Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why is Open Adoption Attractive?

JemJam asked an interesting question.  She says, "It seems that an open adoption would be complicated and emotionally exhausting, could you enlighten me as to why this is attractive?"

One reason why open adoption is attractive is that in US domestic adoption, the birthmoms generally get to pick the adoptive family. If the adoptive family is strongly opposed to an open adoption, they may eliminate themselves from consideration. I hate to put it that way--it's sounds so crass. But when you are desperate for a child, it seems a small price to pay to agree to send someone some photos or to meet with them on occasion.

But the most attractive thing about open adoption for me, is that I truly believe that it is what is best for my child.  Lil Sweetie does not remember a time when she didn't know she was adopted.  She has had a photo of her birthmom in her room since she was a baby.  We have detailed medical information from her birthmom, and her birthmom has been good about calling the adoption agency and asking them to pass on additional information on occasion.  As questions come up for Lil Sweetie, we have access to answers we might not have otherwise.  
Contrast that to the way most adoptions were handled when I was a kid.  I remember hearing horror stories of kids who did not know they were adopted until a mean older cousin told them at a family gathering, or they came across their adoption papers in snooping through their parents things looking for their Christmas or birthday gifts.  Adoptive families had little or no information about the birth family, including medical information.  There is even a book (Identical Strangers by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein) about twins who were placed for adoption with different families who were never told their child had a twin.
In addition, open adoption is better for the birthparents.  Ashley doesn't have to wonder about how Lil Sweetie is doing; she gets regular updates.  As I stated in my earlier post about open adoption, Ashley is somewhat of a stranger to me, but I love her fiercely.  She did a very brave and beautiful and difficult thing when she placed her baby for adoption.  If sending her photos and letters on occasion makes this difficult thing the tiniest bit easier, I feel like I owe her that.
But mostly it's about my kid.  Lil Sweetie doesn't have to wonder about why her birthmom decided not to parent; she has a letter from her birthmom that explains it.  She doesn't have to wonder whether her birthmom loved her, I can tell her how bitterly Ashley cried when she let her go.  She doesn't have to wonder where she gets her lefthandedness from.  She doesn't have a fantasy that her birthparents are secret royalty that will come back to claim her and place her in rightful place upon the throne; she knows who she is and where she comes from.  That, to me, is what makes open adoption so attractive.


Zen Mama said...

I love the way you think. Perhaps you have chosen the more difficult road for now but in the end, you will have given Lil Sweetie a precious gift. Answers.

JemJam said...

Thanks! It was very enlightening.