Before your child joined your family and you and your child’s birth parents chose Open Adoption, it probably seemed fairly simple. You developed a plan that suited your child and both sets of parents. The reality of Open Adoptions, however, often becomes more complicated than the abstract idea. How has the initial blueprint that you hammered out worked? How soon did you find a revision was necessary?
Children sometimes are enthusiastic about interacting with a birth parent. But this too may change over time. As they get busy perhaps, they are less interested in spending time with birth parents. On the other hand, sometimes a birth parent who had been quite active may fade into the background as his/her own life takes a new track. A child may once again feel the pain of rejection. In both cases, the change in involvement may retrigger the pain and shame of the loss.
As children become teenagers and young adults, the parents will no longer be managing the Open relationship. The child will want more say in how he shares his time. As he matures and his knowledge and understanding of his history deepens, it may cause the adoptee to want to minimize and or opt out of the Open relationship, at least for a while.
As a parent, how do you best support your child and their choices while you honor the agreement you made with his birth parents many years earlier? How will you balance both your legal and moral obligation to keep your word?
It is essential as adoptive parents, to support our children’s interest in their birth parents so they don’t feel guilty or disloyal for wanting it. And we must never let any insecurity or envy over their relationship with their birth family project a subtle message that they must choose us over their birth parents. Adoption should never be a zero sum game in which the child must choose either his birth family or his adoptive family.
Read Part Two of this topic: How Do Parents Live the Realities of Open Adoptions