Since November is National Adoption Month some articles will be posted from various agencies dealing with adooption. The following is from Christian family Services in Gainesville, Florida.
Thirty years ago, adoption was usually surrounded by secrecy. Adoptive parents worried how the child might be affected by awareness of his or her adoption. They feared a social stigma, so they often tried to keep it secret. The birth mother could not easily deal with her deep feelings of loss. She might never know what happened to her child. She might not even speak of having a baby who was adopted. Adopted children were forbidden to learn about their birth parents, though many longed deeply to know.
Open Adoption. Adoption should be a wonderful blessing for all concerned, and “open adoption” makes it a greater blessing in many cases. The underlying concept of open adoption is that the child’s needs are always considered first. With this in mind, adoptive parents and birth parents are free to structure their relationship so that everyone’s needs are met. Birth parents enjoy in-person contact with their child on an ongoing basis. Contact and communication between birth parents and their child are agreed upon in advance. Christian Family Services (CFS) facilitates this process. As an adoptive parent, you’ll want to define your own comfort zone, so that birth mothers with similar preferences will know how you feel.
Why should you be open to “open adoption?” First, the birth mother entrusts you with that which is most precious to her, a new person that is a part of herself. This is a great gift and not easily given. She deserves to be recognized as an important part of this new life. And second, it’s ultimately better for your child to be able to find out as much as he or she wants to know about the birth parents. This never threatens the parent-child relationship you have. Your understanding is simply another expression of your love for the child.
Birth parents and adoptive parents agree in advance to the kind and frequency of contact and the exchange of letters and photos. It’s not a one way street. In reality, adoptive parents benefit most, because they feel more in control of the birthparents’ involvement (Grotevant & McRoy, 1998).
Children in open adoptions bond with their adoptive parents just as strongly as children who are raised by their biological parents. The role of the birthmother in the relationship is to support the primary role of the adoptive parents. Secrecy about birthparents leads to confusion among children. In contrast, when children know their birth parents, they don’t have fantasies about what life might be like with them.
If you have questions about this flexible approach to adoption, go to www.christianfamilyservices.com