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.