Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Isn't Your Mother's Era Adoption

Adopting a child has changed so much in the last 30, 20 or even 10 years.  Every adoption is different, but the process has been updated to meet modern day needs.  In a domestic adoption, you'll most likely meet your child's birth mother. Studies after studies have been done to find out what's best for the child and for the families.  The general consensus is that some contact with the birth parents is good for everyone.  You would have access to your child's family medical history, you would be able to help your child better understand why they were placed for adoption and answer any questions they might have and the birth parent would feel more confident that their child was well-loved and cared for and they made the right decision by choosing not to parent.  A closed adoption is so yesterday.

In a semi-open adoption, you would generally meet the expectant mother (and maybe the father) before adopting.  You would receive her (and the father's, if available) medical background.  You would agree to sending letters and pictures to the agency or third party, but would not exchange identifying information like last name, home address or personal email.  In some cases, you may have visits with the birth parents hosted by an adoption professional.  Every relationship is different and it is important set boundaries in the beginning.

In an open adoption,  you would meet the expectant mother (and maybe the father) before adopting.  You would have a personal relationship with the birth parent(s).  Identities of all parties would be shared and you would agree upon how often you would like to directly exchange letters, photos, emails, phone calls and visits and what role you want the birth parents to have in the child's life.  Let me make this clear though, an open adoption is not co-parenting.  As the parent you will need to make decisions about what is the best birth parent scenario for your child. A lot of websites describe the relationship with the birth parents as one like you might have with your in-laws.  Some people go on Disney cruises with their in-laws and others rarely speak. There is a lot of wiggle room in developing this relationship.

Both options have there pros and cons, but it all comes down to what is best for your family.  You will discuss your preferences with your social worker during the home study and they will match you with an expectant parent(s) that best fits what you are comfortable with.

We would prefer a semi-open adoption and see how the relationship naturally progresses.  We will consider an open adoption with the right birth parent(s). I have heard a number of times from people that the birth mother "gave up" their baby, so cut the cord already. Why do you need remain in contact with them? No matter how much you want to ignore that fact that your child has birth parents, they are there and they will always be there.  Without these people, you would not have your child.  It has taken me a long time to get to the conclusion that a relationship with the birth parents might be a good thing. I wrestle with  thoughts of will my child think of me as their real mom? What if the birth parent(s) overstep the boundaries that we agreed upon.  I am not going to lie, I have my insecurities about having birth parents in my life.  But I feel confident that if I always address my child's adoption in a positive way and be prepared for when questions come up, it will all work out.  Adoption is a special kind of family and we will sometimes have parenting issues that differ from biological families.  In the end, all parents want what is best for their child.

Me and my adorable nephew!  Maybe he'll have a cousin one day soon!
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