Open adoption is the new norm. Today, over 95 percent of private, domestic adoptions involve some level of openness. Open adoption means that some form of contact or relationship exists between the birth parents and the adoptive family.
For example, in an open adoption arrangement, an adoptive family may keep in touch with a birth mother over email, social media, snail-mail letters, or phone conversations. They may occasionally see one another in person. Open adoptions may also involve mediated meetings between both families, through an adoption agency, for those that do not prefer direct contact. Every open adoption plan is unique, but all can be very positive arrangements for the families involved.
Open adoption provides great benefits for the child, the birth mother, and the adoptive parents. For the child, he or she can grow up knowing all about their roots: where she came from, what his birth parents look like. They also have the opportunity to ask questions to their birth family as they grow up, such as, “What were my biological grandparents like?” and “Why was I placed for adoption?”
This contributes to a greater sense of self, greater confidence, and fewer “missing pieces” in an adoptee. This also gives adoptive parents access to answers for their child (e.g. on medical history or genealogy), better equipping them to raise a child who is aware and proud of their adoption story.
Now, what about birth parents? How does open adoption benefit birth parents, and why is open adoption important to so many birth mothers today?
As noted above, the majority of adoptions today are open. Expectant/birth mothers are the ones who choose to make an open adoption plan for their baby. Often, this choice is made for the following reasons.
Open adoption allows birth mothers to choose the adoptive family.
Open adoption is important to expectant/birth mothers for many reasons, the first being that it allows them to choose the family for their baby. Through an open adoption agency, expectant/birth mothers can select the adoptive family. This provides great peace of mind, knowing their child will be raised in a loving home that they lovingly chose. Between 76-100% of birth mothers choose the adoptive families for their children. Of those who make this choice, they report less sorrow, grief, regret, and worry than those who did not choose a family. They also report higher levels of relief and peace of mind.
2. They can see how their child is doing and growing over the years.
The peace of mind that open adoption can bring does not end with choosing a family. Many birth mothers express how much happiness it brings them to receive letters, photos, and updates of their child over the years. They can gain comfort in knowing that their child is growing up safe, secure, well taken care of, and most of all, loved. At Adoptions With Love, all adoptive families agree to send yearly letters and photos after the adoption. All birth mothers have the opportunity to receive these letters and pictures of their child over the years, if and when they are ready.
3. Birth mothers can give their child the answers they need.
Many expectant/birth mothers wonder, “What will my child think of me?” after placing a baby for adoption. Some may wonder how the adoptive parents will tell the child’s adoption story or answer difficult questions as the child grows..
When there is an open adoption arrangement, the birth mother has more of an opportunity to color in the details of the adoption story, ultimately leading to fewer unknowns, fewer unanswered questions, and fewre uncertainties for the child.
We often hear from birth mothers who say that they chose open adoption because it allowed them to answer their child’s questions when the adoptive parents could not. Many birth moms do not want their children to feel confused about where they came from and why they were placed for adoption. By choosing open adoption, birth mothers have the opportunity to provide clarity for the child and help him or her develop a stronger identity. .
A birth mother that placed her baby for adoption with AWL explains that after talking about openness with her child’s adoptive family, they decided, “It’s better for our daughter to know all of us, have access to all of us, and be able to ask questions of any of us. I think it’s a healthier type of relationship to have.”
These are just some of the many reasons why open adoption is so important to birth mothers all over the country. To recap, open adoption provides birth mothers with:
- Greater peace of mind knowing their child is in good hands
- Less grief and worry after the adoption is finalized
- The ability to provide important information regarding the child’s history
- The ability to stay in touch, and be a part of the child’s life in a special way
For the child, open adoption provides more information regarding his or her adoption story. It also extends the child’s circle of love, which can lead to more security and self-esteem. Adoptive parents in open adoption arrangements also benefit from access to medical histories, genealogical backgrounds, and other important information. In closed adoptions, this information is not always available. You can read about the benefits of open adoption here.
To learn more about making an open adoption plan at Adoptions With Love, please do not hesitate to reach out. Adoptions With Love is an open adoption agency working with expectant/birth parents across the United States, and with adoptive families in Massachusetts. Contact us online today.