Modern day adoption is far different than it was years ago. Today, most adoptions are considered “open adoptions.” One of the most frequently asked questions that expectant/birth parents ask is, “What is open adoption?” Others wonder, “How does the open adoption process work?” This guide will discuss everything expectant/birth mothers should know about the open adoption process.
What Does Open Adoption Mean?
Open adoption looks different for every family. Just as no two pregnancies and births are the same, no two open adoptions are the same. The simplest way to explain open adoption is this: It is an adoption that involves a relationshipand some communication between birth and adoptive families. This may occur before, during, and/or after the adoption takes place.
The first, most basic part of open contact involves sharing personal, identifying information between families. This may include first and last names, email addresses, and phone numbers, for example. This gives the two parties – birth parents and adoptive parents – a way to contact one another. The second part of the open adoption process includes contact itself.
The level of contact in an open adoption arrangement will vary family to family. For some, this might involve in-person visits with one another. For others, it might be the exchanging of photos and updates via email, text messaging, or phone calls. Some birth mothers choose to have a semi-open adoption, in which they only keep in touch with the adoptive parents via their adoption agency. This way, they maintain a level of privacy.
Expectant/birth mothers may determine the form and frequency of communication in an open adoption. Both parties then agree to the arrangement with a formal, written open adoption agreement. While it is an official document, the arrangement may be changed over the years to adjust to a growing child.
One common misconception of open adoption is that it is co-parenting. Open adoption does not mean co-parenting the child. This relationship, instead, is one that is built on mutual respect that the adoptive parents are, in fact, the parents of the child, but that the birth parent can still be a part of the child’s life. This way, the child knows they are loved by two families.
How Does the Open Adoption Process Work?
The way an open adoption works depends on the people involved and the relationship that is formed. With many successful open adoptions, expectant/birth parents and prospective adoptive families get to know one another before placement. Once they make contact and build a relationship, they can finalize the details of the open adoption plan and – with the help of their adoption social worker – agree to the form and frequency of communication once the adoption is complete.
Below is a guide on how an open adoption may be arranged – and how the open adoption process works – with a private adoption agency guiding you through the process.
Step-by-Step Open Adoption Process
Step 1: Determine What You Want
The first step in making your open adoption plan is deciding how you would like to stay connected with your child’s adoptive family – and how much contact you want.
You can ask yourself what type of communication you would feel most comfortable with, such as email, text messaging, phone calls, in-person visits, etc. Do you want to see photos of your child on a regular basis? Do you want updates from the adoptive family via text message or email? Do you think in-person visits would be overwhelming, or would you look forward to this reunion? Or, do you prefer to keep contact only through your agency? Check in with yourself, take stock of your emotions, and decide what level of contact will make you most comfortable.
It is quite common for expectant/birth mothers to be unsure of what type of contact they would like to have, especially before they meet/choose their child’s adoptive family. At Adoptions With Love, our compassionate staff can help you along in this process. They can share information with you about the adoptive family before you meet them and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Every hopeful adoptive family at Adoptions With Love agrees to having at least a semi-open adoption, and so there is no question that you will be able to have the open adoption that meets your needs.
Step 2: Select an Adoptive Family
While you may not have chosen to become pregnant, you do have many options with adoption, and one of those includes selecting your child’s adoptive family. You are in charge of this adoption, and you have the power to decide who will raise your child. You can browse the profiles of families who are ready to adopt and love a child. You can ask as many questions as you need, and you can ask to speak with a family before making your decision.
At Adoptions With Love, every family looking to adopt must first complete a Home Study, which is a months-long process to ensure that they can offer a child a safe, stable, and loving home. This process includes multiple home visits and interviews and a thorough screening. You can rest assured that your child will be raised by a family that is healthy – physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially – and can offer a lifetime of love and opportunity.
Step 3: Get to Know the Family
If you wish, you can get to know your child’s adoptive parent(s) before giving birth. This will help you get a sense of who they are and how they will raise a family. The amount of pre-placement contact in an open adoption can vary depending on many factors, such as distance and how much time there is before birth.
Adoptions With Love can schedule and facilitate an initial meeting – via phone or Zoom – between expectant/birth parents and adoptive parents. This may help break the ice and allow you to start conversations. It is normal to feel nervous about this initial “meeting,” but your adoption specialist will be there with you every step of the way.
Step 4: Meet the Family in Person
Once you have made contact and had an initial conversation – by phone, text, email, video chat, etc. – you may choose to meet your child’s adoptive family in person. For many, this step happens at birth in the hospital or delivery room. Your adoption specialist can help you make a hospital plan that outlines how you would like your labor and delivery experience to go. This will describe whether you would like to have the adoptive parent(s) in the room with you during delivery, whether you would like to be the first to hold the baby, if you would like separate time alone with the baby, and more. This may be changed at any point during the birth process and your hospital stay.
Adoptive parents can be made aware of the expectant/birth mother’s hospital plan before birth so that they are prepared for what is to come. The time in the hospital can be a significant moment of bonding between birth and adoptive families, setting the stage for a deep, meaningful relationship.
Step 5: Continue to Build a Relationship
After placement, the open adoption process continues. Adoption is a lifelong journey. Open adoption allows birth parents to continue to build their relationship(s) with the adoptive family. For many birth parents, this offers a sense of peace of mind. Signing the paperwork consenting to the adoption does not mean “goodbye forever.” In fact, it is just the beginning.
If you choose to have an open adoption, you can look forward to years of photo and letter updates on your child’s progress and growth. You can also continue working on your own personal and professional goals, all while knowing that your child is living a happy life. You can focus on yourself while enjoying a budding relationship with your child’s adoptive family, either through:
- Text messages
- Shared photo apps
- Phone calls
- Video chats
- In-person visits
- And more
Like any other relationship in your life, your open adoption arrangement can evolve over time. If you start to develop a closer bond with your child’s adoptive family, you may choose to have more frequent contact, or go from phone calls to in-person visits. Your adoption agency can help you make any changes needed with the open adoption agreement.
Adoptions With Love can help you through the open adoption process. Contact one of our compassionate staff members today for more information. Call us 24/7 at 800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 617-777-0072, or contact us online. We can help you design an open adoption plan that meets your needs.