Monday, June 25, 2007

Open Adoptions
Someone posted this article and I thought it was worth c&p:

My experience and the empirical literature strongly suggest that open adoption is neither good nor bad; helpful nor hurtful. The primary issue is what is in the child's best interests?

A few things to consider.
First, all decisions should be based on what is best for this child at this point in time.

The age of the child and the health of the birth relatives are other critical factors. If the birth relatives have not been able to be clear with you about their reasons for termination (and in the case of an invol term with abuse/neglect, own their own inability to effectively parent), this can create problems.

The birth relatives should be able to prepare a letter or tape explaining what happened and be able to say "goodbye" and give the child permission to love them and you both! When we do treatment with children with have difficult pasts we often involve the birth relatives and when they can do this, it is very helpful for the child. When birth relatives cannot do this, psychodramatic reneactments in which the "birth relative" does this is also extremely helpful and healing.

Generally, before a child is fully connected to his/her new family, visits, tele calls, letters, etc are destructive and create lots of problems.

Once a child is securely attached then contact can be good...but is must be driven by the child's interests and desires; not the birth relatives or yours...if the child is not asking or showing interest; let it alone...if the child wants to send letters or calls, etc. and the child is healthy, then contact can be a positive experience.
Dr. Arthur Becker-Weidman
Adoptive Parent
Specialist in Adoption and Foster care issues.


homegirlblue said...

See i think the problem is who decides what is in the best intrests of the child. It is very rarley the child, and everyone else has their own motivations.

Also in my experences it is the adoptive parents that dont give the child permision to love both sets of parents so why is no one pointing that out?

Also a child may not be showing interest because she doesnt want to make her adoptive parents angry or disapointed. The option should always be there for the child and she can decide wether to take it at any stage. If nobody else talks about it it becomes taboo within the family so the child wont broach the subject either.

Momma Bear said...

Very interesting. Open adoptions are rather new so it will be interesting to find out how these adoptees feel about itwhen large numbers of them are old enough to talk about it.

clbodden said...

Let's pretend for a moment...

The child grows up knowing that they are adopted, knowing both sets of parents, and it is the most perfect open adoption agreement possible!

But, the child decides that he/she doesn't want to have the current level of involvment with the bio-family,and wants them to "back off" for a bit. Maybe not forever, but for the time, he/she needs space. But now how does he/she make those needs known. He/she may not say anything because they don't want to make the bio-parents angry or disappointed.

Why is this scenario inherently better?

Just thought I would throw this out there to see what others thought.

Tishslp said...

Open adoption is one option in a group of options available for birthparents, adoptive parents and adoptees to manage their relationships. Until the child is of an age and a maturity level to make major life decisions, however, the birthparents and adoptive parents must decide what level of contact is appropriate for the child. It could be open, it could be closed, it could be literally anything in between. It's a personal, and private, decision.

With all due respect, homegirlblue, I'm an adoptive parent and my child is not only encouraged to love and respect his birthparents, I would expect him too. Is there some reason why you would lump all adoptive parents together? I can assure you that, just as all adoptees and all birthparents are their own unique person, so too are adoptive parents. I honestly can't think of a single adoptive parent I know who would be "angry" or "disappointed" in their child for showing an interest in their birthparents.

I think that, as an adoptive parent, I'd be far more concerned if ds showed an interest in some of the "you must be unhappy because you're an adoptee" rhetoric out there than if he showed an interest in his birthparents.

Being curious about your heritage and your family and your "beginnings" is healthy, no?

homegirlblue said...

I wasnt suggesting that all adoptive parents do it just that if it is done it is the adoptive parents that do it, I know personaly of two sets of adoptive parents who didnt want their adopted children to love and respect their first parents.

Also it seems to me that most of the rhetoric about "angry adoptees" doesnt come from the adoptees themselves, sure they have issues and are angry about some stuff but they are not the ones defining themseves in such a way, it is the people who are not happy about them telling the truth about their feelings who define them as angry and bitter.

petunia said...

Of course adoptees don't say they are bitter - it comes out in what they say and how they say it. I'm not saying everyone has to have had a great life with everything going right for them - who does, adopted or not? But, what I can't stand is people blaming being adopted or blaming their a parents or bioparents or anyone else. Bitter is bitter, people can deny it all they want but when someone is angry and bitter it accomplishes nothing.
"their feelings" may be valid as far as feeling lost or out of place...people who are not adopted feel the same way but who do they have to blame? I guess you can't tell people to stop being bitter - it grows over time and is hard to stop.

