Open adoption occurs when the potential birth mother and prospective adoptive families have personal interaction with one another. Through this type of adoption, the identities of all parties are shared with each other. However, the interaction may be different for each family and may include letters, e-mails, telephone calls, or visits.
Christian Adoptions Alliance believes that Open Adoptions are the healthiest model and should be pursued if at all possible. Open adoptions create the greatest opportunities to experience the fullness of God’s grace, mercy and love that is available through an adoption.
When considering open adoption, there are some potential disadvantages that should be considered for the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adopted child. However, most are easily overcome with healthy communication and strong guidance by a Christian adoption professional.
Open Adoption: Disadvantages for Birth Parents
The open adoption experience is different for each person and agencies are prepared to help each person work through the following issues. Here is a list of potential disadvantages that you might encounter with an open adoption:
Responsible for boundaries– Although necessary for all parties, the birth mother and birth families are responsible for establishing some of the relationship limits and boundaries. It is possible that adoptive parents may want more interaction or involvement that you are not comfortable with providing. Healthy communication between both parties makes this potential disadvantage easy to overcome.
Potential disappointment- With the opportunity to interact and observe the adoptive family as the child develops, there is the potential for disappointment when the adoptive family does not meet all your expectations or parent the same as you. This is rare, many birthmoms observe the love and acceptance and parenting that they so desperately wanted for their child.
Feelings of obligation -As the birth mother, you may feel a sense of obligation to place the child for adoption because of the financial and emotional investment made by the adoptive family. This is a pressure that you should not experience and your adoption professional will probably be working through any of this with you.
Open Adoption: Disadvantages for Adoptive Family
The open adoption experience is different for every family; however, here is a list of potential disadvantages that you might encounter with an open adoption:
Responsible for boundaries– Although necessary for all parties, the adoptive family is also responsible for establishing some of the relationship limits and boundaries. You may find that the birthmom or birth families desire more interaction or involvement that you are not comfortable with.
You may also find that the birth mother or birth family wants less interaction that what you hope for. As noted before, these potential disadvantages are usually easy to over come with healthy communication.
Additional pressure-The adoptive family may be interested in an open adoption. The birthmother or birth family may want a greater level of openness. You may feel pressure to accept certain expectations of openness from the birth family or fear not getting the child. Another unlikely disadvantage because most birth moms are affirmed to get any interaction and involvement. Honest communication helps create healthy expectations.
Unstable relationships– The adoptive family may discover that their relationship with the birth family results in a relationship with an unhealthy or emotionally disturbed birth family member. As the adoptive parents, you may have to withhold visits or communication to protect the well-being of the child. This is an excellent opportunity to pray for your birth family.
Additional support– The adoptive family may feel the need to be the emotional support system for the birth family. Is this a disadvantage or opportunity to share God’s love and grace.
Open Adoption: Disadvantages for the Adopted Child
The open adoption experience is different for every child; however, here is a list of potential disadvantages that an adopted child might encounter with an open adoption:
Reduced ability to assimilate into family-Interaction with the birth family may present barriers for the child to fully assimilate into the adoptive family. This is unlikely because adoption professionals are good at helping adoptive families and birth families establish health boundaries and expectations.
Sense of rejection– If the contact stops between the birth family and the adoptive family, the adopted child may develop a sense of rejection. This potential disadvantage can be avoided by consistent love from the adoptive parents. Most sense of rejection develops when a child feels unloved or rejected by his immediate parents.
Peer communications- With continual interaction with the birth families, the adopted child may struggle with ways to communicate the various relationships to their peers. Healthy and consistent communication can alleviate this possibility. Children who grow up listening to appropriate terminology, consistent communication, and health roles are quick to establish a healthy foundation of adoption heritage and subsequent communication.
Power struggles– The adopted child may use the adoptive family and the birth family as pawns playing one against the other. If adoptive families and birth families have healthy communication; the birth families can become advocates instead. It is important to make sure that boundaries are established.
The open adoption is experienced differently in each adoption. The most important thing for all parties involved in the adoption process is communication. The more communication about wishes, desires, expectations, etc., the more comfortable each party will be in the adoption process.