How to handle when one child has an open adoption and the other has a closed one

By Zack Fried, Adoption STAR Intake Specialist

“I remember going to McDonalds with my birth mother when I was a baby.” Although this never actually happened to my sister in her earliest years, she fantasizes about situations just like this quite often. Unlike me, Susie has a closed adoption, so the memories she thinks she has are very unreal compared to the very real ones I have.

Having an open adoption is something I feel extremely fortunate about, especially given the fact that this was such a rarity when I was born. I have many real, cherished moments from throughout my childhood with my birth family. While I can smile at these very memories, or can pick up the phone and call a birth family member, I also have siblings with closed adoptions who do not have this luxury.

Sure, I can openly talk about my adoption experiences, and refer to members of my birth family, but at the same time, I remain sensitive to the fact that I have siblings who cannot do the same. With this, Susie and I can still share the wonderful fact that we were adopted, and have had wonderful experiences surrounding this thing we have in common.

Not everyone has a fully open adoption like I have had, but that does not make anyone’s adoption story any less beautiful. Those of my siblings with closed adoptions have developed unique characteristics due to their experiences, the same way mine have with an open adoption, albeit different. It doesn’t have to be about “handling” the situation, but rather sharing our different stories, experiences, and memories to see the magnificence in them all.