The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table.
Publish your response during the next two weeks–linking back here so we can all find one other–and leave a link to your post in the comments. If you don’t blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.
This round we’re going to consider one critique of fully open adoptions. Have you ever heard–or perhaps even made–statements like these?
“We have medical histories and can share the information we have about their birth parents with our children now. If they feel a need to initiate contact with their birth families when they are adults, we will fully support them.”
“The decision to have a relationship with her bio family should be hers when she is ready. Creating a relationship between them before she wants it might cause issues in the future.”
“Children deserve to have just one family during childhood and not to deal with anything adoption-related until they are more mature. A fully open adoption robs a child of a normal childhood.”
These statements are from people participating in closed and semi-open adoptions. I paraphrased them slightly, but left the meanings intact.
The writers share a certain point-of-view: that direct contact during early childhood between birth families and children placed for adoption may not be the best idea. Adopted persons should be free to initiate relationships with their first families–or not–on their own timetable. The parents (first and adoptive) in an adoption shouldn’t make such an important and personal decision for them.
What is your response? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Susiebook (first mom) at Endure for a Night: “Your child can’t create familial relationships on his or her own—by leaving it up to the adoptee, you make a relationship impossible at first and then merely difficult, handicapped by the years spent in the dark.”
Ginger (first mom) at Puzzle Pieces: “I think when parents say this, they usually mean something like,’We can’t decide if openness is good or bad so we just won’t decide now. Instead, we’ll push these adult decisions off on a child.'”
Elly (adoptive mom): “I get the feeling that too many a-parents who are fixed on a closed or semi-open adoption are doing it because they aren’t comfortable with the child’s birthfamily. But his (our son’s) birthfamily is his family. I don’t want him to be afraid to be curious, or interested. Or surprised. Or try to figure out himself how to ‘make contact’.”
KatjaMichelle (first mom) at Therapy Is Expensive: “All in all adults are uncomfortable with open adoption because its a foreign concept and if we raise our children to view it as an unusual occurance they will be uncomfortable with it as well. If we raise them to know that differences in families are normal, that they have extended family connects that their friends may not, they can grow up embracing all of who they are.”
Leigh (first mom) at Sturdy Yet Fragile: “My initial reaction is that I can’t disagree entirely with these statements. I think that they represent a fair argument, which is to say that a child may not be mature enough to fully comprehend such complicated relationships as are present in open adoptions. However, from what I’ve read from several families participating in fully open adoptions, there seems to be an organic level of understanding, and of love, that takes place for the child, even if he or she does not have the adult words or labels to explain those relationships.“
Rachel (adoptive mom) at Henry Street: “I truly have some mixed feelings when it comes to full openness, but I would never dismiss it as bad for the kids. Adoption is complicated, period.”
Dawn (adoptive mom) at This Woman’s Work: “Well, obviously I disagree. And these kinds of arguments drive me crazy.”
Valerie (first mom) at From Another Mother: “At first, I’m not really going to have a choice whether [a hypothetical aunt is] in my life–and I’m probably not going to care. However, it’s still my choice whether to have a relationship with her. I still get to decide–whether consciously or un–whether I like her or not. My parents may dictate how often I see her as I grow up, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out of my way to talk to her or bond with her. It’s my choice. And as I get older, the choice becomes more and more my own.”
Barely Sane (adoptive mom) at Infertility Licks: “Bonds are formed over time. It will take time for MG’s birth family and myself to form a relationship that all parties are comfortable with. We need that time now, while MG is still too young to recognize the awkwardness of it.”
Luna (adoptive mom) at Life From Here: “To those who say that contact would be confusing for the child, I fail to see how spending time among family would be any more confusing than trying to understand later why your parents never made that option available, if it was possible.”
Shmode (adoptive mom) at Frogged Mind: “I do not look down upon those that have decided against open adoption as it is more than just the best interest of the child at stake. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree, but the adoption itself isn’t solely a single individual’s life experience. There are a mass of people surrounding the child that are affected on a daily basis by his or her presence, so you cannot tell me that a serious decision like this should only consider the needs of the child and the child alone and ignore the persons that will surround him in his daily life for years to come.”
Lavender Luz (adoptive mom) at Weebles Wobblog: “We do better to normalize our children’s adoption from as early as possible. Our children come to us living in a gap between their biology and their biography. The sooner this schism is addressed and the less spread open the cleft is, the more likely it is to heal well and completely. Integration of the two parts of an adopted child’s identity should, in my mind, be the responsibility of the decision-makers (parents) from Day 1 with their new child.”
Andy (adoptee/adoptive mom) at Today’s the Day!: “Mine was a closed adoption, so this is mostly theoretical. But I would have been PISSED if I had found out as an adult that my parents had either known my first family, knew how to contact them or kept them from me in any way.”
Sustainable Families (adoptee): “Taking a quick glance over at open adoption research over at the Adoption Institute, we find that their conclusion seems to be that semi-open adoption is in fact, the hardest. Going on adecdotal evidence, I would agree. Semi-open adoptions and open adoptions with limited contact are, I believe, harder for children and biological parents”