Open Adoption – Benefits to the Adoptive Family
An open adoption is one in which the birth parents and adoptive parents maintain some sort of contact after the adoption. Whether you have been exploring adoption for years, or just started looking into it, you may be curious about what makes an open adoption special. The decision to make an adoption plan could be filled with fear and anxiety for the birth parents, but with the changes in our culture open adoptions have become a treasure for birth parents and adoptive families.
More than 50% of infant adoptions are now open adoptions and there are some reasons for that. Adoptions used to be done in secrecy. It was often unwed mothers who had to choose adoption for their babies. There was a stigma surrounding having a baby out of wedlock so their pregnancies were usually hidden. The birth mother often moved to a new location to have her baby and all adoption records were sealed.
We have all heard stories about adopted children seeking out their birth parents. Children have a natural curiosity about their birth parents. They want to know more about who they are. Do they look like their birth mom or birth dad? Do they have any siblings? What is their birth family like? Closed adoptions left adopted children longing to know more about their identity.
Nowadays most adoptions are open. There are varying degrees of openness in an open adoption. Open adoptions eliminate some of the mystery for adopted children. Still, an adoptive family may have some fears about choosing an open adoption. There are so many reasons to choose an open adoption. An open adoption is not just beneficial for the birth mom, there are also benefits for the adoptive family.
For adoptive families, here are some of the benefits:
Starting a family
Infertile couples often struggle for years trying to start a family. They may spend a substantial amount of money on infertility treatments, before considering adoption. Adoption gives parents the opportunity to start a family that they wouldn’t otherwise have. When a couple finally makes the decision to become adoptive parents, they may wonder why they didn’t consider it sooner. There are advantages and blessings that come from adoption that other families don’t get to experience.
Easier time adopting
Once a couple decides to look into adoption they may start off by considering a closed adoption. A closed adoption means there is no contact, the records are sealed, and the child’s birth mother has no part of the baby’s life after the placement. Closed adoptions, however, are no longer common. Only about 5% of infant adoptions are closed adoptions. This is one reason to choose an open adoption. You will have an easier time finding a baby if you decide to have an open adoption as there are more birth mothers choosing this option.
Security and peace of mind
An open adoption gives you the opportunity to meet the birth mother, learn more about her family, know her story, and why she is choosing adoption. Knowing the birth mother during her pregnancy may make the process a little less scary. By developing a connection with her, you will help her feel more secure with her decision of adoption. This will give both of you peace of mind.
One of the obvious benefits of an open adoption is that you will know more about the birth family’s medical history. If there are health issues down the road you will have a way to contact the family. You cannot anticipate every health condition your child might have.
In almost all states, once an adoption is closed it is nearly impossible for an adoptive family to get access to any medical records. The birth mother may not report or be aware of genetic disorders, autoimmune disorders, or other medical issues that might be important to know about. Aside from knowing your history for diagnostic purposes, knowing how to contact the birth family can be a matter of life or death if your child is diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer.
Imagine finding out that your child has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow matches are difficult even with relatives. Sherrie Cramer, an adoptive mom of a teenager from China, told her heart wrenching story to NBC News. She traveled all the way to China after an extensive search through bone marrow registries in the US and other countries turned up only 41 matches and not one viable match. She told NBC News, “I can give her everything, I can give her love and clothes and an education, but I cannot give her genetic markers for a match.” Cancer is not a diagnosis anyone wants to think about, but having your child’s family history and contact information provides a sense of hope should the unforeseen happen.
A relationship with the birth mother
Initially this may not be one of the reasons you consider adoption, but many adoptive families develop a close relationship with the birth mother. The birth mother may feel a sense of joy from giving a blessing to the adoptive family and the adoptive family feels blessed in return for the gift the birth mom is giving to them.
Kacey, a birth mom who chose an open adoption, described what a blessing her open adoption was. She is happy with the placement, the relationship she has with the adoptive parents, and the transparency of an open adoption. She and other birth moms shared their stories on open adoption. Kacey told Lifetime Adoption, “They were going to raise their daughter to know she was adopted and to know the blessing of adoption.” She explained, “It’s great for a child to know. I didn’t want there to be any awkwardness as she got older.”
Better understanding of the reasons for placement
By getting to know the birth mother, you will find out more about her reasons for placement. This may help you in the selection process. Perhaps you went into adoption thinking about finding a baby for your family, but knowing her story may make your story even more powerful. She is giving a gift to you and knowing her reasons why may provide comfort to you and your child.
Openness and honesty
An open adoption is transparent. Your child will understand they are adopted from the beginning, relieving you and the child from the what-ifs about finding this out later in life. Having an open adoption gets rid of all the secrecy that is involved with a closed adoption. Your child can ask you questions about his identity and you will be able to answer his questions because you know the answers. Your child may want to know their adoption story, who their birth mother is, and why she chose adoption. Knowing these details will give your child a better self esteem, less identity issues, and some security that as parents you have been open and honest with them.