I was recently asked a question from a friend who was soon to adopt. She said that she liked the idea of open adoption, but didn’t know what level of openness they wanted for their family. It’s an interesting question and I wish more couples would take it seriously (this friend of mine is taking it seriously).
Waiting for a baby is so very hard. I remember very well when we were waiting, especially the first time we adopted. There was no way of knowing if we would get a call within a week to tell us there was a child ready for our home or if we would need to wait five more years before someone would even notice our profile.
Ask yourself some questions- What do you consider a perfect relationship with birthparents? If you are lucky enough to have a perfect relationship, what things are you NOT willing to share? What things are you willing to PROMISE? What things will you have to say “Not in the beginning, but maybe after some time.” Ask yourself the same questions, taking into consideration whether or not your relationship ends up being perfect.
Some of the answers are going to be obvious. If it’s not obvious, DON’T PROMISE IT. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it more, it’s much better to start at a level that you KNOW you are comfortable with and gradually open it more as you become more comfortable. It’s much better for a relationship to gradually open things up than it is to have to close things. If you have to close something that once was open, it’s likely going to hurt the birth parents, which can start a domino effect, affecting other aspects of your relationship until all the pieces have fallen down.
Talk about it. For heaven’s sake, when you get contacted, talk about it with the birth parents. Otherwise, both sides will make assumptions and the odds that both sides assume the same thing aren’t very likely. Again, it’s much better for a relationship to start in a safe place and gradually open it rather than to start out somewhere that you have to close things. And it’s okay to tell them that something makes you uncomfortable. If you’re open and honest with them, they’ll be more likely to be open and honest with you.
I don’t mean to say that each couple should start out completely closed and then open it up later, although I suppose that would/should be the case with some families. I’m just saying, talk about it with your spouse and decide which things you KNOW you are okay with being open. If you happen to be okay with a wide open adoption from the very beginning, that’s fine. If you’re not okay with any level of openness, that’s fine too. As long as you have given it good thought and you’ve talked it over with the birthparents. Only you know what is right for your family.
My wife and I have found a lot of peace in our two open adoptions. Our relationships are very open. The love I have for my wife is a different type of love than I have for anyone else. The love I have for my children is yet another type of love. And the love that my wife and I have for our birthparents is a type of love that we would never been able to learn if we didn’t have open adoptions. We feel like these birthparents are part of our family and we wouldn’t change it for the world. Still, it did take us some time to figure out our relationships since it was not like any other relationship in our life.