By the Staff of Adoption STAR
The agency’s most important daily job is to find families for children. Even though this is often stated, it is probably the most misunderstood statement. The job of a reputable agency is not to find children for families, but families for children.
When an individual/couple registers with an agency and obtains a home study, they are paying for a service: an adoption home study. There is never a guarantee that a child will be referred to them. No one can be “hired” to “find” someone a child. That sounds scary for a number of reasons especially if you are someone who is hoping to adopt. You might not be able to imagine that the adoption process works. Will you ever adopt? Let us preface this by saying clearly, if you stick with the process, you will adopt! The hard part is that we don’t know when. But none of us would be in the adoption field if we didn’t see it work and believe that it does work. You are meant to be a parent. Perhaps your baby has not yet been born yet. Staying positive and working with your adoption agency is the key to reaching your goal of adoptive parenthood.
We thought it might be interesting to learn about the “differences” between prospective adoptive parents as no one client is the same as another. No two prospective adoptive parents are alike and our illustrations cannot include everyone, but the idea is for you to determine, “What type of prospective parent are you?”
One type of prospective adoptive parent takes our advice to heart: Adoption is a journey that requires you to participate and believe in. These clients may have already handed in their profile for expectant parents to consider even before their home study is complete! They frequently “tweak” their profile whether or not it is suggested. They are excited to hear about other options to creatively present themselves to birth mothers such as preparing a DVD which allows them to have their profile “come alive” with music, photos, video and graphics. They may post their profile online, create “baby cards” and hand them to everyone they meet telling them they are looking to adopt! They also revisit their grids frequently and challenge themselves with hard questions related to a child’s race or ethnicity, drug exposure, mental health issues within the child’s birth family, etc. They do their own homework by way of talking to other adoptive families, speaking to a pediatrician, etc. They may chat on the online group and even more importantly they join SOFIA, the adoptive family support group and meet many new friends. “They” will tell you that the wait is not easy, but taking control makes the process all the more special.
Another type of expectant adoptive parent does much of the above but also finds a hobby or projects that they can work on before they become parents. One adoptive mom found great enjoyment in knitting and during her “nesting period” created many beautiful blankets and donated them to babies being placed for adoption. Several other adoptive moms spent their “before parenthood period” volunteering to help spread the word about the agency by disseminating literature around their community to doctor’s offices, clinics, schools, etc. One couple trained for a marathon together, using the act as a metaphor for the adoption journey. Prospective moms and dads can also work together on household projects needing to get completed. “They” will tell you that throwing themselves into projects that required planning and energy during the adoption process, made them feel healthy and ready for parenthood even thought they didn’t know when it would be.
Another type of prospective adoptive parent may not have handed in their profile yet though they are home study approved or haven’t tweaked their profile if it has been suggested. They have not connected with other adoptive families or the support groups available. Sometimes they are slow to respond to agency messages and may be reluctant to process other options that might enhance their opportunities for child placement. “They” may be experiencing other issues that they have not yet shared with the agency and feel more overwhelmed about the process.
No matter the level of involvement with the agency or the process it is simply not healthy to just wait for the phone to ring (waiting for what many refer to as “the call”). Actively participating in your adoption journey is the way to go! It is not always easy, but in the long run it is worth it. We find “healthier” and “more prepared” adoptive parents when the prospective adopter takes control of their adoption path. Several articles have been written about this time in your life.
For those of you still overwhelmed by this process or the thought of it, we would recommend no longer thinking of yourself as a “waiting” parent, but rather a “prospective” parent. With this change, perhaps you can begin to view yourself as an active participant in becoming a parent. Take these examples to best understand our meaning:
If you were looking for a new job, you will need to “tweak” your resume, you will need to prepare yourself for interviews that may include research, continued education, etc. Or perhaps you want to lose weight. What do you need to do? I know we don’t really want to know what to do but the answer is we need to actively work on it. We need to be aware and educated about nutrition and calories and most importantly exercise. Weight loss won’t just happen on it’s own. We need to go out and reach that goal for ourselves. Planning to become a parent is quite similar.
