When you think of the term ‘open’ you think of the ability to freely go in and out…like a restaurant displaying their sign ‘open’. They don’t attach any stipulations to that term such as you can only come in on my good days or you can only eat what I place in front of you…that wouldn’t appear to be the ‘open’ we are all accustomed to.
So when you say ‘open adoption’ does it mean that as a birth mother you can walk in and out of the life of the adoptive parents freely? OR does it mean that the adoptive parents can walk in and out of yours just the same? There seems to be no true definition across the board for open adoption. What I mean by that is your open adoption is what you design it to be. Its sets of boundaries that you create with each other, ultimately it’s for the benefit of the child involved and comes down to what is absolutely best for him/her.
When I chose ‘open adoption’ it meant something different then than it does to me today. I was so young at the time, naive in a sense and perhaps thought that ‘open adoption’ meant that I was privy to all the details of my son’s life. I was so grateful for all the information they chose to share with me, pictures they would send by mail, and emails of his successes and struggles. I watched this amazing family unit grow and experience what all families do…love. I found myself trying to step back and observe and not force myself into their unit, they deserved to have their family with no strings attached. I wanted them to know this was THEIR family, sure I helped create it…but ultimately this was how God had planned it, the three of them. ‘Open’ transformed in my mind to, I will reach out to say hello every so often so they know I care and I won’t bombard them with questions but wish success in it and share news of my life. But it also meant that I will gladly accept any communication they wished with me.
Now, you may have your ‘open adoption’ completely different. You may have struggled with the pain of the adoptive parents pulling back, or you may have decided to close the door yourself. You may have a wonderful relationship and speak daily and interact directly with your child. You may just be in the process of adoption and considering if open adoption is something you wish for.
So how ’open’ is ‘open adoption’? It is as open as you design it to be, it is as open as you chose it to be, it can evolve into something great. Above all it is about one major factor, the child involved and what is beneficial to their happiness. There really is no right or wrong answer as long as it is done with an open heart and open mind.
Photo Credit: Denise O.