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Gracias! Offering open adoption as a "sales pitch" to birthparents to convince them that placing their babies won't still hurt is as unethical as offering closed adoption to adoptive families as "assurance" that the children they adopt won't ever need to know where they came from.

Open adoption is not in any way simple or easy-- nothing that's meaningful in life ever is! but the effort is requires of adults is a small price compared to the toll that secrets and lies take on adopted children.

If you have arms wide enough to arms wide enough to embrace an adopted child, then have hearts big enough to welcome their birthparents into your lives as well.

(I'm proud to know ALOT of open-armed, big-hearted people around here! Thanks for that! smile.gif )

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Thanks for you feedback, guys. Hannah, I can relate to much of what you wrote. From conversations with you to what you've shared on the forum, I know we are on the same page. I think learning about t

My niece, a college freshman, is writing a persuasive speech about open adoption for her speech class (Yes, I'm very proud she chose this topic!) She e-mailed and asked me to share some of my perspect

Why I love open adoption. The article "A Stroll into the Possible" http://mymindonpaper.wordpress.com/ Heather

For those who may be struggling to "get" what open adoption is all about, here's a great article by our old friend Jim Gritter, M.S.W., from up in the piney woods of northern Michigan: Open Adoption Explained.

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Although I am new to Abrazo ( I am hoping to create adoption #2 in the near future) I have an open relationship with Gabriel's birth Mom. He is now 3 yrs old and we have had visits with her every few months since he was born. I love having that connection. During the last visit, she ran into a few of her friends in the Chucky Cheese. When they asked her who she was there with, she relpied "My family". Simply perfect!

May all your dreams come true,

Heidi

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  • 3 months later...

For all those folks out there who worry that open adoption might somehow enable a birthparent to come back someday and kidnap your child (and yes, we do get calls from those who truly fear that this could happen), here's the good news:

YOU STILL HAVE A MUCH GREATER STATISTICAL LIKELIHOOD OF

* being in a plane crash

* having your home struck by lightning

* winning the lottery

* being involved in a terrorist attack

* having your marriage fail

* appearing on a reality TV show

* filing for bankruptcy

* having your child kidnapped by strangers

* having your child abducted by spouse.

So worry about the BIG STUFF, whydoncha? Birthparents are loving, responsible parents who want the best for their child, and have the good judgement to know that you are that best. They don't capriciously seek to unravel their child's destiny after all they've done to plan conscientiously for his or her future.

After all, they've given you every reason in the world to trust them, if they entrust you with the one thing in the world that matters most to them. So don't let them down.

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GREAT examples Elizabeth! Not only good info for those prospective APs new to open adoption, but also for our current or past clients who have to answer questions from misinformed families and friends.

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Okay Elizabeth well said!!!

And I agree... BUT you know I was there once (I am embarrassed to admit it).

Pre-orientation... adoption to me meant a "baby" for us to parent. It was all about ME!!! I was desperate... we had failed on our own... I knew in my heart we would be good parents, so why would anyone doubt us or deny us. I filled out all the paperwork, figured out finances, jumped through the hoops, so to speak. You bet, I felt entitled. (It wasn't until after placement, for me to feel the other side of adoption, that I had entitlement issues. rolleyes.gif )

I was at the lowest point in my life when I made that first call to Abrazo. sad.gif

What I heard was quick placement (again sorry). There was someone on the other end of the phone that sincerely knew how I was feeling, listened patiently, did not try to overhaul my crazy thinking on that first phone call, he just answered my questions. I felt like I finally talked to someone who understood ME. That was therapy in itself.

Orientation....life changing!

Post-orientation...We came home so hopeful and energized. (Our parents watched us in wonderment.) We were so excited... "who would our birthparents be?" Our birthmother could be carrying our baby at this time and we do not even know each other, yet. This just fascinated me... I focused more on our birthparents than baby, that was a big change. I focused more on our birthparents than ME, an even bigger change.

As it turned out, our birthmother was carrying our baby during orientation, struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, trying to find the answer, the family that she did not know, yet.

