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What is Open Adoption?

Adoption is hard, if I’m being honest. You put yourself out there, hoping that someone is going to like you, and want you to be the parent of their child. Your life is inspected by a social worker and you have to prove that you’re “fit” to be parents, when if you’d had biological children no one would be going over your life, finances, everything with a fine tooth comb. It’s scary, a bit humiliating, and overwhelming. I can’t even begin to describe how hard it is for the birth parents, I can only speak to what I know, which is as an adoptive parent. After all of this, you’re asked about an open or closed adoption, and if you’re like we were, you won’t really understand what either is.

When thinking about adoption, before speaking with a professional, closed adoption was all I ever thought about. How could I be a parent if the birth parents were involved? How would I ever feel like the child was mine? What if my child called them mom and dad too? I wanted to be mom, I couldn’t share that. How would I not feel guilty every time I saw the birth parents, for being the one raising their child? What if they tried to take my child back? Why would I want, or be ok, with their mom and dad being involved when we would now be their parents? What if my child liked them better, what if my child resented me, etc?

I was so, so naive, and I’m so grateful my neighbor took the time to come over and explain more about adoption, open and closed, and focus on the benefits of open adoption to us. She very politely let me know I was being selfish, and she was right. Open adoption is different for everyone, it’s something the birth parents and adoptive parents figure out together. Some birth parents just ask for photos every so often, or phone calls. Others ask for visits a few times a year, it will all vary depending on your relationship, and all of your needs. And, it can change over time.

I couldn’t imagine not having a relationship with S, A’s birth mom, and G, her sister. S and I just clicked from the beginning. Most of my fears were alleviated before A was even born as we developed our relationship, but you still always have that little voice that creeps up whispering doubts, and I definitely had those.

 

We have been so, so blessed with S. We agreed to visits a few times a year, around holidays, and photos. I was worried I’d feel overwhelmed with all of the contact while trying to bond with A and learn how to become a mom, or that I’d overwhelm S and make things harder for her, but those feelings were quickly extinguished as our relationship and love for A grew.

We’ve come a long way from where we began, being afraid of open adoption, and mainly choosing it because it is what’s best for our daughter. We have come to LOVE open adoption. We have photos of S up in the nursery, I talk to her almost every day. Our relationship isn’t only about A, she’s become one of my best friends. S has never once made us feel less, she builds us up as A’s parents, and supports us, as we do her. S came to my baby shower, we had a little birthday dinner for her at our place, we’ll be going to G’s birthday party, and S will do something with us for A’s. We send each other photos all the time, plan dream vacations of going to Harry Potter world with all of us, and it’s just, it’s so amazing.

I wish I knew a better way to explain it, but with open adoption our family was able to grow so much more than we ever expected, and I’m so grateful for it. I know open adoptions vary, and what we have may not be the norm, and it may not be what we have when we adopt next, but that’s why openness varies and depends on the wants and needs of those involved. I’m so excited for A to know her birth family as she grows up, to know where she comes from, to know that she is loved insane amounts by so many people.

**All photos of A’s birth mom and sister are shared with permission.**

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