Considering Open Adoption? 3 Things For Birth Parents To Consider

If you're considering open adoption, you're not alone. A 2012 study found that 95% of infant adoptions had some level of openness, with only 5% choosing a completely closed adoption. There are a lot of good reasons to consider open adoption. Experts say that maintaining some level of contact can reduce fears and anxieties that would otherwise surround to adoption. However, open adoption is not the right choice for every situation. Take a look at some things that you should think about before deciding whether or not you want to go with an open adoption.

Adoption Has Long-Term Effects

When you make the choice to put your child up for adoption, you're making a loving choice in the best interests of your child. However, that choice will affect you for the rest of your life as well, not just your child. Open and closed adoptions can each have their own type of impact, and it's important to consider what you're prepared to live with, as well as what's best for your child.

Birth parents in both open and closed adoptions may feel grief at the loss of the parent-child relationship that they might have had. In a closed adoption, you may feel curious about your child's life, or worry that it may not be what you had hoped for. In an open adoption, you'll know more about how your child's life is going, but it can be difficult to observe your child's relationship with their adoptive parents. You may feel jealous, or feel like you're reopening old wounds whenever you're in contact with your child and their adoptive family. An open adoption can also have a profound impact on your current or future romantic relationship and relationships with any future children you may have. It's important to consider how you want to handle that – or whether you want to handle it at all – before deciding whether you want an open or closed adoption.

There Are Different Levels of Openness

If you don't want to spend the rest of your life knowing nothing about your child's life, but you also don't think you can handle close contact with your child and their adoptive family, it's important to know that there is middle ground. While many open adoptions today include direct contact between the birth family and the adoptive family, not all do.

For example, you can choose an adoption scenario that allows you to simply exchange letters and pictures through a third party. That way you'll have information about how your child is doing that you may want – and be able to tell your child about yourself, which is something they may want – but you don't have to commit to direct contact that you may not feel ready for, or play an active role in your child's life if you're not prepared to do that.

Setting Boundaries Is Key

If you do decide on an open adoption, you and the adoptive parents should work out a contract with the help of your attorneys or adoption agency professionals. It's important for everyone involved to define what the relationship will be like going forward and for everyone to agree to respect each other's boundaries.

For example, the adoptive family may ask that you agree to a certain schedule for visits or phone calls. You might ask to be updated on specific things, like medical or educational issues that concern your child. Together, you and the adoptive family should be able to come up with an agreement that's acceptable to everyone. You should be prepared to be somewhat flexible, as things will naturally change as your child grows and both families change, but setting up an initial framework of agreements and boundaries will help all of you remember to respect each other and work in your child's best interests as those changes happen.

Don't feel pressured into one type of adoption or another. There are valid reasons for open adoptions, closed adoptions, and those that are in-between, and you have the right to choose the type of adoption that works best for you. A good adoption agency will help you explore your options and give you the information you need to make the right choice.