Adoption has moved from closed to increasing openness. The “Today Show” has been featuring a week long series on “Choosing Adoption.” The show featured Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her adopted daughter’s journey to meet her birth mother for the very first time now that she is 27 years old.
When I began working at Adoptions With Love in October of 1986, unless an adoptive family met the birth mother of their child, they only referred to each other as “birth mother” and “your child’s adoptive parents.” This is how people were instructed to refer to themselves in letters to each other. Today, we have more open adoptions with birth parents and adoptive families exchanging phone numbers, email addresses and last names. Some families are meeting each other yearly or twice yearly. They are texting each other pictures and sharing important events in their child’s life. Families are also communicating via “Face Time” and “Skype.”
Recently, I made flight arrangements for an expectant mom to come to the Boston area to meet the prospective adoptive parents. It is important for her to see the home in which her child will be raised. Why not? She will be entrusting her child’s life to strangers whom she selected from a photo album and letters. She trusts AWL to vet the adoptive parents to raise their child. I am in awe of the courage and the trust the expectant/birth parents put in AWL and the adoptive parents they select. I am surprised that more women do not ask more frequently to meet people in their homes. What I say to prospective adoptive parents is, if you do not take this emotional risk, you will end up with nothing.
This week we had three placements. In each of these the expectant/birth parents and adoptive families have met one another several times and in all cases met members of extended families. What a gift for these children. They will be raised with the awareness of the loving and thoughtful decision their birth parents made in making an adoption plan. The development of these relationships helps give birth/expectant parents peace in making the most difficult decision of their lives.
The result of an open adoption, in the majority of situations, is very positive. Parents have a vast amount of information to share with their child when they have questions about adoption. Most importantly, the expectant/birth parents can have peace with their decision. These are not the adoptions of 40 or 50 years ago.
The relationships between birth and adoptive families are complicated and will change over time. We at AWL are here to aid you in navigating this journey.
Amy S. Cohen, LICSW