Open adoption has been described as being apart of the modern adoption constellation namely to maintain some sense of connectedness for the adopted child. In some cases, birthmothers agree to the terms mainly because this allows for them to still have access to their child throughout the years, as opposed to the closed adoptions of yesteryear. However, the importance of maintaining an open adoption should not be overshadowed by the other players in this scenario. In fact, an open adoption is truly best for the adopted child, and not just for the stereotypical reasons that are often touted.
There is an invisible, unbreakable thread that occurs within an adoptive child. He or she will likely feel pulled toward his or her own genetics throughout the years. In a closed adoption, this can cause a child to feel strange, or even like an outsider in their adopted family. With open adoption the child is allowed to see and mirror themselves biologically through consistent contact with their biological family. You should never underestimate the power of this invisible thread, as it is a very organic part of who the child is. This thread that connects them to their first family is not meant to be a personal insult to the adoptive family. Naturally, we are all drawn to our roots, even those of us who are not adopted. It's human nature to want to understand ourselves in a deeper way.
What can you do to facilitate an atmosphere that allows for adopted children to feel as though they are safe to explore where they came from? There are obvious answers, of course. Importantly, if you are eager to facilitate a truly open adoption, you will genuinely take the time to make sure that your child has complete control over the situation, when possible. The early years can be a time for the adoptive parents and birthparents to establish a sound relationship with one another. This will allow for the child to grow up in an environment without tension. The adults set the tone for the relationship, and the child will, whether they verbalize it or not, be able to conclude if they are able to explore without consequence. When the child sees that love is given to each party, he or she will feel safe in loving both her parents without fearing that she may hurt one side.
In that regard, it's exceptionally critical that as adults, you are able to put your insecurities and unwarranted doubts aside. There will be many experts who will tell you that you are not doing your adoption that correct way. This criticism may also come from loved ones, and friends. Feel confident that you are making the best decisions for both your family and ultimately your child. In truth, some of the openness in the beginning may feel awkward, but don't let this deter you from encouraging a fully open relationship. Creating a relationship that is based on trust, and openness, even from the adoptive parents to the birthparents, is the best marker for success, and will greatly benefit the adopted child as he or she grows.
Being able to access and have a relationship with the people with whom the adopted child is biologically tied is likely to have great impact. Instead of dealing with the stress and emotion that comes with reunion in the adult years, this allows for the child to always have this connection with his place of origins. It will allow for even the simplest questions to be answered. When you are not adopted you tend to take for granted the things that you know; the way one twirls their hair is similar to the way their mother did, or writes in the same form that their father did, laughs like their grandpa, or has a knack for athleticism like their uncle. Unless you have been adopted, you are able to piece yourself together, because those in your family directly mirror your genetics, even in a small form. Giving this piece to your adopted child is something that all adopting families should be encouraged to do.
This focus on the child, rather than on what you would like to do, is not always discussed. The direction of adoption has been transforming over the last decade, as people are learning more and more. This “radical” idea of bringing together two families is surely something that will take time, and specific hearts to accomplish. However, at the end of the day, it will truly benefit the one person for whom the adoption should be completely centred around:
Credits: Danielle Barsley-Cervo
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.