Each adoptive family and birth parent that has been brought together through adoption has a unique relationship and situation that will dictate a different type of relationship. Birth parents and adoptive families should educate themselves about open, closed and semi-open adoption agreements and evaluate how comfortable they feel with each type of adoption.
An open adoption agreement can include various types of contact, but at the very least, an open adoption suggests that the birth mother and adoptive family have contact prior to and after the delivery. Also, they may trade identifying information, such as full names and addresses. The adoptive family and birth mother will send pictures and letters directly to one another, instead of having the adoption agency facilitate the exchange. Birth parents may be able to have face-to-face visits with the child or speak to them and the adoptive family on the phone. Basically, an open adoption allows adoptees to form an actual relationship with their birth parents. Adoption is a lifelong process, and many birth parents feel they would like to opportunity for their relationship with the adoptive parents and the child to grow. They also feel it is important for the adoptee to understand their adoption completely and to be able to feel a connection with their birth mother.
Many birth parents find this type of relationship gratifying because they are able to observe the adoptee mature and flourish with their adoptive family, and they are able to be a part of that process. They are reassured that they made the best decision for the child. Also, if the birth parents have other children, the open adoption process allows the adoptee to form a bond with their biological brothers or sisters and extended family.
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Many adoptive families are wary of agreeing to an open adoption with the birth parents. Sensational movies about adoption have convinced many people that if the birth parents know where the adoptive family lives, they will try to interrupt the family’s life, and they may even attempt to take the child back. This is completely untrue.
An open adoption allows for the adoptive family and the birth mother to know one another’s addresses and full names. There may be periodic telephone conversations and some families even enjoy getting together for visits. Many adoptive families begin to form a close bond with the birth parents, and they do not, and should not, feel threatened by the birth parent’s interaction with their child. The adoptive parents are the child’s legal family, and the birth parents cannot “take” the child back. And as much as the birth parents feel an intense amount of love for the child, they know they made the decision to choose adoption, and they know they did the right thing for the child. An open adoption is not right for every adoption, but many families find that they enjoy the close connection they share with the birth parents, and they appreciate the openness this type of relationship allows.
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