Closed Adoption Doesn’t Exist in Robyn’s Adoption Land

The cards from Alice in Wonderland marchIn 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.

9 thoughts on “Closed Adoption Doesn’t Exist in Robyn’s Adoption Land

    • I know, I know. I’m actually in the book! At least, I shared my experiences with Lori for use in the book. I got it for Christmas, but I don’t get to read as much as I’d like to.

    • I feel so bad that I haven’t read the book already. I have a system of reading a non-fiction book, then a fiction book, or I get bogged down in the sheer number of non-fiction books I need to read. I spent a year reading about nothing except adoption and parenting. It burned me out.

  1. I was born in the 80’s and adopted via private, domestic, closed adoption. I am in the beginning stages of searching for my birth mother, which is a terrifying and exciting experience. I so wish I knew something – anything – about her. It would make this season of searching much easier. My original birth certificate is sealed. I have no identifying information what so ever. I have spent my whole life wondering about my birth family.

    I also have two daughters who are adopted. Both are “open” adoptions. My oldest was adopted at the age of 9 and we have lost her birth mother. We were sending letters, but she moved and didn’t give us her new address. Our other daughter’s birth family is extremely connected, with visits and phone calls and on Facebook (though the connection is more with an aunt and grandmother than the parents. I am friends with the parents on FB, but don’t hear much from them).

    It’s so crazy how different their adoptions are than my own was. I am very thankful for my family and I grew up loved and healthy and whole. But if I could change something, I would make it open.

  2. You are very right that “openness” has much more to do with how we approach adoption than how much contact we have– I am finding people who tell me they have “open adoptions” but when I inquire about their relationships, they are not what I would define as “open.” There is no magic formula– but I strongly believe if the circumstances allow for it, the more positively we approach it (forming healthy and loving relationships) the better it is for everyone.

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