My Mental Journey to Open Adoption


When we approached the idea of adoption, I started to wonder about how it would all go down.  Would we meet expectant parents, would we write letters and send pictures or would we see them regularly?  All I really knew was that I was uneasy with the idea of having a closed adoption, of not having any kind of contact, of sending pictures and letters to the agency that would languish in a file somewhere.  (Even if the parents didn’t want contact, we would still have to send correspondence in case they ever contacted the agency down the road).

Much of this probably comes from my own upbringing and our “big family secret” that shouldn’t be a secret at all.  I am not my father’s biological daughter.  My mother had been married and had two children from that marriage.  I was about 4 or 5 at the time of the divorce and I have few clear memories of my bio dad.  Our bio-dad, hardly a stellar example of a human being, was out of the picture almost immediately.  By the time my dad adopted us, bio-dad was nowhere to be found and determined to have abandoned us.  You would think that being in a stable, loving family environment for the two of us would be enough, and both my parents obviously thought that it was. 

I read The Primal Wound and was shocked at how many issues discussed in that book resonate through my experience.  This is what started to shape my thoughts about what I wanted our adoption to look like.  I wouldn’t want to keep information from our child, because they should form their own opinions.  It’s their story, their life, and we are there to help guide them through it.  Denying them the basic knowledge of their very existence just never seemed right.  While I grappled with wrapping my thoughts around a fully open adoption where we all know where each other lives and have direct contact, I still felt like I wanted to have get-togethers with the parents if at all possible.  In fact, the longer we waited and the more comfortable I became with the idea of regular visits and continuity, the more uncomfortable I became with the idea of being chosen by expectant parents who did not want contact.  I realize this doesn’t happen often, but it could, and if we had been in that situation I would have had to think about the match.  Granted, at 23 months waiting it was going to be extremely difficult to turn down a match if that was the only factor holding me back.

When we got the phone call our caseworker saying that C wanted regular visits and I should talk about it with S before we made a decision to be profiled.  I remember my first thought was that it was fine, we were both onboard with the idea and everything seemed to be falling into place, for us at least.  I’d have to say that in conjunction with my own experience, my personality seems to be playing a part in how I approach the reality of a semi-open adoption (regular visits, set up through the agency plus correspondence every few months).  I seem to have some ability to break down details and remove emotion when I need to.  I feel like being in an open adoption means that you have to remove yourself from the equation.  I’m quite sure Baby X knows who his parents are.  He doesn’t yet know C on some levels, but knows her on deeper levels.  She doesn’t yet know him when it comes to behaviors and likes/dislikes.  That relationship will take time to build and it’ll be done on both of their terms.  S and I are here to facilitate that relationship, but not necessarily be intimately involved in it.  It will no doubt be different from our relationship.  That thought doesn’t really bother me at this point in time.  It may bother me more in later years when Baby X is finding out who he is and questioning everyone else’s choices regarding his adoption.  But, at that point, I hope I can continue the separation of my emotions and recognize why certain things are said, rather than make it all about me.

This is a most opportune time for me to be writing this post as we have a meeting set up with C this weekend.  We’ll be bringing Baby X all dressed up like a cute little jack-o-lantern in a costume my mom made.  It’ll be fun!