Tishslp said...


You are so, so right. My mother was a bitter woman and it ruled her life, her relationships with others and her self-perception. She died in 1998 at 64 when recurrent cancer metastisized and spread throughout her body. I really believe that her bitterness and her blame that she didn't let go of contributed to her early death. I loved my mother very much, and she us, but her death was a relief to her and to us. Not only did it bring an end to her (mercifully brief) immediate suffering, it brought to an end a life lived with so much bitterness and so little joy.

I guess that's why I think it's such a tragedy when people use their energy to project their bitterness over an unchangeable situation as far as they can. And, homegirlblue, you're's not just adoptees who do it. Not at all.

"I wasnt suggesting that all adoptive parents do it just that if it is done it is the adoptive parents that do it"

This statement seems pretty unfair, homegirlblue. I mean, you know two sets of parents whom you feel are negative examples of adoptive parents. That doesn't really equate, IMO, to "if it is done it is the adoptive parents that do it". There are plenty of birthparents who bring their own negativity to a relationship. In fact, negativity in relationships is really not exclusive to adoptions. It happens all the time and needs to be dealt with on an individual basis. That's why I think it's great for the adoptive parents and the birthparents to maybe have access to a neutral mediator....not sure how this would work, but maybe it would help to ease tensions and keep both sets of parents (and yes, that includes adoptive parents) from making decisions based in emotion or subjectivity.

clbodden said...

Why is it that people alway assume that only the adoptive parents have "issues" that get in the way of relationships in open adoptions. Is anyone honestly going to tell me that there is not a single birth parent in the world who does not have "issues" that would get in the way, make an open adoption more difficult, or not pleasant for others involved? I'm getting tired of hearing that everytime there isn't a level of openess that some "almighty authority" (whoever that is) has deemed ideal, that it is the adoptive parents "who don't give permission to love both sets of parents."

Tishslp said...

beats me, clbodden, but I think it might be the pendulum swing. there was a time when in was "pc" to beat up birthmothers and a time when it was "pc" to beat up adoptees. Now I guess it's pc to beat up adoptive parents.

It's a shame. A lot more productive dialogue can take place if people just put it away and come to the table with open minds and hearts.

homegirlblue said...

see, i do think there is a big difference between being angry and being bitter. I am angry about a lot of things in my life but I'm not bitter about them. The way I tink about anger is that it is just an emotion not an action, and it can be a positive or negative emotion depending on how you react to it. Lots of things have changed for the better because people used their anger constructivley.

Some things that have gone wrong in my life are the fault of my adoption and I think its important that I can vocalise that, because if you cant vocalise something I dont think you can work through it properly.


I said id only known two sets of adoptive parents personaly who do that. I know of a lot more.

I think having accses to a neutral meditator (who is prehaps a trained counselour?) Is a really good idea, i'd not come across that idea before

petunia said...


I'm not denying anyone had a bad adoption...I'm sure it happens and I do feel so bad for those who do. I would be mad at the people who caused the pain but not adoption itself (if that makes sense). In other words, you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I've never said ALL adoption is good. Just like marriage is wonderful but I know there are some really bad ones. But the people who say "all marriage is bad, I would never get married and no one else should either" are, in my opinion, a little bitter about their own situation (even if it WAS a bad situation).

Tishslp said...


Yeah, I think a trained counselor would work. I don't know who'd pay for it, or if it could be funded by the gov't and done by independent contractor....who knows. But, it might help each side see where the other really IS trying or really IS having legitimate trouble when emotions might otherwise make things seem more sinister. KWIM?

There are a lot of bad parents, period. Trust me, I've worked with literally thousands of kids and probably about half or less of them have parents that meet their critical needs. If parents of an adopted child are not meeting those children's needs it may very well be a problem with the parents and not the process. It's like saying there's no God because you don't like the people in church.

Adopting a child doesn't cause people to become bad parents. If agencies are allowing bad parents to adopt, then that's a different issue and needs to be dealt with through reform. JMHO, anyway :)