It is our hope that this article will inspire you to really get involved in your adoption journey. To believe in adoption and to understand that by having a home study does not mean you will receive an immediate placement, but rather view it as your ticket to get more involved in the process. Work with us! We will give you many ideas and tasks if you are interested. Additionally, Adoption STAR has published 25 ways to handle the “wait” and hope you will take the time to review it and perhaps add to it!
We also understand that this article may frustrate you! We have no desire to upset you or discourage you in the least. However if you feel this way, please examine why you are feeling this way? Yes, you have been through a lot. You most likely have experienced several losses already. We have clients who have miscarried or have had children pass away. Perhaps you have had several “almost adoptions” but the match fell through before placement. These losses are great. These losses cannot be easily healed.
By now your life experiences have probably taught you that it is up to you to look ahead and feel excited about the adoption process. It is crucial to view the bumps in the journey as part of the learning curve and to continue to believe and participate in the process.
Adoption STAR appreciates that both the decision to adopt and the process of adoption can be difficult for many individuals and families. The adoption process is very often filled with moments of hope, as well as moments of disappointment. Applicants who view the process as discouraging or have an overall negative view of the process are more likely to feel unhappy and unsuccessful in the program. Planning for the possibility that plans will change is a key element to keeping calm and stress free while going through the adoption process. Applicants who remain optimistic and view the adoption process as a journey filled with learning experiences are more apt to feeling happy and successful in the program. Please reach out to us if you feel you need more support!
Read More on What is Happening at Adoption STAR: Our Calendar of Events for 2013
Guest Blogger, Zenobia, Age 13.
Throughout my 13 years of living I have come across many questions such as… “How many real siblings do you have?” or “Do you get along with your real siblings better?” It’s really hurtful sometimes. All of my siblings are my “real” siblings. Who cares if some are black, gay, or have disabilities. They are all real to me. If I ever tell someone I have a gay brother they look at me like…I’m so sorry. My family is a normal family…okay? Yes I do have five adopted siblings, two of them are black and 3 of them have a disability called Down Syndrome. I also have 3 Biological siblings, and including me we have nine kids in the family. No matter what happens or what is said I wouldn’t ever change a thing.
Some people may say, “How do you deal with people who act like this towards you?” I usually just act dumb, I’ll just say, “What do you mean? All of my siblings are real!” Their usual response will be, “You know what I mean.” But, no I don’t know what you mean! So next time you say something, think about it!
Read More on What is Happening at Adoption STAR: Our Calendar of Events for 2013
Lynda is an Adoption STAR adoptive mom in the Western New York area. Currently she and her family are a foster family in the county they live in and are also pursuing an International Adoption.
Lynda is an Adoption STAR adoptive mom in the Western New York area. Currently she and her family are a foster family in the county they live in and are also pursuing an International Adoption.
“Three years ago, we began the foster program in hopes of walking out with a child we could adopt. Our cousins in Ohio went through the foster program, were matched with one family, and walked out adopting 3 children in that family. We loved their experience and hoped to have the same story. Little did we know then what we know now, 3 years and 8 foster children later.
We don’t know what the outcome will be for the baby with us now, just as we couldn’t predict with the ones before her. What we do know is that we are enjoying the reward of a relationship with her now. This on-going relationship with the family is a new arrangement to us, so we are going through some growing pains as we learn how to make it work. It is stretching us as a family, but it is also growing us in some beautiful ways.
As a foster family you learn just how much risk, attachment, personal advocating, and personal sacrificing you are willing to experience for children who may never be yours, but will own a piece of your heart. It is quite an emotional process, and comes with lots of frustrations, concerns, emotions, and risks for you, the foster family. And from our experience, this system and these dedicated social workers certainly deserve medals for their heroic and brave measures to change the futures of these children.