It was magical... and from this point on...it has never been about ME, ever, thankfully!

So, Abrazo, please continue to orientate and educate, because some of us need that extra help to get there. Thank you.

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Woo hoo Karen! I think you just spoke for just about every prospective adoptive parent on the face of this earth! Unless someone is just so up on every study and every expert view relating to adoption and its evolution - I think most every Joe Blow out there who comes to adoption as the sole means of building their family (i.e. due to infertility) comes with some very basic ideas and thoughts on it - hence, this is why I think every family pursuing adoption as a means of building their family should ALWAYS go the agency route (and make sure its a darn good agency too, not just one in the "business of babies") because where you go from those early days (in terms of your views/outlooks) is so dependent on the foundation you build your views/outlooks on.

Bravo for taking that brave step and admitting that most of us are NOT the best open adoption role models in the beginning but just because we don't start out that way, doesn't mean we can't make some huge progress toward that over the course of our journey.

I too had some entitlement issues in the very beginning - when we first contacted Abrazo - I was coming from the perspective that I had already given one child to another family and wouldn't be her parent and by darn if I was going to share that role with a birthmother with my next child. I've come a looooong way since then and now, I know better - so I do better. Just goes to show - you can teach an old dog new tricks (if you have a really good teacher!)

-Lisa

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For all those folks out there who worry that open adoption might somehow enable a birthparent to come back someday and kidnap your child (and yes, we do get calls from those who truly fear that this could happen), here's the good news:

YOU STILL HAVE A MUCH GREATER STATISTICAL LIKELIHOOD OF

* being in a plane crash

* having your home struck by lightning

* winning the lottery

* being involved in a terrorist attack

* having your marriage fail

* appearing on a reality TV show

* filing for bankruptcy

* having your child kidnapped by strangers

* having your child abducted by spouse.

So worry about the BIG STUFF, whydoncha? Birthparents are loving, responsible parents who want the best for their child, and have the good judgement to know that you are that best. They don't capriciously seek to unravel their child's destiny after all they've done to plan conscientiously for his or her future.

After all, they've given you every reason in the world to trust them, if they entrust you with the one thing in the world that matters most to them. So don't let them down.

42613[/snapback]

Elizabeth,

That should be on the back of your business card! laugh.gif

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Okay Elizabeth well said!!!

And I agree... BUT you know I was there once (I am embarrassed to admit it).

Pre-orientation... adoption to me meant a "baby" for us to parent.  It was all about ME!!!  I was desperate... we had failed on our own... I knew in my heart we would be good parents, so why would anyone doubt us or deny us.  I filled out all the paperwork, figured out finances, jumped through the hoops, so to speak.  You bet, I felt entitled.  (It wasn't until after placement, for me to feel the other side of adoption, that I had entitlement issues. rolleyes.gif

I was at the lowest point in my life when I made that first call to Abrazo. sad.gif

What I heard was quick placement (again sorry).  There was someone on the other end of the phone that sincerely knew how I was feeling, listened patiently, did not try to overhaul my crazy thinking on that first phone call, he just answered my questions.  I felt like I finally talked to someone who understood ME.  That was therapy in itself. 

Orientation....life changing!

Post-orientation...We came home so hopeful and energized.  (Our parents watched us in wonderment.)  We were so excited... "who would our birthparents be?"  Our birthmother could be carrying our baby at this time and we do not even know each other, yet.  This just fascinated me... I focused more on our birthparents than baby, that was a big change.  I focused more on our birthparents than ME, an even bigger change.

As it turned out, our birthmother was carrying our baby during orientation, struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, trying to find the answer, the family that she did not know, yet.

It was magical... and from this point on...it has never been about ME, ever, thankfully!

So, Abrazo, please continue to orientate and educate, because some of us need that extra help to get there.  Thank you.

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While I am putting it all out there... there was something else I brought with me to adoption (pre-placement), CONTROL.. I wanted to control something in my life... since I was living proof that I had no control over our infertility, I had to accept that.

But adoption... that was something I thought I could control... how wrong I was. rolleyes.gif and thankfully came to realize this early on, so I could really partake in the beauty of our adoption journey.

