Should I Say Yes To Open Adoption?
When navigating the potential decision to have an open adoption, many prospective adoptive parents think it will be some version of co-parenting. It is very common and normal to worry about whether a birth parent might return to take the child back or that the child will be confused about who their parents are. These are just some of the fears prevalent in the adoption community and can be assuaged through education, quality advocacy, and conversation. Adoptive parents can rest assured that if they adopt a baby, they will make all of the parenting decisions. Saying “yes” to open adoption can be the perfect fit and does not have to be super scary, so we are providing some tips and information below so you can navigate this vital decision successfully.
You Got A Call, and You Are Matched!!
Take it slow. Asking a laundry list of questions or telling your whole life story on that first meeting will be overwhelming. We all want to be liked, but taking time to get to know one another allows for the relationship to evolve.
Read the room. Remember that emotions may be all over the place. This situation will likely be the most difficult and painful one the birth mother has ever engaged in. Focus on how she feels and what type of support she may need in the relationship. Balancing your excitement and her expectation of loss will be difficult. You may want to share your plans for the nursery or your ideas for the baby’s name, but if you are unsure if she wants to know, ask her how she feels about it.
Decide your limits. You will, without a doubt, feel many big emotions in this process. Compassion for expectant parents will, at times, overwhelm you. It is healthy in any relationship to listen and empathize, but you are not a counselor. Ask your adoption specialist to find an adoption counselor to help the expectant mother/ birth mother process her thoughts and feelings.
Educate your village. The old adage “it takes a village” is true, but the village needs to be informed and educated on your choice. Remember that family members and friends haven’t taken the classes or spent late nights reading blogs or books on open adoption. Very likely, the fears you started with are the same ones they will have, so giving them books to read or Social Media accounts to follow to help them understand will go a long way in creating a cohesive village. Always remember that every detail you share with others about the expectant mother’s journey to choose to place baby with you will eventually come back to the child. Try not to share too many personal specific details. This adoption story belongs to your child, and someday he or she will decide what to share.
Words matter. The woman you’re matched with is not a birth mother. Until placement, she is an expectant mother considering adoption for her child. Being intentional with your words shows respect to the expectant mom, but also protects your heart until placement has happened.
Collect memories. After placement, it is not uncommon for birth parents to withdraw due to grief and stress. Begin putting together big and small details for your child. What are some things that you would like your child to know? Maybe you would like your child to know what a kind person she is, the foods she craved, or her favorite color. Think of questions a child may ask you. Ask the expectant mom things she wants the baby to know or traditions she has that you may be able to incorporate into their childhood. Equally important is gathering medical history. Your child will treasure this information and the care you took to gather it.
Set Expectations. It is so important to set expectations for ongoing contact in advance, and writing it down will help all sides going forward. Here is an article that will explain more about a post-adoption contact agreement (What Is A Post Adoption Agreement CLICK HERE)
Meet expectations. The expectations that are written and agreed upon are not court enforceable in the state of Florida. It is a moral contract, and for the health of your relationship with the birth parents and the well-being of your child, beginning on an honest and healthy note is a good idea. If there is a breakdown or you are concerned about how contact is affecting the child, seek counseling or get advice from the adoption entity you used, but do not under any circumstances “ghost” the birth mom. Remember that you started your journey with her and offered to build a relationship for the health of all involved. If you disappear, she has “lost” her baby and the people she placed all of her trust in.
Open adoption is complex and emotional, and is a promise of a lifetime of being intentional in the relationship with your child’s first mom (and often first dad). We believe that it is 100% worth it!
Reach out to us if you need help with any and all questions regarding open adoption or your specific adoption questions and needs. You can reach us via chat right here on the site or by calling 727-800-6681.