While these last 3 years have not taken us closer to our long-term goal: that of walking out with another permanent family member, but they have certainly taught our family valuable lessons. Some of the lessons we’ve learned are as follows: more compassion; more humility; more flexibility; more awareness that without God’s grace, we are able to fall to levels beyond what we can imagine; with God’s grace, we are able to experience a deeper level of joy that goes beyond the circumstances we are in; more teachable moments as a family because of the situations that have brought the children to our house; what it’s like for our family to serve as a team; more humor, especially in light of showing up to places with a different child each time. We’ve also learned more appreciation for all our family and friends who have helped us meet needs we’ve had with the different children in our home, etc.
As we continue along this journey we will continue to acknowledge the ways it’s brought positive growth in our family and so importantly impacted the life of the child who was part of us for a short time. While, it hasn’t brought us to our initial goal, it has brought us so much more than we could have imagined.
For now, we are in the habit of saying, “Yep, we run a boarding house now. Every week we have new tenants and new vacancies. So, in case you need a room someday, you know who to call.”
Read More on What is Happening at Adoption STAR: Our Calendar of Events for 2013
If you can’t view this video on our page, click here
Our International Adoption Coordinator Megan Montgomery recaps a fundraiser to benefit Parenthood for Me.
Parenthood for Me is a organization providing infertility and adoption resources and support. Founders, Erica Walther Schlaefer and A.J. Schlaefer, set up PFM to provide financial and emotional assistance as well as educational tools to those starting their family through adoption or medical assistance.
On March 9th, Parenthood for Me held their annual Gala and silent auction in Rochester, NY. Adoption STAR was fortunate to be able to attend the event and share our support of PFM mission.
At this event, Parenthood for Me presented a Commitment to Excellence Award to Lori Holden, a blogger ( www.LavenderLuz.com ), author – her book Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Wholeis available fro pre-order on Amazon, an educator she has also written at magazines such as Parenting and Adoptive Families Magazine and she is also an adoptive mother.
Lori was also the keynote speaker. We could truly appreciated Lori’s presentation on Open Adoption. Often times open adoption is considered synonymous with regular or ongoing contact, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Instead, Lori talked about the “spirit” of openness. This distinction is particularly relevant for those who, for various reasons, may not have contact with their children’s birthfamily. Even without regular contact, one can create an environment where nature and birth connections are embraced, further promoting the “wholeness” of the child. Lori spoke with such passion and “real-ness”. She uses the familiar King Salomon story to get her point across – she reminds us that to help our children grow up whole, we must avoid “splitting the baby”. The award recognizes Lori’s dedication to supporting the Adoption, Loss & Infertility community.
We are already looking forward to next years gala!
Read More on What is Happening at Adoption STAR: Our Calendar of Events for 2013, Thank You for the NY Grand Opening and RIBBON CUTTING Ceremony, Recap Spring Fling and Egg Hunt, Michele Fried on the NY Grand Opening and RIBBON CUTTING Ceremony , Have you ever thought about International Adoption?
Our Associate Director Michael Hill announces that Adoption STAR will be offering a newborn/infant care class, 6pm to 8pm on Tuesday, April 9th that is open to any interested prospective adoptive parents!
Our oldest son’s birthmother allowed us an incredibly high level of involvement in her prenatal care. She invited us to join her for medical appointments (including sonograms), which was just an amazing experience (and something we will always be grateful for).
While joining her for these appointments, I was amazed to see the number of opportunities that pregnant individuals and couples have to take parenting classes (as evidenced by the flyers announcing such classes that seemed to adorn each and every waiting room we sat in). These classes were designed to help folks feel better prepared for the arrival of their babies, and when it comes to things like feeding a newborn, swaddling a newborn, etc., I imagine having some insight into these types of “parental duties” would really help parents feel more safe and secure.
