The Side Effects of Open Adoption

by ParentCo. May 10, 2016

Have you ever paid attention to the warnings listed on drug advertisements? I’m particularly fond of the ones that warn you to not use the product if you are allergic to the product. I wanted to write an essay about what it takes for an Adoptive Family to have an open adoption and it occurred to me it might be fun to spoof those drug ads that fascinate me so. You may have heard about Open Adoption around town or on the Internet and wondered what it’s all about. Could sending a few photographs a year be all it takes to assuage your guilt about raising a child you didn’t help create? Is it always the best thing for everyone involved? Maybe the happy photos of young white Birth Mothers happily pursuing their college degrees while occasionally emailing the nice heterosexual couple that is raising her baby has piqued your interest. If you’ve been wondering about Open Adoption and if it’s right for you, ask your local Adult Adoptee, Birth Parent or Adoptive Parent about their experiences. Open Adoption works best if you don’t adhere to traditional family structures. Sudden relationships without previously established titles may occur, for example, the adopted sister of your adopted son’s biological sister. It may not be right for you if you can’t handle awkward social situations. Ask your child’s doctor if it’s okay to text her other mother when trying to fill out medical history forms. Some parents have reported experiencing uncomfortable questions at inconvenient times. Other side effects may include difficulty with family tree projects or Father’s Day crafts at school. Open Adoption tends to work best when the child is adopted from the same continent in which the adoptive family lives in, however, situations have been reported in which some have been made possible across oceans. Open Adoption may not be possible if there is a history of violence, neglect or abuse in the Biological family. However, instances have occurred in which in spite of scary sounding situations like incarcerated parents or addiction, Open Adoption is still possible, with adequate boundaries in place or sometimes with the assistance of Professional supervision. Some women experience discomfort hearing another woman referred to as her child’s Mother. Don’t use Open Adoption if you need constant reassurance that you are the “real” Mom. Contraindications to Open Adoption are an insecure sense of self or being threatened by your child loving another adult. Open Adoption works best when you have your big girl panties on. If you have empathy and are willing to make mistakes, Open Adoption could be right for you. Open Adoption may not be right if you have trouble relating to people living marginalized lives with very different class and educational backgrounds than your own OR if you assume that anyone who places a child for adoption must fit that description. Open Adoption may not look like what you anticipated it looking like at times and may require creativity and flexibility. Don’t use Open Adoption if you have a Savior Complex. In clinical studies, children in Open Adoption scenarios have appreciated knowing where they came from and their parents’ willingness to put their needs first. If you suffer severe inability to always do what is in the child's best interest (even if that means by not using Open Adoption), you might want to forget about this whole parenting thing altogether. Individual results may vary and as a matter of fact are pretty much different for every single family that uses it. Other side effects may include access to family photographs and learning where children’s looks or mannerisms came from. Unexpected tears of joy may occur. In some cases, families have been known to grow exponentially by using Open Adoption. Tell your doctor if you suspect you have a heart bigger than you thought you had. Today’s a great day to find out if Open Adoption is right for you.
  1. The author would like two acknowledge the two adoptive mothers who helped provide input on this essay: her friends Danielle Watson and Tovah (last name withheld)
  2. The author also gladly welcomes any response pieces from Birth Family’s points of view)



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