HTT: Honoring open adoption agreements — The Bump
Adoption

HTT: Honoring open adoption agreements

This has been rattling around in my brain, so I'll see if I can type it out coherenly.

We discussed several months ago some laws that poppped up in a couple of states to make open adoption agreements legally binding, as long as all parties were OK with it. Several people expressed concerns about it, especially if someone in the triad (usually the birthparents) were unstable (jail, susbstance abuse, etc.)

I have seen a trend lately, especially in posts from my agency, of more or less guilting APs into honoring open adoption agreements. Sharing stories of bereft BPs who haven't heard from APs, repeatedly stressing the importance of honoring the agreement, etc.

Do you think this is an effective way keep the lines of communication open between BPs and APs? More or less effective than legally binding agreements? Any other thoughts?

Yeah, not the most coherent, but hopefully I got my question across.

Re: HTT: Honoring open adoption agreements

  • Well, I don't think guilting people into doing things is usually the best way, but (and I know this is putting it bluntly), barring some serious circumstance (like BM being unstable/dangerous), it's pretty crappy to not honor an agreement.

    I think I can say this as a BM and a PAP. Your child's BM doesn't have to be a great role model; that's what you're for. Letting her (and BF, if he so desires) have access to pictures and updates really can help BMs cope with a substantial loss in their lives.

    And, as a PAP, I think it's important to be able to look my child in the eyes when s/he's grown and say I did all I could to help his/her BM have a positive experience with adoption. (granted, know what that looks like is probably often complicated and takes having really healthy boundaries established).

    Not meaning to come out guns blazing. I just think it could be easy to forget (or want to forget) a BM, but I doubt many BMs ever forget the child they place. Even though M is not my son and I never parented him once he was "out," I still really enjoy knowing he's doing well. It's hard sometimes when I know the family's come in town and they haven't tried to set up a time to meet.

    Ah, okay, this is a little strongly worded because of my feelings. Well, some insight for APs. It's hard if you don't live close to BM to come in town and not see them several times in a row. I don't have or even feel any claims or something on M, but I thought that our families were friends; it feels like they must not have felt that way. It hurts my feelings.

    So, maybe the moral of this ramble is, if you become friends with your BM while she's pregnant, it may hurt her feelings if you don't want to continue that friendship. I don't feel used (because I know AM better than that); I suppose it just isn't a priority for her. 

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers
    Application approved Dec '11
    Mar '12: Homestudy interrupted by change in Uganda requirements - where do we go from here?
    After searching and searching, back with Uganda but with our homestudy agency's program.
    Homestudy complete July 19
    USCIS I-600A submitted July 20. Biometrics appointments arrived Aug 17; fingerprinted Aug 21; 171H received Sept 25th. On the wait list Oct 1st: #18. By Jan 25th, we're #13!
    Come home, baby A!
  • Loading the player...
  • I kind of " don't have a dog in this fight" since my children were adopted from FC and their was no  open adoption agreement but here is my situation and two cents.

    I can see both the postitive and negative of the agreement being legally inforceable.  There are some selfish APs that would take the baby and run, reneging on any agreement.  There are also BPs who are not safe/stable with behaviors that would make it very stressful for the family. I know these are extremes but these and all situation in between exist and also there are the truly crazy APs who refuse to give back children when the BPs decide to parent and crazy BPs who try to reclaim or even kidnap the child because they decided  they wanted to parent long after the revocation period was up and the adoption is final.

    In our situation. BM #1 has mental health issues and has only become somewhat stable in the last 5-ish years. Visitng with her while they were still foster children caused our two oldest to be extremely stressed and confused.  Our oldest DD would self abuse and then become a holy terror. Our oldest DS would cry uncontrollably and have nightmares  She was witnessed being verbally abusive at visits and our DD told us about physical abuse that went on while BM took her to the bathroom.  If I had to have a legal agreement with this woman, I would be a fugitive as we speak.  She has shown up a few times at our house (Thanks CPS for screwing up and letting her know our address). She was careful to come when the kids were at school and she only wanted up dates ( which we offered to send to her through the SW but she won't stay in touch with them)  She contacted our DD on FB and was almost threatening aobut insisiting on contact.

    With youngest DS it was a little different.  While neither the BPs or anyone in their families were stable enough to assume custody, they were a little more rational. I had gotten to know them and felt "safer" with them so we offered to be more open with them.  BM had our phone # and  we told her she could call and if she let us know her address, we would send pics and letters.  We also offerd to let her see him a few times are year.  We did have a few rules:

    1.  No  visits alone or overnight.  We were even willing to relax this one if we felt we coudl trust them as he got older.