These kinds of opportunities aren’t as readily advertised to prospective adoptive parents, and I think that’s a shame. On a personal level, I felt quite prepared to care for our son, but only because I’ve been around babies for as long as I can remember…I have nearly 30 first cousins, so there was a pretty much a new baby to care for and babysit every year of my adolescent life! However, not everyone has the same opportunities to be around little ones. A former co-worker once told me that, “the first baby I ever held was the first baby I gave birth to.” This shocked me, but I can’t imagine her experience is completely atypical.
Given all of this, I’m pleased to announce that Adoption STAR will be offering a newborn/infant care class that is open to any interested prospective adoptive parents! The class will be facilitated by a group of practicing nurses that are currently pursuing an additional nursing degree at Daemen College. The class will be held at Adoption STAR’s main office: 131 John Muir Drive, Amherst, NY 14228, from 6pm to 8pm on Tuesday, April 9th. Adoption STAR clients can receive 5 educational credits as a result of attending this class. Topics for discussion will include bathing, feeding, swaddling and more. Please call 716-639-3900 to RSVP or e-mail email@example.com.
Read More on Infant Adoption: Issues and Perspectives in Adoption Then and Now Part 1,Issues and Perspectives in Adoption Then and Now Part 2, Issues and Perspectives in Adoption Then and Now Part 3, Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project, Understanding Infant Adoption
Guest Blogger Jennifer Nickel considers why open adoption is important even under trying and difficult circumstances.
Why do I believe in open contact even when families are dysfunctional, addicted or even actively participating in criminal acts?
Because I believe it’s best for my kids. I took my son to meet his biological father in a Federal Prison. Was that easy? Of course not. It was scary and overwhelming and slightly nauseating, and that was just for ME, I cannot fathom what he was feeling, but it was still totally the right thing to do.
Why? Because my son wanted to. Because it’s his truth and his reality. Because he has a right to love his parent even if I would rather my kids never talked to anyone who has ever used drugs in their entire lives.
Because he needed to know with his own ears that he was loved BY THEM.
My love, my overabundant, over whelming, huge amount of pure love for my kids cannot erase their need and desire to be loved by their original parents.
And he needed to know it and hear it at five and six and eight and thirteen, not at 18 or 21 or whatever random age the state told him he was allowed to know. Because he needed to know, for real, that I respected his needs more than I worried about my own insecurities. Because he needed to see that I LIKED his biological parents good parts in order to truly believe deep down that I loved all of him too.
How could I deny him that? How could I deny my child ANYTHING he needed even if that means I get really, really uncomfortable.
Is it easy dealing with things that I have absolutely ZERO life experience dealing with? No. Honestly, I never thought I would be traipsing to prisons to visit people important to my kids. I never, ever fathomed that I would EVER have a police officer drop by to retrieve stolen property during a visit with anyone in my life EVER. I didn’t fathom a life where I had to explain to children why the person we are visiting once hurt them, and why it’s OK to be angry at someone and then still be ok to love them. I didn’t expect to be comfortable explaining mental illness to a six year old or the effects of sexual promiscuity to a ten year old.
I have never so much as smoked a cigarette in my life so I never really thought I would have to understand intimately the power of addiction and its affect on my children.
But you know I really, really love my kids. And they are really, really amazing kids and they are really, really worth it.
I understand that some would use any of the ample excuses at my disposal as a reason to close an adoption. Run-ins with the police, active addiction, inappropriate gifts, uncomfortable situations, angry family members, criminal activities are all reasons we hear for closing up relationships. My kids first parents live complicated, confusing, difficult lives. That I do not deny. And I love them.
I love them because I see in their eyes the beauty that is my children. I see that with a different life and different choices and different supports they could have and would have and most importantly SHOULD HAVE been safe parents to our children. I see pain and broken hearts and hurting people. And I see parents. Parents who have little to give other than love, and that’s ok with me.
These complicated, difficult people who make horrible choices in many areas of their lives treat me, and our family, with respect. I don’t know why they do, but they do. So I trust them to love their children, our children, my children within the boundaries that are safe. And they do. And if ever we are not treated in a why I wish we were, I forget easily, forgive quickly and explain endlessly our boundaries.
