How to Make an Open Adoption Work
During Pregnancy and After Placement
The words “open adoption” bring many thoughts to mind. Some imagine an experience where the birth mother remains heavily involved in raising her child through the adoptive family. Others may visualize a yearly exchange of photos and updates. The truth is, each open adoption is unique based on the desires of those involved.
An open adoption is not co-parenting. It’s a communication plan agreed upon by the birth mother and adoptive parents before, during and after the adoption is completed and can involve many things.
Here is a general example of what an open adoption plan, through Adoptions First, may involve:
The birth mother requests an open or semi-open adoption
It’s usually up to the prospective birth mother to decide how much communication, if any, she’d like with the adoptive family. Up until the birth, this may include:
● A meeting with the birth mother, adoptive parents and an adoption specialist
● Direct contact via phone and email to stay in touch before and after placement
● In-person interaction on the day of birth through placement
After the baby is placed, the open adoption may involve:
● Sending photos and written updates about the child to the birth parents quarterly or annually until the child is 18 years old
● Visits, video calls and more if both parties agree to it
Your Adoptions First Specialist is happy to explain how an open adoption can benefit the birth mother, adoptive family, and child.
The prospective birth mother selects the adoptive family
After the adoption specialist learns about the level of openness a prospective birth mother desires, with the help of Adoptions First, the birth mother will consider families that match her criteria and will select the adoptive parents she’d like to raise her baby.
Pre-placement contact begins between the birth mother and adoptive parents
This step in the open adoption path is where a relationship is built. Many times there will be conference calls so the birth mother and adoptive parents can learn more about each other and grow comfortable with each other’s involvement in the child’s life. Although the adoption specialist can be included to help guide conversations and reassure each side by answering any questions, oftentimes these calls are unsupervised as supervision may lead birth parents to feel they are not trusted.
In-person meeting on the big day
The Adoptions First Specialist will create a birth plan with the birth mother which will include her preference for interactions at the hospital on the big day. By doing this, the birth mother, adoptive parents, and the hospital staff will know what to expect during this very emotional time.
Staying in touch
In an open adoption, the relationship between the birth parent and the adoptive family will continue per their agreement which is often verbal. In some cases, legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreements are signed. Photos, emails, texts, video calls are all possible ways for the adoptive family to stay in touch and share the milestones and updates with the birth mother. The frequency and volume of interactions depends on what was decided before the child was born. Of course, this may increase or decrease over time, depending on everyone’s comfort level. The nice part is that no matter what stage you are in pre-adoption or post-adoption, your Adoptions First Specialist will always be there with love and support.
How Adoptive Parents Can Overcome Challenges
A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, caused some concern about a further decrease in the birth rate after top news sources cited statements such as “sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973.” This possible impact of not having enough pregnant women is an added challenge that adoption professionals and adoptive parents face and strive to overcome.
Renee Franklin, adoption specialist and Director of Adoptions First, has been working directly with adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoption professionals since 1996 and had this to say: “There are just so many things at play here and, while the environment may be affecting our ability to reproduce, it’s believed the decrease in the number of pregnancies and adoptions over the years can be attributed to things such as: access to free and accessible birth control, a woman’s right to choose, and better education. Covid-19 further adversely affected the number of adoptions nationwide; however, based on history, easing restrictions, and an expected decrease in financial assistance from the government, we expect this lull will be temporary. We will continue to be available to help everyone in need of our services.”
Waiting to be selected by prospective birth parents is hands down the most difficult part of the process. With less pregnant women, the wait will likely be longer but families should not lose hope.
Adoptions First helps clients manage their expectations and offers solutions to empower them. More so now than ever, it’s important for adoptive parents to be proactive in their search for prospective birth parents. Renee and the team at Adoptions First will guide families who choose to take a more proactive approach to their adoption search through a few strategies including:
● Posting adoptive parent profiles on third-party websites that prospective birth parents frequent
● Launching Social Media and/or Google Ad Campaigns
● And networking to help get the word out about their desire to adopt a child
Taking additional steps to cast a wide net to identify and connect with a prospective birth mother may increase the chance of a successful adoption and decrease the wait. The collaboration of Adoptions First’s tireless efforts to locate birth mothers and the adoptive families’ added efforts and exposure through ads and social media outreach means a greater chance for clients to be successful in a shorter period of time.
Attorneys Ron Rosenberg, Greg Koffman, and Director, Renee Franklin, urge all hopeful parents to remain optimistic. “We know that is easier said than done. Adoption has never been for the faint of heart. Adoption is a journey filled with unknowns and risks which experienced adoption professionals help manage. While it’s important to be aware of risks and set proper expectations, never lose sight of your goal. Each and every adoption is unique, meaningful, and beautiful. Your strong desire to experience the joy of parenthood and your commitment to the process and to the child meant to be yours will see you through.”
Adoptions First works endlessly to see that every child has a forever home. Their immeasurable depth of knowledge, attention to detail, and love for adoption is evident to everyone they work with. They support and guide clients and birth mothers with care and compassion while ensuring that everyone receives the highest quality of adoption services.