    2.  We are the parents.  We would not tolerate anyone interferring with decisions and rules we had made for our son.

    3.  The first time he was put in an unsafe situation or someone said we weren't his "real" parents all deals were off.

    BM called about 2 mos after TPR and before finalization. She wanted us to bring him to her mothers to celebrate his 2nd birthday and to "say goodbye" to family that lived out of state and would probably never see him again. We went, they had a gift and a cake.  Some of the family was attentive, others ignored us ( coping in their own way, I guess). After a couple of  hours, we left and never heard from her again.  I have run into other famiy members and gotten update on where she is and what has been going on in her life ( it isn't pretty).

    I personally think that if they have to legalize something it should be like what is in place for international adoption where they require pictures and a report to be funneled through the agency/ lawyer which would be like the standard minimum agreement.  If the APs and The BPs end up friends and want to spend holidays together, great!   If they remain a little more than aquaintances and have only a yearly meeting in a public place, that's great, too.  I don't think that APs and their children should be forced into face-to face visits and I don't think BPs should be either.  Some BPs can only cope and move on with their lives if they don't see the child.  I think making things too legal  would be like trying to make a very gray situation black and white or stuffing eveyone into the same mold.

    (Sorry!  didn't mean to write a novel. I'm passionate...and also avoiding housework.)

    dd(Brianna) 11/01/94, ds(Bram)10/17/95, ds(Jesse)9/26/97, dd (Annie Ruth) 7/27/05 5mc Jan '08, May '08, Feb '09, Sept '09, Apr '11 "And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one weak creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of vast eternity can fill it up." - Charles Dickens

    PAL/PGAL Welcome

  • Loading the player...
  • Well, I was going to edit to correct the typing errors I made but  the bump is being stupid and won't let me!
    dd(Brianna) 11/01/94, ds(Bram)10/17/95, ds(Jesse)9/26/97, dd (Annie Ruth) 7/27/05 5mc Jan '08, May '08, Feb '09, Sept '09, Apr '11 "And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one weak creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of vast eternity can fill it up." - Charles Dickens

    PAL/PGAL Welcome

  • Every situation is different, and for that reason I don't agree with any "blanket" laws that apply to everyone no matter what when it comes to making agreements legally binding. APs have enough legal hoops to jump through and adding more laws to worry about just seems like a terrible idea.

     I don't know how I feel about agencies guilting APs into maintaining contact. I don't think it?s the best way to get people to do anything. I think the agency should educate APs on the importance of maintaining contact. Ours stressed the importance of it, gave us a packet which included ideas of gifts/mementos to include with updates, and also a letter from a BM that stated how much her updates meant to her and helped her to deal with the loss. Besides that, they really haven't done anything else they don't check and make sure that we're doing the updates. I think the best thing for agencies to do would be to maintain contact with the BPs and make sure they're comfortable coming to the agency for help, then if APs aren't doing they're updates, the agency can act and find out the reason.

    APs are the parents and therefore get to make any decisions regarding their children and who they interact with, but you have to act in the best interest of the child and not let any personal feelings get in the way. I do think it?s very important to honor adoption agreements. Open adoption is based on trust between all parties, and purposely breaking an agreement without any solid reason is a terrible thing to do.

    Hopefully all that made sense. Bottom line I think it's important to honor adoption agreements, not because you're forced to but because it's the right thing to do.

    After 2years TTC and 1yr,2mo waiting for an adoption match, our blessing is here!

    "You may not have my eyes or smile, but from that very first moment you had my heart"Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

    Surprise BFP made our family complete!
    Lilypie Maternity tickers
  • I don't have time to add anything, but this was just posted today by a first/birthmom about this topic:

    https://musingmonika.blogspot.com/2012/04/oh-legalities.html

     

  • I know 4 families in real life who have adopted in the past several years.  Two of these families, when we told them we are adopting, told us to just go along with everything the agency said about openness, to write all about it in our profile letter, etc.  And then as soon as it's finalized, we can "cut the BP's off" because nobody can force us to maintain contact.  I was FLOORED that adoptive parents (recent ones, no less!) would say this.  To be honest it made DH and I sick enough that we're no longer close with these families.

