility and she might change her mind.

Our second child was also a BOG (Baby on the Ground), as she was born before her mother made an adoption plan for her. Once again, we were chosen by the birthmother because of our profile (there's more discussion about that in other places--use the search). This time, though, she wanted to talk with us before making her final decision and requested to meet us once we had taken placement of Abigail. We did meet her that night and have talked to her many times on the phone since then. We send letters and pictures directly to her, and are planning to see her this spring or summer. While we didn't have the opportunity to get to know one another before Abigail was born, we work hard to keep the lines of communication open. This gives our birthmother the ability to know that Abigail is doing well, helping her deal with the pain that being unable to raise her daughter must bring. It also gives us answers to questions we might have--Abigail seems to take after both her birthmother and birthgrandmother with a sensitivity to certain perfumes, for example. We can compare Abigail's progress with that of her older brothers and even Julia herself--a tendency toward chubbiness as a baby, for example. Also, when Abigail is older, she may have questions: Why did she place me? Who do I look like? etc. While we know some of those answers, hearing them from Julia can only help reinforce Abigail's sense of well-being and value. It can be made very clear to her that love sent her forth and welcomed her in.

The move to open adoption isn't really new, it's just been reestablished. In the old days (before 1900), people didn't move so much, so if a child was adopted, there was certainly no hiding the fact. There was no point in trying to keep it secret because everyone in a town knew everyone else's business. Then in the last century, because of increased mobility, people could keep things secret. If you moved to a new town, no one would know what had happened before, so why bother to tell the truth about a child's origins. With this new secrecy, came a new stigma that was harmful, not only for the child, but also for the parents, who were now hiding something, and for the birthfamily, who could never tell their secret.

Thankfully, as the century progressed, birthmothers, who were making the hardest decisions of their lives started demanding more say in the matter. First they got to have some part of the choosing of the parents. Then things started really going crazy, and they wanted to meet and know the families to whom they were entrusting their children. While that was going on, adoptees from the previous Dark Ages started speaking out about the pain their closed adoptions had wrought. More of them advocated open adoptions. At the same time, many adoption professionals felt the need to go about things differently. Slowly the pendulum has swung back to openeness in the adoption process.

Don't get me wrong, open adoption isn't a panacea (sp?) to everything that's wrong in the world. It only works if all parties are truly committed to the process. If part of the "triad" isn't contributing, then the other parts have to work twice as hard. Still, nothing good in life is easy, as they say. Maintaining a relationship between birth and adoptive families can be tough. But, for the greater likelihood that our children will thrive if we do stay close, we will take the harder, less-traveled road.

Well, this very long post is full of all kinds of colloquialisms. I feel like Dan Rather.

I hope this has helped give you some bit of answer to your question. There is so much more to open adoption than can be said in this format. There are great books that would be useful. "The Open Adoption Experience" by Melina and Roszia is a great one. It's long but full of information in a digestable style.

So, keep asking questions and you'll be able to determine if this road is for you. If it is, there are no better drivers than the ladies at Abrazo. If you get in their car, though, make sure you put on your seat belt. It's a wild, wonderful ride.

Happy learning,

Christina

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