Domestic infant adoption doesn’t look like it used to.
Processes have changed and cultural attitudes have shifted, resulting in an updated adoption process that is more beneficial to prospective birth mothers, hopeful parents and the child. One of the most significant changes is a move toward open adoption and away from closed adoption. In fact, the majority of domestic infant adoptions today are at least semi-open.
If you are a family considering adoption, it’s common for your first reaction to the idea of open adoption to be hesitant. It sounds vulnerable and scary. But that perception doesn’t line up with reality. Here’s the truth: Open adoption situations can be a beautiful opportunity and create lifelong relationships that positively impact all parties involved. And the fact is that most expectant mothers today are looking for an open adoption plan.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this as an adoptive family, it’s okay. Let’s break down three key facts about open adoption to help you get a better grasp on how it works and why it can be a good decision.
1. Open Adoption Has Become the Norm in Domestic Infant Adoptions
Open adoption has become increasingly common since the early 1980s. This has occurred thanks in part to shifting cultural attitudes toward birth mothers and a better understanding of how open adoptions can create healthy situations. The stigma of shame that used to be associated with adoption has thankfully dissipated. As society’s acceptance of adoption has grown, so have the chances of having a successful open adoption. Today, 90 percent of potential birth mothers in domestic infant adoption are seeking at least a semi-open adoption plan.
Today, many adoption professionals require all potential adoptive families to be comfortable with at least a semi-open adoption. These professionals will work alongside the potential birth mother and adoptive family to help create a communication plan that meets the needs of each unique situation. Some open adoption plans are more limited, such as quarterly updates with letters and photos. Others may be more involved with occasional visits with the birth mother. The goal is always to set expectations and boundaries that create the best situation possible for everyone involved.
2. Open Adoption Can Be Beneficial to Birth Mothers
The needs of birth mothers are at the forefront of this shift toward open adoption. Potential birth mothers considering adoption are preparing to make one of the most difficult decisions of their life. It’s common to hear the phrase “giving up her baby.” But these women are not giving up – they are giving life. As a hopeful parent, pursuing an open adoption plan is an impactful way to honor and respect a birth mother.
An expectant mother considering adoption for her child is going through a very difficult process. Open adoption can help provide confidence and peace in the midst of this. Many potential birth mothers find hope in knowing that they will not be completely cut out of their child’s life.
As an adoptive family, this is an opportunity, not a hurdle. You have the chance to come alongside a potential birth mother as she navigates one of the most challenging decisions of her life. You can help provide comfort and support. In doing this, you are not only helping her cope with grief but also reaffirming her commitment to her adoption decision. And as many parents can attest, a relationship with their child’s birth mother has been an unexpected blessing.
3. Open Adoption Can Help a Child Thrive
A child who comes home through adoption has a unique journey ahead. There will be questions about their past and identity that children who come into a family biologically don’t have to ask. As a parent, embracing these questions and helping your child to be proud of their story is vitally important.
Open adoptions create an opportunity for a child to fill in the gaps in their history more concretely. Through a sustained relationship with their birth mother, in whatever shape that might take in your open adoption plan, a child has direct access to their roots. This relationship helps reinforce the truth that they were not placed for adoption because they weren’t loved, but because their birth mother did love them and wanted to help create the best life possible.
A connection like this helps a child have a firm foundation to grow and thrive within your family. Several decades ago, this possibility was unlikely. Today, many children who come home through domestic infant adoption have the chance to know they are loved not only by their adoptive mother, but also by their birth mother. And that is a wonderful thing.
Hopefully this information helps you understand the potential benefits of pursuing an open adoption plan. Even though it may seem scary it first, it can be a great thing to do. If you have more questions about open adoption, you can read more here or contact an adoption professional now.