    I guess education by the agency can only go so far, and if guilting people is what it takes... then maybe that's okay.  I don't like the idea of legal enforcement of openness, because IMO that's taking away the parental rights of the APs and in some way giving it back to the BPs.  I would not be okay with having to jump through legal hoops to amend the agreement in court if I, as a parent, decided contact was no longer safe for my child.  I'm a parent, not a guardian or custodian of the child, ya know?  Then again, in divorce custody battles, these same issues come up.  It's a really hairy issue, that's for sure.

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • I just wanted to clarify that my agency isn't directly guilting APs into maintaining contact, but they often post links from various adoption sites that talk about it. It's not like my SW is calling us to make sure we're doing what we agreed to at the outset.
  • Here's my (not so popular) feelings on the matter (in regards to states wanting to enact legislation to enforce Open Adoption Agreements). 

    1)  I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Once a BP signs TPR, they legally have no more "claim" to that child then any stranger on the street.  So the idea behind the legislation that we discussed a few months ago to me was a bit abstract.

    2)  The research that I've read and agreement regarding open adoption is that open adoption in it's purest meaning is meant to benefit the child.  That's it.  Yes, I fully understand that in the process of it benefiting the child, it can also benefit the BP's and AP's, but in it's purest form, it is to benefit a child.  If it is not benefiting a child it is not a beneficial process.

    3) Referencing #2, if I feel someone is a poor influence in my child's life, then as their parent, it's my job to rectify that situation.  Now, this doesn't apply to updates/photo's- as that doesn't impact a child's exposure to potentially negative situations, but in regards to visits.  

    4) I think often we don't know the full situation we're getting into, at least I didn't.  Her BM is a minor who lives with her parents.  Her potential BF should be in jail, sincerely.  Her BM's parents aren't allowed anywhere near DD.  Because of BM's relationship and dependency on her parents, that rule means she can't see DD.  But because of the situation, it's one I refuse to negotiate on.

    Ultimately- I think each situation is to different to put a blanket rule on.  However, adoption is not co-parenting.  And I feel that legislation like this is trying to impose that.

     

    *Please don't take this as a disrespect to BM's.  I am SO grateful for DD's BM, and wish her nothing but the best, and if she in fact can get her life in gear, I would LOVE her to be a part of DD's life.  But my most sincere concern is my daughter, and her well being.

  • imagejulandjo:

    I know 4 families in real life who have adopted in the past several years.  Two of these families, when we told them we are adopting, told us to just go along with everything the agency said about openness, to write all about it in our profile letter, etc.  And then as soon as it's finalized, we can "cut the BP's off" because nobody can force us to maintain contact.  I was FLOORED that adoptive parents (recent ones, no less!) would say this.  To be honest it made DH and I sick enough that we're no longer close with these families.

    I can't believe that! I guess I didn't realize how big of an issue this was. I've never even considered cutting off contact with BM, and I can't believe APs would do this.

    After 2years TTC and 1yr,2mo waiting for an adoption match, our blessing is here!

    "You may not have my eyes or smile, but from that very first moment you had my heart"Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

    Surprise BFP made our family complete!
    Lilypie Maternity tickers
  • Ah, that makes sense, Fred. I never think about lawsuits and stuff like that; not really on my radar, I suppose.
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers
    Application approved Dec '11
    Mar '12: Homestudy interrupted by change in Uganda requirements - where do we go from here?
    After searching and searching, back with Uganda but with our homestudy agency's program.
    Homestudy complete July 19
    USCIS I-600A submitted July 20. Biometrics appointments arrived Aug 17; fingerprinted Aug 21; 171H received Sept 25th. On the wait list Oct 1st: #18. By Jan 25th, we're #13!
    Come home, baby A!
  • I suppose, as I am growing, Jenn, I just wonder: is it possible for us to close all contact with negative influences on our children, and is that even beneficial in the long run?

    I'm not saying your LOs BM should be like babysitting or something, I'm just thinking a little more generally. Of course, you're your daughter's parent. I just wonder sometimes how much influence people might have versus how much it might say that we don't allow our LOs to interact with a person.

    For example, I had an aunt who was an alcoholic (she and my uncle divorced when I was like 10 or so); my parents let me stay over at their house occasionally (my uncle was not an alcoholic and my aunt was functional). It definitely left a much bigger impression on me when they divorced and I couldn't see her anymore than when I realized a few years later that the way she always smelled was like beer. You know? Her alcoholism had no effect on me (other than she let me watch Ren & Stimpy because that's what aunts and uncles are supposed to do), but her absence did.

