How Open Adoption Has Changed Us

This guest post is by Preetha and Don. 

We’ve always heard people around us saying, “Parenthood changes you.” In the same vein, we think embarking on an open adoption journey has the ability to change people. We are not too far along our journey–only about five months–but it has changed us already.

Before we started the process, we were two results-driven, career-oriented individuals who were vaguely aware of open adoption-related issues. Here’s how our journey has changed us:

We have a heightened interest in anything adoption-related

We’re both researchers by profession, and that sometimes spills over to our personal lives. Since we started our open adoption journey, we’ve become attuned to news and issues related to open adoption. We’ve read several articles, books, and online posts which have tremendously increased our knowledge and piqued our interest. We want to sustain this since the more we learn, the better prepared we’ll be.

We use adoption positive language

We’re slightly ashamed to admit that before we began our open adoption journey, we used to say things such as “real parents” or “give up a child for adoption.” We did it purely out of ignorance. As a result of our readings and discussions with open adoption professionals, we’ve become sensitive about using acceptable terminology (such as “birth parents” or “place a child for adoption”) while talking about open adoption. We also inform our family and friends about using appropriate phrases or words.

We’re more alert to birth parents’ perspectives

Reading about open adoption and being part of discussions have sensitized us to some of the feelings birth parents are likely to experience. Although it is easy to think of the open adoption process as being all about us, we do think about issues from the birth parents’ perspectives.

We can never completely understand what birth parents (especially birth moms) experience, but we constantly put ourselves in their situation. That helps us keep a balanced view of things, helps us be more objective, and also helps us be more sympathetic of laws that protect birth parents.

A potential birth mom contacted us a few months ago via email. We had about four email exchanges and suddenly the communications stopped. Instead of feeling betrayed and disappointed, we decided to look at it from her point of view. If we were in her situation, we would want to have the flexibility and the right to change our minds, given that this is a big decision. When we looked at it from her perspective, we felt differently about the situation.

We’re more willing to “go with the flow”

When we were younger, we felt we had control over many outcomes. However, with the open adoption process, we’ve learned that things may be unpredictable. Our journey so far has helped us become more laid back, less results-oriented (in a positive way!), and more amenable to going with the flow. This is helping us be more flexible and more open to experiencing ups and downs.

We’re more focused on maintaining work-life balance

Although we still maintain our current level of performance at work, our open adoption journey has made us more sensitized to the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We try our best to not take work home over the weekends or stay too late at work. We are more committed to doing fun stuff together and spending time with our dog, Mia, who is a great source of joy and distraction for us.

We’re more phone-obsessed!

Before the open adoption process, we were not very diligent about keeping our cell phones with us or responding to a call. But now, since we have our toll-free number ring to our cell phone, it’s with us 99% of the time. If we had a water-proof cell phone, it would be with us in the shower as well (thus making it 100% of the time)!

As soon as the cell phone rings, we jump up to look at the caller ID to check if it’s from a potential birth parent. We even take our cell phones with us during business meetings and would have no qualms about excusing ourselves if we do get a call in the middle of the meeting. Preetha even takes her cell phone with her to the ladies room so she wouldn’t miss a call!

Given how important the call is, we want to make sure we are immediately available. We are curious as to whether other waiting adoptive couples are also experiencing similar “phone obsession.” We haven’t had an opportunity to talk to a potential birth parent yet, but our friends have noticed that we’ve become extremely responsive to their calls.

We’re more patient

Last, but certainly not the least, our open adoption journey has taught us to be patient. We’ve learned that we have to go through the waiting period. With open adoption, things just have to happen and waiting is a part of the process. Learning to be patient has been the hardest aspect of this journey so far since we’ve always been accustomed to seeing quick results.

Being mentally prepared to wait and being willing to be flexible helps during the waiting process. We’ve certainly become more patient as people, and hopefully, if and when we become parents, it would help us in that stage of our lives.

Preetha and Don have been happily married for ten years and are currently living and working in Bloomington, Illinois. They are looking to expand their family through open adoption and are working with Independent Adoption Center (IAC), a licensed, non-profit organization. 


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(Photo credit: ahisgett)