How to get started with adoption?

January 8, 2009 | Uncategorized | 33 comments

A reader wrote me a few weeks ago to ask if I knew anything about getting started with the adoption process. She writes:

My husband and I are interested in closed adoption and are incredibly discouraged at trying to find our bearings in the sea of adoption options and unknown agencies. I just need to get my head above water, somehow. If you perchance have any information to share, I would be so grateful for it.

Unfortunately I don’t know much about the topic, but that’s what blogs are for! I too would be interested in knowing more about how to get started down this path if my husband and I are ever called to expand our family by adoption. It’s a huge topic, so here are a few specific questions to narrow it down:

  1. There are so many different options for adoption out there! International, domestic, open, closed, adopting older kids vs. babies, adopting kids with special needs, etc. What are some good resources for helping to discern what the right option for your family is?
  2. How do you find a reputable agency? Are there some standard criteria for determining if an agency is reputable or not?
  3. What are some good message boards or email lists where parents can get support from others going down this same path?
  4. Any other tips or info you’d like to share? (For those of you with blogs that discuss this subject, feel free to include links!)

Thanks in advance!

33 Comments

  1. Funky Kim

    Try to find an agency that your church affiliates with. My daughter placed a baby for adoption through LDS Family Services. It was a wonderful and spiritual experience because it was affiliated with a faith.

  2. Nzie

    I can recommend a book which addresses a lot of those questions (disclosure- I know the author). Limited copies are available because it’s out of print, but it may be something the person is interested in.

    It’s called The Call to Adoption by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe. It’s probably available a few other places as well, but here’s an Amazon.com link. It’s published by Pauline Books and Media.

    http://www.amazon.com/Call-Adoption-Becoming-Childs-Family/dp/081981573X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231440587&sr=1-1

    Good luck to whoever wrote in!

  3. Charlotte

    http://cheekypinkgirl.blogspot.com/2008/11/open-adoption-heartache.html

    This is the story about my half-sister giving up her child through open adoption. Her story is why I do NOT support open adoption. As well as my OWN adoption story, which was a back-in-the-good-old-days CLOSED adoption (which I plan to write about on my blog someday.)

    What’s more interesting is the few comments I received in response to this blog entry. I think I did even better in my response to one of the comments, so make sure you read the comments section, as well.

  4. Anonymous

    What a timely post! My husband and I, after having already completed two international adoptions, are just beginning to look into domestic adoption as a way to grow our family. It is so hard to know where to start, though!

    I did just speak with a social worker last night who will most likely be doing our homestudy. She said that, in her experience, with about 40% of domestic adoptions, the birth mom/baby are found by the attorney/agency. The other 60% of the domestic adoptions are completed when the couple somehow finds the birth mom/baby, usually via word-of-mouth to friends, families, coworkers, etc. That is actually how a friend of mine just completed her adoption as well – a friend of hers knew that she and her husband were looking to adopt and put them in touch with a birth mom. So there is a bit of self-promotion that you have to be willing to do so as to get the word out there that you want to adopt.

    I was also told that almost all birth moms would like or expect some degree of openess with the adoption. Now, neither my husband nor I are comfortable having a birth parent actively involved in our kids’ lives, but that’s not necessarily what “open” means. Be expected to at least be willing to do this much: forward pictures of the child to the agency for them to have on file in case the birth mom wants to see what her child looks like and how (s)he is doing.

    An interesting situation we just ran into might be more common than I realized, so I’ll share it here. I looked at the website for a local agency and was very impressed – lots of information was provided on the website, relatively low cost for the adoption process, and it really seemed that the people there had the best interests of ALL involved with adoption. One problem (for us), though – applicants would be required to sign a statement of faith and would also have to have their pastor sign it. I called and explained that I would not be able to sign it because I am Catholic but would they accept an alternate form? No dice. They are licensed by a particular religious group, so you either sign and proceed or you walk away and look elsewhere. What chafed my hide about it was that they had a “Catholic” adoptive parent call me to assuage my fears about it by telling me that she and her priest had no problem signing it. Hmph. That doesn’t help someone who isn’t willing to forget her faith or her Chruch’s teachings simply to ease the road to adoption.

