In my last post, I remarked, “Closed adoption doesn’t exist in Robyn’s Adoption Land.” I’d like to expand on that.
A closed adoption is an adoption in which the adoptive parents and birth parents don’t know anything about one another. They have no identifying information. They don’t have any interaction. Today, very few domestic adoptions are closed.
An open adoption is an adoption in which the adoptive parents and birth parents do know one another. They have identifying information about one another. There is some level of interaction. However, there are varying levels of openness. I know some families that have regular visits. Our family, as you know if you read this blog regularly, has contact via phone, text, mail, email, and Facebook. Some adoptive parents communicate with their children’s birth parents through the agency they used.
Open adoption is a relatively new concept. It began in the 1990’s. Research is being done, and it’s showing that open adoption is, overall, better for the adoptees.
In Robyn’s Adoption Land, at a minimum, birth families must commit to updating medical information every three years. In today’s world, there are too many adoptees who lack their basic medical histories. This is a real problem. For that one reason, there aren’t any closed adoptions in Robyn’s Adoption Land.
Adoptive families must commit to a minimum of updates about the child. They can’t make promises they don’t intend to keep. It’s simply not OK.
I’m not saying everyone has to gather up in the same house for the holidays. I’m just saying everyone needs to have some basic information about one another, and keep lines of communication open.
What about the child’s safety? There are some birth parents who aren’t stable, healthy people. Perhaps the birth parents aren’t the most savory of people, but a birth grandparent might very well welcome the chance to ensure that his or her grandchild’s family is kept in the loop.
Openness is also a state of mind. I haven’t yet read the book The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption, by Lori Holden and Crystal Hass, but it is the next book on my list to read.* Discussions about the book, as well as Lori’s blog, tell me that openness has more to do with the way one approaches adoption than with how much contact the parties have. For whatever reasons, you may not be able to have much contact with your child’s birth family, but you can still be open about who they are, and share what you know, leaving the door (or phone line, or email inbox) open for a time when, perhaps, you will be able to have more contact.
In the same vein, original birth certificates are not sealed in Robyn’s Adoption Land. When an adoption takes place, the OBC is stamped or flagged, so no one can use it as a legal document anymore, but it’s not sealed.
* Right after I’m done with The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan.