To the AP Who Bad-mouths Open Adoption Because Your Experience Sucked

Dear Adoptive Parent Who Bad-mouths Open Adoption Because Your Experience Sucked,

I’m a mom through adoption. I have two children, adopted privately. We have open relationships with their birth families. Since becoming an adoptive mom, I’ve read so much from all members of the adoption constellation. I’ve written for I was one of the first members of the Open Adoption Bloggers. I felt validated to know that research has borne out what I have believed since I began my adoption journey – that, in general, open adoption is the best for the adoptee. (It also appears to be better for the birth parents.)

Adoption from foster care may not involve shared information when it comes to birth parents, for safety reasons. But I know a number of people who have adopted from foster care and do have at least semi-open adoptions with their children’s birth parents, grandparents, and/or siblings.

Closed adoptions represent less than 5% of private adoptions.

I’m sorry that your personal experience with open adoption wasn’t the best. Open adoption is hard. My children’s birthmothers are not always the most stable of people either, but they are loving individuals who had their children’s best interests at heart. Were there times, especially early on, when I couldn’t take some of the drama? Sure. But there were times when I couldn’t take my own mother’s drama. I have seen how important our relationships with Jackson’s birth family are to him and he is the most important person here.

Cassie is still a baby, and we’ll see how her experience plays out, but I believe she will only be better off for knowing both of her birth parents.

So can you please stop talking like you know what you’re talking about? Your experience is just that: Your experience. Allow others to share their experiences without predicting that their kids will be confused, or drug addicted, or go off to live with their birth families when they’re teenagers.


A Mom Who Realizes That Open Adoption Is Not All About Me

10 thoughts on “To the AP Who Bad-mouths Open Adoption Because Your Experience Sucked

  1. Robyn, what do you if your birth parents do not respect boundaries?

    What do you do if your birth family threatens or physically attacks you or your family?

    Or as Adoption Attorney Mark Miller reports: “In another tragic situation, a previously successfully placement has been disrupted due to the erratic behavior of the birth mother (post-placement) causing the adoptive family to make the impossible choice of stopping the adoption due to the fear of lifetime of intimidation and threats from the birth mother.”

    I think Open adoption can be wonderful, but I don’t think it is the answer for all situations. Sometimes steps have to be taken to protect your family.

    • Jane, if the birth parents do not respect boundaries, then you talk with them, perhaps with a social worker involved. The second situation – a birth family threatening an adoptive family – is rare. I’ve never heard of what Mark Miller says happening in a private adoption.
      Even so, there’s a difference between saying, “Our experience with open adoption was this.” or “You have to be careful sometimes. This is what happened to us. Here are the warning signs.” and “This is why I don’t believe in open adoption. All birth parents are low-lifes, and they didn’t want their children in the first place, so why should they be allowed to be in their lives? I’m my child’s real mom.”
      Bad experiences are valid, but they are not the only experiences, just like good experiences are not the only experiences. Everyone needs to realize that.

      • I really don’t see an adoption lawyer discussing this type of topic unless he was forced to in order to reduce his liability. It’s not exactly the best advertisement for adoption. I’ve heard the comment “it’s an isolated incident before. ” In my county, “the isolated incident” has happened twice in six months. A birth family member violently stabbed an adoptive father and a birth mother attempted to blackmail an adoptive family. I wish all adoptions were wonderful and did not have these types of problems. Unfortunately, we live in the real world and families need to protect themselves and establish proper boundaries.

        • I stand by my original comment. Problems like these are few and far between. It may be that your area sees more of them because all of the parents are not properly supported through the process.

          Again, I never said that boundaries are bad. I said that bad-mouthing open adoption is bad. I see it on forums practically everyday – “The birth grandmother is calling the child by his old first name? That’s why I don’t believe in open adoption!” “The child is still calling his foster parents mom and dad? That’s why I don’t believe in open adoption!” I got it once, the first time S’s life was in terrible upheaval and I didn’t know what to do (nor could I do much anyway). I was told by one terribly unhelpful individual to close the adoption because I would get caught up in S’s drama and that would be bad for my son. That turned out to be BS, so I’m glad I never even entertained closing the adoption.

  2. I love reading about adoption from different perspectives all around the world. In our case, our son’s birth mother is impoverished, with no access to internet (no email) and no phone, and she is on a different continent to us. And we don’t speak each other’s language. And yet I fear we are doing our son a dis-service by not choosing to try and create some kind of contact with her. Adoption is complicated, and very individual. I enjoy your blog, thanks 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m reading Lori Holden’s book, “The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption” and she states that openness isn’t just about contact, it’s about how you approach adoption and the subject of birth parents in general. There are people who cannot or do not have contact and are still open in the sense that they make sure their children know they can feel whatever they feel, and share their thoughts openly.

  3. I agree that child first mentality is so important to adoption. I can’t tell you how many times those first six months that I just wanted to end it. Its not about me its about her.

    With that said I also have seen an uptick (and our agency has confirmed this phenomenon) is that DCF is presenting adoption at the point in which they come to place the child into state custody. As a result mothers are given the “choice” to try to fight for their right to parent and possibly never see their child after termination OR create an adoption plan. This is hardly a choice. So private domestic adoption occurs between a family that has planned for this very type of adoption and a birthmother who did create a plan but it was hardly a choice.

    Baby Girls plan wasn’t that drastic but DCF was involved and had she not moved forward in creating an adoption plan Baby Girl would have been placed in protective custody. This dynamic of not really having a choice did I feel make the initiation of our relationship even harder. Fortunately for D I saw this dynamic and was able to at least help myself understand her perspective. I dont know that all people can do that.

    I do wonder if some negative experiences are a result of this phenomenon. I also think lack of required training for adoptive families as well as pre/post counseling is also a contributing factor.

    • I am familiar with the situation of which you speak. I think it still is a choice, it’s just neither choice is a happy one for the expectant/new mom. In cases in which a woman has had other children taken by social services, especially if her rights have been terminated multiple times, I do think it’s better for the baby if s/he is not in the foster system, but in a permanent home, and if s/he’s able to have an open adoption with at least some of her family. I know some social services offices are getting on board with OA, but I don’t know to what extent, and I do know that some are very antiquated in their beliefs.

      I do think that pre- and post-adoptive training and counseling are contributing factors to negative experiences.

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