The Open Adoption Project is a collaboration between an adoptee and a relinquishing mother. Pulling quotes from actual articles all over the internet, their goal is to give an accurate, honest perspective in what the adoption websites claim about open adoption. Each week they will print a quote that has been found on an adoption based website, and attempt to debunk the myth from their own perspective or experiences in adoption.
About The Writers
Kat is an adoptee who was raised in open adoption. At age four, she had regular visits with her biological family. Throughout her childhood, she spent time in the summer with her biological family and they visited her adoptive family’s home as well. She began blogging about her experience in March 2013 at Sister Wish. Originally, she thought she would be a single voice, showing how she was profoundly affected by adoption. As she continued to write, she noticed that there were many other voices with similar stories. More incredibly, these stories weren’t being heard. At Sister Wish, she shares the details of her open adoption and how it has affected her both in her childhood and into adulthood.
Danielle is the mother of three children, one of whom was relinquished in an open adoption through LDSFS in the early 2000’s. The adoption allegedly began as an open adoption, but maintained semi-openness throughout the first decade before the adoption was closed by the adoptive parents. She currently blogs at Another Version Of Mother where she openly shares her experience in adoption with honesty. She hopes to use her experiences to help other women understand the ins and outs of adoption, what it means to be a birthmother, and advocate for adoption reform.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Open adoption provides immediate answers to the adoptee’s questions, as well as accurate information — answers to basic questions that all adoptees wonder about, such as “who do I look like?” and “why was I given up?” The adoptive parents can communicate facts, instead of half-truths or unknowns. There is also an opportunity for ongoing access to information. For example, when the child asks a question that his/her parents cannot answer, they can turn to the birthparents for the answers.”
There are many incorrect assumptions in this statement. Open adoption doesn’t provide answers. People provide answers. And that is only if they are so inclined to do so. Here is where what is promised in this statement goes wrong. We are talking about a child seeking answers. It is difficult enough for adults to provide answers to other adults in complex situations. Giving those answers to a child adds additional layers to the complexity.
I was about six or seven when I began trying to understand why I had been “given up.” My first questions were asked to my adoptive mom. She gave answers such as my biological mom already had two children to take care of and it was tiring for her in addition to being a drain for her financially. When I saw my biological mom, she didn’t look “tired” or “poor” at all. In fact, she seemed youthful, beautiful and energetic, as well as funny and entertaining.
When I expressed my doubt as to those being accurate reasons for my relinquishment, my adoptive mom encouraged me to ask my biological mom my questions. And I had every intention to do so. But here is where there is a huge break down in this statement of how open adoption leads to answers. I didn’t ask. I chickened out.
Why? Imagine being seven years old and having a visit with your original mom. You’re standing there with a perfect opportunity to ask all of your questions of this woman you are completely enamored with and you have absolutely no desire to displease her. In fact, you don’t want her to feel uncomfortable at all. So you shower her with compliments and praise and try to make her laugh. But the last thing you do is ask questions that will be painful or bring up raw emotions.
That is how I felt. I wanted to ask “why did you give me up?” The “why” of it all was all I ever thought about. But I didn’t ask. I never wanted to bring up negative feelings.
As I got older, I did hear different variations of the “why.” Different variations that different people offered up, not one matching another with blame placed on various individuals. As an adult, I still don’t have that one answer. I can piece together many different versions to try to assemble an answer, but I still don’t know that it’s a complete truth.
Ascertaining “facts, instead of half-truths or unknowns” seems like a benefit of open adoption, but having lived through an open adoption, I found it to be impossible. All of these promises of the ease with which adoptees can obtain answers to their questions sound great in theory, but the truth is that it isn’t so easy. There are many challenges to adoptees obtaining answers to their questions and open adoption is not the quick fix it was intended to be for this challenge.
“Open adoption does not guarantee immediate answers to an adoptee’s question for several reasons. Presumptuously, this statement furthers the myth that adoptees only want access to basic information about themselves, and nothing beyond what can be found via paperwork, or through a relative. When you think about what children who have not been adopted “know” about themselves, it goes far beyond any paperwork, or a picture. The need to understand, see, and seek out our genetics is inherent in all of us, even in those who are not adopted. We are eager to find those who think like us, who act like us, and whom we can relate to. A lot of this information cannot be summed up in a simple sentence, or a line in a paperwork, nor is it possible to foresee all the types of questions an adoptee may have as he or she grows.”