    Of course, and I hope you do believe that, even (especially) as a BM, I know I have absolutely no claim and don't wish to have a claim on the LO I entrusted to his parents. They know him best and are best equipped to parent him; I'm very sure it's the same case with your LOs. The courts may not always realize, but everyone on this board knows better. 

    Blahblahblah. I'm staying up late because DH is out of town. I need to go to sleep! 

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers
    Application approved Dec '11
    Mar '12: Homestudy interrupted by change in Uganda requirements - where do we go from here?
    After searching and searching, back with Uganda but with our homestudy agency's program.
    Homestudy complete July 19
    USCIS I-600A submitted July 20. Biometrics appointments arrived Aug 17; fingerprinted Aug 21; 171H received Sept 25th. On the wait list Oct 1st: #18. By Jan 25th, we're #13!
    Come home, baby A!
  • imagehway24:
    imagejulandjo:

    I know 4 families in real life who have adopted in the past several years.  Two of these families, when we told them we are adopting, told us to just go along with everything the agency said about openness, to write all about it in our profile letter, etc.  And then as soon as it's finalized, we can "cut the BP's off" because nobody can force us to maintain contact.  I was FLOORED that adoptive parents (recent ones, no less!) would say this.  To be honest it made DH and I sick enough that we're no longer close with these families.

    I can't believe that! I guess I didn't realize how big of an issue this was. I've never even considered cutting off contact with BM, and I can't believe APs would do this.

    Ditto this. I will add that we agreed "loosely" with dd's Bm to do yearly visits as long as we could. 2 months after dd was born we moved and so did Bm leaving us 1000 miles apart. Visits are still important enough to me and she moved to where my BFF lives but if she moved where I didn't know anyone (we would not stay with her) visits yearly would become problematic and I would have no problem switching to every few years. Being held to a legally bindingi contract wouldn't allow changes like this to occur and the financial burden on our family could become an issue as well as the time required to make a trip like that, child are for other kids etc. I will always keep contact with dd's Bm, and send updates, pictures...but sometimes things change and you have to roll with the punches.  

    Married on 3.20.2004. It took 30 month, 2 failed adoptions and IVF for our first miracle. We have had 9 foster kids since he was born and started the domestic adoption process when he was 10 month old, we had 4 failed matches in that time. After our daughter was born we brought her home and spent 2 weeks fearing we might lose her because of complications that came up. But Praise God all went through and she is ours forever! Expecting again after IVF Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    Pregnancy Ticker Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers image
  • Pennsylvania, where we're from, just adopted this legislation, and it's really rough here, because there is a 30 day window between the BP's signing the consent to adopt and the TPR.  So that means that even if there was no legally binding agreement in place for the first 29 days we have our LO at home, on the 30th day, the BP's could theoretically request a PACA (the agreement), and if we refuse to comply, we could have our LO taken away.  I don't believe that situation would be common at all, but it's possible now.  And it costs another $1000 or so to have it drafted and filed with the court.  That's an additional financial challenge to an already challenging situation.  

    I agree with a lot of Jenn's sentiments.  I have no issue whatever with providing letters and photos, and we love the idea of having a large extended family in the form of the BP's, since both hubby and I are only children.  So we also plan on having personal contact, if the BP's wish it, although since we aren't matched yet, we can't say for certain.  But if we deemed that contact in any way harmful to our child, we'd suspend it.  I agree that this legislation puts some of the parental control back in the BP's hands, and that flies in the face of what the TPR is supposed to accomplish.  

    Also, to me, choosing an Afamily through open adoption is a judgment call.  If you trust these people enough to raise your child, you should also have the faith that they'll follow through with their commitment to you and your openness agreement.  If you don't believe that, maybe they're not the family for you.  Just MHO.

  • imageJenn is Silly:

    Here's my (not so popular) feelings on the matter (in regards to states wanting to enact legislation to enforce Open Adoption Agreements). 

    1)  I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Once a BP signs TPR, they legally have no more "claim" to that child then any stranger on the street.  So the idea behind the legislation that we discussed a few months ago to me was a bit abstract.

    2)  The research that I've read and agreement regarding open adoption is that open adoption in it's purest meaning is meant to benefit the child.  That's it.  Yes, I fully understand that in the process of it benefiting the child, it can also benefit the BP's and AP's, but in it's purest form, it is to benefit a child.  If it is not benefiting a child it is not a beneficial process.

    3) Referencing #2, if I feel someone is a poor influence in my child's life, then as their parent, it's my job to rectify that situation.  Now, this doesn't apply to updates/photo's- as that doesn't impact a child's exposure to potentially negative situations, but in regards to visits.  

