My View of Open Adoption: Before and After

open adopt

The term “Open Adoption” can be a scary phrase for hopeful adoptive parents. It brings a lot of questions to mind. It can bring a little (or a lot of) fear – the fear of the unknown.

That’s how my husband and I felt before we adopted. We had no idea what to expect. Sure, we read books provided by our adoption agency. We even saw a video. But reading about it and doing it are two different things.

Before Adoption

When my husband and I were filling out adoption paperwork, one of the sheets is on “openness”.  The questions read:

  1.  Both adoptive parents and the birth parents meet at a neutral location before and after birth.
  2. Both the adoptive parents and the birth parents are present at early events such as the baby’s baptism, dedication, and other mutually agreed events.
  3. Each set of parents inform the other of plans to move out-of-state and any major life events, ilnessess, or losses.
  4. Adoptive parents attend OB/GYN appointment with the birth parents.
  5. Meet with the birth parents, exchanging the following: pictures, letters, emails, cell phone numbers.
  6. Adoptive and birth families are together during and after the birth at the hospital.
  7. Sharing of videos/DVD’s of the chihld on a regular basis.
  8. First names are exchanged among each set of parents, they agree to personal history shared, and an amiable acquaintance is established.
  9. Visits between parents occur several times during hte first year and annually thereafter.
  10. Full names and addressess are exchanged during the first meeting with one another or shortly thereafter.
  11. Ongoing visits in each other’s homes, including extended birth parents, for events such as family get-togethers, holidays, vacations, birthdays, graducations, recitals, and other mutually agreed events.

Our options for each question were to select “Will Accept”, “Will Not Accept” or “Would Discuss”. We were all for sending pictures, letters and even emails. But when it came to exchanging phone numbers, addresses or even visits, we were a bit leery. I think we settled in the “Would Discuss” category for those!

Post Adoption

There are a few different levels of “open adoption” that range from a little communication (maybe a handful of letters or emails sent through the year) to completely open adoptions. These Open Adoptions are ones where the birth and adoptive families are more like close friends. They may talk on the phone a lot, share meals together, celebrate life events together.

Every adoption triad is different, So while I can’t share what other open adoptions look like, I can share what OURS looks like.

Our adoption is a semi-open, and for US it means the following…

  • During the first year we sent pictures and letters at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.
  • We had visits with the birthparents at 6 months and 12 months.
  • We created a Facebook page for just the birth family and us. This way we could post pictures, videos and updates more frequently than the letters specified in our Adoption Covenant. If they wanted anyone added, they could let us know.
  • We email updates to each other
  • All gifts and letters are sent to the agency and the agency mails the packages to the birthparents or to us.

What does it look like after the first year

I really don’t know! This is a learning process for us. Through our whole adoption process we have let the birth parents lead in what they want as far as communication goes.

While we still keep Facebook updated at least once a week, I have noticed that the birth parents aren’t on as much as they were before. Or at least they are not commenting as much. The birth Grandmas comment frequently though, and that’s okay. We set up the Facebook page so the birth family could access it as much or as little as they want.

For the next year, we will continue to send email updates to the birth family, as well as send occasional gifts.

For now, the next visit we have with the birth family is when our son turns two.  If they asked for a visit sooner, we would definitely discuss it and most likely meet with them. We want our son to know who they are. We want our son to know that his birth family loves him.

We are excited to see how this next year takes shape as we continue or adoption journey!

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