The majority of adoptions today involve some level of openness, but what exactly does “open adoption” mean?
Open adoption is an option that expectant/birth mothers will have as they begin to design their adoption plan. This term does not simply refer to one kind of adoption, but rather to the many different ways a birth mother can maintain contact with her child following his or her placement.
If you ask ten people to define “open adoption,” chances are you will receive ten distinct answers. That is because there is no single, universal definition of open adoption. For one family, an open adoption arrangement may entail the birth mother, child, and adoptive parents getting together once a month. For another family, open adoption may mean that the birth mother and her child exchange letters and pictures, but never meet in person.
To some people, an open adoption will mean that the “identifying information” (first/last name, phone number, mailing address) of a birth mother is available to her child. This means that children in an open adoption arrangement will consistently have the opportunity to reach out to their birth mothers as they grow up, and vice versa. In general, “open adoption” describes the type of adoption relationship in which there is some extent of contact between a birth mother, her child, and her child’s adoptive family. How that contact carries out, however, will differ person to person and plan to plan.
Communication in an open adoption can be structured in the form of emails, telephone calls, and/or in-person visits. If and when a birth mother is ready, Adoptions With Love also offers letter and picture updates of her child, so that she can see just how her baby has grown. The frequency of contact in an open arrangement can be flexible depending on the wants and needs of everyone involved.
Some women who choose an open adoption do not want fully disclosed contact, and believe it best to have only letter and picture updates without ever meeting their child face-to-face. Alternatively, some birth mothers desire to maintain contact with their child, but do not want to reveal any identifying information. A “semi-open” adoption plan allows birth mothers to maintain minimal contact with their child and/or his or her adoptive family. In many cases, this contact is indirect and mediated through an adoption agency. Adoptions With Love is an open adoption agency, meaning that all of our waiting adoptive families have agreed to at least a semi-open adoption. They are willing to work with you to design a plan that will be most advantageous to you and your baby for years to come.
Ultimately, open adoption may not be right for everyone. A closed adoption plan may be best for you, and that is OK. The “right” plan is the plan that is right for YOU. If you are here because you are considering an open adoption arrangement, understand that you, as an expectant/birth mother have choices. You can make the decision on what your adoption plan will look like, and how much contact (if any) you will have with an adoptive family over time. Our team at Adoptions With Love welcomes you to tell us all about your ideal adoption plan, so that we can get you started on giving you and your baby the best possible life moving forward. This is a new beginning of a lifelong journey, and lifelong relationships if you wish for them.
Instead of asking what open adoption means, ask yourself what open adoption will mean to you?
To learn more about the different levels of open adoption, download our newest eBook, A Guide to Open Adoption. If you would like to chat with one of our adoption professionals about your options, or to see if open adoption is right for you, please feel free to call us at any time of day, any day of the week at 1-800-722-7731. We are available to help and guide you every step of the way.