    So long story short – your religious views may have an impact on what agency you can use.

    If I think of more (the notes I took during the phone call are downstairs right now), then I will type up another comment.

    I just feel like I am in the same boat as the person who wrote the question! I look forward to reading any other comments that are posted because I could use all the help I can get!

    – Bridget N.

  5. autumnesf

    Most private adoptions in the states are not going to be closed. And the more research you do the more you find that open adoption is better for the kid hands down in the long run.

    International and foster adoption are a better bet for closed.

    Some good books on the subject:

    The Adoption Sourcebook: A Complete Guide to the Complex Legal, Financial, and Emotional Maze of Adoption (Lowell House) by Cheryl Jones

    Launching a Baby’s Adoption: Practical Strategies for Parents and Professionals by Patricia Johnston

    Adoption for Dummies

    Real Parents Real Children by Holly Van Gulden

    Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge

    Read, read and read some more! The internet is full of info…and some pretty wacky stuff by adopted children that now hate their adoptive parents so be prepared to run across it.

    Adoption is a huge responsibility….and by far one of the best things we have ever done.

  6. Anonymous

    The adoption process can seem overwhelming when you start. As a mother of three children, all by adoption, I can attest that it can be done! The first place to start is prayer, and then educate yourself about the different types of adoption. There are plenty of movies that portray the negative side of adoption, but our experience, and the experience of most is positive. My husband and I read a great book called ADOPTION AFTER INFERTLITY, which I checked out of my public library. We decided on domestic adoption because we wanted a young infant, and the babies are usually a couple months old when you adopt internationally. We adopted our oldest child as an infant and held him 15 minutes after he was born! We went with a Christian Agency, Bethany Christian Services, because our local Catholic Charities said they had so many applicants it would be 2 years before they even looked at our application. We chose Bethany because they have been around awhile, and seem finacially stable. They were Christian in focus, and did a lot of counseling for the birthmothers before, during, AND AFTER making an adoption plan. They also provided educational and parenting classes for us.
    I notice the person who wrote said they wanted a closed adoption.
    We thought that was what we wanted too, but after reading and talking to other adoptive parents we decided to go with a semi-open adoption. This means that we meet with the birthmother (and sometimes birthfather) before hand with a social worker from the agency. The birthparents know our first name, but no identifying information about us- unless we chose to give it to them. We send letters and pictures to the agency once a year and they send them to the birthparents. The birthparents can send us letters and pictures through the agency as well. I found meeting the birthparents both terrifying and beautiful. We now keep contact with the birthparents, and even have had reunion visits with 2 of them, in a public place. All 3 of my children’s birthmothers have written to say that meeting us, and seeing the letters and pictures helps them have closure and confirms their decision to make an adoption plan. My husband and I don’t feel we are raising someone else’s child because we have contact with the birthparent. My children are secure in who they are and that we are their parents, but also find security in seeing a picture and having some information about their biological roots. We are all adopted children of God (the Bible has many beautiful verses on adoption), but we tell my children they are special because they were adopted twice- once by us and by God on their Baptism day!
    There are SO many great resources out there. Our experiences with Bethany Christian Services have been wonderful and they do both domestic and international adoption. There was a Bethany Office that was reprimanded for discriminating against Catholics, but we never experienced any. We had to sign a faith statement which said that as Christians we stand on the Bible as the final authority. My husband and I just added the works “as intepreted by the Magesterium of the Catholic Church” after the word Bible, and we never got any flack for that.
    I will say a prayer for all those considering adoption.

  7. 4ddintx

    My brother and sister-in-law have adopted 8 kids through CPS. It is a different road to adopt through the state, but it’s been wonderful for their family. Some of their kids were older when they got them, but 3 were less than a year and had been removed from their bad situations at birth. It is possible to foster and then adopt through that, or foster only “no legal risk” kids-meaning the parental rights are already terminated. I know there are websites out there with listings of all of the foster kids that are eligible for adoption.

    This is great if you’d consider a sibling group, especially. My brother and SIL have 3 sibling groups (one is a set of twins).

