Friday, April 2, 2010

Answering Questions about Open Adoption

By Brittany of Que & Brittany's Adoption Journal
email me at

A reader, who along with her spouse are considering adoption as a way to build their family, asked me this question regarding my previous post about open adoption, and specifically regarding this statement I made: "Open adoption is not:  confusing to the child, co-parenting, only for the benefit of the birth mom." 

She asked:
"I just wonder if you could explain more about what it's really like and how those 'nots' do or don't work? I had wondered with Brie being so involved with Liam if it would be confusing in future for him, or be something like her possibly trying to take him away from you, and how this would benefit you and Que and not just Brie...I'm just curious to know more about what it's really like."

 My son Liam and his birth mom, Brie (during a visit last month)

I love answering questions! Thanks!  Ok, I'm going to go through these one at a time and paraphrase the questions:

Will the contact with Brie be confusing for Liam?  The only way I can explain our situation is to liken it to an aunt or uncle coming over to visit you.  You know they're related to you, you know they love you, but you also know they're not your mom or dad. Liam will obviously know that we are his mom and dad.  He will also know who Brie is, he will call her by her first name and he'll grow up knowing his adoption story.  This arrangement works because Brie is respectful of our role as parents to him and we are respectful of her role as birth mother.  Meaning she's not coming over to parent Liam, she's just coming for a visit.  And she doesn't see us as being like "foster care" for Liam; taking care of him until she feels she's ready to do it herself, she sees us as his permanent parents.  I hope that makes sense.  (This is what I mean when I say that open adoption is not "co-parenting.")

Would seeing Liam all the time make Brie want to take Liam back? Can Brie take Liam from you?    From what I understand, (birth moms out there, tell me if I'm wrong) most birth mothers who can see that their child is happy in their adoptive family tend to be so much more at ease with the adoption. I don't mean to speak for Brie, but I do know no one forced her to choose adoption, and she has told us that she knows Liam "was meant for [us], he just had to come a different way."  She trusted us to raise him and is happy that he's with us, even though I'm sure it was/is devastating for her to deal with the grief of his adoption. As for the legal aspects of it, in Utah once parental rights have been terminated, they can't be reinstated.  (And Brie knew that.)  The legal parental rights of both of Liam's birth parents were terminated shortly after his birth.

How does open adoption benefit the adoptive parents?  This may sound weird, but for us it reinforces that Liam was meant for us.  There is a special bond between an adoptive couple and a birth mom; you are just so connected.  It's like she becomes part of your family.  I've previously blogged about how adoptive couples can even grieve alongside their birth mom.  I love her like a sister and would walk through fire for Brie, seriously.  We are very protective of her and it boils my blood to hear when people mistreat her.  Just cutting off all contact with her forever would have been so devastating to me and Que. We know that the circumstances of our contact may change over the passage of time, but like an aunt or cousin, we hope and believe that we will always be in touch with her somehow.  Open adoption with her is also a benefit for me as a mother because it brings me comfort to know that my son will have his adoption questions answered.  He'll never have to wonder what she looks like, why she chose adoption, if she loves him, etc.

Is there anything else you wanted to know? 
I now have a Formspring account- click here (or see the sidebar) and feel free to ask!

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