Yesterday, after all the craziness of puppies and police, I watched my two year old be snuggled by her other mother. The woman from whom she inherited her beautiful smile and striking eyes. The woman from whom she inherited a curiosity that cannot be stated. The woman who created her. And that woman, that mother, said over and over again “I love you! I love you! I love you”.
My two year old who can’t sit still longer than 40 seconds may not value those words today, but I know she would one day feel their absence intimately. She may never know what it costs both of the mothers sitting in that room to forge a relationship together, but she will know she was loved deeply by both of us.
And that is a good enough reason for me.
Jennifer Nickel’s blog A Nickel’s Worth of Common Sense explores adoption, fostering, race and family in a small northern town.
Read More about Open Adoption: Talking to Lori Holden on the Topic of Open Adoption, A Clear Definition of Open Adoption, isn’t it a spectrum?, When What I Knew about Adoption was Wrong, Open Adoption, Learn about Open, Semi-Open and Closed Adoption, One Family; Two Different Adoption Plans, 4 Keys to Getting Started with your Open Adoption Arrangement
4 Keys to Getting Started with your Open Adoption Arrangement
Question: Are there some guidelines to follow when you enter into an Open Adoption arrangement?
Relationships can be challenging to navigate. The beginning of a relationship is particularly hard to navigate. And the beginning of an emotionally charged relationship hits the trifecta in level of relationship difficulty.
So is all lost when it comes to launching an open adoption relationship? How can a set of birth parents and a set of adoptive parents begin to create an arrangement that is respectful of the needs of everyone in the relationship, especially the child at the center?
Nothing is lost. In fact, the first key to starting such a relationship is to not see it as a win/lose arrangement, one in which the gains of one set of parents result in the losses of another. This requires us to move from an either/or mindset to a both/and mindset. As in any intimate relationship, if there is a loser among you, then no one truly wins. Conversely, when it comes to love for a child, the more winners you can assemble around her, the more everyone wins.
The second key is to try to normalize the relationship. Some adoptive moms harbor (consciously or subconsciously) envy for the birth mom, even if it’s mixed with gratitude. Some, like me, have an intense desire to please the birth mom, to show herself worthy of the privilege of raising her child. There can be so many emotions, even conflicting ones, swirling above the surface and below the surface of our awareness. Sometimes each meeting feels like a blind date, Groundhog Day-style, with lots of awkwardness and attempts to guess the “right” way to act with each other.
What’s required with such an emotional charge is a reframing of the relationship in a way that removes some of the emotional charge while honoring the unique and special connections that are being formed. How to do this? Consider other intimate relationships that we’ve already navigated in building our families, such as in-laws and extended family members. For example, would you invite your sister-in-law to your new child’s baptism, birthday party or other ceremony? She’s someone joined to someone you love, so chances are she’d be welcome. Your child’s birth parents are also joined to someone you love, and you might also consider inviting them. What a nice gift for your child, as well.
Should you put your child’s birth parents and their family members on your holiday letter list? Well, do you send newsy letters to Cousin Eddy, Aunt Cathy, Grandpa John? Then consider including your child’s birth parents on your list, too. You might even ask them if they’d like to be included (and follow up with a request for their addresses).
Which brings us to our third key.
Key #3 is to communicate clearly. If you don’t know whether your child’s birth parents would like to see pictures of the child with or without the rest of the family, ask — if that’s a possibility in your circumstance. If you’re in contact, a simple, “Hey, I would love to send you some photos, but I’m not sure which ones you’d most like to see. Would you like me to send some of our family as well as some of our son by himself?” Then wait for an answer without immediately filling the silence. Don’t interject your own assumptions (seeing him hurts her), and be aware of your own fears (what if she continues to think of him as hers?).
This would also be the time to set any boundaries you would set with other family members. For example, if you have preferences around posting images online, you might tell Aunt Cathy, “We’d like to be careful with our son’s online footprint, so before you post anything on Facebook, please check with us.” Which is the same thing you might say to your child’s birth parents. For this to work, it needs to stem from a uniform policy, not one that is specifically designed for birth family members.
