Regardless of how much you know or don’t know about adoption, you are likely aware of the term “open adoption” but not entirely sure what it means in modern day adoptions.
If you are like most other women we work with, you likely have many questions regarding how open adoption works, how it might benefit you and your child, and who gets to decide how “open” the relationship with the adoptive family and your child becomes.
The following information will provide clarity on these questions and many others about open adoption.
The Spectrum of Open and Closed Adoption
Many people believe “open adoption” only refers to a very personal relationship between the birth family and the adoptive family where they visit each other periodically throughout the year, frequently exchange phone calls and emails, and generally interact like a blended family.
While these relationships do occur, they are somewhat rare and not always what most pregnant mothers choose these relationships to look like.
Here at the Law Officers of James Fletcher Thompson, we view open adoption on more of a spectrum of openness, with a fully closed adoption being on one end of the spectrum, a fully open adoption being on the other, and endless possibilities of contact somewhere in between.
The example above is obviously on the fully open side of adoption; however, those situations are still available to those who seek them.
Equally rare are the number of women who want a fully closed adoption, as most expecting mothers want some degree of contact in the future.
If you find that your interests fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between fully open and fully closed, you are not alone as 80 percent of the women we work with choose to pursue what we refer to as a “semi-open adoption” or “mediated adoption.”
Why Semi-Open Adoption is the Best of Both Worlds
Generally, a semi-open adoption can be defined as a relationship that preserves each party’s identifying information while allowing for mediated contact via conference calls or meetings before the birth of the baby, and email exchange, texts, phone calls, and picture and letter updates after the adoption is complete.
Semi-open adoption is often the most requested type of adoption by a pregnant mother because:
- it maintains her privacy and identifying information.
- she is allowed to have a relationship with the adopting family and her child.
- she can receive pictures, letters, emails, texts and videos sent by the adopting family to our offices which are then forwarded to her, all in an effort to protect last names, addresses, etc.
- most adopting families are also willing to engage in this type of relationship.
- it doesn’t “close the door” on future contact in the case of a medical emergency or if the child wanted to reach out to his birth family one day in the future.
Now that you understand why so many women in your position choose semi-open adoption, let’s look at all of the different ways in which you can get to know the adopting family and continue a relationship with them and your child.
Types of Contact and How it Works
Open adoption, semi-open adoption, closed adoption – these are all just labels to identify the type of adoption relationship in which you might be interested. What your relationship is called is not important; what is important is engaging in the right types of contact that will benefit you now and well into the future.
Remember that you get to choose the types of contact that you will share with the adoptive parents.
In the initial stages of your adoption process, one of our social workers will educate you about your options regarding pre- and post-birth contact with the adoptive family. She will ask you lots of questions to better understand what your ideal adoption looks like, and whether that includes future contact with the adoptive family and your child. Once we have an idea of the type of contact you are interested in, your social worker will show you profiles of adoptive families with similar requests toward openness.
Then, once we have helped you locate a match with hopeful adoptive parents, “pre-placement contact” may begin, which may include:
- a meeting between you, your social worker, and the adoptive parents at the hospital, our office or a neutral location.
- a phone call between you and the adoptive parents, mediated by your social worker.
- email exchange between you and the adoptive parents.
Many women we work with find this pre-placement contact to be very helpful in confirming they are indeed the family she was originally attracted to in their profile.
Once the day of your child’s birth arrives, you will also be greatly involved in determining exactly how that day’s events play out:
- Will the adoptive family be in the birthing room?
- How much contact will you share with the adoptive family during this time?
- How much time do you want to spend with your newborn?
- Do you want to take pictures with the adoptive family?
- Do you want to leave the hospital with the adoptive family?
Any and all of your requests will be granted during this delicate time.
Finally, once placement has occurred and the adoptive family has returned home, “post-placement contact” may begin. Usually, this is the part of the process that most people associate with “open adoption.”
This post-placement contact may include:
- Picture and letter updates
- Email exchange
- Phone calls or texts
- Gift exchange around holidays, birthdays, etc.
- Personal visits
- Social media interaction
- Any other forms of contact agreed upon by both parties
As with all other aspects of your adoption plan, this is your decision. However much or little contact you are hoping to share with the adopting parents and your child, there is always a family out there seeking a similar relationship.
Don’t dream too big or too small when it comes to finding a relationship that works best for you and your child today and well into the future. The Law Offices of James Fletcher will help you find that perfect situation. Contact us today to learn more about open adoption.