The Gift of an Open Adoption – Even in Foster Care

Never have I struggled so much to compose a blog.  I must have opened and closed my computer 100 times mulling over the angle to take on this topic.  Ironically, that is much like open adoption itself; One thousand different options. Wikipedia quotes an author that nicely explains “Adoption is like marriage. There are countless ways that a marriage can work. What is right for one couple will not work for another. Adoptions are the same.

So instead of telling you what an open adoption should look like, I am going to tell you about our open adoptions.  I truly believe they are one of the greatest gifts I can give to my kids.

My relationship with our kids’ parents did not start under the best circumstances.  As a foster parent, it was a challenge to form a relationship in the midst of a negative situation. Watching the family interactions, I immediately found “the good” in the parents’ love.  My kids are loved very much by their biological parents.

As our first case progressed, so did my relationship with my son’s parents.  I had a very emotional meeting with his mother where we discussed contact and visits.  His parents were so grateful to know that we would maintain communication that they voluntarily terminated their rights (essentially choosing us to be his parents). We have agreed to annual visits and twice yearly updates, though we have more frequent email communication.  Our first visit went very well.  He looks JUST like his mom, and I love that he will have a relationship with her.

With our second case, the circumstances were a little different.  I wrote our daughter’s mom a heartfelt letter explaining how we loved her, and she would always know she was loved by her mom.  The response was overwhelming.  A gift basket with multiple cards of gratitude, a book stating we had changed her life and a few gifts for our daughter – including a children’s bible.  That simple act of a letter opened up a floodgate and the first show of interest in a relationship.  We will maintain contact through the agency and consider visitation if appropriate in the future.

Ironically, in the middle of this writing, we have come to a necessary decision to move from unsupervised to supervised contact with extended biological family to protect our daughter.  It is a beautiful thing to allow communication and foster the relationship.  It is also important that it is appropriate.  To this, I would just add, when discerning the extent of openness it is important to enact clear boundaries.  I am grateful to have learned this quickly for myself. Err on the side of less and offer more if it seems appropriate down the road.

Ultimately, don’t let fear of open adoption keep you from moving forward.  Everything about adoption is a journey.  It took training, prayer and time for us to embrace the idea.  And it took sitting face to face with a birthmother to get it.  Our family has grown as a result of our openess and we hope our children will always be blessed by this gift.

Elisabeth has desired motherhood since puberty.  She was blessed to meet Mr. Right  & wed in 2002.  The road to parenthood was long, filled with tears & suffering.  In 2007, they were blessed with their miracle “Rosie” thanks to the help of NaPro Technology.  With secondary infertility, Elisabeth & Mr. Right entered the world of foster care.  They adopted “Augie” in 2011 and hope to adopt “Caite” this spring.  Elisabeth is an at home mom, who twilight’s as a FertilityCare Practitioner. Elisabeth blogs at Blessed and Broken.