Debunked: Myths vs. Facts in Open Adoption

Debunked: Myths vs. Facts in Open Adoption

What is open adoption? For many, the term could hold different meanings – birth parents having little to no contact with the family to birth parents holding an extended family member role. Understanding of open adoption varies from person to person. However, there are myths about open adoption that do not hold true. Below are some myths debunked:
Myth: Open adoption is synonymous with co-parenting your child

Fact: In an open adoption, adoptive parents and birth parents are clearly defined in their roles – there is no shared custody of the child. The agreement is based upon the birth and adoptive parents’ wishes. In the end, adoptive parents are legally responsible for their children’s well-being.

Myth: Open adoption is puzzling to children

Fact: While the questions may start from an early age, children do have a sense of who their birth parents/adoptive parents are. They also understand that there may be an agreement in place between adoptive and birth parents wherein the child may see their birth parents a certain amount of times a year.

Myth: Adoptees grow up despising their birth parents

Fact: While they may feel some intense emotions throughout their lives, adoptees have the privilege to get to know their birth parents – to learn their stories and background. They can ask those tough questions; thus, making them less likely to have doubts or animosity toward their birth parents.

Myth: Adoptees grow up despising their adoptive parents

Fact: Adoptees who are a part of an open adoption learn their story from an early age – it is not hidden from them. Adoptive parents strive to give their children that understanding. This avoids them from creating their own fantasy and makes them more accepting of their story since it is discussed openly.

Myth: Most open adoption agreements eventually dwindle

Fact: While it is true that some relationships might fade, the majority are longstanding. In fact, most open adoption agreements are not legally binding. It is ultimately contingent on the birth parents and adoptive families forging a lasting relationship.

When considering open adoption, think about what you hear, and do your research. It’s important to not believe everything you hear.


Our Open Adoption Isn’t Looking Like What We Thought

One of the key components to understanding and respecting Open Adoption, is realizing that it is not just one moment in time. Open adoption is this ever flowing process between an adoptive family, a birth parent and a child.

There are various levels to open adoption that individuals are cautiously maneuvering through, on an individual basis according to one’s comfort level.

Different Ways Open Adoption Can Look

Open adoption can be as minimal as an expecting parent choosing an adoptive family, but never really having any sort of contact during pregnancy or placement. A birth parent may opt to just want to receive their future picture and letter updates from adoptive families and for them, that is enough. That is they level of openness they decided they needed as they go through their individual grieving process that adoption entails.

Open adoption can also be extremely close to the point where adoptive families connect with birth parents through phone calls, text messages and visits on their own, without an agency liaison. Many adoptive families who experience these sorts of open adoptions, feel comfortable enough with their child’s birth parents, that these relationships and lines of communication simply work for these families.

Open adoption plans can be on any length of the spectrum of openness. It is important to realize that as an agency, we do our best to ensure that a birth family and an adoptive family are comfortable with the same amount of openness before any sort of matching is completed. This allows for all parties to feel a sense of ease in the open adoption process.

Ebb and Flow Over Time

What many do not realize is that a birth parent goes through an extreme amount of emotions at different points in their journey of adoption. Birth parents are also going through their own personal lives and struggles even post-placement, which may alter their future connection to their open adoption. What this means for an adoptive family, is that birth parents may come and go in their relationship to the family and child, and that is okay. Part of parenting a child through open adoption, is realizing that they can walk through that door to “openness” at any point in the child’s life. Being willing to keep that door open shows the respect and understanding that an adoptive family has for open adoption, and specifically the respect they have for their child’s birth parents.

Regardless of a birth parent’s commitment to the future contact, an adoptive family’s role it stay open-minded and provide a space for that door to open whenever a birth parent is ready. This means continuing to send pictures and letters to the agency for a birth family, and continuing to educate their child on the loving decision their birth parent made in choosing adoption. Continue to honor and respect your child’s birth parent and allow a child to understand that you as an adoptive parent will remain committed and supportive to their relationship with their birth parent, if and when their birth parent is ever ready. It takes away the tug of war many adoptees say they feel in choosing between their birth and adoptive families. The truth is it doesn’t have to be either/or but BOTH is an option.

Reconnecting After No Contact

One of our social workers recently had a birth mother come into their office, who unfortunately had lost touch with our agency and the adoptive family that she placed with over 12 years ago. This woman had gone through her own personal struggles of drug addiction and incarceration but was now in a really good place in her life. She asked if we had any recent updates from the adoptive family. I stepped away from our meeting to find a folder filled with over 10 years’ worth of correspondence that this adoptive family had been sending her. We have had been holding all of these pictures and letters for if and when she came back to the agency wanting them. It was such an honor to be able to hand this birth mother a bag filled with amazing stories and pictures of her beautiful son from the last 10 years. She smiled at me and said that she can see what a beautiful life her son was given. I reminded her that she made the decision to give him this beautiful life and she should feel proud of herself.

As a social worker, it was so nice to be able to witness what open adoption can provide, even years later. This family was highly devoted to the commitment they made to these birth parents and the respect they have for open adoption.