The fourth key is to open your heart and to continue opening to the adoption experience. Openness isn’t the same as contact, and it’s not something that you do on others — you do this on yourself in order to foster it in those you are in relationship with. Opening is when you are in the moment with your own feelings and motivations, with your child, with a member of your child’s birth family. Opening is when you tune in to the emotions that are being experienced, whether they are “good” or “bad.” As your child grows into a toddler, an elementary-schooler, a teen, an adult, you want to give space and support for him to process his feelings about adoption and integrate his identity. You don’t do this once. You do it daily, sometimes hourly or minutely.
These are a quartet of guidelines I suggest for people forming open adoption relationships. What keys to success would you add to this list? Add your comment below!
What’s better than a good book? Discussing that book with friends. Sign up today for the upcoming AdoptLit virtual book tour, The Sound of Hope: A True Story of an Adoptee’s Quest for Her Origins.
Lori Holden writes regularly at LavenderLuz.com about parenting and living mindfully. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, which comes out next month, is available for pre-order on Amazon. On Twitter she’s @LavLuz and you can also find her on Facebook. She is the keynote speaker at the March 9 Parenthood for Me Gala, sponsored in part by AdoptionSTAR .
Read More about by Lori Holden and Open Adoption: Talking to Lori Holden on the Topic of Open Adoption, A Clear Definition of Open Adoption, isn’t it a spectrum?, When What I Knew about Adoption was Wrong, Open Adoption, Learn about Open, Semi-Open and Closed Adoption, One Family; Two Different Adoption Plans
My husband and I have had the incredible fortune to adopt two amazing boys with the help of Adoption STAR. Like many couples initially starting down the adoption journey road, we didn’t know very much about the concept of open adoption. The only bits of information we had on the subject were questionable at best, as they were primarily garnered from sensationalized news coverage or Lifetime Network movies about “worst case scenario” adoption stories.
As we learned more about open adoption from Adoption STAR’s classes, reading books, and talking with folks that had adopted successfully and were “living” open adoption, the more comfortable we became with the topic. Interestingly enough, we reached such a level of confidence regarding both the importance and benefits of open adoption that we found ourselves hoping for a more open arrangement once we were “matched” with an expectant parent.
This desire for an open adoption is very much the reality for our oldest son (who is nearly four years old now), and we couldn’t be happier. Our son sees his mother and the siblings she is raising every 3 months or so (and that’s not a formal arrangement written in stone; it’s just an organically developed level of contact that seems mutually agreeable and “right” to all parties involved). We have a great time when we get together, as the kids run off and play while the parents socialize, laugh and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Openness in adoption has become our “normal” when it comes to our oldest son’s adoption story, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Open adoption is actually a source of joy for us (and if someone had told me that I’d ultimately feel this way about open adoption when we were just starting our journey, I probably would have laughed at them).
Things are dramatically different for our youngest son, who is just seven months old. His mother, although willing to meet us briefly on the day we picked our son up from the hospital, has requested that we provide her with pictures of our son accompanied by letters…..and that’s it. In these letters we’ve expressed our willingness and desire to see each other face-to-face, and we’ve made it crystal clear that more contact (as opposed to less) is our preference, but we’ve gotten no response from her thus far. I understand and totally respect the fact that as the adoptive parents we don’t “call the shots” as it relates to wanting more contact. The decision to see each other (or not see each other) rests solely on the shoulders of our son’s mother. However, I find myself feeling concerned for both of my sons and the gross disparity in their adoptions as it relates to openness. Will my youngest son resent his older brother for having connections to his biological family? Will he find himself wishing he too could see his mother and his siblings? Will he be haunted by questions like:
“Do I look like anyone in my biological family?”
“Why doesn’t my biological family want to see me?”
