Open adoption isn’t about “giving up your baby.” “Giving up your baby” suggests you’re abandoning your child. But that’s not what you, or the thousands of expectant parents who make the the difficult but loving decision to create an adoption plan each year, are doing. As one mother who chose open adoption recently told me, “people give up soda or smoking…birth mothers PLACE their babies in loving open arms.”
Open adoption is an informed voluntary decision that you and only you can make. It’s about placing your baby’s needs before your own and giving your child the future you want him or her to have. It’s not easy and it shouldn’t be made without thoroughly exploring all of your options first.
However, unlike adoptions in the past, where expectant parents had no say in the decision-making process and never knew what became of their babies or had a chance to explain their decision to them, in open adoption you can take a hands-on role in many of the key decisions both before and after your baby’s placement.
You choose the hopeful adoptive parents
In open adoption, the parents aren’t chosen for you. You choose them yourselves. And there’s no shortage to pick from. You can find hopeful adoptive parents online or through an agency or attorney. If religion is important to you, you can find families who are religious. If you’re looking for a young, athletic couple or a same sex or transracial couple, you can find them, too. If you want your child to grow up with another child, there are plenty of families with children who would love to adopt your baby. Whatever your wishes are, you can find a family that matches your criteria.
You get to know the hopeful adoptive parents
Unlike closed adoptions of the past, open adoption allows you and your child’s adoptive parents to exchange your names and other personal information. You can find out about their interests, their family, their home, their thoughts about parenting and open adoption, and about what kind of relationship they want to have with you as your child grows up. Prior to the placement, you can also speak to them and get answers to any questions you have about them and their plans for the future.
You get to meet the hopeful adoptive parents
In addition to receiving identifying information about your baby’s prospective adoptive parents and speaking to them, you can meet them. Nothing will help you finalize your decision more about whether they’re the right family for you than sitting down with them and talking face-to-face. Depending on your wants and needs, you can have them come with you to doctor’s appointments, share the details of your pregnancy with them, and have them meet the rest of your family. It’s just one more way that open adoption allows you to play an active role in the decision-making process and build a solid foundation for your future relationship with your child’s adoptive parents and your child.
You get to choose the hospital plan
If you’re alone and want the hopeful adoptive parents to be with you at the hospital when you deliver, you can invite them to the birth. Some expectant parents like the idea of having the adoptive parents on-site to start the bonding process immediately after the birth of their baby. Others, however, cherish the moments they can spend alone and prefer the adopting parents to give them time and space to say goodbye. Again, the choice is yours. Whatever you decide, the hopeful parents will follow your lead and treat you with dignity and respect.
You get to have ongoing contact with your baby
Once you place your baby for adoption, it’s not the end of your relationship with your child. It’s the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another. You can get regular updates from the adoptive parents through letters, texts, emails, pictures, phone calls, Skype or even visits. The amount and frequency of the openness is up to you and the adoptive family based on your comfort level. If you want more or less openness, you can always arrange them down the road, depending on what works best for you. In this way, you never have to worry about what became of your child or that your child will resent your decision. Through your ongoing relationship, your child will always know the reasons for the adoption and that your decision was made from love.
In choosing open adoption, you’re not “giving up your baby.” Instead, you’re making a difficult, selfless decision to give your child the life you want him or her to have, full of love and opportunities. As you go through the process, you can have as much or as little input in many of the key decisions such as choosing your child’s parents, speaking and meeting them, and maintaining an ongoing relationship. Far from abandoning their babies, open adoption allows expectant mothers to do what’s best for their children and place them with qualified families that will love and cherish them as much as they do.
What do you think of the expression “giving up your baby?” What’s your take on open adoption? How involved in the decision-making process were you when you placed your baby for adoption? Leave your comments in the section below.