    These kids are so in need of a good home and it is an amazing (and cost effective) way to add to your family.

  8. Maria

    I recently went through the process with a friend who gave up a baby through a Christian adoption agency. Hers was an open adoption, and she still sees him from time to time, but if I recall correctly, that was an option that was up to the birth mom and adoptive parents. I’d say the first place to start is by checking out agencies.

    There are also kids (usually older) who need to be adopted out of the foster care system — that’s a whole other set of challenges, but a tremendous need. I have some friends who adopted a boy of around 5 or 6 that way, too.

  9. Ginkgo100

    1. There are a lot of books about different adoption options. You can also talk to adoptive families about their experiences. We chose international adoption because in the state where we lived at the time, adoptions are not finalized for a minimum of six months — meaning six months during which there was the potential for the birth parents to change their minds and disrupt everybody’s lives. In international adoption, once the child is on U.S. soil, he or she is not going back.

    One thing to consider with international adoption is that with most countries, the baby will be of a different race. This is our situation. This means that for the rest of your lives, it will be obvious that there is an adoption in your family. When I’m out with my child and my husband is not there, strangers ask me about my husband’s race! I use these opportunities to talk about adoption, in part to educate people but even moreso for my child’s ears. But if you do not want this kind of invasion of privacy, you should think twice about cross-racial adoption. Staying within your own race would be wrong if it were for racist reasons, but I think it’s fine if it’s for privacy reasons.

    2. Finding a reputable agency was a challenge for us. In the end, we chose one because through divine coincidence, several people we knew — including our family doctor, who also attended our church — all adopted via a particular agency and recommended it. After we chose the agency, the country was chosen for us: the agency only goes through two countries, and we were ineligible for one. So by default, it was the other. By the way, every country has different requirements for adoptive families. There are NO constants except in your responsibility to your home country and state/province. (Example: we had to be fingerprinted twice, once for the state and once for the feds, and this was true for all international adoptions in our state regardless of country.)

    An important point to remember when considering whether an agency is reputable is that international adoption is one of the very, VERY few exceptions to the rule “you get what you pay for.” If fees are exorbitant, the odds that there is hidden baby-selling going on are higher. Make sure you get a full accounting of all the fees, what they are for, and how they compare to other agencies’ fees for that country.

    Get personal references before you choose an agency. Religious-affiliated agencies and agencies with long track records are more likely to be reliable.

    3. BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN DISCUSSING ADOPTION ON THE INTERNET. There is a small but ugly minority of people who not only oppose adoption, but who do so through cruel, manipulative, and guilt-inducing tactics. I was actually cyber-stalked by one person. Do not EVER EVER EVER share personal identifying information on the Internet before or during your adoption. Use a special unique screen name for adoption-related discussions, NOT one you have ever used for your e-mail, blog, MySpace, etc.

    4. I recommend the book The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. Also, Catholic psychologist Dr. Ray Guarendi, who has ten adopted children of his own, points out that it can be much easier to find a baby to adopt if you are willing to adopt a drug-exposed or alcohol-exposed baby (who often are perfectly normal or have only minor problems) and/or a baby of color. “Special needs” can sometimes refer to minor, common problems such as a heart murmur at birth (which typically resolves itself). Or it can refer to easily correctable problems like cleft palate.

    Good luck!

  10. Shannon

    My husband and I just adopted our first child domestically, and it is an open adoption. We were apprehensive at first, mainly because of our own limited knowledge. It has been wonderful, though. We have contact with our daughter’s birth mother, and have met with her in person twice. We plan on continued contact in the future. It may be awkward and difficult at times, but we truly believe it is the best arrangement for our child.

    As far as choosing an agency, your church is a great place to start. We chose a Christian agency, and have been thankful for the prayer support from all the staff. You should also find an agency that has been around for a long time-that will hopefully ensure they will continue to operate in the future. Our agency offers counseling for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees for as far into the future as they might need it.

    Adoption can be complicated and overwhelming, so ask for advice and help! When our church family found out we were adopting, people came out of the woodwork to share personal experiences and offer wisdom.