If our youngest does wind up asking these very questions (or similar ones), we’ll be there to support him, provide him with answers to the best of our ability, wipe his tears away, and wrap our arms around him with loving hugs. However, the void he may feel at the hands of these unanswered questions is not something we will be able to fill without the help of his mother. Our deepest desire is for her to reach a point where openness is something that she ultimately wants, chooses and embraces. We can’t control whether or not she’ll every get to that point, and there are undoubtedly no guarantees that she ever will, but we’ll continue to wait with hope in our hearts. If we had our way, openness it what we want….. for our youngest son, his mother, his biological siblings, and for our entire family.
Michael Hill is the Associate Director of Adoption STAR. He has been with Adoption STAR since 2009 when he joined the agency as the Project Lead for the federally-funded Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project (IAATP) which he will continue to facilitate. As Associate Director for Adoption STAR, Michael plans, organizes and directs the day-to-day operations of the Development Department. Michael resides in Snyder, New York with his partner Scott and their sons Elijah and Seth. Michael’s favorite pastimes include singing, playing tennis, gardening and taking the boys for long walks at local parks or around their neighborhood.
When my husband and I embarked on the journey to adopt, everything we “knew” about adoption was from decades past:
- You waited on a long list until the agency matched you with a situation. Top of the list of criteria for the match? Your place in line.
- You tried to make the building of your family as close to “normal” (read: biological) as possible. You didn’t talk much about the adoption, either inside or outside of the family, and you certainly didn’t have any contact with birth parents.
- As the child grew, you continued not talking about adoption. Surrounding my friends who had been adopted was an air of secrecy. When we did speak of adoption, it was in hushed voices. These friends didn’t know much about their birth families, their birth story, or their origins. And it would hurt their parents too much to wonder too much. So they tried not to.
Wikipedia further explained, “Although open adoptions are thought to be a relatively new phenomenon, in fact most adoptions in the United States were open until the twentieth century.” I had always thought that closed adoptions were the “default setting” of the ages.
Far from being newfangled, it turns out that open adoption had always been the norm, with closed adoptions being a 6-decade aberration. Adoptions became closed when social pressure mandated that families preserve the myth that they were formed biologically.
My husband and I learned all that we could about open adoption. Over the years, we replaced the myths with these ideas:
- Open adoption isn’t about waiting passively in line — it’s about who we are. A couple in an unintended pregnancy would make a conscious decision about us parenting their baby. The criteria for their decision would be our values, our bundle of experiences, and our vision for the future — US!
- Why try to deny that our family was built by adoption? Is my ego so fragile that acknowledging the birth mothers of my children takes away from me? Loving and respecting our children’s birth parents is just another way to love and respect our children.
- Walking a fine line between dwelling on adoption it and denying it, we tell our children (now ages 11 and 9) their adoption stories once in awhile. We encourage them to talk with us about it as their cognitive skills grow. I believe that anything kept under a rock can get moldy, and I want their adoption tales to bask in sunshine.
- There are many more benefits to open adoption. Our children have access to their medical histories and to clans who look like them and love them.
- Also, our children will not have to go through the potential minefields of search and reunion just to get answers to their normal wonderings.
Open adoption changed everything I thought I knew about adoption. If I could send a message to the pre-adoption me at the turn of the century, I would tell myself, “Lori, don’t be scared to open up your heart to this experience.”
Lori Holden writes regularly at LavenderLuz.com about parenting and living mindfully. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available for pre-order on Amazon. She has written for Adoptive Families magazine, Parenting magazine and for BlogHer and MileHighMamas.com, a Denver Post site. On Twitter she’s @LavLuz and you can also find her on Facebook. She is the keynote speaker at the March 9 Parenthood for Me Gala, sponsored in part by AdoptionSTAR.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates
Chinese Adoptees Returning to their Birth Country
There have been many stories in recent years about the corrupt adoption process in China, so it's always nice to see a an article with a more positive message about Chinese adoptions. CNN recently published a feature on three families who have adopte