About 95 percent of adoptions today have some level of openness, according to a recent study.
Although the research looked at U.S. placements, it’s safe to say that the situation here in Canada isn’t all that different from what it is south of the border.
According to the study, two reasons account for the trend toward openness. First, families and professionals realize that secrecy is harmful. And second, birthmothers want it.
If you’re hoping to connect with an expectant mother considering adoption, this last bit of information is worth nothing. In fact, it could be the game changer in your outreach efforts.
Knowing that birthmothers desire openness, you could potentially increase your chances of finding a match by emphasizing that you’re interested in it as well in your adoption profile or in your conversations with her.
And it could also help you build the framework of a strong and lasting relationship with her after placement.
Here are some of the main reasons why birthmothers choose open adoption when placing their baby with an adoptive family.
1. It gives birthmothers control over the placement process
Overnight, an unplanned pregnancy can turn an expectant mother’s life upside down with no easy way out.
One of the reasons many expectant mothers choose open adoption is because it puts them in the driver’s seat during the pre-placement process.
Not only do they get to choose their baby’s adoptive family, they have the option to speak with them, meet them, create a hospital plan, and have ongoing contact after the child is placed.
Letting an expectant mother know that you’re interested in having an open adoption could propel you to the top of her list.
But—and this is crucial—only if you genuinely believe in it.
If, on the other hand, you’re only doing it because you think that’s what she wants to read and you have no intention of delivering on your promises after placement, you could be setting yourself up for some major problems down the road.
2. It helps validate their decision
Life can get very lonely very quickly when you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption for your child.
Most people don’t understand what expectant mothers go through during the process because they’ve never been in their shoes.
Through open adoption, an expectant mother has the opportunity to connect with an family prior to her placement that “gets” where she’s coming from and where she wants to go.
And that, in turn, can bring her peace of mind and reinforce her belief that she’s making the right decision.
3. It allows them to know the parents who will raise their child
Although every situation is different, the decision to place is usually made because the expectant mother isn’t ready or able to parent.
Contrary to the myth about birthmothers, they love their children.
Thanks to open adoption birthmothers don’t have to worry if their child will be safe and loved.
That’s because they select the parents directly themselves, based on their criteria, and can follow it up with conversations and face-to-face meetings.
4. It eliminates questions and doubts
Imagine handing over your child to a total stranger and never seeing her again. Never knowing whether she grew up happy or sad, or whether you made the right decision.
Under closed adoption, that’s exactly what happened.
But today, with open adoption, birthmothers can get regular updates about their child through letters, phone calls, texts, and visits, and give them the future they want them to have.
5. It removes secrecy and shame
Until a few decades, most adoptions were closed. Birthmother didn’t know the identity of their child’s parents.
They gave birth in secret and then were told to move on with their lives as if nothing had ever happened.
No wonder so many birthmothers from the closed adoption era talk about having a “missing piece” in their lives.
Openness removes that sense of secrecy and shame and helps to normalize a birthmother’s relationship to her child and his adoptive parents.
6. It’s healthy for the child
Open adoption is good for birthmothers. Research shows that it is especially good for children.
And when you consider that adoption is designed to be in the best interests of the child, that’s crucial.
Open adoption enables children to better understand their story and how they came to be adopted. It gives them the opportunity to learn about their family background and find answers to their questions.
By replacing fantasy with facts, it creates healthy relationships between adoptees and their two sets of parents.
7. It helps them heal
Placing a baby for adoption is a loving choice. But it’s far from easy.
Every birthmother undergoes an intense period of mourning after placement as she tries to make sense of her loss.
Although openness can never remove that loss, it can speed up the healing process.
Keeping in contact with their child through regular updates can put a birthmother’s mind to rest and remind her of the reasons why she made her adoption plan in the first place.
Today, more and more women with an unplanned pregnancy are choosing openness when they create an adoption plan.
Knowing that and addressing openness in your parent profile can help you find a match sooner and jump-start your efforts to grow your family through open adoption.
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