Open adoption can be a beneficial and positive experience for birthparents, adoptive parents, and most importantly, for the child. Over the years, adoption plans throughout the United States have become increasingly more open. This “openness” allows for meaningful connections and relationships to be established through ongoing contact between birthparents and the adoptive family. Most birthparents are drawn to an open adoption plan because it gives them a sense of security and comfort to know how their child is growing and developing. If you are looking to provide your child with a successful and loving open adoption, there are four key recommendations to keep in mind.
1. Choose the Right Family for Your Baby:
Finding the perfect family to adopt your baby is what will give you peace of mind in this journey. Most expectant/birthparents say that once they found the family, they were much more at ease with the decision to make an adoption plan for their baby. The best way to find the right family is to have an experienced adoption professional assist in that process; adoption agencies will meet with the adoptive family multiple times and get to know them very well. They will go through background checks and the expectant/birthparent can be comforted knowing their child will be raised in a loving, secure home with a family that understands the complexities of adoption. Choosing the right family that you feel a connection with is an important factor. Maybe the connection is that there will be an at home parent full time, or maybe they work in a similar profession i.e. nursing, education, etc. The right family will honor your request for the type of communication you would like going forward. Perhaps that is letters and pictures, phone contact, email contact or a yearly meeting. YOU will know when you find the perfect family.
2. Establish Trust:
Open adoption is a relationship based upon respect, honesty and trust with each other. Trust is an issue that can constantly be on an expectant/birthparent’s mind while going through the adoption process. The birthmother should have peace of mind knowing that her baby is in good hands with a family that she has selected. She should also be able to trust that the family she chooses for her baby will continue to communicate with her over time. An agency’s involvement will help to ensure that everyone honors the agreements made at the time of placement.
3. Be Flexible:
In order for open adoption to be successful, both the expectant/birthparent and the new adoptive parents must have a strong sense of flexibility in order to meet each other’s needs. Of paramount importance in an open adoption agreement is taking the child’s best interest into account. In order to do this, sometimes changes need to be made to keep the child’s best interests in mind. Birthparents and adoptive parents need to understand how the other feels and make changes to benefit all parties. Setting guidelines and boundaries from the beginning that are comfortable for all parties is essential.
4. Communicate Openly:
Adoptive parents’ empathy for the birthparents’ grief process is essential when communicating following an adoption placement. Understanding that adoptive parents also have a period of adjustment with new parenting is important for the birthparent to recognize. Ongoing, open communication in the evolving relationship between birth and adoptive families will help a child to understand and accept his/her adoption story. Whether through letters, telephone calls, email, text, or Skype, communication is a vital component of an open adoption. Ongoing communication allows for the love and joy of the child to be shared.
Open adoption can alleviate many unsettling feelings that may arise for birthparents throughout the adoption journey. However, if birthparents choose to proceed with an open adoption, they should keep these four key principles in mind. Choosing the right family and establishing trust, flexibility, and communication will lead to a happy and comfortable open adoption plan that will ultimately benefit the adoptive parents, birthparents, and child.