Adoption Choices: Why Open?
Following up from my recent post on why we chose international adoption, today I’ll discuss why we chose open adoption.
When it comes to the amount of contact adoptive family will have with the birth mother/family, there is essentially one choice to be made.
Open Adoption vs. Closed Adoption
Open adoptions mean that at the time of choosing placement the birth family and adoptive family both provide information regarding their medical history and their personalities. We are matched by what we as the adoptive parents indicate for preferences. The matching process is pretty simple – we select a bunch of criteria and build a profile book. A data base (think dating website) matches birth mom’s and adoptive parents. The birth mother chooses us based on our profile book and we in turn choose her back based on her medical profile. Hence, a “match” is made.
By the nature of being open, there is potential for contact between the adoptive parents (and the child) and the birth mother/family. Although, contact is not guaranteed. The birth family may not want contact beyond choosing who will raise the child. Or they may only want emails and pictures. Alternatively, they may want frequent visits. And to complicate things further, just as with any legal guardian/parent, an adoptive parent has the right to choose who their child will interact with. So the adoptive parents can say no to contact at any point should they want to.
Closed adoption means that the adoptive family does not have any information on the child’s family or child’s medical history. And no ability to contact their family. Closed adoption seems to be the way of the past. In my part of the world, there seems to be 2 ways to do a closed adoption. The first type of closed adoptions occur through the foster system where children have been removed from their families by the government usually due to a lack of care and/or safety. The second type of closed adoptions is the typical international adoption (as opposed to our international adoption from the USA). I will be honest, I don’t know a lot about the foster system so I really cannot answer questions about the foster system. However; we do know that closed adoptions through the foster system are almost always older children. In addition these adoptions are often children from orphanages in countries in Asia, Africa, or Eastern Europe.
So, why did we decide to pursue an open adoption?
- The academic research on adoption is very clear that children in open adoption’s grow with less questions about who they are and where they came from, than those in closed adoption. (Note, as we did the research over a year ago I don’t have anything to cite, but if anyone is really interested I can try to find it again). We decided that it was impossible to overlook the research. At the end of the end of the day, a critical part of our decision to adopt was to raise a healthy child, and promoting a sense of understanding of who they are is critical to that their long term well being.
- We were not interested in knowingly signing up for the unknowns related to adopting from the foster system or from an orphanage with a more standard international adoption. We really value the matching approach used in the open adoption system. We want to know as much about our child’s heritage and where they came from, just as we hope the birth parents would want to know as much about who we are. We felt that being honest about our lifestyle, our abilities and our desires for our child and our lives, is the best approach to building our family. We also hope that through this system we will have a relationship with the birth mother/family, should she want it.
Simply, everything we read pointed towards open adoption as being best for our family.
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