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What is the objective of open adoption?

16 Aug

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what I read about ‘open adoption’ in online adoption groups that focus on domestic infant adoption.

  • Some include a set number of phone calls or face time per year, with or without actual contact.
  • Some have one visit a year for a set number of hours in a local park, or other local setting.
  • Some have no contact at all, not even what would be considered semi-open, but they do know the Mother’s name.
  • Some only send updates to the Mother once, maybe twice a year, it’s also often a one-way street.
  • Some have wide open adoptions where there are no set number of visits, nor number of updates, they just become part of a bigger family.

Of the above, only the last seems to be what I would call open adoption, and yes, I can understand that relationship would take time to achieve, but shouldn’t the last one be the goal if openness is what is best for the child? Isn’t that what open adoption is supposed to be about, creating lasting relationships between the child and their family by birth?

Over the last few years I’ve been mulling on whether today’s versions of openness helps the child become comfortable enough to create one on one relationships with members of their family by birth, and if they feel they are part of their family of birth as adults, or remain just the one not kept.

I’m coming to the sad conclusion that open adoption today, for the most part, is just a ploy to accomplish the goal in domestic infant adoption, getting an infant.

And for any reading this that says how dare you, you know nothing about open adoption because you’re a closed adoption adoptee. You’re right as to my role, you’re also wrong about my knowledge of openness, I’ve watched it take place in person for decades, from the majority of my life starting when I was a pre-teen. It helped my deeply troubled sibling to know her mother. Mom initiated and managed the openness (i.e. kept it going), it helped my sibling, it calmed the waters so to speak.

I’ll also never forget the time mom called me to tell me my sibling needed to go visit her mother and stay for awhile, and mom designated me as the one to take her (mom didn’t feel comfortable driving in a big city by then). Mom didn’t ask if I would take her, she told me I would do it, what day, what time to pick her up. So, of course I did, you didn’t argue with Mom. Mom was also right that it would help her. And now that mom is gone, my sibling has an enduring relationship with her mother, she calls her every day, she needs it, she also has an ongoing relationship with one or maybe both of her siblings.

So while I didn’t have an open adoption, I watched an open adoption evolve over decades to what it is now, a solace and connection for my sibling that she still needs, especially with mom gone now.

But the question I started with – what is the objective of open adoption today remains unanswered by how I see most open adoptions designed. To me, the objective is to create lasting life-long relationships between the child and the members of their family by birth, but how does one carefully scripted visit per year create a lifelong relationship for the child to their family, not just with the mother, but also other close family members? Those lifelong relationships I have/had happened because we got together for every holiday, and there were also visits in between the holidays, even times when one of us would go stay for a week or two with a auntie, grandma, or cousins would come visit for awhile. That’s how lasting relationships happen because you have shared memories of the times together, things in common that bind you together.

To me, the question of how open adoption today creates life-long close relationships remains unanswered for many families in today’s version of open adoption. Do comment if you think your child or children will have a lifelong relationship with their family by birth, I would love to be proven wrong.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2022 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

21 responses to “What is the objective of open adoption?

  1. swiftabc

    August 16, 2022 at 6:18 pm

    You make a powerful point. Visits that are only “allowed” in order to comply with specified “obligations” are legalistic in nature. They do not reflect a commitment of the heart made in the child’s best interest.

    Liked by 5 people

     
    • TAO

      August 16, 2022 at 7:08 pm

      Glad it made sense.

      Like

       
  2. BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

    August 16, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    “I’m coming to the sad conclusion that open adoption today, for the most part, is just a ploy to accomplish the goal in domestic infant adoption, getting an infant.”
    Indeed. “Open” adoption is a marketing strategy.

    Liked by 2 people

     
  3. Lori Lavender Luz

    August 16, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    You highlight an inherent problem when we see “open adoption” as defined by contact.

    How do you measure contact — by amount, by type, by frequency? It’ all misses the mark.