Now my first impression of Abrazo was/still is, they take care of their birthparents, first and foremost. Actually I think they do a great job for both families, it just took me longer to grasp it. When I was only worried about ME (pre-placement), I can remember thinking, hey this isn't just about birthparents, what about Me? Don't I have a say-so in My adoption journey?

Fast forward 10+ years, I heard myself saying at an Abrazo Board Meeting, " please continue to take good care of our birthparents because after all that means you are taking good care of us." I sincerely feel that way.

Thank you, Abrazo for allowing some of us to enter with baggage... knowing that You can lighten the load for us, down the road, when we choose to let you.

Karen

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Elizabeth et al.,

I can only imagine the eye rolls and remarks you girls have behind close doors when new clients come in wanting to adopt! biggrin.gif You are so kind to gently guide us and do a great job educating along the way. You must feel like proud parents when some of us close-minded morons start to really get it!! The irony is I'm working with an individual in our current agency that desparately needs to attend an Abrazo orientation!! biggrin.gif

Susan

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I think it is important to remember to not let worries (i.e. fear) dictate the decisions we make in our lives. We could miss our greatest blessings if we do. Not only could a child be the blessing that results but it could also be the relationship with that child's birthfamily (both for you and your child). There are no garantees in this life no matter by what means we do or do not become parents. Do not become a slave to fear when you know that a certain decision is the right one to make - those in which you detect the Lord's hand.

Challenge: Think about the decisions you have made in your life and what you could have missed if you had given into you fears.

P.S. I think this was a message for myself much more than it was for anyone else reading it. rolleyes.gif

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I stumbled onto this fact sheet on NAIC's (National Adoption Information Clearinghouse) website and thought it was beneficial for those who are just looking into open adoption and want a brief overview of what it is, its goals, etc.

Wanted to share the info (click on the title of the fact sheet to view it)

Openness in Adoption - A Fact Sheet for Families

Author(s): National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (HHS)

Availability: View Publication

Printable Version (PDF - 456 KB)

Year Published: 2003 - 6 pages

This factsheet describes the benefits of postadoption contact with birth parents and reviews considerations for determining the degree of openness that is most appropriate for the child. It suggests that adoptive parents consult Internet websites, books, counselors, and other parents when making decisions about open adoption. The factsheet includes a chart of the advantages and disadvantages of confidential adoptions, mediated adoptions, and open adoptions.

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Lisa,

Excellent site! I've bookmarked it so I can go back to it and read some more. Thanks for sharing this. You always are such a wealth of information!!

biggrin.gif

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And to look at this from a different perspective...

If you're in the process of trying to adopt and you're scared of the idea of "having" to get to know the birthparents of your future child and keeping in touch: here's the kind of press that birthparents often see, leading them to fear adoption altogether. (Perhaps this also illustrates why openness is so healing, as is the opportunity for all parties to maintain contact in the years following the placement): http://www.washtimes.com/culture/20060301-...1751r_page2.htmAdoption In Shadow of Abuse.

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Jeff and I think open adoption is the only way to go. In 1999 we found out that my dad was adopted-he found out at the age of 50 at the reading of his adoptive father's will. What a way to find out huh?

After seeing him go through his journey to find his birthparents, we are thankful our daughter Trinity will not have to waste any time or energy searching.

The good news is my father found his birthmother and over the years they have developed a great relationship and end every phone call with "I love you."

The man who my dad thought was his birth father has turned out not to be by DNA testing. This individual was also on his original birth certificate.

It has been very frustrating, as the truth will not be told to him by anyone who could possibly know....He continues to search with no luck-as his birthmother does like to talk about this topic.

Due to my father's experience is why we wanted to adopt before we even got married in 1999...

Our daughter was a B.O.G. so we did not get to know our birth mom beforehand-but we have been fortunate to get to know her and spend time with her and her family. We are so happy that our family had just gotten bigger!!!

One could not ask for anything better than openness and honesty. Trinity will grow up knowing just how much she is loved!!!!