What Does the Adoption Process Look Like for Women Battling Addiction?

Choosing adoption, can be one of the most difficult decisions of a woman’s life. While a woman may feel a sense of pressure as she must decide the future of this child, part of the support we provide as social workers, is the motivation to take control of the situation and figure out what is in the best interest of that baby.

Women and men vary in their reasoning for making an adoption plan. Often times, it’s the lack of financial stability or the mental or emotional capacity to raise a second or even a third child. Another reason for placing a child for adoption may be the that a woman is battling a drug addiction and what’s a different life for her child.

Many would agree that battling a drug addiction is extremely difficult. It is not something that can be fixed overnight and being sober and clean can have its ups and downs with relapses. During the initial counseling with woman, we discuss drug or alcohol exposure during pregnancy. It’s important for social workers to create a space of trust, honesty and open communication with women. We are never there to judge or make her feel inadequate, but rather our role is to listen and provide her the tools to make a good and healthy decision for her child. Being able to come forward and admit that you have a problem is one of the first steps to recovery.

As a pregnant woman, it takes a lot of courage to not only admit that you are still struggling but also a lot of selfless motivation to put your child’s best interest before anything else. There is no shame or guilt in taking responsibility and choosing adoption as the path for your child. The strength that a woman battling addiction has in choosing open adoption is extremely powerful and should be honored and respected.

Part of the process in making an adoption plan is choosing the right family for your baby. While many women might feel ashamed or worried about finding a family that is comfortable with their prenatal drug exposure, it is important to realize that there are waiting adoptive families who have been educated on drug withdrawal and feel comfortable and ready to be placed with a child that may have had some drug exposure.

Amanda Aliberti, a social worker at Adoptions From The Heart shared one of her first experiences working with an expecting mother battling addiction:

“I will never forget one of my very first expecting mothers that I worked with a little over 6 years ago when she came through the office door. She was such a pleasant woman and was very open and honest about her story. She told me she was addicted to crack and had been for over 15 years. She was not trying to make any excuses for her choices but knew in her heart that parenting her child would not be fair to him. I never once passed any sort of judgment on her, but rather had a great amount of respect. I know she felt a lot of guilt and shame over her continued drug use during her pregnancy. I remember looking at her straight in the face and telling her that if nothing else, she should be proud of herself for the selfless decision she was making for her child. She should feel empowered that she could consciously decide to provide her child with a happy and healthy future through open adoption. Part of being a good parent, is taking responsibility and giving your child the best future that he or she deserves. That is what my client did. She chose open adoption, found an amazing family and gave her son a happy life.”

If you are pregnant and struggling with addiction, please know that there are counselors who are there to listen without judgement and help you find resources to assist during your pregnancy whether or not you decide that adoption is right for you and your child. 855-711-1609

5 Children’s Books to Help Your Child Understand What It Means to Be Adopted

You may have thought that the days of buying adoption books were behind you after finalizing your adoption. You did your homework, anxiously reading anything and everything you could get your hands on in preparation for the Big Day. While it may feel as though there is nothing left to learn about adoption, your child may feel a bit differently. In fact, they probably have lots of questions, some of which may be easy for you to answer, and others not so easy. Here are five great children’s books to help guide your child through some of the adoption questions they may have as they move through the different stages of childhood and adolescence.

  1. We Belong Together by Todd Parr

We Belong Together is a picture book, illustrated with bright and fun colors that are sure to grab any young child’s attention. Each page contains another reason why “We belong together,” such as “You needed someone to kiss your boo-boos, and we had kisses to give.” Through specific illustrations of love in the home, We Belong Together shines a light on the fact that each adoption holds its own unique story.

2. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

This picture book tells the story of a young girl’s birth night, as she listens to her parents retell the story upon her request. The story highlights prominent moments in the adoption journey, such as the call the adoptive family received when the birth mother went into labor, as well as more mature topics centering around why she could not stay with her birth mother.

3. Oliver: A Story About Adoption by Lois Wickstrom

As the first page of the book states: “Oliver lives with a mommy and a daddy and a goldfish. He is related to his mom and dad by love and law. Oliver is adopted.” The story tells of the time that Oliver, a lizard, falls from a tree and is sent to his room by his dad to think about how to play safely. In his room, Oliver instead begins to think about what his life would be like if he were living with his birth parents instead. When Oliver shares this with his parents, they explain to him that these thoughts are normal and that, as children, they too spent time thinking about what it would be like to live with a different family.

4. Lucy’s Family Tree by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

Lucy’s story begins when she is asked to create a family tree for a class assignment. Lucy, who is Mexican-born and was adopted by an American couple as a baby, tells her parents that she cannot do the assignment because she is too “different.” Upon further discussion with her parents, Lucy comes to understand that no family is the same, and each has its own unique differences.

5. ABC, Adoption & Me—A Multi-Cultural Picture Book for Adoptive Families by Gayle H. Swift

ABC, Adoption & Me addresses the questions about adoption that many children may face, but have trouble asking about. The book, which is directed towards children, includes a parent’s guide as well, making it the perfect tool for starting healthy and fruitful conversation about adoption, family, culture, and more.