    I am always so happy to hear about other people considering adoption-may God bless and guide your efforts!

  11. Carrien

    adoption.com has a broad spectrum of resources.

    I would have to also point you to Owlhaven one of my favorite bloggers who used to write for them.

    She has 6 children by international adoption, 10 in total, and a clear voice on the subject.

    Lastly, I keep this place bookmarked just in case we someday adopt.

    shaohannah’s hope

  12. Laura Christianson

    Hi Jennifer,

    One of my friends sent me to your blog post. I’ve written a book, “The Adoption Decision: 15 Things You Want to Know Before Adopting” (http://tinyurl.com/288sa9) that addresses all the questions you ask (and many more).

    It’s written from a Christian perspective and includes interviews with over 40 families whose lives have been impacted by adoption (including my own; my hubby and I are parents of two adopted children).

    I recommend attending an adoption conference or adoption fair in your area. These are one-day events, often held at a local hospital or adoption agency or church. They include workshops on a variety of “how to adopt” topics, as well as representatives from all sorts of regional adoption organizations who are standing by to give you info. It’s a very low-pressure way to learn about adoption!

    What “Anonymous” said about openness in adoption is right on target. Over 80% of U.S. families who adopt newborns domestically have some form of openness in their relationship. I devote a whole chapter to the various degrees of openness in “The Adoption Decision.”

    I also second this comment from Ginkgo100:
    3. BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN DISCUSSING ADOPTION ON THE INTERNET. There is a small but ugly minority of people who not only oppose adoption, but who do so through cruel, manipulative, and guilt-inducing tactics.

    Be prepared for these people to contact you, to tell you all sorts of horror stories about adoption, and to accuse you of being a monster for even considering adopting. In my experience, most of these folks have had a negative experience with adoption in their own life, and they judge every adoption based on their own experience.

    If there’s one thing I have learned about adoption over the years (and I’ve been involved with it for nearly 17 years), it’s that every adoption experience is completely unique, and that there are no hard and fast “rules.” Read, read, read… find support from others who are ahead of you in the process, and do what works best for YOU.

    Another site you might want to check is http://www.adoptionwriters.ning.com. It is a social network for people who write professionally (and blog) about adoption topics. It’s a good place to find people who are very active in the adoption community (and yes, I own the site).

    Many blessings as you begin your adoption journey!

    Laura Christianson
    http://www.exploringadoptionblog.com
    Author of “The Adoption Decision” and “The Adoption Network”

  13. Char

    Asked with intent to understand and respect:

    All you who are saying open adoption is such a wonderful thing – please give a REASON and EXPLANATION as to why it’s so wonderful, instead of just saying it’s great.

    Thanks!

  14. Anne Marie

    As a new adoptive Mom, (August 28, 2008) my first suggestion would be to begin with prayer. The Lord will lead you to the right people and resources.

    My second suggestion would be to be prepared for the unexpected. What I wanted was a sibling group of kids under the ages of 5. What I got was a single child 9 years old, what I got was MY child, what I got was an awesome kid. Each day, (maybe not quite so much on the bad ones) I’m amazed that I get to be this kids Mom.

    Blessings on your journey to increasing your family.

  15. phil

    There are several books I recommend to anyone considering adoption. These are books about the experience of adoption from the adoptee’s point of view, important for any prospective adoptive parent to familiarize him or herself with:

    * “Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self” by Brodzinsky, Schecter, and Henig

    * “Journey of the Adopted Self” by Betty Jean Lifton

    * “The Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier

  16. Eliz

    I echo just about everything everyone before me has said, and I also heartily recommend you check out the links they posted. One thing that stands out, though, is your desire for a closed adoption. You don’t mention domestic or international, but you did say closed. I would recommend reading some of Dawn Friedman’s blog, This Woman’s Work. Or Shannon LC Cate’s blog. These are women in open adoption situations. I can fully understand coming to the conclusion after some research and prayer that an open adoption is not right for your family, but to enter the process with that mindset is a little … troubling.

