American Adoptions is proud to have a history of encouraging open adoptions between birth parents and adoptive parents since we started as an agency. Like many other professionals, we recognize the immense benefits that open communication brings to not only birth mothers but also adoptees and adoptive parents.
Over the years, we’ve seen many open adoptions progress with success and create relationships that are treasured by all involved. But, as our agency has grown and changed, so has the adoption process itself — specifically, what prospective birth mothers are looking for in an open adoption relationship.
As one would expect, prospective birth mothers are immensely interested in staying a part of their child’s life after they’re adopted. For many of these women, it’s this guarantee that gives them the confidence to choose adoption. In most cases, prospective birth mothers want more direct contact than just mediated contact through an agency; understandably, they want a direct link to the people they place their child with.
To help create more successful open adoption relationships for all members of the adoption triad, American Adoptions has set newer standards for adoptive parents who wish to adopt through our program. These requirements are another example of our commitment to an open adoption process that’s best for all involved.
Here’s what you should know about our open adoption requirements:
- Direct communication with email and phone contact: Prospective adoptive parents must be comfortable with direct contact with a prospective birth mother, both before and after the adoption process is complete. Whether or not a prospective birth mother will desire frequent contact will be up to her, but it is reassuring for both adoptive and birth parents to have a way to communicate quickly and directly if needed. Many birth parents and adoptive parents end up developing a strong relationship with this method of communication, as texts and emails are a more convenient and undemanding way to easily stay in touch.
- Post-placement visit within the first five years of the child’s life: Having an in-person meeting within the first five years after an adoption is a way to answer many questions that a birth mother and adoptive parents may have for each other post-adoption — and reassure everyone that the adoption is going well. If a birth mother requests this post-placement meeting (and not all will), it will be a great opportunity for her to find reassurance that she made the right choice with adoption. In-person meetings also help foster a relationship between adoptive parents and birth parents, creating a more positive open adoption experience overall. Some open adoption triads will feel comfortable and happy with more frequent visits, but that depends on the individuals involved.
- Openness to sharing last names: While American Adoptions will never share your identifying information without your permission, adoptive families should recognize that the idea of staying anonymous in adoption is an outdated idea. With the advance of the internet and social media, curious birth parents can find and learn more about adoptive parents than ever before. The intimate process of adoption also makes it difficult to guarantee that last names will not be released in hospital or court documents. Hopeful parents considering adoption should recognize that their last names may be shared — but it’s in no way a negative thing. In fact, keeping identifying information secret is counterproductive to a positive adoption relationship; how can a prospective birth mother trust adoptive parents to stay in touch if they don’t want her to know who they are?
It’s important to remember that these requirements are beneficial for all involved — not just because of the desires of the prospective birth mother. A more open adoption relationship allows for adoptees to know more about their birth parents’ history, for adoptive parents to more easily incorporate their child’s culture and history into their lives and for a birth parent to know that their child is growing up happy and healthy.
But, because many prospective birth mothers do request a more open adoption arrangement, requiring our prospective adoptive families to be open to these communication preferences makes it more likely that you will be matched with a prospective birth mother more quickly and more successfully. Remember: What your actual open adoption relationship will look like can vary, as different women desire different adoption contact preferences. These requirements, however, are a great place to start.
If you ever have any questions about our open adoption requirements, please feel free to contact our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more. We’re happy to explain exactly how our open adoption requirements are designed to make the open adoption process more beneficial for all involved.