Amy

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This story (Masha's story) was just one of the saddest things I ever heard - she was on Primetime or Dateline (well, her story was) some months ago - that was the first time I heard about it then Oprah had her on her show and told her story and had her mom (either foster or adoption, it sounded like it was her adoptive mom but could have been foster) on there as well.

I am so glad the agency is bearing responsibility in this as well - from what it sounded like between the Primetime and Oprah is that this "agency" basically verged on the edge of child trafficking rather than adoption - but under the guise of being an adoption agency/facilitator.

This is also why it is so, so, so important for anyone who is considering placing their child for adoption to make sure you are working with a reputable agency - I can not emphasize that enough. You are entrusting your child in the hands of complete strangers - you must make sure you are at the right place. In Masha's case, she was from Russia or Romania, some international adoption - I don't know what the solution is there - it's like noone is looking after the wealfare and rights of these kids from foreign countries. Shameful!

I've said this before on here but when I found out I was pregnant, there had just been a lot of press on this horrible situation where this doctor or lawyer in NY had adopted (with his wife I think?) this baby girl, I believe it was a private adoption and had spent years abusing her, physically, sexually - he ended up murdering her - I think she was around 6 yrs old - I can't remember the names now but it was in all the headlines - here I was, 17 and looking to place my baby for adoption and all I could think about was what if my child was placed in the hands of a monster like that? It terrified me! So much so that it had a huge influence on why I chose Gladney - it was an agency I knew had been around for 100 years +, my aunt and uncle had adopted through Gladney and I knew they were very good people, maybe not empathetic toward birthparents but they had been loving, wonderful parents to my cousins, my sister had a neighbor who had recently adopted through Gladney and she told me all the background checks and information they had to provide in order to adopt - to me, I just felt comfortable that at least my child would be placed in a loving home who hopefully had been screened thoroughly (I knew nothing about homestudies at that time - I figured all the checks and balances were with the agency). Anyway, at that time, what they offered me (the agency) in terms of support and contact, etc was not as important as knowing that my child would be raised by good people.

When I first went to see an OB/GYN after learning I was pregnant (before I went to Gladney), I remember having a visit with him in his office with my mom (after my other visit) and we talked about my decision to place my child for adoption and he told me he knew of families who would love to offer my child a wonderful home - I don't think I could have run fast enough! I knew there was no way I would place in a situation where an agency wasn't involved - that image of that little girl was too fresh in my mind - I thought (at the time) that anyone who didn't go through an agency wasn't being looked into or checked - I just figured they could just show up and say "we want to adopt a baby" and that was all they had to do.

I don't know if potential birthmothers find themselves in that same situation or not - knowing very little really about adoption and the process - but at least if any find Abrazo's site, they at least have a head start on understanding their rights, things they should/can think about, etc etc etc. There's such a free exchange of information on here - it's just so awesome!!!

-Lisa

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Lisa, the case to which you refer is the tragic murder of six-year-old Lisa Steinberg, who was placed for adoption as a baby in 1981. However, the adoption attorney (Joel Steinberg) kept her as well as another child (Mitchell, who'd also been placed for adoption by a well-intentioned birthmother), and he and his de facto wife, Hedda Nusbaum, were ultimately responsible for the repeated abuse that resulted in her death. See the Full Story.

Interestingly enough, the birthmother (Michele Launders, who wrote a book about the experience called "I Wish You Didn't Know My Name") was later awarded nearly a million dollars by the City of New York for its failure to protect Lisa after receiving reports of suspected abuse prior to her murder: Birthmom Wins Lawsuit.

Joel Steinberg was released from prison in 2004 after serving 15 years: Killer Released.

Lisa's "adopted" brother, who was returned to his birthmom after her murder, was renamed Travis Smiegel, and is now in college.

Hedda Nusbaum reportedly fled New York upon his release and is living in seclusion.

It's a horrific footnote in adoption history, but hopefully it will serve as a reminder why birthparents have more reason to fear secrecy than adopting parents who "risk" openness.

