In a previous post I attempted to define open adoption. But I think it is equally important to discuss what open adoption is NOT. There are several open adoption myths that I often hear. So I’d like to take a closer look at some of the most common ones and analyze them further:
• Open adoption is co-parenting. One definition of co-parenting states: “Sharing parenting responsibilities, financial responsibilities, and physical custody of the child with another person, such as a step-mother or step-father or other appointed guardian.” (Source: Babyparenting - About.com) When I placed my son for adoption, I signed papers terminating my parental rights. This means I relinquished any responsibility (financial or otherwise) to my son. Those responsibilities now belong to his adoptive parents. Open adoption provides a biological connection and allows my son to know where he came from. But in no way am I involved in decision making regarding his upbringing. Nor do I contribute financially to provide for him.
• Birthmothers in open adoptions have a harder time with grief resolution since they are seeing their child over the years. While it can be very hard and heartbreaking at times to watch your child call someone else Mommy or run to someone else when they get hurt, seeing your child happy and healthy can be an affirmation that a birthmother made the right decision.
• Open adoption is confusing to the child. If the adults in an open adoption are not confused and understand and embrace their different roles, then the child is typically not confused. He or she will grow to understand that their birthparents represent their origins, while their adoptive parents are Mom and Dad. Because open adoption provides a biological connection, adoptees raised in open adoptions can actually become better adjusted adults than those from closed adoptions.
• A birthmother could show up at any time to reclaim her child. Legally once an adoption is finalized a birthmother cannot take back her child.
• Birthparents and Adoptive parents will be confused about their role in an open adoption. As long as there are clear boundaries, there will be no confusion about who is doing the parenting. In fact, some adoptive parents in open adoptions feel a greater sense of entitlement to parent their adopted child when the birthparents are involved and supportive of them. (Source: Childwelfare.gov)