Open adoption is an agreement in which a birth mother continues to have a relationship with her birth child after placing the child for adoption. The openness in your adoption will differ from another birth mother depending on your desires matched with the family desires. Your openness may change throughout the relationship as well, perhaps becoming less or more with time.
1) Openness makes adoption easier to understand. “In closed adoption, the words ‘birth mother’ and ‘adoption’ are difficult for [young] children to understand because there is nothing concrete to attach to these words. In open adoption, the child has concrete information, and the birth mother is a concrete reality in his life. Therefore, it is much easier for children of open adoption to understand their adoption.”
2) Openness provides access to important information. For example, access to familial medical history and other pertinent information about the child’s biological predecessors. The child knows who he “takes after” and he is familiar with people who may share some of his traits.
3) Openness helps adopted children know that they’re loved. While in closed adoptions the parents can reiterate that birth parents place children out of love, in open adoptions the child can see the love in ongoing and direct interactions.
Open adoption eliminates a lot of worries and clears up any confusion that adoption might have on children.
Types of Adoption
There are different levels of openness in adoption that include open adoption, semi-open adoption, and closed adoption. In Texas, and with Adoption Choices of Texas, prospective birth mothers will find that a voluntary open adoption is an option.
An open adoption in Texas is when a prospective birth mother voluntarily places her baby for adoption with an adoptive family and the parties agree to continue communication after placement.
Texas open adoptions vary in their terms of agreement. The post-placement agreement will be outlined before placement to ensure that all parties are on the same page. The post-placement agreement in Texas may include frequency of contact and types of contact. Frequency and type of contact depend upon the preferences and circumstances of the birth mother and the adoptive parents. It will also be important to keep in mind that while this document guides birth mothers and adoptive families, that does not necessarily mean that it is set in stone. As the child grows up, and circumstances and situations evolve, a birth mother and the adoptive parents may desire to change frequency and type of contact in their open adoption.
The opposite of an open adoption is a closed adoption. A closed adoption is an adoption in which there is no communication or contact between the birth mother and her birth child during his or her upbringing. The birth child may decide at age 18 to open adoption records in Texas and contact his or her birth mother. However, the child will not have access to his or her birth mother’s information until then.
Closed adoptions were very popular for a long time in history, as society believed that contact between a birth mother and her child could be harmful to both parties, especially the child. However, recent research is evolving to change the desired post-placement agreement to be at least semi-open. The benefits to continued contact for both the birth mother and the child outweigh the previous fears that society had regarding open adoption.
A semi-open adoption agreement means that personal information is kept confidential and post-placement contact is mediated by the adoption professional in Texas. A birth mother may want to have some level of contact with her birth child, but not want any identifying information to be revealed. Perhaps she only wants pictures and updates of her child but doesn’t desire direct contact with the adoptive family. In this case, an adoption professional would mediate that relationship and maintain the privacy of all parties. This is a great option for a woman who has chosen adoption, but doesn’t want an open relationship with her child and his or her family.
Common Open Adoption Questions
1. “What exactly is open adoption?”
Having an open adoption means that there’s some level of direct communication between the adoptive family and the birth family. They communicate directly with each other through emails, letters, photos, or visits, instead of relying on an intermediary such as an agency, attorney, or social worker. The type and amount of contact is mutually agreed upon between the adoptive couple and the birth parents.
2. “Can the birth parents come back and get their child?”
No, once the adoption has been finalized in court, the adoptive parents are the child’s legal parents. The adoption becomes permanent once the birth parents sign the legal paperwork consenting to the adoption and their revocation period passes.
3. “Does your child know who their birth parents are? What does he call them?”
Nowadays, adoptive parents are encouraged to talk about adoption from the start, even when their child is an infant. By doing so, the child doesn’t grow up confused about his origins and his birth family. How well the child knows the birth parents is entirely up to the amount of contact the birth family and adoptive family have.
4. “Is it hard for your child’s birth mother to see him?”
Most birth mothers have shared that although open adoption visits are emotional, they actually make her feel very positive about the decision she made. Open adoption visits, emails, photos, and other communication allow the birth mother to see that her child is growing up happy and loved. Instead of feeling regret, she feels validated.
5. “How long do you have to stay in touch with your child’s birth parents?”
This depends on the open adoption agreement made between the adoptive parents and the birth family. We have seen that some birth mothers need lots of contact early on, but not as much years down the road. The reverse can also be true; it depends on the birth mother and her needs.
6. “Won’t this relationship be confusing for your child?”
No, actually experts have found that open adoption lessens the amount of confusion and mystery for adoptees. With open adoption, the child will know his birth family, genetic roots, the circumstances of his conception and birth. Most importantly, the child will be aware that they’re loved both by their birth parents and by their adoptive parents. As you can see, the truth isn’t confusing; the truth is liberating.
7. “Do ever you wish you had a closed adoption?”
The adoption isn’t just about the adoptive parents; it’s about everybody involved. And the most important person involved in the adoption is the child; everything is done in the best interest of the child. The birth parents are choosing to place their baby with an adoptive couple with their child’s best interests in mind. For a variety of reasons, they’re not able to be parents right now but choose adoption out of love for their child. In the end, the adopted child benefits most of all from an open adoption. They will never question, never doubt that they were and are loved by his birth family. And, if they ever do, all they have to do is ask them.
Maintaining an open line of communication in an open adoption will benefit every party of the adoption triad ~ the child, the birth family, and the adoptive family. For more information, contact Adoption Choices of Texas to start your adoption journey!