Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Open letter from a birthmom...
Open adoption. What does it mean? How does it affect the child? The birthparents? The adoptive parents? These are just a few questions that today's society asks. To each, there are many different answers. Open adoptions have just recently come about in the past decade; the thought of it has brought many mixed reactions and opinions. Families considering open adoption find themselves faced with society's misinformation or lack of information all together. This can be intimidating for adoptive parents and birthparents. I hope I can shed some light on this process by sharing my own personal experience.
Today's society sees open adoptions complicating life for the adoptive family. They see birthparents attempting to co-parent a child they've relinquished and making it confusing for the child as he or she grows up. Birthparents' choose open adoption for a sense of security. They don't want to co-parent or confuse the child, but they want the opportunity to see and know that the child is being taken care of and doing well. In my experience with open adoption I have found that seeing my daughter after placing her for adoption has given me a sense of security. No more wondering if she is okay? Is she being taken care of? I don't want to co-parent or confuse my daughter as she grows up and I definitely do not want to compete for her love with her adoptive parents.
Another thing society sees is what if the birthparents try to take their child back a few years later when they are able to raise a child? People need to realize that birthparents choose adoption and voluntarily relinquish their child because they are looking out for their child's best interest. Some people would say that the birthparents are being selfish by giving their child up, placing a child for adoption is one of the most loving and caring things anyone could possibly do. If you are not able to care for the child properly why make the child suffer when there are families out there that can care for this child. When I first started thinking about open adoption and even after placing my daughter, people still ask me quite often, "What happens if in a few years you decide you want your child back?" or "How could you possible consider giving your child up?" I know that I cannot have my daughter back in my family until she is 18 years old and even then I know that she may not want to be part of my family. I also know that the choice I made for her was the best choice I could have ever made.
In open adoption, many birthparents ask for letters, pictures and occasionally visits; and a lot of people don't understand why we, as birthparents ask for that. We hear questions like, "Doesn't it make your grieving harder to see pictures or receive letters?" or "Why torture yourself with pictures and visits?" People need to realize that we don't ask for this to torture ourselves or make our grieving harder, we ask for these things to ease the grieving process. Pictures, visits and letters between birthparents, adoptive parents and child encourages healthy grieving in the birthparents and allows the child a sense of identity, family history, and the knowledge of being loved by their birthparents'. It also allows for a potential relationship between the child and their birth parents as the child grows up. In the open adoption agreement for my daughter, I'm allowed to have pictures, letters and occasional visits. The first time I received pictures from my daughter's adoptive parents, I cried, but they were not tears of regret, they were tears of joy. Joy knowing that I can watch my little girl grow up in the pictures and read about her development in letters. Three weeks after my daughter was born, I had my first visit with her and her adoptive mom. The morning of my visit I was nervous, scared, and wasn't sure what to expect. I think those were feelings that most birthparents' experience the first time they see the child they placed for adoption. As that day went on, I realized I didn't have anything to be nervous or scared about. I now understand the sense of security birthparents have after seeing their child with their adoptive family. If that visit were the last with my little girl, I would be content, because I had the opportunity to see that she is extremely loved and well taken care of.
Open adoption is something that everyone needs to not be scared of. It is just now starting to come about in today's society, and it will be a definite thing of the future. Open adoptions, I feel are the best way to go and that is my personal feelings. I know everyone will have his or her feelings about it. I ask that no one ever gets looked down on if they chose to place a child in an open adoption arrangement or if they are looking to adopt with an open adoption agreement.