Open Adoption Roundtable #36: Open Adoption Agreements
Write about open adoption agreements- is there one in your open adoption? What effect does it have on your relationships? If you could go back in time, would you approach the agreement differently?
We don't have an agreement. We had started our adoption journey with an agency in NC and then were matched with a family member of a co-worker of a family member situation (My cousin's co-worker's niece is our birth mom), and our agency refused to work with us because it was an out of state adoption. We ended up using an attorney.
Going from the agency to an attorney was a weird change. We went from having all these rules imposed upon us (all contact had to go through the agency first) to being free to do whatever we wanted. It was liberating and wonderful. Fortunately, we're honest people and had wanted nothing but the most for our son. Being connected through a family tie also strengthened our bond with our birth family.
There's a mutual respect on all sides and we all have an agreement that we'll do what's best for Gus. I enjoy being able to text, email, and Facebook his birth family and keep them updated on our lives. I love that his biological cousin and great aunt came through Atlanta on their way to Florida and stopped in to see us and stayed the night here (this is the co-worker of my cousin). I love that when we go to MI to see family, Gus's side of our family is just as important as my side is.
I like not having an agreement, but it works for our situation. When we adopt again, who knows if we'll be as fortunate as we have been with Gus. Depending on the situation, an agreement can be useful and can ensure that everyone has their needs met.
In open adoption, all adoptive families have an obligation to keep the birth family aware of what the child is doing. If you don't want to keep the birth family aware with pictures, videos, phone calls, and/or visits... you shouldn't have an open adoption.
All expectations should be laid out prior to any baby being born, and everyone should be honest about what they want. If you're not comfortable "sharing" your child with their birth family, you have no reason to have an open adoption. Have a semi-open adoption... but the word open means just that... OPEN. Open to communication, open to expanding your family, and open to letting your child know everyone that loves them. If you're not willing to do that, you shouldn't have an open adoption.
For the record, in my OWN opinion, there's almost never a reason for a closed adoption. I think there are some circumstances were for safety purposes, it's required, but even then, at some point, that child is going to want to know about their history. As a parent, it's your obligation to make sure they know where they come from. For me, semi-open or open adoptions are the only way to go.