By Megan Monsour –
It is human nature to want to know where you come from. Where you got your curly hair or when your great grandparents moved from Lebanon to the United States. You don’t have to be adopted to feel a yearning for answers. Not long ago, adoption made that difficult. It is shocking to me how in the recent past, all adoptions were totally ‘closed.’ The adoptive parents were given no information about the birth parents with no way to contact them in the future. Talking openly and honestly with your child about his or her adoption is a good place to start. An adoption story is something to be celebrated! Many adoptive families, adoptees included, feel that an open adoption can offer a child love and the answers they crave. And what child can have too much love?
What is an Open Adoption?
An “open” adoption describes the type of relationship the adoptive family will have with the birth parents after the adoption takes place. Just like relationships between family members vary from family to family, so do open adoptions. Every family is different and so is each open adoption.
What many families begin with is agreeing to provide pictures and updates either directly to the birth parents or through an intermediary once or twice a year. Other families exchange phone numbers and text and talk throughout the year, providing pictures frequently. The most open adoptions I have seen include visits between families, exchanging addresses, forming a very open relationship where the birth parents are a part of the child’s life.
An Open Adoption Agreement can be in writing, but it doesn’t have to be. Many birth parents are comfortable with an oral agreement, others request the terms be written in detail and signed by all the parties. Under Kansas law, any disagreement over post-adoption contact can never affect the finality of the adoption. Additionally, the contact must be consistent and appropriate. The adoptive family may discontinue contact at any time if the relationship becomes negative or is not serving the best interest of the child.
Below are a few things every adoptive parent should consider:
1. Respect the Birth Parents. No matter how you look at it, they are making your dream of parenthood a reality. They chose life and they chose you. You may not agree with their choices, you don’t have to, but you must respect this one, huge, choice that they have made. The respect you show them will teach your child to, in turn, respect themselves.
2. Be honest. You should never agree to contact that you do not have every intention of honoring. Adoption is based on trust. Without honesty someone is going to get hurt.
3. Expectations are key. The details of an open adoption should be worked out between the birth parents and the adoptive parents long before the birth of the child, if at all possible. If you can’t come to terms with the openness being requested, it isn’t the right match for you.
4. You may be the one in need. Your child may need an organ donation someday. Burning bridges with your child’s birth family isn’t a good idea for a lot of reasons, but medical information may be the only reason you need.
5. Trust yourself and your role. You are this child’s parent. Mom or Dad. No one can take your place. You are equipped. You are going to do a great job. If you don’t know yourself, it may be hard to not feel intimidated by your child’s relationship with his or her birth parents.
6. Collect every detail you can. Your child’s birth parents may not want an open relationship with you, so ask as many questions while they are in your life. Ask directly or insist on answers from those involved. Think about what your child will ask you. Take notes. Gather as much information as you can.
7. Reality of the Information Age. Here’s the deal, if a birth parent really wants to find you, she probably can. Instead of worrying about anonymity, your energy is better spent getting to know the birth parents and building a relationship of trust.
This article was originally published on Wichita Mom on Aug. 16, 2016.
@kansasadoptionattorney Talking openly and honestly with your child about their adoption is a good place to start #adoption #openadoption #family #adoptivefamily #adoptiveparents #lawyersoftiktok #attorney ♬ original sound – Kansas Adoption Attorney