What Scared You The Most About Open Adoption? Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents Open Up

Open adoption works — so successfully that it’s the norm for private domestic adoptions today. But for birth parents and adoptive parents just starting out in the process, the prospect of sharing personal details about yourself with complete strangers and having the option of ongoing contact with them can raise all kinds of questions and concerns.

  • How do I know the prospective birthparents won’t change their mind?
  • How do I know the prospective adoptive parents won’t shut me out of my child’s life after the placement?
  • How do I know having another set of parents won’t confuse my child?

With Halloween tomorrow, we thought this was the perfect time to tap into these fears by asking birth parents, adoptive parents and waiting adoptive parents what scared them the most about open adoption.

Preetha and Don, waiting adoptive parents
What scared us most about open adoption was a feeling that we would have no control over being selected as adoptive parents, when we would be selected, and whether a placement would ever happen for us.
Tracy and Micah, adoptive parents
Not knowing what to expect from the biological family scared us the most. We were scared they might want to be involved with all aspects of our child’s life, making it seem like we were not the true parents. This fear did not come to fruition and having an open adoption has been so beneficial to us, our child, and her birth parents

Brittany, birthmother
My biggest fear was that my adoptive family would go back on their promise to stay in touch with me. I went home wondering if what I felt for them was real. I am happy to say we have a great relationship today.
Andrea and Scott, waiting adoptive parents
We used to picture open adoption as a Lifetime movie where birthparents could show up at the door anytime and take the child back!  We now know that this is silly and not at all what open adoption looks like.
I Am, birthfather
The three scariest aspects of open adoption for me were: knowing the adoption could become closed at any time; that my mere presence as a first father could destabilize it: and not knowing how my son might feel about his adoption. The first concern is true for anyone in an open adoption, while the second is frustrating and insulting. The third still paralyzes me.
Leah and Jeff, waiting adoptive parents
We’ve taken multiple classes about open adoption and have seen the studies about how it is better for the child — adoptees in open adoptions don’t grapple as much with issues surrounding identity, rejection and acceptance. So our biggest fear is that our child’s birth parents won’t wish to have an open adoption. Of course our biggest hope is that we get along like “whipped cream and pumpkin pie” with the child’s birth parents!
Henry and Kirk, adoptive parents
The thing that scared us the most about open adoption was the relinquishment time. We heard many stories of other couples who had a child returned to their birthparents.  All of those families had a happy ending since they all adopted a child 🙂
Mary and Andy, waiting adoptive parents
What we initially feared with an open adoption is the conversation around defining the level of openness and boundaries.  Not just communicating the amount of openness we were comfortable with, but finding out and respecting the birth parents ideas around openness.  We learned that while the initial conversation can be awkward, we have the ability to create open adoption agreements that outline what works best for the child, the birthparents and adoptive parents.
Michelle Thorne, birthmother
I was terrified that his parents would not love him enough, to the magnitude that I did. It was a completely irrational fear because he is loved by me and them, not me or them.
Carrie Goldman, adoptive mother
I worried about the fuzzy boundaries.  What if the birthmother and I envisioned open adoption differently?  As the years have passed, we have learned that honest communication takes care of the boundaries.
Maureen, waiting adoptive parent
My fear is that the birth mother will want to be very involved in the raising of the child. The child could be confused by this, as well as dealing with the emotions of why one mommy gave him/her up and creating a divisiveness between homes.
Margaret, birthmother
I was most scared about how I was going to deal with the emotions after and what it would be like to go home empty handed.
Elizabeth and Rahsaan, waiting adoptive parents
We don’t really have a fear of open adoption. We think it’s good for a child to know who the birthmother and extended family are. Having love from a birth mother and adoptive parents makes the child doubly blessed.
John and Craven, waiting adoptive parents
The initial fear of open adoption was the vulnerability of it all– putting ourselves out there, not just for a child but also to open our lives to a new relationship with the birthmother.  Though that is exactly why we chose open adoption, we want our child to grow up with an open family. And as a gay couple, we felt this was the most un-scary way we could approach a new family– to welcome two people into our worlds to enrich our lives and literally open us up and grow into family.
Kammie and Adam, waiting adoptive parents
As prospective adoptive parents, when we first heard about open adoption, we had this image of the birthparent(s) hanging around and trying to parent with us. I have found that a lot of people have this misconception. Of course the more we learned about open adoption, the more that we knew it was the only way to adopt for us.
Jay and Staci, waiting adoptive parents
What scared us the most about open adoption at first was the idea of co-parenting. But we learned that “open” just means, at a minimum, we and our child will know their birthparents and know their history. Ultimately, open adoption is about creating a relationship that everyone is comfortable with.
Kelli and Doug, waiting adoptive parents
We feel very fortunate to be a part of the open adoption process and can’t wait for a birth mom to chose us! In the meantime, we would say what scares us the most about open adoption is all the unknown factors.  Being chosen to parent a child from someone who we don’t know and who doesn’t know us is scary. We have to have a lot of faith and trust that people enter each other’s lives for a reason!
Tricia and Dan, waiting adoptive parents
Once we learned about open adoption, it was intimidating to realize that a birth mother would choose us rather than us simply being the next family waiting.  You begin to think about why someone might (or might not) choose you.  How could we sum up who we are and how we might provide a child a safe and happy life in just a few pages of a profile book? Will the birthmom feel our emotions through the pages?
Laura and Billy, waiting adoptive parents
What frightens us a lot is that people may never truly understand the immense benefits of open adoption to everyone involved, and that they may in turn project that fear onto our child.  It’s also quite scary always anticipating the unknown, hoping and praying that you make a connection with the birthparents and are able to maintain a healthy and open relationship!  We rely heavily on Jeremiah 29:11 and all those who have gone before us in the open adoption journey.
Lisa and Taylor, adoptive parents
Every adoptive parents knows that their child will want to know about their birth parents.  It’s scary to be open to that need—even make the knowledge freely accessible.  But love conquers all fear, I believe, so we embrace open adoption to give our children full understanding of who they are and how many people love them!

Now it’s your turn: what was, or is, your biggest fear about open adoption? What scared you the most about your relationship with your child’s (future) birthparents or adoptive parents?  Please leave your comments in the section below. And don’t forget to find out more about what our hopeful adoptive parents have to say by viewing their parent profile.