    4) I think often we don't know the full situation we're getting into, at least I didn't.  Her BM is a minor who lives with her parents.  Her potential BF should be in jail, sincerely.  Her BM's parents aren't allowed anywhere near DD.  Because of BM's relationship and dependency on her parents, that rule means she can't see DD.  But because of the situation, it's one I refuse to negotiate on.

    Ultimately- I think each situation is to different to put a blanket rule on.  However, adoption is not co-parenting.  And I feel that legislation like this is trying to impose that.

     

    *Please don't take this as a disrespect to BM's.  I am SO grateful for DD's BM, and wish her nothing but the best, and if she in fact can get her life in gear, I would LOVE her to be a part of DD's life.  But my most sincere concern is my daughter, and her well being.

    I agree with every single word. I am completely against legally enforceable openness agreement. The relationships in open adoptions are evolving and so are the individuals. We are the only parents and should not be forced to do anything with our child. It is our right to decide what is best for our kids.

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • I agree with a lot of what Jenn said.  I'll add that another issue I have with legally enforcing agreements is the COST of doing so.  Adoption typically isn't cheap.  Adding another legal requirement, which is then open to challenges/enforcement/etc, creates an additional layer of cost.  Quite frankly, I don't like it.  Of course, I also don't like people going back on their word, but I like the legislation even less.

    As for the guilting?  Eh, it doesn't bother me as much.  I mean, you're welcome to call and e-mail.  Hopefully some of what you say makes sense to the AP.  As long as it doesn't rise to the level of coercion, it doesn't upset me. 

    At the end of the day, the BP do have the option of being placed on the registry.  And when and if the child choses to contact, there is information for the child to do so.  I know both of my children's BM are listed on the registry. 

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Lilypie First Birthday tickers
  • I think that parents need to be able to make decisions about who their child and family has contact with.  If contact with a birth parent becomes unhealthy for the child or family, the parents should be able to sever the contact without worrying about potential legal action.

    That said, while I don't think open adoption agreements should be legally enforceable, I do think it's really horrible to not live up to the agreement unless there is very good reason for doing so.  Severing contact unnecessarily is a slap in the face to a woman who has given the adoptive parents the most amazing gift and placed trust in them to honor whatever understanding they have in place about contact.  Lying to a woman about what kind of contact you are willing to have so she will feel comfortable placing with you is just wrong on so many levels.  So is not living up to an agreement that you originally intended to honor.

    In a very tiny way, I somewhat understand the blind faith that a birth mom has in the adoptive parents when placing and wanting an open adoption.  When we decided to not adopt our son's bio sibling and help the BM find a family who would have an open relationship with our son, I definitely worried about a family not honoring this agreement.  It's not even that I thought a family would intentially be dishonest, but I did worry that a family might agree to something because they wanted a child so badly, and then later realize that they weren't comfortable with the arrangement or decide that it took too much effort.  This concern was heightened when the birth mom passed over all the profiles I had of couples in our state.  We wanted a relationship with visits, and that's a BIG commitment for a family who doesn't live near us.  The BM was really sweet and wanted to know my opinion about each family she considered, and I just had to go with my gut in showing my enthusiasm about the one out of state profile I sent to her.  It really takes faith to trust complete strangers that they are going to live up to their agreement, and I would have been pretty heartbroken over the loss of that relationship for my son if the adoptive family had cut off contact after placement.  And this is with a child who has never even been mine.  For a birth mom to place so much trust in an adoptive couple to be good parents and to maintain an agreed upon level of openness is really an incredible thing.

    I do think that agencies and adoption professionals should really stress the importance of honoring these agreements. 

    ETA after reading comments above:  While I do agree that open adoption is really about what is best for the child, I do think we need to recognize that some birth moms do want openness for themselves (which may just mean updates and pics through the agency), and that this can affect their final decision about placing.  If too many adoptive parents don't live up to agreements about openness, this could make women reluctant to place.  We no longer have adoption of the 1960's where women placed because of shame associated with single parenthood or teen pregnancy.  Pregnant women today have many more options, and I do think that adoptive parents need to do our part in keeping adoption an attractive option to birth parents.

