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Open Adoption/ Closed Adoption

May 4, 2008

There are typically three general categories of adoption openness: Closed Adoption, Semi-Private, and Open Adoption. I’m sure that even as you read that list, you may already have a mindset about what type of adoption you’d be open to should you choose to adopt someday. I made a comment the other day that many of our ideas about the openness of adoption may have been formed by watching Lifetime movies. I’m only half joking.

So here goes my opinion on the issue.

On closed adoption. As nice as this may seem to you in theory, have you really thought about what this might mean to you and your adopted child. From the stand point of an adoptive parent or soon-to-be adoptive parent you may be thinking, “I bring my child home, close the door and he/she is ours, end of story.” I’m only at the beginning of the story in my home (our daughter is only 1 yr old), and I know better. We will never keep our daughters adoption a secret from her, and there will be a day when her questions will come from a deep place in her heart and from a longing to understand the choices that were made about her life before she was born. I would never want to be in a place to tell her that I know nothing about her birth family. I don’t ever want to hold my daughter at age 13 as she’s going through puberty, questioning her identity and tell her that I know nothing. There are numerous other practical reasons that I feel that closed adoption is often not in the best interest of the child.

On semi-private adoption. This allows the option of knowing a bit about your child’s birth family, even talking to them on the phone or meeting them prior to or after the child’s birth. This can allow you to have some level of contact, even if monitored by an agency, so that the birth family can receive letters and pictures from you. In a semi-private adoption, you are given the ability to some day give your child the gift of having answers to some of their questions. You may be able to relay to your child the reason that the choice for adoption was made. You may know some helpful things about the birth mother and her family such as their interests and hobbies, medical conditions, and you may even have a photo of them, or letters from them to present to your child when the time is right. Not only are you able to give your child loving answers, you are also able to bless a birth mom and her family by giving them updates and photos that may help them to feel reassured of their decision.

On open adoption. There was a day when I would have, perhaps out of ignorance, steered away from any situation that was asking for an open adoption. Though I know this is not for every one, I would encourage you to not completely close yourself off to this option. I certainly would not push anyone in this direction, but would encourage you to be open to it on a situation by situation basis. Do some reading, talk to other families who have had experiences with open adoption, and make that decision for yourself.

I would welcome any comments that might be helpful to adoptive couples trying to make the decision about type of adoption they are willing to pursue. I will post any comments or questions that might be helpful to other couples who are pursuing adoption.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Grace permalink
    May 5, 2008 12:03 am

    Thank you for posting about this!
    Great topic.

    We are in a fairly open “semi open” adoption, as we have continued, direct contact (email) with our child’s birth family. It’s something that I had never planned on, but has worked out over time. And it will be a total blessing to our child one day (i hope!) when we can share photos of his biological family from their childhood, letters, etc. He will always know “his roots,” and that he was wanted and loved, by both families.

    Actually, if you look at adoptions that are mentioned in the Bible, they are all what we would consider Open!

    Although adopted by the Egyptian princess, Moses was nursed by his birth mother; Hannah gave Samuel to Eli after she weaned him, but visited once a year with a new cloak, etc.

    No adoption is exactly alike, but…I do think the days of totally closed adoptions are coming to an end, which is probably a good thing when we listen to adoptees and their experiences. Have you read the book “20 things adopted children want their parents to know? (or something like that!) It is next on my reading list 🙂

    I look forward to hearing what your readers think. I was once terrified of even sending photo updates thru an agency, but thankfully the Lord changed my heart.

  2. sarah true permalink
    May 5, 2008 11:56 pm

    This info is really helpful. Our hearts are saying “yes, Lord” and we are still waiting for Him to lead the way. I love reading this blog it helps me process and gets me so excited.

  3. Tracie permalink
    May 6, 2008 12:08 am

    Grace,
    Thanks for your comment and for the book recommendation. I haven’t read it, but I’ll definitely pick it up.

    We are privileged to have semi-open contact w/ our birth mom as well. It has blessed me and I know it has been good for her. One day I know my daughter will be grateful as well.

    Sarah- I’m cheering you on!

  4. Melissa permalink
    September 13, 2009 2:59 am

    My husband was adopted in the 60's when all adoption were usually closed and private. he will tell you that he doesn't care to know his birth family and that he has no desire to seek them out or wonder "where he comes from". But, I truly feel that deep down that is not really the case. He jokes around all the time about how he could be anything, because he's adopted and it makes me wonder if he really does silently wonder about his origins but has just always felt that he shouldn't feel that way.

    I think that semi-open or open are really the best, in the end, for all involved. I have been told that the little girl we are adopting has a grandmother that visits with her in the orphanage and I really hope we will be able to meet her and keep her updated on how Liza is doing through the years. A child can never have too many people who love them, right? 🙂

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