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Thank you for sharing this Elizabeth. When Paul and I decided to adopt, we thought it was very important that the people who made our dreams come true should never wonder if their child (grandchild, niece, nephew, etc.) is well and happy. They should never wonder, "What does he/she look like?; What does he/she like to do?; etc." This issue honestly never entered our mind.

This weekend, my daughter received a birthday gift from her birthmom and she absolutely loves it! We left her a voice mail (unfortunately could not get her "live") but Chloe loved to hear her voice.

I have a funny open adoption story. I wrote a letter to our daughter's birthmother to let her know what Chloe is up to. (We write about every other month). Chloe loves to play baseball. (She is actually pretty good at hitting the ball when it is pitched to her). I told her birthmom this story and she wrote me an email saying that our daughter's birthgrandmother LOVES baseball and was hoping one of her grandchildren would love to play too. It turns out that Chloe's birthsiblings do not like to play baseball...and tChloe's birthgrandmother was quite sad about it. Now, she is ecstatic because she has a grandchild to play baseball!

Thanks again!

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1) Don't do any adoption that cannot be "open"-- kids who are adopted deserve both honest information and access, and only open adoptions assure them of this.

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Hi Elizabeth,

I'm quoting another post but felt since it was a comment related to open adoption, I would follow-up here in the open adoption thread.

I just wanted to make sure I'm understanding what you're saying - I think so but just wanted to double-check. Are you saying "open" from the perspective of the adoptive parents (i.e. Adoptive Parents embrace, are educated about, and believe in open adoption) or "open" from both the birthparent & adoptive parent perspective? I think what you're saying is not to move forward with an adoption unless the adoptive parents understand and appreciate the value of open adoption (regardless of how the birthparents initially (or permanently) feel about open adoption? Based on what you say "kids who are adopted deserve both honest information and access", I'm thinking you are saying the burden lies with the adoptive parents first? At least that's how I see it....in a perfect world, both the adoptive parents and birthparents would work toward having an open adoption but at very least, the adoptive parents need to be on board with that...?

-Lisa

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Lisa, you're absolutely right; thanks for clarifying... the context of the other thread had to do with a prospective parent's fear of contact vs. her desire to add a certain child to her family. I think it is terribly misguided for any prospective adoptive parent to go into a placement plan thinking "well, we really don't like this birthmom but we hope she goes away after the ink is dry."

Openness is about honesty and access. Honesty is an essential feature of psychologically-healthy families. Access, whether to facts or faces, is a crucial component of healthy identity formation. People who've been adopted need both in order to grow and thrive.

Sometimes, folks who do want to get a baby through our program but don't want to do open adoption get testy upon learning we won't "save" birthmoms who don't want contact for matching with adoptive parents who want closed adoptions. Why not? they ask.

It's because we do open adoption for the benefit of the children, not the adults. So whether the adults come seeking openness or not, we place our children (hopefully) only in homes that value the benefits of openness, and therefore will strive to offer Abrazo's kids honesty and access throughout their lives.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Openness is not what you do to get a child into your home; it's how you live your lives once that child is there. That's why openness can still be the gift you give your child, regardless of whether the birthparents are emotionally able to keep in touch or not. And that truly is the gift that will keep on giving, for generations to come. Begin with the end in mind-- the future of your family tree depends on it.

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Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen!!!!!

And just to note one other thing that I find so important - I think through embracing what openness is and what it does for your child also means that what will naturally follow is to honor your child's heritage, history, identity, without interfering with it - I don't have much time to post on this - we have plans to head out in a bit but I think when you begin to really "get" open adoption (and read, read, read those books you recommend!) - then everything else along with it will just naturally fall into place - it will no longer feel forced. Woo hoo for all those involved in the Open Adoption Movement!!! (Is there a "National Open Adoption Awareness Day?" - how cool would that be?)

-Lisa

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Lisa and Elizabeth,

You Ladies....well you should do PSA's or some type of campaign for open adoptions. You are both to elequent and expressive. Maybe we need pink or blue wrist bands. You ladies - could be the LiveStrong of the adoption community. You need a catchy phrase. Anyway....Thank you Thank You Thank You biggrin.gif

Edited by HeidiK
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