    I definitely don't mean that we should put our children in a situation that makes us uncomfortable.  I agree with Jenn that that the bottom line is that we need to do what is best for our child, but my point is that minimizing or cutting off contact (particularly doing less than what was agreed upon) is not something adoptive parents should take lightly.  My comments are mostly about adoptive parents who are dishonest about what they are willing to do, or just slack off and don't live up to an agreement because it takes some effort to do so, and not about parents who minimize or cut off contact because that is best for the child.

  • Can someone please tell me what is meant by "openness"? To my understanding, there are different interpretations of that term.

    I am personally (as is my DH) uncomfortable having a continued relationship with our eventual BPs, not because they are bad people (I'm sure they will not be), but rather because I wonder whether it would be confusing or emotionally taxing for a child growing up. We've started doing some research on our end on various routes to adopt, and I've been struck by the fact that some domestic agencies seem to push APs towards open adoption.

    Maybe it is just that none of the places we've researched have been a good fit for us yet, but I don't like the idea of being pushed to enter into an (albeit non-binding) agreement that we aren't comfortable with.

    I obviously mean no offense to BPs in this. I just haven't been looking into this process long enough to see all the ins and outs. 

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • imagedaria405:

    Can someone please tell me what is meant by "openness"? To my understanding, there are different interpretations of that term.

    I am personally (as is my DH) uncomfortable having a continued relationship with our eventual BPs, not because they are bad people (I'm sure they will not be), but rather because I wonder whether it would be confusing or emotionally taxing for a child growing up. 

    Please pick up some books on this topic.  I highly recommend "The Open Adoption Experience".  IMO, it is far more confusing/bewildering for a child to have no knowledge of their birthfamily.  With openness there is, well, an open door for the child to ask questions (directly or indirectly) of the birthfamily - where do I get this trait from?   Why was I placed with my parents?  What do you think of me/do you approve of me?  They can also see and know what that family is like, can build a relationship.  There's no such thing as too many people loving your child.

    Please get a better understanding for the pros/cons of openness before you decide which path to pursue.  We have a family friend who has been waiting on an international adoption for four years.  We were discussing domestic adoption with them and they had ZERO understanding of it.  They kept saying all the myths, like the birthparents will try to coparent, they can take the kid back at any time, the kid will run away to go live with the BPs, etc.  It was crazy!  Over several months we've been slowly educating them on open adoption and they've said more than once that if they'd known this, they would have pursued DA.  But they're so invested in the IA process that they're sticking with it.  Moral of the story: Get a real understanding for each path before you rule it out!

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • imagedaria405:

    Can someone please tell me what is meant by "openness"? To my understanding, there are different interpretations of that term.

    I am personally (as is my DH) uncomfortable having a continued relationship with our eventual BPs, not because they are bad people (I'm sure they will not be), but rather because I wonder whether it would be confusing or emotionally taxing for a child growing up. We've started doing some research on our end on various routes to adopt, and I've been struck by the fact that some domestic agencies seem to push APs towards open adoption.

    Maybe it is just that none of the places we've researched have been a good fit for us yet, but I don't like the idea of being pushed to enter into an (albeit non-binding) agreement that we aren't comfortable with.

    I obviously mean no offense to BPs in this. I just haven't been looking into this process long enough to see all the ins and outs. 

    There varying level of "openness". From parents sending pictures/updates to an agency and the agency giving these things to the BPs, to full on contact between the parents and the BPs, with visits and everything in between. The thing with openness is that is gives the child a CHOICE. The child may or may not want to have contact, once they are old enough to make that choice. A closed adoption takes away that choice. If my son doesn't want to know any of them or have any contact with him, that's fine, that;s his choice. But we are fostering the relationships so that when he is older, he can decide. That's why openness ultimately is for the child and the child alone; it gives them the choice of  there will be any knowledge or relationship at all.

    Not every child who was adopted grows up wishing for contact, mourning, feelings lost, or whatever. We have 4 friends (grown adults now) adopted at birth in closed adoptions and not one of them wishes to find/know about the birth family. All are very thankful for the birth family and their sacrifice, but none feel like they have had a loss or feel incomplete. However, some people who were adopted in closed adoptions don't feel that way, therefore the openness is in response to that.

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • imagedaria405:

    Can someone please tell me what is meant by "openness"? To my understanding, there are different interpretations of that term.

    I am personally (as is my DH) uncomfortable having a continued relationship with our eventual BPs, not because they are bad people (I'm sure they will not be), but rather because I wonder whether it would be confusing or emotionally taxing for a child growing up. We've started doing some research on our end on various routes to adopt, and I've been struck by the fact that some domestic agencies seem to push APs towards open adoption.

