Conferences can be overwhelming. With so many wonderfully informative sessions, how can I possibly remember it all? I can’t. Luckily I’ve been told UMass will be making the PowerPoint slides available along with some sessions which were recorded. Despite not being able to remember everything, there are some bits that have stuck with me.
One of those things is learning that when asked about why an open adoption closed, a majority of adoptive parents will feel it was due to birth parents’ choice and most birth parents will feel it was the adoptive parents’ choice. In some cases I can see how this might happen. There have been times when my son’s parents and I have been in less frequent contact, especially in the early years of our open adoption journey. It is easy for either or both of us to construe that as an indication that the other does not want to be in contact, which can increase the length of time between communication. Had none of us reached out and broken the silence it would be fairly easy for each side to believe the other had been responsible for closing the adoption, when in fact either side could have made the effort to keep it open.
Of course not all adoptions that close do so because of contact lulls; as with openness itself there is a spectrum. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding and each party is waiting for the other to make amends. Perhaps one party explicitly states they will no longer be communicating. I can’t quantify how many open adoptions close. However, I’ve witnessed it happening all too often recently and even if it is a small percentage that is too much.
While I know there is no way to see the future I can’t help but think there must be some way to gauge the likelihood that a person will maintain an open relationship.
What do those participating in successful open adoptions have in common? Is there a single magical piece of information that needs to be conveyed for participants to understand its importance? Is there a way to know if someone truly believes in openness and is not just giving the answers they think the agency/home study writer/expectant mother wants to hear?
I don’t have the answers, but I am making a note to look into it for my PhD research or beyond.
In the meantime, what drives you to maintain your open adoption relationship?
About the author:
Kat Cooley, MSW writes here at Open Adoption Bloggers twice a month. She is a social worker providing comprehensive all options counseling to those experiencing unplanned pregnancy and will soon be returning to school to pursue a PhD in Social Work and focus on adoption related research . She is also a birth mom over a decade into an open adoption. She is always open to suggestions for topics; you can leave them in the comments, at the OAB Facebook page, or tweet her @KMCooleyMSW.