    More important is openness, a point that Angela Tucker and I are trying to get across to adoptive families and agencies through this very simple model https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGP-bCx4BuE. Focus on openness first (meaning: do your own work, parents), and contact will follow.

    To answer your later question: my children, now adults, have the relationships with their first parents that they want to have. I have done my best to keep the channel between my son/daughter and their first parents as clear from my own stuff as I can so T & R can pursue the relationships they want according to their own criteria.

    Liked by 2 people

     
    • TAO

      August 17, 2022 at 2:46 pm

      Which is how it should be, it’d be interesting to know even a stab of how many fall in the category you’ve practiced and committed to.

      Like

       
  4. maryleesdream

    August 17, 2022 at 12:38 am

    I don’t know what open adoption would have been like for me. I know that I deserved to know my mother, and family. They were not so toxic that I could never have contact. Seeing my mother leave me with my adoptive parents, while keeping my half brother would have been very panful. To me, open adoption seems like an exquisite torture. If my mother is good enough to visit, why isn’t she good enough to parent?

    So much better to help my mother to keep me. Maybe she needed help, but lifelong separation was not good for either of us.

    Liked by 4 people

     
  5. Laksh

    August 17, 2022 at 1:50 am

    The last one is the only one I would consider open. I don’t know how it works for others, in our home, we have gained two extended families.

    Liked by 4 people

     
  6. beth62

    August 17, 2022 at 11:38 am

    Open to who? Is always my question. If the adoptee has identifying knowledge of the family, and the ability and freedom to contact, and the legal record that proves this is their family of birth. Then I’d call it Open.

    Liked by 2 people

     
  7. Robyn C

    August 18, 2022 at 5:57 am

    “Those lifelong relationships I have/had happened because we got together for every holiday, and there were also visits in between the holidays…”

    I have a HUGE family – both on my mother’s and father’s sides. We live all over the country (Northern and Southern CA, RI, PA, MA, VT, TX, DC…) I’ve never gotten together with everyone on a regular basis. We see each other at weddings and funerals. Before social media, there were aunts and cousins to whom I wrote actual letters and cards. Those relationships in particular became stronger when email and social media became things. It’s not about quantity of contact, truly. It’s about making connections, however those come about.

    We can’t visit my children’s birth families on a regular basis – we all live in different states. (Our daughter’s family chose us, in part, because we lived in CA and she didn’t want our daughter to be raised in her home state.) But we keep in touch via social media and cell phones. My son is 16 and has total control over his contact with his birthmother and sister. I know his birthmother better than I know many of my own cousins. We really do consider my kids’ birth families as part of our family.

    Do I think that some adoption professionals sell openness to get more infants? Yes.
    Do I think that open adoption has to be regular face-to-face contact to be beneficial to the participants, particularly to adoptees? No. My family lives that, and I see firsthand how openness, even without visits, is beneficial to my kids.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • TAO

      August 18, 2022 at 3:57 pm

      I wasn’t trying to say you had to have visits – I was pointing out that relationships need to be more than than an update sent one way or any of the first four scenarios.

      This is the 5th scenario and I’d say you model this one Robyn from what you’ve said.
      “Some have wide open adoptions where there are no set number of visits, nor number of updates, they just become part of a bigger family.”

      “Of the above, only the last seems to be what I would call open adoption, and yes, I can understand that relationship would take time to achieve, but shouldn’t the last one be the goal if openness is what is best for the child? Isn’t that what open adoption is supposed to be about, creating lasting relationships between the child and their family by birth?”

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

        August 18, 2022 at 7:47 pm

        I love your last paragraph, explaining what a true open adoption is. Too many so-called open adoptions are really closed adoptions. The first mother is led down a path of deceit. The pain of losing one’s baby and the pain of deceit!