    Maybe it is just that none of the places we've researched have been a good fit for us yet, but I don't like the idea of being pushed to enter into an (albeit non-binding) agreement that we aren't comfortable with.

    I obviously mean no offense to BPs in this. I just haven't been looking into this process long enough to see all the ins and outs. 

    You got some good responses from the others, but I'll just give you our experience. Our adoption agency encourages open adoption, but will work with birthparents who don't want any contact after the birth. Their philosophy is that the BPs may change their minds and want contact at some point, and the agency can mediate if necessary/desired.

    At a minimum, our agency requires APs to send letters and pictures to the agency on a schedule. If the BPs want that information forwarded to them, the agency does that. If not, they stay in an agency file if the BPs change their minds.

    From there, we could specify any additional contact. How many visits per year, for example. This was used as one of many criteria for the agency to decide what profiles BPs may want to see when choosing APs for their child. And this was something we discussed with DD's BM when we first met her.

    In our case, we sent our scheduled updates through the agency, and we see DD's BM twice a year. I also started a blog just for her, so she can have updates more frequently. She has expressed no desire to visit more often, or for us to share identifying information. We actually would love to have more contact, but we're following her lead on comfort level. DD is still young, but as she gets older we'll let her have more say in the frequency of contact, etc.

    ETA: The level of openness can also change over time, which is one big reason I see an issue with legally binding agreements. You'd have to go back and re-do the agreement. You may have cases where the BP(s) get married and focus on that more, move to a new city and have a harder time getting together, the child wants more/less contact, everyone gets more comfortable and wants to see each other more, and so on.

    HTH

  • Thanks, those responses are helpful.
    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • imagesrmmm09:

    I suppose, as I am growing, Jenn, I just wonder: is it possible for us to close all contact with negative influences on our children, and is that even beneficial in the long run?

    I'm not saying your LOs BM should be like babysitting or something, I'm just thinking a little more generally. Of course, you're your daughter's parent. I just wonder sometimes how much influence people might have versus how much it might say that we don't allow our LOs to interact with a person.

    As I said, we sometimes we don't know the full story until we're entrenched in it.  When I say negative influence I don't mean the family friend who smokes pot occasionally.  And yes, if you are a potential negative influence on my child I'm going to minimize contact with you until you get your act together.  That's not to say that once your act is together you won't get to be a part of my child's life, but while your going through that process contact can be minimized.  

    Not all situations are as cut and dry and simple as alcohol and drug use.  Some situations get far more complex to involve things like felony child abuse, sexual exploitation of a minor, and statutory rape.  And yes, those are things I will keep my child as far away from as absolutely possible.

  • imageGo_Dawgs:

    That said, while I don't think open adoption agreements should be legally enforceable, I do think it's really horrible to not live up to the agreement unless there is very good reason for doing so.  Severing contact unnecessarily is a slap in the face to a woman who has given the adoptive parents the most amazing gift and placed trust in them to honor whatever understanding they have in place about contact.  Lying to a woman about what kind of contact you are willing to have so she will feel comfortable placing with you is just wrong on so many levels.  So is not living up to an agreement that you originally intended to honor.

    ETA after reading comments above:  While I do agree that open adoption is really about what is best for the child, I do think we need to recognize that some birth moms do want openness for themselves (which may just mean updates and pics through the agency), and that this can affect their final decision about placing.  If too many adoptive parents don't live up to agreements about openness, this could make women reluctant to place.  We no longer have adoption of the 1960's where women placed because of shame associated with single parenthood or teen pregnancy.  Pregnant women today have many more options, and I do think that adoptive parents need to do our part in keeping adoption an attractive option to birth parents.


    I agree, that if an agreement is made in good faith, to the best possible way it should be honored (obviously baring any life altering unknown situations).  I know that in our adoption, and in many open adoptions I know, it's kind of left "open" for lack of better terms.  We didn't agree to a specific schedule (we were a private adoption, non-agency).  I think this is where it becomes murky.

    In regards to the second part- I have mixed feelings about this.  While I agree that adoption's portraying benefit to the child should always be at the forefront of this evolving sector, I don't necessarily know if I agree with "making it attractive" to BM's.  I think that a parent needing/wanting to make an adoption plan, needs to do so regardless of how "attractive" it looks.  As I said, I absolutely don't agree with people making false promises to "close a deal" (it's very used cars salesmanish) I also don't know that it should be an "incentive" either if that makes sense.

