Open adoption is certainly not an option in every situation, but when it is, it is so incredibly life-giving. A child has the ability to grow up always knowing their origin story and having a strong sense of identity. The more history available to the child, the less mystery has a chance to consume their time. There are many reasons that open adoption can be a beautiful experience, but also many valid points offering open adoption as the best choice for the overall health of a child.
When we adopted our daughter we knew a lot about her mother’s family history but nothing of her father. We did not think much about this when she was very young, but when we started her on solid foods, we wondered if her birth father might have any allergies she could have inherited.
Then we began to wonder if there were any other serious illnesses that could be prevented or caught early if we only knew about them. For this reason, we sought to open the lines of communication with him. Open adoption allows for you to ask the necessary medical questions that you may need to know about your child’s history. It also gives you a potential larger pool of candidates if your child ever needs some sort of medical donation, such as a bone marrow transplant. Even if visits are not a possibility, allowing for some level of ongoing communication in adoption can be vital to your child’s ongoing health.
Birth parents are not the only birth family affected by adoption. It is important to recognize those with the birth family who may have not chosen adoption, but had adoption happen to their relationship such as grandparents or siblings. When there is a chance for healthy relationships with those individuals, it allows for your child to have more support and a great connection to their birth family. It also helps the birth family cope with the realities of adoption and not feel as much loss as they may have otherwise. In transracial adoption, it also gives your child support and community mirrors to turn to for situations in which you will not be able to relate.
I have two children biologically, one stepson, and two children that were adopted. My kids all love hearing the story of how they were born and the circumstances that led up to their birth. The children we adopted will grow up knowing they were adopted and the story of how they came to be a part of our family. For them, having been adopted will be their sense of normal. Having known from the beginning where they came from, who they came from, and their full story allows for normalization of differing familial makeups.
When a child is able to put a face to a name in regards to their birth family, it furthers this sense of “normal.” When our children are given a genetics or family tree project in school, we do not have to fear. They will know exactly where and who they need to turn.
My son and daughter have two moms and that is perfectly fine. She is their mom in a way I will never be. I am their mom in a way she will never be. They have brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, all whom I cannot claim. My children are nothing if not incredibly loved. None of these relationships make them any less mine or make them feel like they are any less a member of our family. They simply know that they have many people who love them and they will cultivate those very different relationships throughout their lifetime.
Written by Lita Jordan