    And yes, there are many bloggers and writers in the anti-adoption community active online, and they can be venomous. But I think you should read some of what’s out there. I think it’s important to try to understand the viewpoint of adult adoptees, especially those who are working for adoption reform and open access to adoption records. There is much to be learned from them, most importantly that adoption is about finding homes for children, not vice versa. That was something I think every prospective adoptive parent needs to be reminded of.

    If you’re considering international adoption, I’d read the blogs of Korean adult adoptees. Since Korea was the first nation to place orphans internationally in large numbers, these adult adoptees are the oldest such adoptees in the United States and many studies have been done concerning them. They’re sort of the case studies all subsequent international adoption is compared with. There are many of them who also fall into the anti-adoption camp, but it’s important to know why and to become familiar with the issues concerning transracial adoption and interracial families.

    I think sorting through all the possible avenues to adoption is the most difficult part of the process, and I believe it’s a step many prospective parents want to gloss over. Once you decide you want to be a parent, no one wants to wait. And since adoptive parents are the ones jumping through the hoops and filling out the paperwork and subjecting themselves to home studies and criminal background checks and paying all the money, it’s easy to develop an attitude of consumer entitlement.

    I realize how negative this all sounds, and if you’re coming to adoption after infertility, it seems so onerous that adoption can’t be simpler, like it’s insult upon injury. I personally believe (though both personal and professional experience in the field) that most adoption agencies (even the Christian agencies) are operating unethically. Some of it inadvertenly, some of it flagrantly. They are working for the prospective parent, and some of their methods are downright coercive. I think most prospective birthmothers don’t get the counseling, respect or legal representation they deserve.

    If you chose to adopt domestically, you might want to investigate attorneys who do private (meaning non-agency. private can still mean open) adoptions. Many of these attorneys will have someone in their office who facilitate things like finding birthmothers and composing “dear birthmother” letters/compiling a booklet about yourself to distribute. There is a limit to what attorneys can do since they can’t act as “baby brokers,” but they can do everything an agency can do, and as the prospective parent you will be able to keep tabs on the process and see how “your people” treat potential birthmothers.

  17. Beth_nc

    Hi,
    My husband and I adopted our son 7 months ago, and navigating through the process was the most difficult part. We have a semi-open adoption (so we don’t contact birthmother directly, but we periodically send letters and photos through the adoption agency). We waited 16 months to adopt a healthy baby of our race.
    (Cross-racial adoption is great, but we didn’t feel that was right for us.)

    Getting started – We read “Adoption for Dummies” which provided an overview of the process. We met with an adoption attorney and an adoption social worker to learn about different options within North Carolina and pros and cons of open/closed domestic/international adoption.

    I contacted every licensed agency in the state to find a good match for us. (For example, we wanted to adopt an American infant. Some agencies don’t specialize in that kind of placement.) Some agencies had open houses, and we attended those.

    We did not work with Catholic Social Ministries in North Carolina. They help a lot of people, but they don’t do a lot of domestic adoption, and people can wait for years and years. (This might differ in other states – but ask how many placements they have a year.)

    My advice – let people know you’re interested in adoption. So many people’s lives are touched by this. You might get some great information.

    And remember – the media focus on the negative. Don’t dwell on the horror stories. Adoption is a wonderful way to bring a child into your life!!

    Prayer and husband/wife communication is essential throughout the process.

    My prayers will be with you.

  18. Eliz

    Char said:
    “Asked with intent to understand and respect:
    All you who are saying open adoption is such a wonderful thing – please give a REASON and EXPLANATION as to why it’s so wonderful, instead of just saying it’s great.”

    I don’t think anyone here said it’s great. I certainly have never heard anyone IRL or on their personal blog say open adoption is great.

    But it’s the right and ethical thing. Open adoption – and adoption in general – is not for the comfort or convenience of the adoptive parents. It’s to provide a family for a child who wouldn’t have one otherwise. It’s not about making infertile women whole again or providing a playmate for a sibling. At all steps of the process, everyone needs to ask, what’s in the best interest of the child?

