What's the Difference Between Open Adoption vs. Co-Parenting?
Any woman considering adoption can continue to build a relationship with her child after placement. But, what happens when you’ve already been parenting your child? Will you continue your parenting roles after the adoption?
If you decide to place your child for adoption, you can still be part of their life as much as you’re comfortable with. But, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be co-parenting with the adoptive family.
We know that this can be a big adjustment when you’re already used to parenting your child, and you probably have a lot of questions for what to expect. That’s why we’ll go over everything you need to know in this guide. If you’d to speak with a specialist right away, you can always contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION.
What is Open Adoption?
On the most basic level, an open adoption is a relationship in which the adoptive and birth families share identifying information and build a relationship with one another. Both parties will start with pre-placement contact in the beginning of the adoption and continue building their relationship long after placement.
For Caitlin, a birth mother, knowing that she’ll be able to be part of her child’s life was one of the greatest things she ever did:
“Knowing that I can be around and be there — I don’t even know how to put it into words… I’m like a cheerleader on the sideline, and that’s more than I could have asked for,” she said of her open adoption relationship. “He gets this family who can take care of him and do everything I couldn’t, but he can also know that I didn’t just give him away. I had a purpose for him, and it was meant to be.”
Open adoptions take many shapes. Because every birth parent has their own preference with how much contact they’re comfortable with, no two open adoptions are the same. No matter what level of contact you’re comfortable with, your adoption specialist can help you come with a plan and find a family that has everything you’re looking for.
What Can I Choose in an Open Adoption?
In an open adoption, you can choose to have as much contact as you’re comfortable with. Most women decide to have some degree of openness, and usually choose been a fully open or semi-open adoption.
If you choose to have a more open adoption, then you might share:
- Personal contact information, including first and last names
- Visits on holidays and birthdays
- Regular picture and letter updates
- Video calls, phone calls, emails, text messages
In an older child adoption, having a high amount of contact is best for you and your child. After your child and the adoptive family can experience some early bonding time, I can be a lot of time together.
What’s the Difference Between Open Adoption and Co-Parenting?
There are a lot of people, including adoptive parents, who are unsure about open adoption because they don’t know what the boundaries are, or how to establish them.
Once you complete your adoption paperwork, and the period of revocation has passed, you will officially terminate your parental rights. At this point, all responsibilities will be transferred to the adoptive family, and you will no longer be your child’s legal caregiver. While you can still be a part of your child’s life, all legal, medical and parenting decisions will be made by your child’s adoptive family.
Because of these new boundaries in place, it can be a big adjustment when you’ve already been parenting your child. But, it’s important to understand that once you sign your adoption paperwork and placement occurs, that is now their child. Whatever decisions the adoptive family makes for how they raise their child you must respect it, even when it’s hard.
Can I Still Spend the Same Amount of Time with My Child?
Right now, it’s normal to feel worried about how your child will handle the transition of living in a new home and environment. It’s only natural to want to check up on how they’re doing by visiting them if you can and catching up on the phone to spend time together while you’re apart. But while your intentions are good, it might not be the best thing for your child or for the adoptive family.
After you place your child with the adoptive family, it’s important to respect their early bonding time during the initial open adoption. How long this last depends on your unique situation, but it can be up to a few months. While the adoptive family will of course want you to be involved in their lives, they’ll need some space as they spend some time building their relationship.
Additionally, it will be hard for your child to understand the transition and form an attachment with the adoptive parents if they’re still spending most of their time with their birth family. While this can be hard, it will be good for everyone in the long run. Rest assured that the separation won’t last forever, and you’ll be able to spend more time with them later down the road.
So, Why Choose Open Adoption?
Research has shown time and time again that open adoption has countless benefits for you, the adoptive family and the adoptee. For many women, choosing open adoption plays a big part in their healing journey.
Randi, a birth mother, has a great open adoption relationship with her child’s adoptive family. She even gets to pictures of their millstones though the adoptive parents' blog:
“Every picture, it brightens my day. There are two things I check every day, the blog and my Facebook,” Randi said. “When I see a random picture that she puts on there, it just makes me feel like she’s not forgetting about me and keeping up with what she said she was going to do.”
Open adoption might not be co-parenting. But through this type of post-placement relationship, you can still build a fulfilling and life-long bond with your child and the adoptive family.
If you have any other questions about the difference between open adoption and co-parenting, we’d be happy to answer them. And if you are considering adoption for your older child today, you should know that our agency is able to provide placement services for children up to 4 years old. You can give us a call whenever you’re ready at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more the open adoption process.
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