Through the open adoption process that we are going through there are many pieces to the puzzle. One of those is the open adoption agreement that we will complete at the match meeting. There are only a handful of states currently that hold this agreement as legally binding though and Georgia is now one of them. The great thing about the agreement is that it talks about what kind of contact the birth parents and adoptive parents are going to have after placement of the child. It can be things such as how often visitation will occur, if there will be phone/skype calls with the child as they get older, or letters/emails to give updates and pictures of the child. Although it is legally binding, it is only binding from the adoptive parent’s side (i.e. what they agree to they have to at least offer that much contact to the birth parents) but the birth parents can decide to have less contact if they wish.
The importance of the open communication and contact between both parties is for the best of everyone involved in the adoption. There are so many positives that come out of open adoption that it makes me happy we have decided to do open adoption. Each situation is different and even if we start with an open adoption with contact at first it could end up being that the birth parents choose to not have contact and we will have to accept that but we will at least be able to get information at the beginning no matter how the relationship continues. Below are some of the positive things that come out of open adoption:
The child being adopted:
– They have more self confidence in knowing who they are by knowing where they came from and the history of their birth family. Whether the child is a different race/culture from the adoptive parents or not they typically have this desire to know more about who their birth family is to see if they would have been a different person if they were not adopted.
– There doesn’t have to be a struggle with how to tell their adoptive parents they want to find their birth parents since they already know them. In a closed adoption some adoptive children feel like they would hurt their parent’s feelings by telling them they want to search for their birth parents thinking they might believe they are not happy with them as parents.
– The sense of abandonment is less because they can find out why they were given up for adoption directly from the birth parents and know that the choice was so that they could have a different life than what the birth parents could provide at the time.
The adoptive family:
– Access to medical history of the child they are adopting can be beneficial in case there are any health issues or even if there aren’t any when they are children it is good to know that history to have any preventative screening for genetic conditions they could potentially have.
– Feeling more secure, knowing the birth parents directly allows them to feel more assured that they aren’t going to change their minds and try to reclaim the child they placed for adoption.
The birth family:
– There can be updates and visits to see how the child is growing and that they are happy and healthy in their home. This can reduce the guilt they might have over giving up the child and not knowing what happened to them.
– They get to select who the adoptive parents will be for their child and find someone that they can relate to or that they think will raise their child they way they would. They have found a lot of birth parents will look for adoptive parents who have similar interests or similar history to them so that they can be raised similar to how they would raise them if they could.
– Guilt is lessened as well because they don’t think about the adoption as ‘abandoning’ their baby but making a choice for them to have a life that they can’t provide and taking an active role in choosing that life.
Andy and I hope that knowing all of the things that can be gained by an open adoption that we have a birth parent who is interested in staying in contact after the placement as not all birth mothers are. We know though that whatever type of communication we have with the birth parents we will make the most of it and make sure we can tell our child as much information as possible when they ask questions.