    And what’s in the best interest of the child is for him/her to know the birthmother. And for the birthmother to be respected and honored for who she is. Every child deserves to know his/her biological family and genetic and cultural roots. It’s a basic human right. To cut a child off from that relationship is inhuman. It’s especially painful when that separation is enforced by adoptive parents who won’t honor an open adoption agreement.

  19. Runningmom

    Dh and I started investigating adoption back in April. At that time, I learned that there are TONS of Yahoo groups dedicated to all sorts of specific adoption issues. Some of them are about helping choose an agency (Boy! Did I learn a heap of info. there!) Many are specific to various countries – including domestic U.S. adoptions. I’d suggest joining as many of those as you think sound interesting and then just sit back and read and watch for a while. It wasn’t long before it was very clear which agencies I wanted to avoid for China – which is where we thought we were headed. (We’ve subsequently learned we’re having a baby in May so the adoption plans are shelved for now.)

  20. Laurie

    Lots of previous posters have said things better than I could, so I’ll try to be brief. First of all, learn how to write an EXCELLENT profile. This profile, with pictures and info about your family is what birthmothers look through to choose an adoptive family. This is the way it is done in the vast majority of cases in the US. Look at sample ones on the internet, have people you know mercilessly edit yours. Make it good.

    I recommend a book entitled “Adopting in America: How to Adopt within One Year”. This book taught us how to write a good profile and includes great info about laws and agencies in every state. If you can find a Bethany Christian Services office that serves your area, I HIGHLY recommend them.

    Our adoption is semi-closed – we send a letter yearly, with first names only. They would have to contact Bethany to have contact with us, which they have not done. But read up on the open adoption idea, I think most professionals believe it can be a very healthy thing.

    Hope all goes well for you in this long process!

  21. Jane (a.k.a. patjrsmom)

    Hi Jen,
    We have seven children, three of whom are adopted. I’ve written extensively about our adoption experience(s) on my blog. I also have a list of adoption FAQs that are listed in my sidebar. And, of course, I have been more than happy to respond to emails from people who are looking for more information about adoption.
    God Bless,
    Jane

  22. Marian

    Well, don’t I wish I finally had our adoption story all written out, and could just post a link. There’s so much in there…

    I have to run, but let me just say what I believe is most important: God is so very present in adoption, so FOR orphans and those He is calling to adopt them. He WILL lead you to the place, time, resources and child, if you listen to the still, small voice and obey step by step The place, timing, resources or child may be utterly surprising to you, however! Be open, listen for God’s quiet leading, and be both patient and passionate. It is so important to read, talk, and learn when considering adoption (and be prepared to be scared out of your wits on occasion), but don’t let your intellect and opinions of
    what is right for your family and not right for your family crowd out or completely shut out God! There is a place of both thinking realistically and standing in openness and faith before God– estimate obstacles and worst possibilities, but leave room in the equation for God’s power and God’s call on your life.

    So much more to say… =)

  23. Stretch Mark Mama

    I’ve adopted internationally (China), did half of a Taiwan adoption (all the paperwork and no child), and am right in the middle of an adoption through our states foster care system. NO DOUBT is it overwhelming. I blog about adoption so there might be some interesting stuff there.

    I also recommend Laura Christensen’s book (as mentioned by her above).

    A website to look at is http://howtoadopt.org/

    Blessings…

  24. Char

    Eliz and others:

    I don’t want anyone to misunderstand that in my being anti-open adoption that it means a.) I don’t think a child shouldn’t know they are adopted or b.) That closed adoption means we dishonor the birth mother.

    I knew I was adopted from day one – even back in 1969 when I was adopted, Catholic Social Services told my Mom and Dad to tell me that I was adopted right when they brought me home as an infant, and they did! They say I used to toddle around at 3 years old babbling to people that I was “dopted,” even though I didn’t know what that meant.

    I have always known, and my parents were always open in discussing my adoption with me, anytime I’d think about it or bring it up – as I did from time-to-time over the years.

    It IS absolutely the right of every adopted child to know they are adopted. Of course!

