Upon the one year birthday of his baby girl, a birthfather called A Act of Love Adoption Agency and told them that he and the birthmother had split up and were no longer together. Both birthparents were actively involved the year before in choosing adoption, selecting the adoptive couple and in deciding on the post-adoption contact (openness) of the adoption.
The birthfather was hoping that he would not be cut-off from the Post-Adoption Contact Agreement. He was very relieved to hear that he could continue to receive pictures and letters and so would the birthmother. In his excitement, he exclaimed “You just made my year! I’m so happy that I will have the same rights to openness as my ex-girlfriend!”
Act of Love Adoptions welcomes birthfathers to be a part of the adoption process. The agency provides counseling for birthmothers and birthfathers to help create an adoption plan to select an adoptive family and choose the type of post-adoption contact that will be healthy for everyone.
The way in which an adoption plan is created today has drastically changed over the past ten years. Many adoptions used to be closed with no contact after placement. Today, about 95% of all domestic adoptions have some form of post-adoption contact. For those birthfathers involved, they can receive the same type of contact as the birthmother, whether the couple stays together or not. In fact, some placements are such that the birthfather has open communication with the adoptive couple, but the birthmother has elected not to have communication.
Because everybody handles their emotions differently, it is perfectly ok for one to want communication with the adoptive family and for the other to not. Many adoptive parents and birth parents learn in moving through the adoption process that open adoptions are a very healthy option. Many, at first, expressed nervousness about an open adoption until they learned more about how an open adoption works.
Studies have shown that an open adoption can help the adopted child become better adjusted, if he has some idea about where he came from and his birthparents. Many children and young adults go through a period of time where their curiosity becomes quite overwhelming and if they have answers readily available, they can be satisfied and move on. Many open adoptions have been opened to the point of on-going face-to-face contact. Most of the visits happen every few years and children learn to really know their birthparents.
It is important for both sets of parents to be sensitive to the fact that kids go through periods in their life where they will enjoy these meetings and then other times when they really don’t want anything to do with visits. The key to making this kind of open adoption work is to be sensitive to the child and what he needs and is wanting at the time. A visit could be moved to a year later, if the child is not responsive to a meeting that was planned long ago. Letters, pictures, Skype or a phone call could be a great alternative to the visit.
As you move through an open adoption, both adoptive parents and birthparents should have the child’s best interest in the forefront of their minds at all times. No one should be offended if the child doesn’t respond in the way that was hoped. It’s like a young child on Christmas morning where the parents are so excited for the child to be thrilled with the gifts and all the child wants to do is play with the box!
The key is to be patient and loving. Do not place expectations on the child. Know that as he grows, he will learn and understand on his own terms. When he has questions, he will definitely make them heard. And, hopefully, both sets of parents will help to have those questions answered honestly and in a timely way.