Monday, April 4, 2011

Pros and Cons of Open and Closed Adoptions

Oh yeah, you read that right. Pros and Cons of Adoption. I have seen this list before in various places. Of course it did not say the same things as this latest post that I found, but I see them non the less. I always wonder, who is writing these lists? Sometimes it will say who the person is and why they feel that way. Most are Adoptive Parents. Many are adoptees. Some are counselors or agencies. Not too many are birth parents. Whoever it is, I am always interested to hear others thoughts about what they think are the good things, and the not so good things in adoption.

So, of course I wanted to take a gander at this list I found on my Google Alerts for adoption/birth parents/adoptee that I receive everyday. This list was made by a website called Lawyer Central. (WARNING!!: I am going to express some true thoughts here and if you are a lawyer, I mean no offense. But as always, I speak my truths and will not sugarcoat those thoughts to please one particular group of people. Just wanted to give a heads up to those that might find my ramblings on this post offensive.)

This site says: "At LawyerCentral.com, we take pride in helping individuals find lawyers, find legal help, find answers, research information and obtain the experienced legal representation they need. Our attorney network includes some of the top lawyers in the country, working tirelessly to protect your rights." It goes onto say that this site has hundreds of top rated lawyers for every field of expertise.

Allow me to use their text and give you my take on what I think is right, and what is SO WRONG about the list they have provided. My thoughts will be in green, just so there is no confusion as to what is the list they made compared to my thoughts. And just to start, let me say that I cannot think of any PROS to CLOSED ADOPTION! All of the information below can be found through this link: Pros of Open and Closed Adoption.

PROS OF OPEN ADOPTION:

- Open adoption provides the birth parents with peace of mind that their child will be going to loving, nurturing parents.
Ever hear the phrase Curiosity Killed the Cat? Well, the same concept can be applied to birth parents. It is what you don't know that kills your spirit, kills your heart. If you can have an open adoption, then the wonders of how your child is doing, what they look like, what characteristics they have are all things Every parent wants to know about their child. In open adoption you CAN know these things, if the AP's are willing to share this info with you.

- Open adoption allows the adoptive parents to ask the birth parents questions concerning the child. Some common questions that the adoptive parents commonly ask the birth parents is the child’s health history and the family history.
B-I-N-G-O! Every parent should have access to the orgins of their child and what better way to find out than to just ask. Wonderful plus about open adoption, you CAN ask!

- Open adoption takes away a lot of the secrecy that may sometimes be contained within adoption and makes open communication available.
This one applies solely to the child. There should be no secrecy in a child's life, especially when it comes to something as important as where they come from. Too often I hear adoptees say to me, "I just wish they would have been honest and told me about my parents. I felt lied to, cheated by my own parents. I know that they were trying to protect me from felling hurt or abandoned, but knowing the truth would have made a world of difference." Many forget that children are people too, and I don't know many people who like to be lied to.

- The adopted adult can easily establish a relationship with his or her birth parents.
BIGGEST BONUS EVER! If a child has the opportunity to know their parents, to understand their reasons and just see the kind of person they are ... well it can make all the difference in the world.

- The birth mother may be less likely to change her mind about the adoption because she knows you.
Hmmm, not sure where this one came from and not too sure I agree with it. Changing one's mind about adoption is a very personal thing and there may be many reasons for it. I don't think knowing them can help those feelings of loss, grief, regret or ambivalence.

- As time passes, if the birth mother has a change in her health status, she can notify you about conditions that could later affect your child.
This one I agree with! So important to know genetics and what your medical history holds.

- With an on-going relationship and communication about the well-being of the child, the birth parents may experience less guilt about making a decision to place for adoption.
This is a hard one because in my experience, there will always be guilt. No matter how old they get, no matter how healthy and wonderful their lives MAY turn out to be, there will always be guilt in my heart that I missed so much of my children's lives.


PROS OF CLOSED ADOPTION:

- Some birth families report that having a closed adoption provides a sense of closure and enables them to move on with their life.
This may be true, but in the end it is about the child. Sure, people want closure about some feelings and thoughts. But really, it is not at all about the parents but rather about the child and what is best for them. I don't think keeping their roots from them is at all beneficial in the long run.

- Having a closed adoption creates an opportunity for a stronger sense of privacy for the birth family.
I understand, but sometimes this can backfire for the adoptive family. Think about it, what if your family moved away from you and never contacted you again? How hurt would you be? How angry would you be that they just left you alone in the wind? Take that feeling and apply it to the birth family. That is what it feels like for them and given the opportunity to have a respectful relationship with the parents, I bet there could be a mutual relationship that is not going to intrude on your privacy as a family.

- If the birth families are not involved, the adoptive family is free to have their family time without restraints of visitations and on-going communication.
To me, this is selfish. Is it that hard to send a picture? Send a note as to how the child is doing? I know, it is your family and you have the right to do what you want with it. However, to forget the ones who are thinking about that child every day, it is pretty heartless to just cut them off. Not to mention, it can be quite damaging to their minds, hearts and lives. (I am speaking about both the child and the birth parents in the last sentence.)

- There is no danger or risk of birth parent interference or co-parenting concerns.
I cannot speak on this one because it is foreign to me. I would not interfere or ask for the right to even give parenting advice to an AP. My experience was nothing like that, so I really cannot add thoughts to this.

- A closed adoption protects the adopted child from an unstable or emotionally disturbed birth parent or birth family member.
This last one is what prompted me to even write this post. Why are the birth parents always "emotionally disturbed"? When did it become common that all birth parents MUST have something wrong with them, therefore that is why their child is not with them??? This mentality just kills me, and if could not be further from the truth. Sure, you will always find some that are having troubles. But really? Are we all in that category? NO. Do we all have emotional problems? No. This is just a cop out to me. To me, this says something different than what is written. Rather it should say... "A closed adoption protects the PARENTS from an unstable or emotionally disturbed birth parent or birth family member."