Interested in one (or all) of these books? Find out more below:

We Belong Together

Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born

Oliver: A Story About Adoption

Lucy’s Family Tree

ABC, Adoption & Me


Why Open Adoption is Beneficial to Adoptees

Why Open Adoption is Beneficial to Adoptees

The definition of open adoption, according the dictionary, is “a form of adoption in which the biological parents participate in the process of placing the child with an adoptive family and may continue to have contact thereafter.” With most adoptions in the past being closed (no contact), there have been studies conducted on open vs. closed adoptions. What are the benefits? Why should a birth mother consider this option? When looking at adoptees and discovering themselves, open adoption has many benefits. Below is a list:

It will give your child a sense of identity

With closed adoptions, adoptees and adoptive families have no contact with the birth parents. This often leaves adoptees with questions of identity. Open adoption opens that line communication wherein the adoptee can develop a sense of self. Knowing who you look like and why you may possess certain qualities will deepen their understanding.

It will give your child more understanding of their medical background

It’s no secret that adoptees may develop the same allergies, ailments, and predispositions as their birth parents. Knowing this background before is helpful for the adoptee – when an unexpected condition arises that may be genetic, they can examine the birth parents’ medical history. Open adoption can open those medical records as a valuable tool for understanding.

It will give your child understanding of the adoption placement

Adoptees oftentimes struggle with understanding why they were placed for adoption. In addition to blaming themselves for their placement, adoptees also create make-believe worlds about their birth parents, Open adoption eliminates this possibility – they will have the truth.

It will eliminate the “finding out” they are adopted

Adoptees who are a part of a closed adoption often are not told they are adopted until later in life. This presents possibilities of trauma and emotional disarray. It is more common in open adoptions that children know they are adopted because it is never abruptly brought to their attention. It becomes a part of their story.

It will give your child a connection with birth siblings and family

Open adoption opens the door to birth parents’ children, parents, siblings, etc. As an adoptee, they will be able to form a relationship with these family members (if they would like). This will make them feel connected.

If you are contemplating open vs. closed adoption, consider the pros and cons of both. Open adoption provides many benefits for the adoptee. However, in the end, adoption is another way to build a beautiful family and it is your choice!




Wrapping up 2018: Top 10 Love Builds Families Blog Posts

As we close out 2018 and begin a new year, we want to look back at the Top 10 Blog Posts our followers enjoyed last year.

#1  – What You Need to Know When Adopting a Baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

#2 – Adoption Social Workers: What I See From Behind The Scenes

#3 – From Adoptee to Adoptions From The Heart Founder: Maxine Chalker

#4 – Which is Correct? Is Adopted or Was Adopted

#5 – Eric: My Story as a Birth Father

#6 – Open Adoption – Remembering It’s NOT Just About Me

#7 – The Top 8 Best Books For Adoptive Families

#8 – A Strong-Hearted Birth Mother: Brittany’s Story

#9 – Single Parent Adoption: Not An Opportunity to Be “Othered”

#10 – One of the Biggest Fears Faced By Birth Parents: Adoptive Parents Not Keeping Their Promises

Let us know in the comments if you have topics you’d like us to cover in 2019!

Ending the “Right Path to Parenthood” Myth

It’s an exciting time when you first decide to begin your family. Whether you are single or a couple, there are several routes you can take to realize your dream of becoming a parent. As you begin to share your desire of parenthood with your family, friends and those around you, be certain there will be lots of advice coming your way. Some advice will be helpful and some you can decide to smile and nod and not give another thought.

You have now just stepped dipped your toe into the world of parenting wars. It begins long before the formula or breast milk, stay at home or working family, to vaccinate or not, private school or public school debates. The truth is, other parents can sometimes be the worst critics when it comes to counseling parents-to-be.

Just some unhelpful comments heard through the grapevine:

To a couple starting IVF – Why would you spend all that money and go through all the trouble when there are already children in this world who needs homes.

To a single prospective adoptive mother – Why are you doing this by yourself, it’s much easier when there are two parents. Why not just wait for Mr. Right?

To a couple who is in process of domestic adoption – Why don’t you just adopt from foster care, it’s free? Why aren’t you considering international adoption where there are so many more children who need homes?

To a couple who is in the process of international adoption – Why would you go overseas when there are children in the U.S. who need homes?

To someone adopting through foster care – Don’t you want an infant? Are you sure you want a child that’s been through foster care?

Can we just please decide right now to end the assumption that there is only one right path to parenthood? Or that the only way to parenthood is the same as your journey?

Even those who choose not to have children are often met with a onslaught of comments. “Well why not” or “in time you will change your mind”.

The bottom line is that we live in a world full of choices and no one path is right for everyone. It’s important for families to consider their own situation, explore all their options and choose the path that is right for them!


A blog by Adoptions From The Heart to help families interested in Adoption and to support those who have adopted