Most domestic adoptions today involve some level of contact between birth parents and the adoptive family. The amount of openness varies from annual visits to emails and photos sent through an adoption agency. This might come as a surprise to hopeful adoptive parents when they look into adoption for the first time.
The public’s perception of open adoption can be poor, leading to all kinds of myths which create fear and doubt. You might hold some of these open adoption myths to be truths, which could cause anxiety. But the truth is, open adoption can be a beautiful and amazing part of your path to parenthood.
Here, we share the top 4 most common fears about open adoption that hopeful adoptive parents hold, plus how you can conquer them!
1. My Child Will Reject Me
Many believe that an adopted child will reject his or her adoptive family if they know about their birth family. Sure, your child will eventually ask questions about their personal identity and origins. It’s natural for a child to express interest and love for their biological family. But when a child is interested in their biological heritage, it doesn’t mean they’re rejecting their adoptive family.
Open adoption gives the child clear answers, which helps them form a positive sense of self. This is done in the best interests of the child, and it’s good for everyone involved in the adoption, too. It’s possible for a child to feel true love for both their birth and adoptive families, which is a beautiful thing. And remember, you will be your child’s parents. Once the adoption is final in court, the child is as much yours as if you had given birth.
2. Open Adoption Is Co-parenting
Hopeful adoptive parents might worry that an open adoption arrangement will lead to co-parenting. This just isn’t the case. Open adoption doesn’t lead to co-parenting. Staying in communication with your child’s birth parents isn’t a gateway to shared responsibility. Open adoption doesn’t lead to confusion about the roles each adult has in the child’s life. As adoptive parents, you can help your child learn the importance of his or her birth parents yet keep the lines of parental responsibility clear.
3. Birth Parents Can Regain Custody
A common fear about open adoption is that it gets in the way of complete placement. Here’s the truth: when your adoption is legally finalized, you hold full custody. A final decree of adoption means that adoption is just that— final.
When a birth mother makes an adoption plan, she does so because she believes your family will be best for her baby. She is trusting you to love, cherish, provide for, and raise her baby. So really, open adoption isn’t a threat to custody but an opportunity to form a beautiful bond!
4. Open Adoption Confuses the Child
Just because adoption isn’t common doesn’t mean it’s necessarily confusing. Children see and understand more than you think! What usually happens is adults project their confusion onto children.
A child’s ability to understand open adoption often comes as a surprise to adults. If it’s explained simply, at an age-appropriate level, your child will realize that you’re their parents, and their birth parents love them very much. That’s not to say there won’t be challenging moments. But your child can figure it out as long as they know they’re loved.
These are several of the most common fears that hopeful adoptive parents have about open adoption. We understand it’s an emotional subject which can be confusing, but it can also be beautiful and life-changing.
We encourage you to embrace your open adoption relationship. It can be challenging, but it’s well worth it.