     

  • imageJenn is Silly:

    Here's my (not so popular) feelings on the matter (in regards to states wanting to enact legislation to enforce Open Adoption Agreements). 

    1)  I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Once a BP signs TPR, they legally have no more "claim" to that child then any stranger on the street.  So the idea behind the legislation that we discussed a few months ago to me was a bit abstract.

    *Please don't take this as a disrespect to BM's.  I am SO grateful for DD's BM, and wish her nothing but the best, and if she in fact can get her life in gear, I would LOVE her to be a part of DD's life.  But my most sincere concern is my daughter, and her well being.
    I'm really unsure how to read this withOUT being offended. Of course I have more claim to the child I gave birth to and made an adoption plan for then some stranger on the street.. seriously. I understand the point you're trying to make (I think) but this statement is kinda rude and unnecessary.
    BM to Kenzie 9/1/04 --- Married 1/22/09 --- Me 27 - DH 25 --- TTC our first since April 2010 Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers
  • imagePatches08:
    imageJenn is Silly:

    Here's my (not so popular) feelings on the matter (in regards to states wanting to enact legislation to enforce Open Adoption Agreements). 

    1)  I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Once a BP signs TPR, they legally have no more "claim" to that child then any stranger on the street.  So the idea behind the legislation that we discussed a few months ago to me was a bit abstract.

    *Please don't take this as a disrespect to BM's.  I am SO grateful for DD's BM, and wish her nothing but the best, and if she in fact can get her life in gear, I would LOVE her to be a part of DD's life.  But my most sincere concern is my daughter, and her well being.

     

    I'm really unsure how to read this withOUT being offended. Of course I have more claim to the child I gave birth to and made an adoption plan for then some stranger on the street.. seriously. I understand the point you're trying to make (I think) but this statement is kinda rude and unnecessary.

    The statement says that legally (key word) a birth parent who has signed TPR has no more claim to a child then a stranger on the street.  The context of this post was in regards to states wanting to implement legislation regarding open adoption agreements.  My statement was pointing out that a law enforcing agreements with individuals who legally have no more claim to a child then a stranger is abstract and opens a slippery slope in terms of who has the ability to place visitation claims on a child.

    I'm sorry if you find it rude as it was not said to offend, but in this context it is an important fact in term of legal precedence this type of legislation sets. 

  • Agreed Jenn. There are no custody/visitation rights as there are in a divorce and there never should be. The rights should lay with the parents, that's it.  Yea it sucks there are people who don't stick to their word, but TPR is TPR. The parental relationship, rights and responsibilities end. 
    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
  • imagesrmmm09:

    Well, I don't think guilting people into doing things is usually the best way, but (and I know this is putting it bluntly), barring some serious circumstance (like BM being unstable/dangerous), it's pretty crappy to not honor an agreement.

    I think I can say this as a BM and a PAP. Your child's BM doesn't have to be a great role model; that's what you're for. Letting her (and BF, if he so desires) have access to pictures and updates really can help BMs cope with a substantial loss in their lives.

    And, as a PAP, I think it's important to be able to look my child in the eyes when s/he's grown and say I did all I could to help his/her BM have a positive experience with adoption. (granted, know what that looks like is probably often complicated and takes having really healthy boundaries established).

    Not meaning to come out guns blazing. I just think it could be easy to forget (or want to forget) a BM, but I doubt many BMs ever forget the child they place. Even though M is not my son and I never parented him once he was "out," I still really enjoy knowing he's doing well. It's hard sometimes when I know the family's come in town and they haven't tried to set up a time to meet.

    Ah, okay, this is a little strongly worded because of my feelings. Well, some insight for APs. It's hard if you don't live close to BM to come in town and not see them several times in a row. I don't have or even feel any claims or something on M, but I thought that our families were friends; it feels like they must not have felt that way. It hurts my feelings.

    So, maybe the moral of this ramble is, if you become friends with your BM while she's pregnant, it may hurt her feelings if you don't want to continue that friendship. I don't feel used (because I know AM better than that); I suppose it just isn't a priority for her.

    I agree with everything you have said here.  People who don't honor open adoption agreements (barring serious problems) once they have the kid are scum.  I don't ever want to look my children in the face and tell them I didn't make every effort to have a relationship with their birthfamilies.

    I do NOT think OA agreements should be legally binding.  For example, DD's birthdad has stopped answering calls and we haven't seen him in over a year.  Do I take him to court to force him to be in her life?  OA agreements go both ways. 

    Warning No formatter is installed for the format bbhtml
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards