You think that's not objective

Amanda has an interesting post up about open adoption. There is much in it that I agree with as well as an aspect I'd not thought much about before which is the idea that open adoption was created to make it easier for parents to relinquish, something that could very well be true.

Problem with that is, from my non objective point of view, is that I just can't see open adoption being easier or better, for anyone. Not in my personal experience anyway.

I mean, unless the parents are blatantly incompetent for the rest of time and it's obviously a case of lucking in to a better familial situation, how could it not be weird for a young child to see perfectly capable people functioning, perhaps parenting further kept kids, and not be negatively affected? I would imagine more often than not the people who give up a baby eventually get their act together, if they didn't already have it together but just didn't want kids, so how is a child's mind to perceive it all?

Maybe it would be easier for an adopted child in an open adoption to stomach having bio parents who didn't want kids at all and never had any more. I don't know, it's just so hard to picture having grown up knowing my bio mother, watching her parent her kept children. It's quite likely I'd have at some point wanted to go live with them. Would I have been told no? What would that have done to my brain, my self worth, my attitude toward my adoptive family?

I'm glad I was in a closed adoption situation. I knew the score, who my family was. Yes, while growing up I didn't know what had happened to land me in an adoption but I just can't get my head around the alternative. To this day I've never felt abandoned but can't honestly say I'd feel that way had I been exposed to a lifetime of observing a perfectly intact family who just didn't want me, or weren't allowed to get me back if they did.

For me, having the option of finding my biological people, with all the tools to do so being easily accessible, if and when I felt the urge is the perfect scenario to my adoptee mind.

Maybe Amanda is right. Maybe without open adoption, in this age and part of the world where unwed parents aren't that big of a deal, less people would be inclined to choose adoption.

My disclaimer to this post is for all those people who work extremely hard to parent children in open adoption situations. For the people who have chosen adoption but do the best they can to cooperate, love, care for and support their children. I know they are out there and my perspective is based on my personal experience with the parents and circumstance of birth that I was dealt.

I am in agreement with the sentiment that there are far worse things in life than adoption, open or not.

Children who are loved, shown respect, and have parents who put their egos aside and children's needs before their own will survive, even thrive, no matter how unique the family circumstance.


  1. You and Amanda are right about the development of open adoption to encourage mothers to surrender children. Openness in adoption has occured both because of activists seeking their records and reunions but also, especially in 80's social work literature, you'll see a lot of discussion of offering open adoption to mothers who otherwise could not be persuaded to surrender their babies.

    I think open adoptions can aleviate some of the problems associated with closed adoption, namely in identity formation. But I also agree with those who say it seems like it would present problems of its own as well.

    I don't know why adoption has to be labeled as better or worse than anything else someone could go through. It is what it is. It being better or worse than something else doesn't mean it doesn't come with legitimate issues of its own for many people. Surrendered at three days old, I've never known what it is like not to be adopted. When I was in a bad relationship prior to meeting my husband, I was an adoptee in a bad relationship. When I struggled to conceive my first child, I was an adoptee with fertility issues. Being adopted was as relevant in these situations as being a woman is. I can certainly hypothesize that things I've been through in my life would have been a lot easier had adoption issues, which share common themes with these other events, not been an added variable. I don't compare adoption to other things I've been through. Adoption has been an added element on top of those things.

  2. Thanks Amanda.

    It's amazing how different your and my perspectives are on some things.

    When I was in a bad relationship, I was simply a human being in one. My being adopted wasn't a factor. Being a woman, although never a negative in itself, is/was far more relevant than being adopted.

    I do agree adoption being better or worse than anything else doesn't mean it doesn't come with legitimate issues of it's own for some people but I don't think saying there are worse things is labeling it, it's just stating the facts as they for some other people. I happen to be one of them.

    I do, now that I read and write about it, compare adoption to things I've been through, things others have been through, and it's my feeling that in the big scheme of things, for me, although my having been adopted will never change, it is, by far, no where near close to the worst things I've experienced or witnessed others experience.

  3. I checked out Amanda's post too, and I've never thought about the issue of open adoption this way. I'm glad you both shared your opinions. It's given me more to think about.

  4. "..I've never felt abandoned but can't honestly say I'd feel that way had I been exposed to a lifetime of observing a perfectly intact family who just didn't want me, or weren't allowed to get me back if they did."

    That's just it - the circumstances that made parents desperate enough to let someone else raise their child do change. Open adoption does allow parents to keep an eye on their child to make sure their child knows that they would be together as a family if circumstances were different when they were born. I do no of many mothers and fathers counting down the days until their kid turns 18 in open/semi open adoptions. Facebook and myspace are even breaking down that 18 year barrier.

  5. My response reflects my experience and perspective as a firstmom from the BSE . To me, open adoption seems to be a different form of coercion than the “better life story” used during earlier times and could certainly be used to entice vulnerable women to choose adoption as a plan for their child. While the secrecy and lies may be partially or totally eliminated in open adoption, an entirely new set of issues and problems are created for all and may, in some circumstances, be worse than those in a closed adoption . I view open adoption as being another social experiment using children. On occasion I read a popular open adoption blog and I feel the pain from the parents and their missing child and I can’t help but wonder this: if the plan is supposed to be in the best interest of the child, then can both sets of parents (adoptive and bio) work together to transition the child back to his/her family if such a move would be in the child’s best interest?

  6. Gail, both parents could and likely should transition the child back if in the child's best interest but I'd guess in most cases wouldn't. It always seems to me that in any kind of parental custody circumstance more often than not the parents put their own self interests and egos first.

  7. I read Amanda's post and while I can believe that agencies may have used open adoption as further encouragement to consider adoption, the actual numbers don't support that it worked.

    While the overall number of adoptions (per year) have stayed relatively the same, the percentage of private (agency or attorney)/kinship/tribal adoptions have gone down. The percentage of public agency adoptions (foster care) and international adoption went up during that same time frame.


  8. My son is his biomom’s second born. As an adoptee, I have not opened his adoption to include visits because I worry about the psychological damage it may cause him. I, like you, can’t imagine having my biomom and her “kept” child/children coming to visit me and demanding to be called siblings while we aren’t being raised together by the same parent. I think it’s too much for a child to bear. I send photos and updates but visits, no not for now. When he is an older and mature teen, and he wants to pursue a relationship with his biomom/bio sibling, I will support it. But as a young child I think it would be too much to know your bioparent “kept” the first born but not you. JMHO

  9. Thanks Anonymous. Of course not being in your situation it's impossible to know for sure but I think that's likely how I would choose to do things too.

  10. (Very late to the game, but here it is anyway)

    Bias - my son was placed with his parents in an open adoption.

    I think a lot of parental confusion is placed upon children in these situations. It would confuse me to suddenly have two parents who raise me, but also have two other people who care a great deal about me, are my family, and see me frequently. Actually, that wouldn't confuse me at all as a child. Open adoption seems strange within the context of closed adoption. In the larger context of human history there's more precedent for open adoption style relationships than closed. As an example there are nomadic tribes in Mongolia (to this day) in which children are raised by their mother's brother. Among many tribes in the USA (before the Europeans showed up) children were raised by their entire extended family. Their parents never lost standing as parents, but the children had a dozen or more caretakers. In the town where I grew up it wasn't at all uncommon for children to be raised by uncles, grandparents, aunts, or family friends (either permanently or temporarily). Again, the parents never lost standing as parents.

    From what I've seen open adoptions don't confuse children when the adults in them aren't confused. Kids follow the emotional communication around them. In most situations they don't understand a child will be comfortable if the adults around them are comfortable and caring.


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