Well there you go, I have said my peace and feel much better for doing so. If you have thoughts, please feel free to share them. As most of you know, I am quite open on my blog and know that I am not always right, or at least not always thinking the same thing as you. I never claimed to be the all knowing birth mother, just one woman's opinion about life after relinquishment.

Don't forget, you still have time to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Best For You, children's book about adoption!!! Follow this link until Thursday, April 7th! GiVeAwAy Starts Now!

5 comments:

Lilli Hazard said...

There is no danger or risk of birth parent interference or co-parenting concerns.
I cannot speak on this one because it is foreign to me. I would not interfere or ask for the right to even give parenting advice to an AP. My experience was nothing like that, so I really cannot add thoughts to this.

Kelsey,

I haven't kept up with reading your blog lately and dropped in today to see what's new. As you know I love you and give you a big thumbs up all the time. I wanted to comment on your comment of the above which I copied here.

I don't think what the lawyers site wrote implies that all birth parents have something wrong with them. I read it as if it is a concern, having a closed adoption is an option. As an adoptive mom I know many adoptive families who love their child's birthparents. I also have friends whose child's birthparents chose a closed adoption when in fact as the adoptive parents they really wanted an open adoption and are sad everyday that their child won't have the ability to know the people who gave them life.

I have heard of adoptive parents who have open adoptions and for various reasons felt their child's involvement in their family over time turned disruptive or destructive and opt to back off from the same level of openness. That too is very sad. But it happens probably I would imagine with a great deal of thought and regret, but all with the child in mind.

As always, educating people about adoption is such a great thing and you do a wonderful job doing it!!

Lilli

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

You are correct Lilli, there are exceptions to every rule ... and that is especially true in adoption. It is not often that I fly off the handle about something that I read, but today was an exception in my case.

Perhaps I felt a little tinge of anger in reading this list. Perhaps I felt strongly about writing this because I know of so many birth parents who have been shut out for very unreal reasons. Perhaps this is a day that finds me a little frisky when it comes to talking adoption. Maybe it is my anxiety about my Keynote speaking engagement this coming weekend and the fact that I hope I get there because my flight is on Southwest ... I really hope my flight is NOT cancelled!!!

I know what you are saying and yes, there are cirrcumstances that change and are harmful to the child. I agree with you, and appreciate that you have commented and let your thougths be known. As I said above, I am not the all knowing birth mother. But sometimes, I have to stick up for my sisters who have been wronged or at the very least lead to believe that their contribution to other families would be of mutual respect.

Either way, for some reason this post just rubbed me the wrong way. As you know, I believe in speaking truth in order to educate folks on the ins, outs, ups and downs of adoption. I just wanted it to be known that sometimes generalizing birth parents can be harmful to those who do not know what the path is like. And just like some do not know what my life is like, I also do not know what the life of an adoptive parent is like.

I thank you for commenting, because when you do you make me think a little differently about things. I sure appreciate your honesty and feelings about this post. And just as I try to educate, you do the same and with a great deal of compassion! Thank you for all YOU do!

Amanda said...

As for this one: The birth mother may be less likely to change her mind about the adoption because she knows you.
Hmmm, not sure where this one came from and not too sure I agree with it. Changing one's mind about adoption is a very personal thing and there may be many reasons for it. I don't think knowing them can help those feelings of loss, grief, regret or ambivalence.

I think that if I had known the adoptive family would have shut me out so much I would have changed my mind. Part of why I choice who I did was because we were friends, and I felt like they wouldn't ever leave me out of the loop.

Carrie said...

Gaaaaahhhh. This list is frustrating. There are many things in it that are true and some that are just assumptions or generalizations, I think.

I am an adoptive parent of two. We have two great open adoptions, both VERY different. I do think that before we started down our road to adoption we would have share some of these thoughts but that is becasue we hadn't really met a birthparent yet. All we had to base our assumptions on were most likely the media adn maybe a few stories from aquaintences. Until we started to really decide if adoption was the way we were going to build our family (sitting down and talking with folks who had used our agency) we had NO idea what it might look like to live in relationship with birthparents. When we heard their story I was fascinated but still had fears about open adoption. Most I can say was not really a fear of a birthparent but a fear of the unknown in general. But who doesn't have that fear when stepping out onto new territory?

I am totally rambling, but it sounds as if whoever came up with this list isn't an adoptive parent.

And just to comment a tiny bit on the part about the birthparent having emotional issues that would make a relationship with the child and adoptive family unhealthy, who doesn't have someone in their biological family who deals with issues? Does it mean that if we do we should really excommunicate them? (Ok, I know I'm being harsh, but it's sort of a double standard)

Ok, enough of my rant :)

chittisterchildren said...

" A closed adoption protects the adopted child from an unstable or emotionally disturbed birth parent or birth family member."

Unfortunately, there are birth parents who are emotionally disturbed, addicts, abusive, or just plain not good for a child to be around. Think adoption from foster care, for example. Some people are able to have open adoptions in that situation, but many people I know are dealing with birth parents who are unstable, to put it mildly. I would hope that the attorney's site would have noted that this reason would apply only to a few birth parents, and not to birth parents at large. I do think adoptive parents have a tendency to close adoptions too quickly. But sometimes, in relatively rare cases, closed adoptions are necessary for the safety of the child(ren) involved.

I love reading your blog, and I thank you for sharing with us!