Friday, September 7, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #40 - Reasons for Choosing Open Adoption

Below is my response to an Open Adoption Roundtable which is a writing prompt part of Open Adoption Bloggers (a network of writers from all sides of open adoption).  This is my second time responding to a roundtable.  You can see my first post HERE.

This roundtable asks "What were your reasons for choosing open adoption".
Our decision to choose open adoption was a process that took about 8 months, lots of research and a TON of soul searching.  I'm not sure if any of you remember but when Nic and I first started our adoption journey we thought we wanted to adopt internationally.  With international adoption the chances of being able to have an open adoption are slim to none so we did very little research on open adoption at first.
When the international route fell through and we started looking into domestic adoption we also started looking at open adoption.  At first we thought that a semi-open adoption would be the best choice for us.  We did not know all the details about fully open yet and we felt that was what we would be comfortable with. 
All of our research indicated that open adoption was the best choice for our child and that was why Nic and I wanted to pursue it.  At first this was our only reason... Really the thought of open adoption made us both a bit nervous and we were worried with the trend moving towards fully open adoption that we might have agencies try to push us into more openness than we were comfortable with.
Before we started our PRIDE training I read a few books about open adoption (see side bar) so we were more informed going into the training about how we felt.  I think we were both still a bit unsure about it but were getting more comfortable. 
It was one of the speakers on our last day of PRIDE that truly spoke to us and opened our hearts to open adoption.  The couple were adoptive parents to two wonderful young boys.  They had two very different open relationships with both of their birth families and answered the million questions we had about open adoption.  When we left that day we knew we were on board for open adoption not just because it was the right choice for our child but because it was the right choice for us.
We also attended Jennie Painter's open adoption seminar which was amazing.  She had a panel of people who spoke about their adoption experience.  Many were birth mother's but there was also an adult adoptee and a birth grandmother.  Hearing about their adoption experiences expanded our knowledge on open adoption and solidified our choice. 
Hearing about how open adoption had helped the birth mother's feel comfortable with their adoption choice made us both realize that open adoption will not only help our child lead a more well rounded life but also her first family.  It just seemed like such a healthy choice with no secrets and a better information flow.  It would eliminate allot of question marks as to how our child was doing and what her birth family was about.  We did explore some of the downsides but for the most part all we saw was positives.
I think a big part of the reason Nic and I were so on board the open adoption train was because we fully educated ourselves.  Our fear about open adoption was because we had the wrong perspective about it.  People can tell you over and over again that it is not co-parenting but until you learn that for yourself it is hard to imagine.  I think knowing that it would help our child form his/her identity and know who they are made a big difference as well. 
When we were chosen by Gaby's birth family we were faced with a few open adoption challenges that we never imagined would be an issue.  One of the major ones was that the birth family was not well informed about what open adoption was and they actually thought it meant co-parenting.  They kept saying "well we want you to be the parents".
Before our vision meeting Nic and I actually sat with them for well over an hour (we were very late for our meeting) and discussed what open adoption meant to us.  I think it finally hit home when we said to them "So when the baby is born you never want me to call you again? You don't want to call me? You won't text us and we will never see you again?" They were like WELL NO! Nic and I chimed in unison "communication is open adoption".  We told them that we would be the parents and their relationship with Gaby could be whatever they chose but we pictured it like an aunt or cousin.  That we would talk as regularly as we wanted and see each other when we could.  We did lay out some set guidelines in our openness agreement but for the most part it has been a guideline only and we have just done what works for all of us. 
Nic and I are lucky in that we were chosen by an amazing family who we have a ton in common with.  So many people really stressed to us that our adoption profile should reflect who we are not who we thought birth families wanted us to be.  We worked very hard to do that and I think that is a big part of the reason our open adoption works.  They chose us because they saw we had allot in common and that certainly helps our open relationship work. 
We had allot of fun getting to know them before Gaby was born and a natural friendship formed.  We know our relationship with them is not the norm.  We are very lucky that we all care for each other so much and that our relationship is so natural.
I already have an amazing collection of pictures, gifts and memories from Gaby's birth family that I know will be important to her in the future.  Although open adoption can be extremely hard for the birth family I am so happy they chose to have an open adoption with us.  We would not want it any other way.  They are part of our extended family and our relationship involves all that comes with that!  We feel that there is no limit to how much love our daughter can have.  As is our policy with most things "The more the merrier"!

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