Choosing a Different Way: Open and Cooperative Adoption

As society changes, so does our view of adoption and the relationships that can form from it. Cooperative adoption is a relatively new concept but has been widely accepted by the adoption community. These types of adoptions follow an agreement between the birthparents and adoptive family that some contact will be kept after the placement. This means different things to different people, and there is no right or wrong way to do open adoptions.

In the 1950’s, most states passed anonymity laws for birthparents. These laws effectively closing all adoptions to contact between birth and adoptive parents. In the early 1970’s, studies showed that eliminating this contact could psychologically hurt both the adoptive and birthparents. Soon the laws changed to encourage contact between adoptive and birthparents. This is when the term “open” adoption was first used in the adoption community and became more widely encouraged and accepted.

Open adoptions can make it easier for the birth mother to choose adoption because she won’t feel as if she is “giving up” her baby.

Instead, she gives her baby a life full of opportunity. She will still know her child and watch him or her grow. Contact with the birthmother reduces the feelings of abandonment for the adoptive children. They know their birthmother wants to know them and keep them in her life.

It can also open the door for the adoptive parents and the child to ask questions about the birth family’s heritage and medical history. Many children will have a hard time embracing their cultural background. This is especially true if they were adopted by a family that is not the same ethnicity or culture from which they were born. Adoptive parents can also look to the birth family as a resource to answer questions regarding the child’s medical history, their behaviors, and other genetic-related questions.

Some families still believe a closed adoption is best.

Some adoptive families would feel intruded upon if the birthmother were present. They may feel guilty for adopting the child if the birthmother expressed feelings of regret. Other times, a birthmom feels she doesn’t want contact because she wants to move on. She needs space and separation from the adoption to do so. These feelings are perfectly normal and justified. If someone does not want an open adoption they shouldn’t feel obligated to have one. The future of your biological child is in the hands of you, the birthmother.

With this in mind, know that you have more than one choice to make when considering adoption for your baby. Sometimes an open adoption can be a true blessing. It brings families closer together and joy into the individual lives that they would have never imagined.

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