Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This is from the Open Adoption Roundtable #18.

We are obviously not in an open adoption yet but have had interactions with lots of social workers - all of whom are in principle very keen on openness. But fully open adoptions with birth/adoptive parent directed meetings between both sets of parents and children are rare in the UK. Because most adoptions are from foster care the most common forms of openness are either letter contact, supervised and often quite tense birth parent visits, or self-arranged and relaxed visits with siblings or extended family members.

I get the impression the social workers are a little surprised we are so on board about openness - in fact I think they have been, probably quite wisely, preparing us for less openness than we'd be comfortable with. Practically speaking, we're never going to have a weekly visit, drop-in-when-you-want, first day of school and every birthday type of relationship. But we'd be happy (other things being equal) with regular visits with us and birth parent(s) without any agency/social worker involvement.

Our social worker is, I think, assuming that we'd actually have more contact with extended family (e.g.organised maternal grandparents who might have been a possible choice for raising a child, where one issue with a birth parent might be a lack of a permanent home). Oddly, though I imagine this might be a possibility, I can also envisage an opposite scenario, for example a birth parent who has not told their own parents that they have a child, so that we might meet them without being allowed to meet grandparents. This would be hugely unusual in the UK - and I think more UK adopters would have direct contact with extended family - so it's going to take some explaining to our UK social workers if we end up in that type of situation.

OK, now I have your open adoption attention - I need a quick bit of advice. We're just working on our profile, and I have put:
"We think it is very important for our child to know their biological family.

Because Dr Spouse’s mom’s family are from the US, she visited her grandparents there every summer when she was a child. We hope we will be able to take our child back to the US often to get to know their biological family."

Sooo.... I asked around and was told (not by a professional) that perhaps we should hold off on mentioning our hopes for openness, in the profile, in case it was read by expectant parents who were less interested in openness than us.

Now, if we had a link with expectant parents who wanted ongoing letter contact and were open to talking about in-person contact - then I think we'd be OK with that. Because from other people, I know that even if we set up to have ongoing in-person contact we might end up back in a letter contact, discussing in-person contact, situation anyway if circumstances changed.

So, what are people's opinions? Better not to mention our hopes in our profile, and speak about them in person? Or mention the most we'd be able to cope with (we think) and risk putting someone off who would rather have less?


Perceval said...

You could say that you are happy to adapt the degree of openness to the first parent/ birth parent's wishes. If the birth family wishes, you are happy to come to the US once a year to keep up ties with the birth family.

I think you're in a strong position because you're (half-?)American yourself. So it'll be easy for you to emphasise that part of the child's heritage, regardless of the amount of contact the birth parents feel able to have / would like to have.

Barely Sane said...

Here via OART #18.

We said something along the lines of saying we were open to developing whatever level of relationship the birth family was comfortable with.

It's such a balancing act. In reality though, you will likely start with a certain level of openness and as the relationships grow & evolve, it will hopefully expand into a much more relaxed & open placement.

For us, we started slowly and we're just taking it at the speed of the individual first family members. Some are more open than others and that's ok. It's a learning experience for all of us.

Good luck!!!

Rachel said...

I think it's good to mention openness in that you plan on communicating with your child's biological family, but it's better to avoid specifics because every situation is different and you don't know what the right fit will be with baby's bio family.

And everyone says that it's easier to become MORE open over time when you've built a solid relationship than to go backward and close an adoption. You just don't know what will be right until you're in the situation.

(And even then what you thought was right may not turn out to work the way you had thought.)

Anonymous said...

I think what you wrote is fine the way you wrote it. If you wanted to change it at all, I could see maybe writing that you're open to many levels of openness. Does that make sense?

Thalia said...

not well enough informed to offer any advice, but the above seems sensible.

Anonymous said...

I'm on board with Barely Sane's guidance. Some things are better left to say in person once who have a feel for the person. It's a developing relationship and you can't anticipate everything. You're a little like me, I just want to nail things down right away.