Are you a birth mother who has found herself in an unplanned pregnancy situation? What options do you have as the birth mother? You have possibly thought of abortion but may have decided against it. You could parent the baby yourself, but with things like school and work, it may be challenging for you to raise your baby. So, what does that leave you with? Have you thought about adoption? Do you know that you have the opportunity to look into open adoption agencies?
What Does an Open Adoption Agency Do?
What is an open adoption agency? These agencies allow you, the birth parents, to choose the type of adoption you want. There are three specific types, which are:
Closed adoption: In a closed adoption, neither the birth families nor the adoptive families know anything about the other. They have no communication, and the records are sealed until the adoptee is old enough and wishes to learn about their birth family.
Open adoption: More and more agencies are opening to this type of adoption as the importance of a child knowing they are adopted and knowing their birth family and culture is being realized. Open adoption agencies are more aware of the positive effect knowing both the adoptive parents and the birth parents can have on a child.
Semi-open adoption: This type of adoption is used by some adoption agencies as it is either the adoptive parent’s wish, the birth parents’ wish, or both that there be limited updates about the baby at specified times that both parties agree on. This allows both sides to keep in touch but not constantly.
Open Adoption Agencies
There are many open adoption agencies. One that is well-known at its home base in Texas and nationwide and worldwide is the Gladney Center for Adoption. At Gladney, they work with birth mothers who want an open adoption and make the birth mothers feel more comfortable and at ease when making the difficult decision to place their baby with someone they do not know.
Below, I have shared some experiences other birth mothers and adoptive parents had with their adoption agencies. I hope these stories show you, whether you are a birth mother or potential adoptive parent, that you will find the perfect agency for you and your situation if you follow your gut.
Nicole’s Open Adoption Agency Story
I always wanted to adopt a child/children. When I got married, my husband already had two children. I was a little bit older, so we only waited six months before trying to get pregnant. We tried for three years without success. We had done various tests and medications, including artificial insemination, but it never took. The next step was in vitro fertilization, and it was so expensive, with only a 30% chance of conception. So, we decided to adopt. We went through LDS Social Services at the time because it was the least expensive option as it was subsidized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We lived in California at the time. To apply for adoption was a lengthy process. We had to become registered foster parents through the foster care system because it was considered foster care until the adoption was final. We made a profile page for birth moms to go through and hopefully choose us. We were told we would probably be waiting a while because we already had children, and we were a military family.
My husband was in a family practice residency program at the time, and everyone he worked with knew we were trying to adopt.
A baby boy was born at the hospital where he was working, and the nurses told the mother about a doctor [who] worked at the hospital that was trying to adopt. She wanted to meet him. Then, she wanted to meet me. So, in the end, it was a designated adoption because after meeting us, she wanted us to adopt her baby. She contacted LDS Social Services and told them that she wanted us to have her baby.
We had about three days’ notice before we brought him home. We were not prepared to be adopting so soon. Our adoption paperwork had not even been completed yet. We still needed a home visit and one more foster care class. But by the grace of God, our social worker had a cancellation that day and was able to do the home study the same day.
From the beginning, we knew we wanted him to know his origin. So, from the time he was little, we would tell him his adoption story. He always knew he was adopted. And we have kept in touch with his birth mom. He is 16 now and has contact with his birth sibling and grandma. He lives with his dad, so I do not know how often he talks to them, but I know he has contact.
We would send cards and pictures occasionally. It was never frequent contact.
Open adoption, to me, meant that we knew one another, and when he was old enough, he could seek out a meeting if he wanted. It also meant that I would message his birth mother on his birthdays and send her updates and pictures. It did not mean frequent contact. We did meet up with her once when he was about 18 months old. But for the most part, we were living in separate states, and we lived overseas for six years, so it just was not practical. When we first met his birth mom, we discussed the frequency of contact, and we decided that it was too emotionally draining to do more than a few updates a year. I do know other families that have adopted nieces and nephews and have had frequent contact because they are in the same family. And my best friend adopted six kids from the foster care system and has contact with their biological family a few times a year. But it is mostly just holidays and special events.
Jennifer’s Open Adoption Agency Story
I got pregnant right after meeting my now-husband. We were both quite young and not prepared for a child. I was working three jobs and had just applied for a fourth.
