Contact with the birth parents is a key component of any successful adoption. In fact, more than 9 out of every 10 women who choose adoption request some form of contact with the adoptive parents.
For this reason, American Adoptions requires adoptive families to be accepting of various non-identifying types of contact, which we refer to as a “semi-open adoption.” At American Adoptions, a semi-open adoption includes:
Conference Call (Pre-Placement) – An introductory call between you and a pregnant mother (and birth father if involved) that takes place soon after she chooses you to pursue the same adoption plan. An Adoption Specialist will be on the phone with you to keep the conversation moving, and you will have plenty of preparation before the call to understand the things to talk and ask about.
Email Exchange (Pre-Placement) – A non-invasive way of staying in touch and providing updates with one another, allowing for you and her to respond to one another at a more convenient time.
Hospital Meeting (Placement) – Interaction with the birth parents and possibly other family members while at the hospital. You will be prepared about the birth mother’s hospital plan, so you will know whether she wants you in the delivery room, who she wants to hold the baby first, how much time she wants to spend with the baby, and more.
Pictures and Letters (Post-Placement) – Correspondence mailed to American Adoptions and forwarded to the birth mother for up to 18 years. Nearly all women request pictures and letters to see that their child is happy and healthy. Read the following to learn more about how American Adoptions mediates the picture and letter agreement.
* Remember, not all pregnant mothers request each type of contact, and some are even seeking a closed adoption. Just because you are accepting of this contact doesn’t necessarily mean that you will participate in it.
Some families are excited to get to know the birth parents of their adopted child, while others are a little more leery of this relationship.
If your feelings are more toward the latter, you may be wondering why we highly encourage building this relationship. Please know that it is completely normal to feel this way at this stage.
The following are some of the invaluable benefits that something as simple as non-identifiable, minimal contact with the birth parents can provide to the adoption and to your lives after placement.
Helps Birth Mother’s Grief and Loss – Imagine being in a birth mother’s shoes as she kisses her baby goodbye for the last time, knowing that she will never know what her child will look like one day, what his or her laugh sounds like, or if he or she is happy. For some birth parents, this could be too much to go through with the adoption. Conversely, imagine a birth mother kissing her baby goodbye, knowing she will receive pictures and letter updates, and perhaps even phone calls or visits, depending on the level of openness you are comfortable with. This is often the difference in a birth mother being committed to her adoption decision.
Fills the Void in the Child’s Life – While it’s sometimes difficult for adoptive parents to understand, adopted children who have no contact with their birth parents often have the feeling that something is missing in their lives. This is particularly common later in their teenage or young adult years. While their adoptive parents are and will always be their parents, there are certain things they simply can’t answer: Where does my hair color come from? What were my relatives like? Why did my birth parents place me for adoption? A relationship with the birth parents will help fill this void in your child’s life, and provide him or her an avenue of meeting them one day in the future.
Updated Medical Information – American Adoptions will present you with the birth mother’s self-disclosed medical background and family’s medical background, as well as her and the baby’s hospital records. However, this is just a snapshot in time because everyone’s health and family’s medical backgrounds change over time. Staying in touch with the birth parents allows you receive updates on your child’s family medical history, which will be important for him or her in the future.
Receive More Adoption Opportunities – Because so many pregnant mothers seek open contact, families who resists this contact with the birth parents will not be eligible for most adoption opportunities. The more flexible you are to the various types of contact with the birth parents, the more adoption opportunities you will be presented.
There is a section in your Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) where you will choose the types of contact you are comfortable sharing with the birth parents.
As previously stated, “semi-open adoption” will already be selected because you are required to participate in a conference call, email exchange, meeting at time of placement, and pictures and letters correspondence. These types of contact exchange non-identifying information, meaning all contact is mediated in some way by American Adoptions, and last names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or any other identifiable information are never shared by our agency.
There are additional types of contact you may agree to, including pre-placement phone calls and visits and post-placement phone calls and visits. These types of contact would push your adoption more toward an “open adoption” and the exchanging of identifying information. Essentially, these types of contact are not mediated by our agency.
Remember that contact with the parents is in no way co-parenting. Your child is 100 percent yours. Contact with the birth parents is one of the essential components of making sure everyone meets their goals in the adoption, and after placement everyone moves on from the adoption in a healthy way.
You likely have many more questions about contact with the birth parents and semi-open adoption. Contact us today for free adoption information or call us at 1-800-ADOPTION.
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