Open Adoption Roundtable: Ignorant Questions About Open Adoption

O Solo Mama is an adoption blog that I read from time to time. She recently posted Ignorant Questions About Open Adoption, which I found interesting. And then I thought about it, and I thought that perhaps the answers to these questions are things that expectant parents might like to know. So, I’m going to answer them from my perspective. (Original intro, January 14, 2011.)

Heather from Production, Not Reproduction, decided to make this topic this round’s Open Adoption Roundtable prompt. So, I’m expanding on my answers today, January 26, 2011.

  1. If open adoption is so great, why do so many people suck at it? By this I mean, not honouring commitments, closing the adoption, telling the other family they’re not “doing this thing” correctly or playing the “for the sake of the child” card?
    There’s not a lot of support for open adoption in the general public. I imagine that it’s even worse for birth mothers. I know some of my friends think I’m strange for contacting S, with at least one saying that she could never do something like that.
    Open adoption is a lifelong relationship that people just don’t know how to navigate. We’re often in these relationships with people who are nothing like us. S and I don’t have very much in common, other than a love of music, and of course, Jack.
  2. From the standpoint of first parents, open adoption sounds like something that could prolong suffering. Could this suffering potentially outweigh the good of knowing where your child is? Who helps the first parent?
    I can’t answer this question.
  3. I’m guessing kids are not hung up on how many relatives they have. Tell me that the thing that hangs up the public all the time about open adoption and other unconventional relationships—two mommies, two daddies, three, four, parents—is the least of your worries because it seems to me it is.
    I wrote about this at Adoption Blogs. I never worried that Jack would be confused, and he’s not, as far as I can tell.
  4. Do you ever feel like you should give this child back? Does the thought ever seize you totally as you watch your child with her bio-family: “ooops?” (OR for f-parents: Do you ever feel as though you need to take this child back? That nothing is stopping you beside an agreement that feels false? Does that feeling go away?)
    Never. S has made a lot of poor choices, especially in recent months. Those reinforce my feelings that adoption was absolutely the best choice for Jack.
  5. How do children ever cope with knowing they could not be kept? When they see their natural parents having more kids, what do they think? Who helps the child in this situation? Both sets of parents?
    This is a really difficult situation. S had a son before she had Jack, and then a daughter about 2 years later. On the 20th, she had another son. She chose to parent them all. So far, Jack hasn’t asked why. Explaining is going to be rough, but I do think that he’ll understand when he’s older. I can’t see S helping too much in this area. She doesn’t want me to reveal some of the “adult” truths to Jack, but I feel I need to, in an age appropriate way, to make sure that he knows there’s not anything wrong with him.
  6. Can you say comfortably that some surrendering mothers could not cope with an open adoption or do you think that it should always be the standard?
    I think it should be the standard. That is, I don’t think that any parents should agree to a closed adoption before the baby is born and home. I think people don’t always know what they can and cannot cope with. It would be a lot easier to say, for example, “I don’t want any contact for the first 6 months” then to say “I don’t want any contact at all”, and still have a relationship. I read several birthmother blogs by moms who initially wanted a closed adoption, because they thought it would be too hard to have an open one. Then, they realize that not knowing is much harder. But the adoptive parents are like, “Well, too bad.” (Which is still awful of them.)
  7. Is there ever a reason (aside from extreme/illegal behaviours) to close an adoption totally?
    I don’t think so. However, I could see an older adoptee needing to change the parameters of the relationship. I’ve read about adult adoptees who couldn’t deal with their birth parents for whatever reason and needing to create boundaries. Even so, I suppose that’s not totally closed, is it?
    I do think that maintaining some contact with someone safe is in the best interest of the child. I’m actually Facebook friends with S’s daughter’s father’s mother, in large part because I want to be able to ensure Jack can find his sister if we lose contact with S.
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