5 Questions You Have About Open Adoption in Missouri
Is a MO Open Adoption Right for You?
If you’re an expectant birth mother on the fence about open adoption because you’re not familiar with the concept, you’ve come to the right place.
When first considering placing your baby for adoption in Missouri, you might have some preconceived ideas about how the process will go. Maybe you’ve seen movies where a mother leaves her baby at the doorstep of an orphanage or read dramatic stories online of a child discovering the secret that they were adopted. But this is not how adoptions work today.
Instead, the vast majority of infant adoptions in Missouri (and in all of America) are now open adoptions. But, as a woman considering adoption, it is always up to you to decide exactly what type of relationship you want to have with your child and the adoptive family you choose, whether that’s an open, semi-open or closed adoption. One is not necessarily better than the other; it’s all about meeting the needs of your unique situation.
To get more detailed information about how you can benefit from an open adoption with American Adoptions, reach out to us today at 1-800-ADOPTION or contact us here.
For prospective adoptive parents wanting to expand their family through open adoption, you can get more information here.
As an expectant birth parent considering your options, here are some things you should know about open adoption in Missouri.
What is open adoption?
It’s hard to give a specific open adoption definition, because open adoption looks different in every adoption scenario. In essence, though, an open adoption is an adoption in which you as the birth parent and the adoptive parents remain in contact after placement. To do so, both parties share identifying information and don’t require an adoption professional to help facilitate contact.
The methods of communication in an open adoption will depend on what you’re comfortable with, but generally consist of:
Phone calls and texts
Every adoptive relationship is different, so the amount of contact you have with your child and his or her adoptive parents, as well as how that communication takes place, is completely up to you. As the birth parent, your importance in the adoption process cannot be stated enough. When you choose a Missouri open adoption, you are in control of how you want it to look. Only you know what is best for you and your baby.
What is a closed adoption?
As you can imagine, a closed adoption is the opposite of an open adoption. It’s easier to give a closed adoption definition: it’s an adoptive relationship in which little or no contact and no identifying information is exchanged. In Missouri closed adoptions, the adoptive family will receive medical records from the birth mother and possibly the birth father as well, but that’s about it.
Even though open adoptions are now more common than closed adoptions in Missouri, it’s completely okay to choose a closed adoption if you feel that is best for you. Like we said, every situation is unique. Only you can know which route is right for you.
What is semi open adoption?
A semi-open adoption falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between open adoptions and closed adoptions. Like an open adoption, the exact way in which a Missouri semi-open adoption works depends on the parties involved. Generally, the adoptive family and birth parents exchange non-identifying information and contact is mediated by your adoption specialist at American Adoptions.
Before a baby is placed, this might mean that an adoption specialist facilitates conference calls so that a pregnant woman can get to know the adoptive parents and update them on her pregnancy. After placement, this typically involves adoptive parents sending pictures, letters and other updates about the child to the birth parents through their adoption professional.
How does open adoption in Missouri work?
Before an adoption is completed, both the birth parents and the adoptive parents decide what information to share and how. With that being said, it is important to remember that you are in the driver’s seat of your adoption process. It’s okay to stand firm if you have a clear idea of what you want. You will have help deciding this early in the process as you create your adoption plan with an adoption specialist.
When you choose open adoption in Missouri, you will have complete autonomy over:
Who the adoptive family will be. Being able to choose an adoptive family that you feel is a perfect fit to raise your child can help bring you peace of mind knowing your child is in good hands.
How much or little contact you would like to have. Not every birth parent wants or can cope with the same amount of contact. While you and the adoptive parents will have to reach an agreement, you will be able to decide how much contact you are comfortable with.
What kind of contact you would like to have. Just as with the amount of contact, you will be able to negotiate what form of contact you would like to have with your child and their adoptive family.
Josh, a birth father we had the privilege of working with had this to say about open adoption: “I believe just knowing his mother and I are there for him in body, mind and spirit will be of endless value to Cassius growing up. More than that, I want him to know his parents made the decision we did not because we didn’t want him, but because we wanted to be the very best versions of ourselves for him.”
While it’s not required, it is helpful to get to know the adoptive family before placement. This will allow you to communicate what you want in a post-placement relationship and build trust to believe that they will maintain their end of the agreement. Most adoptive families want to have contact with you, too, so being open and honest about how much contact you want is the best policy.
Your adoption specialist will be available to help facilitate your relationship both pre- and post-placement. At American Adoptions we understand the important of building a lasting bond with the adoptive family and will be by your side every step of the way.
Open adoptions are not legally enforceable in Missouri, so it’s important that you and the adoptive family are on the same page about post placement contact. Fortunately, formal post-adoption contact agreements are rarely needed, even in states where they can be enforced by the courts. Adoptive families today are often eager to maintain a relationship with you because they know there are so many benefits of open adoption for everyone in the adoption triad, especially the child.
Why does American Adoptions encourage open adoption in MO?
American Adoptions almost always encourages open adoption in Missouri — or at least semi-open adoption, depending on what you are comfortable with. At a minimum, we require that all adoptive families we work with be open to exchanging contact information, sending regular photo and letter updates and visiting you in person at least once after the adoption.
Why? Because we have personally experienced the beauty of open adoption. Our staff, comprised of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents, understands what this relationship can mean. Jen, our Director of Social Work, was adopted at a young age in a closed adoption. She was recently able to reconnect with her birth mother and experience the goodness of an open adoption relationship.
“My recent experience only confirms my belief in the positive power of open adoption, Jen said. “While my closed adoption wasn’t a negative experience by any means, knowing what I know now would have helped solve the unknowns and alleviate the feelings of shame I had at times growing up. Having contact with my birth mother now is an unexpected step in my adoption story, but I’m looking forward to whatever new relationship we may develop from here on.”
We believe adoption is a beautiful thing, and while those who are uneducated about the process may still make assumptions, the negative stigmas are becoming a thing of the past.
Below are just a few of the benefits that accompany open adoption:
Allows for children to know their adoption stories. To form a positive self-identity around adoption, a child has to hear about it and be able to ask questions. Secrecy can lead a child to believe that adoption is shameful, when really it’s something to be proud of!
Allows for you to choose your baby’s adoptive family. This means that you’re free to get to know them before placement to ensure they’re the right fit for your child.
Allows you to remain involved, or at least updated, on your child’s life. You don’t have to wonder how they’re doing and hope that you made the right decision; you can see your child grow and thrive through open or semi-open adoption communication.
Allows for additional medical information to be exchanged after placement in the event that something comes up. For example, if a child is struggling with a health issue, it could be helpful to know if this is something his or her biological parents have experienced. On the other hand, if a health issue arises with you that may be hereditary; this allows you to notify the adoptive family that they may want to watch for symptoms.
Every family is different, but we do encourage open adoptions in MO whenever possible. Get more information about what open adoption in Missouri could look like for you by calling 1-800-ADOPTION, or click here.
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