    My question is simply this: WHEN is it appropriate to let your kids KNOW their birthmother, if at all? I’m not saying they shoudn’t know she exists. Of course they should! I was taught to pray for my birth mother as a small child and to thank Jesus for her selflessness. To do so, WAS honoring her, and I think it’s fair to say that honoring a birthmother doesn’t have to take place IN PERSON.

    But there’s a difference between that and the CONSTANT reminding to a child that there is ANOTHER mother out there – and hey – let’s look at photos of her and maybe even visit her! In my opinion, that is SUPER-UNHEALTHY.

    I recognize that the discussion in this commbox is leaning towards “what’s best for the child” as opposed to “what’s best for the adoptive family.” I agree that’s the goal. But does not it figure into the equation that what’s best for that child is to have the emotional and psychological safety and unity of ONE family (which includes ONE Mom and ONE Dad) raising the child? In my opinion, you are introducing psychological “static” that is hard to understand and unravel when you allow the actuality of birthparents spill over too much into reality.

    In fact, I think these discussions lean more toward “soothing the birth mother” rather than what’s best for the child. It’s all about the birth mother these days – we bow to her every whim because we are soooo scared she’ll change her mind or one day come and say she wants the kid back. And how much easier for her to do that when she’s armed with photos, letters, and an email address for the kid!

    Open-adoption means she’s never given the opportunity to let go – which is the point of adoption – GIVING UP the child to a better situation. You can’t just HALF give up the child. (And yes, I understand that the birth mother may ALWAYS think about that baby she gave up. My birth mother told me that she always thought about me over the years. But thinking and having actual contact are two different things with very different potential results.)

    Again, I’ve read nothing on this subject, I only speak from experience and my own thoughts: I feel all this open adoption advocacy is straight out of the secular, societal playbook that also believes single-parent families and homosexual parents are just fine and dandy. “Anything goes” out there now as a family, “don’t tell me how to live my life!” So…if your kid has a “meaningful” relationship with FOUR parents (2 adoptive, 2 birth), well then, hey, the more the merrier, right?

    I don’t agree, and I don’t think there’s enough study/data out there to prove the case that open adoption is 100% mentally, emotionally, and psychologically stable and “good” for the adopted child. Just like all the advocates for gay adoption can’t claim success with their venture until enough years have passed to know for sure. While I don’t know, I suspect that all these books written by adoptees (who are to be respected for their individual experiences) are highly emotionally charged tomes with an axe to grind.

    Did I want to know who my birth parents were? YES. But not until I was about 17 years old. My parents navigated those waters properly and only helped lead me down the path to that knowledge when it was absolutely necessary, and they tried to do so slowly and with wisdom. I eventually found my parents when I was 21, which is a whole other story. But even at age 21, the results were LIFE-CHANGING.

    The role of the parent in our society continues to be shuffled off as more of a “caretaker” or “babysitter,” rather than the true guardian, protector, nurturer, and teacher that God intended. Attachment parenting is touted for a reason in these uncertain, unstable secular times. My thought is that if you want your adopted child to actually be attached to you, completely in a way that will allow for you to bring up your child as a moral, God-fearing Catholic, skip the open-adoption.

    I know I will anger some people by these comments, and I’m sorry for doing so. I know there are many emotions attached to this topic. I’m not saying birth parents are evil – I know and love my own birth parents! But until a child reasches an age of maturity and understanding (an age that varies wildly, depending on the individual), letting the birth mother into the adopted child’s life is like leaving the window open for a theif to get in.

  25. reprehriestless warillever

    My husband and I have adopted two children in closed international adoptions and we are currently doing a homestudy to become foster parents.

    The process is very different, but the goal is the same — to provide a safe, loving home for a child.

    In addition to reading about process, make sure tht you read up on parenting in general. Sometimes we get so caught up in *getting* a child that we forget that we need to *parent* that child as well.

    God bless! It is a long, stressful ride, but so completely worth it!

  26. Eliz

    Char, wow. Thank you so much for all that. I guess I misunderstood your initial question, which wasn’t so much about the merits of open vs. closed but rather how much information and when to give to an adopted child and how much of a relationship that child should have with his/her first family.

