Are You Afraid of Open Adoption?
Over the course of the last two years, I’ve had the incredible honor of talking with hundreds of adopting families that are starting their adoption journey. So many in fact, that I’ve started to see some patterns:
They are filled with hope, confusion about where to start, and misperceptions about “open adoption.” (I say that lovingly as I remember having the same misperceptions when I was starting our adoption journey.)
One of the primary misperceptions is that they are fearful of open adoption. While I don’t like pointing fingers, I think we can safely attribute a portion of this fear to mainstream media’s historical portrayal of an adoption gone wrong (hello Little Fires Everywhere). But if we’re being honest with ourselves, it can also be attributed to centering the adopting parents’ dreams and wants over the needs of the child. (Again, I say that lovingly. I’ve been there.)
Adopting parents are fearful. Fearful of ongoing communication. Fearful of sharing messages, videos, pictures, addresses – worried someone will show up on their doorstep.
It’s almost impossible to explain to an adopting family starting the adoption process the transformation that will take place once they adopt. So instead, I share my own anecdotal experience of how different my own POV was then vs now.
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that when we started our adoption journey, I was one of those people who thought a closed adoption would be “best.” I realize now that my evaluation was based only on what I wanted and dreamed about, not what would be healthiest for our kids.
And now as a parent to two adoptees, I realize –– it’s not about me at all. (And yes, I know that sounds like common sense.) We – meaning us as the adopting family and our children’s birth family, need to work together – forever – in service to our children. We (collectively) have an obligation to give them answers to the questions “where do I come from?”, “who made me?”, “why was I placed for adoption?”, to help them connect to their history, culture and ancestry…and so much more.
And as their parents, helping our kids work through questions and connect the dots –– to help create the healthiest identities possible –– fills me with more joy than I could have imagined. After all, the only wish I have for our kids is health and happiness.
It’s not easy (parenting never is), but it’s a necessary and essential component of adoption.
…and while I don’t expect new-to-the-journey Adopting Families to truly grasp the weight of that responsibility (and depth of health and happiness derived from it) until they’ve been through it, I caution anyone from starting an adoption journey unless you’re open to the idea of it.