What is Open Adoption?
Open adoption, also known as “cooperative adoption,” allows for some form of communication between the birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents. This can range from pictures, letters, and phone calls to contact through an intermediary, to open contact between the parties themselves.
Not many people are exposed to or have knowledge about the fundamentals of open adoption. When people think of adoption, they often only consider that once the adoption is in place, the birth parents are not involved anymore. However, birth parents are a vital part of what makes adoptees the people that they are and grow to be. Birth parents are part of the family, just in a different way.
Keeping the door “open” to open adoption has its benefits for everyone in the adoption triad. Possible benefits for birth parents can include peace of mind when receiving updates about their child, an opportunity for building a relationship, and the openness can help heal the feeling of a loss. Some benefits for adoptive parents include an opportunity for building a relationship with their child’s birth parents, access to medical history, and a resource to obtain answers to other questions they might have regarding their child’s ancestry history. Benefits for adoptees include clear answers to their biological background, the opportunity to ask any questions, more to their understanding of their adoption, more people they have that love and care about them, and an opportunity to meet possible siblings. As a result, open adoption comes with all of these benefits for all parties involved.
Though this all sounds great, it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. People often create their own personal definitions of what an open adoption entails. For instance, some people interpret open adoption as the adoption triad getting together for a family dinner, while others interpret open adoption to be just yearly photo updates. These are two different ends of the spectrum. Some birth parents aren’t as open to being involved, and that’s OK. When you’re on the other end of this spectrum, it’s normal to feel frustrated or confused. With this being said, it’s important to respect everyone’s comfort zones, but predominately to not lose hope for yourself. Keep the door open. Continue to send photos, gifts, updates, etc. to keep everyone in the loop. By doing this, it could result in more comfortability, and overall a more open relationship. There is no harm in demonstrating inclusion.
Check out these episodes from AFTH TV about open adoption:
(Son searches for birth parents, resulting in an open adoption situation)
(AFTH Marketing Director shares personal experience as to how she keeps the door of open adoption “open” to her child’s birth parents)