    I so respect what you have written here. As an adult adoptee you understand this in ways I never will. I’m an adoptive parent and I struggle with this all the time. We adopted our daughter internationally, so we don’t have a relationship with her birth family, nor do we know anything about them. My struggle is, in essence, how much to talk about her birthmother, how to talk about it so that my daughter feels comfortable asking questions but not so much that I’m creating a fairy tale about her selfless, saintly birthmother. I have no idea what the circumstances were, so I don’t think it benefits my daughter to create a mythology about a birthmother who loved her enough to let her to , about a first mother who still loves her and thinks about her every day, etc. I have no idea what my daughter’s birthmother feels, and for me to try to fill that void may actually do my daughter some harm.

    And I agree – to manufacture a relationship with a birth family might harm her attachment to me and my husband, too. But it’s all academic in my case since it was an international adoption. What if there were an actually birthmother living not too far from us? And what if I stood in the way of my daughter getting to know that woman? Wouldn’t that cause my daughter (and her birthmother) pain? I don’t fully know the answers here, but I can’t imagine pretending that that other woman doesn’t exist is at all healthy.

    But I know that’s not what you wrote. What I find amazing is the range of viewpoints surrounding this issue – there are adoptees who are rabidly anti-adoption and people like you who are very secure and happy with your family. I can only pray my daughter feels the way you do when she’s old enough to process this all. Thanks again.

  27. Dawn

    San Antonio, eh? If you live there let me know: dawnfariasatgmaildotcom. I’d love to bring you a meal after the new baby arrives!!

  28. Dawn

    Sorry everyone…I meant to put my above post on the 7 Takes post.

  29. Anonymous

    http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/

    I have been following the beautiful foster-adopt story of the couple whose blog is linked above. They are a devout Catholic couple who met on Ave Maria Singles and then suffered a miscarriage and infertility.

    They received their twin boys just weeks ago, and the story is worth checking out….

    (It’s my second-favorite blog. ;-))

    Leila
    http://www.catholicmomsmatchmaking.com

  30. Renee

    Well this is an open thread, so if I may speak up. I’m one of those ‘anti-adoption’ individuals. So I will speak up. Individuals will always look for their birth families, they will want to know why and the circumstances regarding their adoption. There was a recent article in my own local paper of a 40 year old man finding his birth mother in Vietnam. People have the right to know who they really are and the circumstances of how their were conceived and born.

    My general opinion is that mothers need to be with their infants, and if family and the father abandon them seek special shelter/homes where they can get back on their feet within a year or two. I believe in preventing the circumstances that may compel a woman to give up a baby, by offering the needed support both traditional family and with charity. We have a home like this in my own city, where they finish up school and even coached in breastfeeding and bonding with their babies. Also I believe in working with fathers whenever possible, we have a very young single dad living on our street. And yes I believe his daughter is better off with him then given up for adoption.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in helping children in need of homes, even I may consider foster care of older children when my children are teens. In my parish there is a couple, who was infertile and took in children initially as foster care then legally adopted them. These girls, now adults, still have a relationship with their biological relatives (grandmother).

  31. 'Becca

    I’m glad you are hearing some of the anti-adpotion perspective. I think it’s important to listen to what anti-adoption people have to say and take it into prayerful consideration before embarking on any attempt to adopt or place a child for adoption.

    I have no personal experience with adoption closer than having a first cousin who was given up. My feelings about that, beginning when I first learned of it, led me to reconsider whether adoption is really a good idea. My eventual conclusion was that it’s something I could never do in either direction–giving up my own child or raising a child not related to me. However, it’s an option I’m willing to leave open to others.

    One of the things I find most disturbing about adoption is that the child’s birth certificate is destroyed and replaced with a fake one showing the adoptive parents as the birth parents. That’s just really, really weird.

  32. Charlotte

    Not all original birth certificates are destroyed. I have BOTH of my birth certificates – the reissued one with the names of my adoptive parents (who are my REAL Mom and Dad, because they raised me) and one with the names of my biological parents – with, I might add – the quickie name given to me by my biological mother, because she was FORCED by nuns to name me something. Now that – a name that I don’t even use and never have – that is what I’d call strange. (I was named Holly)

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