My daughter was the one who was adopted. I found an ad in the local newspaper [for] couples looking for children. I called the first on the list, and she said she had a child but wanted an “extra,” so I hung up on her. The next number I called, I knew the family was the right one immediately. Our daughter is now 12, and we all are very open about everything. She has always known she is adopted. The other family hired Herbert Braille as the adoption attorney. The couple had been vetted by an agency, but they had two adoptions that fell through. They are not US citizens, so we had to use an attorney for the dual citizenship papers who specialized in international adoption.
Because of the openness and the adoptive parents being vetted by an open adoption agency, we are stable and had our son in April. We all see each other as one big family.
Karla’s Open Adoption Agency Story
When we were matched with our first son, we knew very little about open adoption. We had a friend and her husband that had one open adoption and one closed adoption. She recommended that we pursue open adoption.
When we met our son’s birth mother, we discussed open adoption immediately. None of us knew what we wanted, what we expected, or how it would look. To say that it just worked out organically would be an understatement.
In the hospital when our son was born, we followed her wishes. Our adoption coordinator was key in helping us each feel loved, heard, and comfortable with the entire process. On the final day in the hospital, she held him, talked with him, shared her wishes for him, and handed him over to us. It was a truly beautiful moment.
A few weeks after he arrived, she attended his baptism with her youngest son. And she visited our home a few times before we left Alaska.
Now our open adoption looks different due to geographical distance. Two summers ago, my husband and son returned to Alaska, and she met them for dinner and shared stories of his history. He asked her questions about his life, his siblings, her life. And we are looking forward to seeing her soon. She and our son will talk via social media, and she shares his life in that way.
We adopted through Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption in Fairbanks, AK. We chose them because they were a highly recommended agency close to where we were living at that time. They are no longer in business.
When our second child came home at the age of two, we entered the entirely different world of foster care adoption. It was highly discouraged for us to have an open adoption. We weighed what we knew about open adoption at that time and sat on the information for a while.
At our son’s last visit with his biological mother, my husband picked him up. At that point, he felt that we could not cut her out of his life. That, while she had made some major mistakes, she did love him deeply. We waited a few months and then reached out to her.
We continue to have a relationship with his bio mom. In the past couple of years, we have extended that to an open relationship with his paternal family, including Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma and Grandpa, Great Grandma, Great Great Grandma, and extended family. For this particular child, it has been life-giving and has really answered a lot of his questions.
When his bio half-sister came into care last summer, we were able to foster her until she returned home to mom later that fall. We are able to maintain a relationship with her and have her several days a month. She adds such joy to our lives, our son’s life, and we are able to support bio mom on a new level. We see her frequently, have her to our home for holidays, take her to the beach, run errands, etc.
We used the North Homes Agency for our foster/adoptive experience. We are currently licensed with this agency.
With our third adoption, also through foster care, we had the privilege of being with our daughter and her mother through the process of relinquishment. We knew her mother loved her deeply, but due to cognitive reasons, she was not able to parent her. It was heart-wrenching to watch her struggle with accepting that she could not continue to parent her daughter. We knew that keeping her in our daughter’s life was imperative for both of them.
This bio mom has now moved away from us, but we visit as often as possible, meeting for dinner, texting, and sharing photos and stories frequently. We plan to visit her later this summer.
Adoption in and of itself is a topic that is hard to talk about for a lot of people, especially young people who had not planned on being young mothers or parents. However, talking about the subject and allowing birth parents to be part of their children’s lives, whether it be little or big, is beneficial for the children. Children need to know who they are and where they come from. Open adoption agencies who realize the importance of this can aid birth parents and prospective adoptive parents in utilizing open adoption.
DISCLAIMER: This article is expressly to aid those looking into open adoption agencies, not to replace speaking with an agency or an adoption attorney. If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to contact agencies in your area.Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.
Jenn Martin-Wright is a cowboy, jean-wearing, country music and rock-loving cowgirl who loves books and jewelry. She was born three months too early with a disability that should have taken any semblance of a normal life from her. Her mom made sure Jenn did everything she was capable of. Coming from a big family, it was either keep up or get left in the dust. Jenn graduated high school, then went on to getting married, having kids, and receiving a BS in Social Work. Jenn lives in Idaho with her kids and a Maltese named Oakley who has become her writing helper as she writes novels under an alias of different genres.