Today, in modern adoption, there are more open adoptions than there were in the past.
In an open adoption, a young adoptee may grow up alongside the parents who conceived them and gave birth, though these parents are not part of the family household the adoptee grows up within. Even so, there is sharing time together, visiting and writing to one another. In an open adoption, you see and get to know your original parents but you don’t have them as your parents.
Up until recently, most adoptions were closed and so, in order to know the people an adoptee was born to, they had to seek a reunion after they became an adult; or at the least, a much older child, as in a teenager.
If it were actually possible for any adoptee to compare the outcomes they would have experienced with each method, what would they choose in full awareness ? Would they want to know their original parents throughout their whole lives ? Do they think that knowing them would make their lives better or worse ?
Of course, there is no such choice for adoptees. Open adoption seeks to make the adoption experience better by taking away the secrecy and shame.
Are the issues the same for an adoptee whether it was an open or closed adoption ? Or does an open adoption simply create a whole new set of issues that didn’t exist within
the close adoption system ?
In a good reunion process, the adoptee is able to explain to the original parent(s) – their feelings of hurt, abandonment and/or anger – which were all caused by the decision of their original parents to surrender their child for adoption.
Can any child go through something as traumatic as being given up and still process it all at the same time – are they able to talk to the original parent about the feelings common among all adoptees at the same time as they are being experienced ? This is not an answerable question as the two kinds of adoption experience do not allow such comparisons.
It can be quite painful for an adoptee to hear about a birth mother who is satisfied with having relinquished her child for adoption. Yet, many such mothers were absolutely convinced at the time they made that choice that they were doing the best thing for their child.
Years later, many birth mothers wish they had kept their child, and that is why there are groups of adoptees actively working to encourage young unwed or troubled expectant mothers to make an effort to parent first before making a decision to relinquish their child to adoption.
The fact is – adoption exists – and it will likely always exist because there is a need and/or desire for that in some circumstances. The hard truth is that not all parents to be actually want to devote themselves to raising a child.
In seeking to reform the practice of adoption, the more we are able to ask piercing questions, explore with those involved the reason for their decisions and just plain understand at a very deep level all aspects of the experience, the better we will be able to shape the future of adoption into better outcomes for all concerned.