Open Adoption Roundtable #25: Walk Away?

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. We’re up to Open Adoption Roundtable #25.

Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?


I imagined open adoption with a birthmother who, after she placed her child, got her life back together, got an education, and really took the lemons and made lemonade. This is not at all what happened.

There have been many times that I’ve just been tired of it all. For a long time, S only called when she needed help. I’m not very good at handling her poor choices. I’m worried sick about the children she’s parenting, as they’re not in a safe place. I often wonder if I’m going to get a call from S’s mom that S or one of the children is seriously hurt, or worse.

I hate sitting here and not being able to do a damn thing about any of it.

But for all that I might want to walk away, I won’t. Open adoption isn’t supposed to be easy for the adoptive parents. It’s just supposed to be better for the child. Jack was able to call S’s mom and ask about his older brother’s teeth. He knows that he has siblings and a cousin. You should have seen how happy Jack was to hear S’s mom, his aunt, and his cousin all sing “Happy Birthday” to him on our answering machine. And it meant a lot to all of us that they called, and that S called.

One friend, who has no connection to adoption, declared that she just couldn’t do an open adoption. I’ve had another friend recommend closing it because it’s too stressful for us. It would be less stressful if S made better choices, but I can’t make that happen. I know that contact with S is important to Jack. I know it’s going to be more important when he becomes an adult, if today’s adult adoptees are any indication.

I probably don’t have to worry as much as I do. I love S, and I want her to have a better life. I want Jack’s siblings to have the life he has (but that’s another post). I want them to be safe. So I worry. And I won’t walk away.

2 thoughts on “Open Adoption Roundtable #25: Walk Away?

  1. I am an adult adoptee, old vintage, who is continually befuddled by open adoption. Too often it ends up being about adult feelings and pride and little about the adoptee’s feelings of belonging and security. I have seen both first parents and aparents act in ways that are hurtful to the child.

    I love what you said above. It is about Jack. It sucks that S makes things difficult, but you stick in there for Jack and the smile when his extended family wishes him well.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. I linked over from Open Adoption Roundtable at PNR.
    I love that your perspective is realistic while grasping the purpose of open adoption (I agree with Kara–“too often it is about adult feelings and pride and little about the adoptee.”) Thank you. It was humbling to read.

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