Ironically, when we first heard about open adoption was in our pre-parenting classes at our agency. It seemed interesting; our child would get to know where s/he came from, would be able to meet their first family and get to know them, wouldn’t have to wonder about their “other” parents. Scary, too. I wish I had realized at the time that our agency’s idea of “open adoption” wasn’t really all that open.
They talked about a schedule of pictures and letters, becoming more infrequent as a placed infant grew up, and stopping all together at the age of 5. We did have the option of choosing a different, later age to stop contact, but it was…strongly discouraged. We did it anyway.
When we had The Birthparents section of our pre-placement classes, open adoptions were talked about some more. The first parents on the panel (2 first mothers and a first father) had regular visits with their children and their children’s adoptive parents. They seemed happy about pictures, letters and visits. The visits seemed to be occasional. Only one first parent admitted to still having “baby moments” when she missed her son horribly. But everythinig was working out for the best. (See, look! They’re talking about it! They’re still alive! Things must be okay!)
It turned out that our agency’s “open adoption” was other people’s semi-open. No actual contact without an intermediary (from our agency, of course), no exchange of personally identifying information, even a cell phone in place of contact by land line. Because a land line had a greater chance of Caller ID information leaking out. If it hadn’t been for M, our daughter’s first mother, things would have opened up a lot more slowly.
We have, all of us, learned a lot more about openness in adoption. Some things were good, others not so much. But we’ve learned more since that first day by just jumping in and living.
This is part of the Open Adoption Bloggers Roundtable.
The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don’t need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you’re thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points–please feel free to adapt or expand on them.