        Like

         
    • beth62

      August 18, 2022 at 4:06 pm

      I believe you can keep a true relationship going when both parties choose to, even long distance relationships. Cards, presents, pictures, videos, skype, calls, texts, emails etc. are a way to be “together”, a way to make contact, during the holidays or whenever.
      I think what matters is being welcomed, knowing you are welcomed, or they are welcomed, or even encouraged to stay in contact and come celebrate holidays and events in person if it’s possible.
      I still send cards and letters to many in my family, some who I haven’t seen since I was a kid, because I still like it and so do they 🙂 We’re family, we stay in touch. Thanks to ancestry I’ve met quite a few more that intend to share and keep contact with me too. Not all relationships have to be the same for them to be open relationships, openess is certainly the key.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • BOOKS: Sexual Assault, Loss

        August 18, 2022 at 7:53 pm

        Beth, you explained this so well! You sound like a wonderful relative and I’m sure there are many people appreciating your keeping in touch. As you pointed out, there are so many ways to be welcomed and to show you are welcoming.

        Like

         
    • maryleesdream

      August 21, 2022 at 12:04 pm

      I understand this is a conservative website, but I must agree with this article. Human beings, and the material used to create them (sperm, eggs) should not be for sale. I also understand, that where there is money to be made, humans will be sold.

      The opinions and feelings of the children are not heard, because we cannot speak when this is being done to us. We can protest after we grow up, but then we’re just ingrates who don’t know just how lucky we are.

      The money, and power rests with the adults. They want to buy, so we will be sold.

      Liked by 2 people

       
      • beth62

        August 21, 2022 at 1:51 pm

        I agree. I’ve talked with some dads, and their young teenagers. Some were discussing the best way to open relationships with their kids other half of biological relatives.

        I had met one of the daughters during activities we shared for a while. She wanted to call me mom. I get it. I remember similar, Are you my mother? are you my mother? are you my mother? and I had a perfectly acceptable adoptive female mother. I mean, come on, there’s kids books about it.
        It worries me when people mess with another humans concept of “mother”. It’s a huge concept, it touches everything.
        Always has, always will.

        So I told the dads about her asking to call me mom, after they insisted she had no “mother issues” because they’ve discussed it in depth and are totally open to help her with it. Then I got to explain “open” ;D And that moved on to “property”. And that moved on to “reproductive rights”. Which obviously trumps everything on the planet to some who wish to purchase human property. Then the lucky showed up, lucky to have such a wonderful mother, male or female makes no difference at all.
        So, then I moved along before I did something I’d regret if I got caught.

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • maryleesdream

          August 21, 2022 at 2:07 pm

          I remember seeing an interview with Neil Patrick Harris where he said his kids, “don’t have a mother”. I felt sick for those kids.
          Orphan children are IMHO, the most powerless people on the planet. And if your mother or father sold you (or the sperm or egg that made you), you are at least half orphan.
          Powerless, vulnerable, mute. And desirable.

          Liked by 3 people

           
          • beth62

            August 21, 2022 at 6:09 pm

            It’s a bit much really, and not true for anybody, unless there is some kind of new machine I don’t know about. Every human ever born has a mother. At least one. I guess it’s more adventageous to some to deny that basic fact.

            Liked by 1 person

             
          • beth62

            August 23, 2022 at 2:23 pm

            I bumped into another discussion like this. I can plainly see that surrogacy or donor IVF isn’t any different than my type of old timey adoption when it comes to the biological links of the powerless, vunerable, and desirable.
            Many seem to disagree with me completely, for their own benefit. I received every adoptee insult in the book during this last convo.

            I’m not having any more “hoping to help out” discussions with people like that. I’m going to try simple, easy to find, factual and stabbing insults from now on. In front of the powerless, vunerable, mute and desirable if that’s how they want to play it.
            I was shocked at the things these people were saying IN FRONT of their middle school aged child, in the name of being open about it. They even mentioned the costs and efforts to get him, right in front of him. Saying to my stink face, “Get over it, it’s his story, it is what it is, deal with it.”

            Liked by 1 person

             
            • TAO

              August 24, 2022 at 4:12 pm

              Ugh. People have chosen to pretend everything is fine, nothing to see here…

              Like

               

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