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Do you think that agencies really understand the work it takes to maintain an Open Adoption?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the challenges that open adoption brings and how the ones who are left to navigate these challenges are the adoptive family and birth family - eventually the adoptee too if people hang in there and work their way through the bumps in the road.

For the record, I do believe that open adoption greatly benefits the adoptee over closed adoptions. However, I think that often neither birth parents nor adoptive parents are properly prepared for how to actually live out an open adoption. It's one thing to agree that "its best for the adoptee" but quite another to struggle through with things that are common - like what to do when one side "pulls back".

I'd love to hear from all sides that started out commiting to an open adoption - when you've hit a bump in the road where have you found support or advice? I don't think most people just walk away from the commitment to open adoption.


Asked by PortAngeles1969 at 2:15 PM on Sep. 18, 2009 in Adoption

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Answers (56)
  • ...who honestly want to do what is best for their child who is caught in the middle.

    So, really, is the question who sees good or bad agencies. Or is it more, how can we as bmoms and amoms who love our children find a way outside the agencies to create help and support to keep more adoptions open (the % is good when on the younger side but loses that value as the child gets older.)

    If we begin to stand up united as moms from all sides who want and expect better for open adoptions, if we create more of a united front and understanding of what is working and is not working up to this point, we will, I believe, leave agencies, good or bad, with no choice but to answer our concerns and to begin to concentrate their efforts solely on what is best for the child and nothing else.

    Answer by bellacocco at 10:07 PM on Sep. 21, 2009

  • They do. If the input from the Mother is reduced to just a figured head. It seems to be a way to promise the moon to both sides mother and child with just the adoptive parents truly being in the driver seat. In the end the child is still at a lost and still takes direction from the adoptive parents. Ask regular parents not in adoption how it feels to have joint custody, a birth mother does not even have that, to say nothing of confusing a child who does not know who to be loyal too. Will my real Mother stand up Please!! Pay with your life and receive 10 cents off. Or two heads NOT  allowed here.  PS mind was closed


    Answer by Anonymous at 2:42 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • Anon 11:42 - thanks for the qualifier. So if I'm reading it correctly you mean the agreement at the beginning for you was promised as open and then it "was closed" or was yours a closed adoption
    from the start?

    Answer by PortAngeles1969 at 2:53 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • Not to start anything but its not just the adoptive parents who close adoptions. Our adoption was fully open until almost 2 years into it. We had agreed to an open adoption. My daughter's birth mother has not made contact with me foralmost 1 year now. I continue calling and sending pics and letters with the hope that one day she will return the messages or letters. We had 3 visits in the first 2 years. I was hoping for more and I am sure one day it will happen again. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:12 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • And just to add, I do not think many agencies know what it takes to maintain an open adoption. There are several, like the one I used, that completely steps out of the adoption after it occurs. Then its left to us, the adoptive parents and birth parents to continue.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:14 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • Oooh yes! I would never claim that it's only one side that steps away - I'm a birth mom who stepped away myself so if my wording made it sound one sided I'm sorry. many adoption agencies completely step out? I would think that it would be in their best interests to provide post-adoption support to the adoptive family - many families adopt several times. So, if the agency isn't there to offer advice are a lot of us just stumbling around trying to figure out how to put something into place that sounds so great but can be a lot of self-sacrificing work?

    And actually, I think this is one of those times that the terms self-less is appropriate. In my open adoption I know for a fact that both I and my daughter's adoptive mother have had to put aside how we would normally react to others in our lives for the sake of the open relationship for our daughter.

    Answer by PortAngeles1969 at 3:28 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • Our two agencies did the best they could to prepare us (the APs). One brought in speakers from all parts of the triad, and one set of APs had experienced a close relationship with bmom who later dropped out of sight. Our other agency had us read many, many books on open adoption, and this subject was covered. The reality is that the social workers have a finite amount of time, and preference goes to offering post-adoption support to bmoms (as it should). They say they are available if APs want to talk, but the reality is that they don't always have time.

    You are right that there is work involved on all sides. We all need to remember that we are dealing with human beings who are not perfect, and we are not perfect either. I think it is important to find a way to keep the "door" open even when you run into difficulties, even if the nature of contact changes for a while.

    Answer by Iamgr8teful at 3:37 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • Anon 1:42, I'm trying to understand where you are coming from with your post. If an emom is promised that the arrangement will be like joint custody, the person making that promise is out of line. I know that I never would have agreed to such a thing. I think it is sad when adults put kids in the position of feeling that they have to be loyal to one family or the other. We try to approach it as being one big family, and our kids' bfamilies are just as much a part of the family as our families of origin.

    Answer by Iamgr8teful at 3:40 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • As you know, my son's adoption was closed....that was the only option. I am responding because I have studied open adoptions in great detail. Not only do I think that agencies do not understand what it takes to make an open adoption work, but I don't think MOST of them care. They view open adoption as a way to convince more women to place, but, don't necessarily think open adoptions are a good idea. Most agencies also know that open adoption agreements are rarely enforceable even if they are in a state where they are legal.

    There are some few agencies that are really committed to open adoptions that do invest in educating all parties. But, they seem to be rare. If open adoptions were originally conceived for the benefit of children, I would expect more commitment from agencies to make them work. But, since they were probably created only to lure more women to place, I suppose their lack of commitment makes sense.

    Answer by Southernroots at 4:02 PM on Sep. 18, 2009

  • Ask regular parents not in adoption how it feels to have joint custody, a birth mother does not even have that, to say nothing of confusing a child who does not know who to be loyal too

    As a kid I might default to my birth mother. As long as agency get's what they want the rest does not matter. Are you using the birth mother or helping her. If she is happy then OK. half of something is better than nothing? i always vote for the child.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:03 PM on Sep. 18, 2009