Amber1 stared blankly at her bedroom wall, trying to figure everything out. She felt all alone. Why did she have to be pregnant? She was still in high school. What was she going to do? As her pregnancy progressed, she considered her options. Amber started working with an adoption agency, but amid the conversations and planning, she changed her mind and decided she wanted to parent her baby instead. Juan was born just a few months later! Amber’s days were busy, and she moved from one relative’s house to another. When Juan was seventeen months old, Amber felt that she could not continue to parent. She returned to the adoption agency and completed a plan for her son. With options available that would enable her to keep in touch with Juan, Amber felt at peace. But when she placed Juan in the arms of the agency’s social worker, grief and pain swelled in her heart. She reminded herself she was making the right decision. Amber soon resumed her education and began studying for her GED. Even though Amber misses Juan, she’s at peace knowing he is safe and loved.
Just like Amber, take into consideration the vital aspects of your personal needs and your desires for your baby’s future. Important questions to ask yourself are: Do I want to be involved in my child’s life?, or Do I want to move on with my life knowing that she is safe and loved?
Choosing to place your child for adoption is a courageous decision, and it is essential to know your options. There are three different types of adoption plans: open, semi-open, and closed.2 Right now, we are going to explore what an open adoption is and how it affects you and your child.
What is an Open Adoption?
In open adoption, birth parents and adoptive families3 stay in contact by exchanging addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. This means you will be able to remain connected with your child after she is placed in her new family.4
Each plan varies based on your preferences, the needs of your child, and the agreement of her new family. You and the family will work together to make sure that the arrangement is suitable for everyone. But all open adoption plans give you the freedom to decide the amount of contact that you are comfortable with.5 Do you want to regularly call, Skype, or visit your child and her family?
Keeping open, honest communication with the prospective parents is the key to a successful arrangement. In addition, you are in control of your child’s future, and you determine the family that you want her to grow up in.6 You can even meet with the family before your baby’s birth.7 This contact may help you to feel secure in your choice of your adoptive family.
Advantages of an Open Adoption
There are many advantages and options in an open adoption plan, so be sure to weigh each aspect seriously.
1. Watch Your Child Grow Up
Maintaining a relationship with her8 and regularly observing her well-being will likely reassure you that you made the right choice for your child.
2. Gain a New Family
You can develop a relationship with your child’s adopted family.9 Some mothers describe their child’s new family as “extended family” because strong bonds are formed.
3. Keep Your Special Bond
Your child can have a lifelong relationship with you without searching.10 Many people who were adopted desire to meet their birth family. In an open adoption, this need is already met.
4. Know the Genetics
Since your child is not biologically related to their adopted family, their genetics are different. It can be helpful for your child to easily obtain updated medical information from you, if necessary.11
Disadvantages of an Open Adoption
On the other hand, there are disadvantages to open adoptions. Each person is different and handles challenges in various ways, so don’t feel pressured.
1. Remembering Your Decision
You may not want to be constantly reminded of the difficult choice you had to make. You may decide that it will be easier for you to emotionally heal if you do not have contact with your child.
2. Not Conducive to Privacy
You may wish to keep your adoption decision private and confidential. You may not be sharing your pregnancy with your family and friends, so a relationship with your child could be difficult to manage.
3. May Hinder Complete Integration
Some birth mothers desire for their child to completely assimilate into his or her adopted family and therefore feel that an open adoption would hinder this.
Who Pays for the Adoption?
The amount of legal fees depends upon each situation and is not based upon the adoption plan chosen.12 Adoption agencies most often choose to place some or all of the legal fees associated with adoption on the adoptive family.13 It is very important to them to make this transition as smooth as possible for you. Laws and details are different in each state, so be sure to stay connected with an adoption professional.
Taking the Next Step
A visit to your local care center can help you work through any questions or concerns. With the knowledge and resources from the compassionate staff, you will be referred to an adoption specialist or an adoption attorney for further help. It is important to share your hopes or fears for adoption. This will ensure that you receive the best service possible and develop an open adoption plan that you are pleased with.
Whatever you decide is the best plan, you can be at peace knowing that you gave life to your child, and they are growing up in a stable, loving environment. Choosing life for your baby and placing her in a loving family are incredible gifts!
1. Names changed to protect privacy.