This Open Adoption Thing

@houseofwillies commented the following on my last post:

So I’m fairly new to the blog and have been following your Twitter as well. So I am wondering how the relationship between you and birth parents came about? Is it normal for an adoption through foster care to have those relationships after the adoption happens? Obvioulsy Daffy knows who her Bmom is…but is this common for adoptions through foster care? I’m sorry if I am prying or asking things you cannot answer. Just trying to prepare myself for what may happen as we are hoping to adopt a 9 yr old girl currently in foster care. I have to admit after reading your blog I’m scared to death and excited at the same time!

Rather than just comment back directly, it makes more sense for me to answer here because I have had other similar questions as well.

When we decided to pursue adoption through foster care, we were definitely open to having a relationship with birth parents. Upon being matched with Donald and Daffy we did not believe that would be a possibility. At the time we met the kids, it had been more than 3 years since their parents rights were relinquished (birth dad) and terminated (birth mom). The children had not had any contact with either of their parents in more than 2 years (birth mom visits continued during the appeal process that she later lost).

Donald, in particular, had a real desire to stay connected to his birth mom, saying that he was going to go find her as soon as he turned 18. As an adoptee myself, I understood (and supported) this desire. Daffy was more concerned about what had happened to her mom since she had last seen her and got permission to write her birth mom a letter. (If you are looking for more details I have tried to list all posts that specifically pertain to the open adoption concept under the Open Adoption tag on my blog. The posts start with the newest at the top so it’s better to scroll to the bottom and start there.) At that time, Daffy also asked the team for a visit with her birth mom. One thing led to another and suddenly we were on a path to “open adoption”.

Daffy’s adoption is not “legally” open, in that we have no legal obligation to have any contact with her birth mom. We choose to allow it because we feel it’s what is best for Daffy. On that same vein, if her birth mom is not appropriate or it in any way harms Daffy to continue visits, we will stop them. We always have Daffy’s best interest in the forefront of every decision.

When we first looked at this open adoption concept, Mickey and I decided that 2 visits per year would be appropriate- one in the summer near Daffy’s birthday and one near the holidays. While I do think 2 visits per year are appropriate and fair, I would definitely NOT wait until after the holidays again. I feel this caused great stress for Daffy the entire holiday season. Next year, I will have the visit at the beginning of December if possible to “get it out of the way”.

The other complicating factor in this situation is Daffy’s birth brother, Donald. Initially, Daffy & Donald were each going to have their own separate and ongoing relationship with their birth mom (IDEAL!) but now that the team is looking at putting Donald back with his birth mom, the “poo” is hitting the fan. First of all, we always planned that Daffy would see Donald monthly in whatever placement he went to. If Donald returns to his birth mom, this now means monthly visits for Daffy with her birth mom because of Donald. Additionally, the simple fact that Donald may be returning to birth mom (and Daffy isn’t) is creating an enormous amount of stress for Daffy and has definitely put a wedge in the already strained relationship that Donald and Daffy have. Daffy knows in her head that her adoption was the best thing for her and she loves us very much, but there is a part of her wishes none of this had ever happened and that she, too, could be living with her birth mom. Things are never that simple, though. She knows it would be unsafe for her to live with Donald so this could never be a reality. These are all things she is working on with her therapist and with us.

From what I have seen, it is NOT common for foster children to continue a relationship after adoption if the parent’s rights were terminated BEFORE the match. I think its more common for there to be some level of contact if the adoptive family was a foster family for the child/children DURING the entire process. I have heard that sometimes parents will relinquish rights rather than have them terminated if an open adoption agreement can be hashed out.

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong to open adoption. There are very valid reasons for some adoptions to be closed and also great benefits for some to be open. It really needs to be handled on a case by case basis, but if the child’s best interest is always put first, the right conclusion WILL be found.

And finally, @houseofwillies, PLEASE do not let my experience scare you! I started this blog with the intent to document what I hoped would be a magical path to adoption. Granted we have had our ups and downs (and some of those downs were waaaaay down, lol), but we DID get our happily ever after and every bit of this journey was worth it to get where we are today! I am following you on Twitter and look forward to watching your journey unfold, too! 🙂

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3 Comments

  1. @houseofwillies, i too found this blog and Minnie on twitter as we were nearing adoption of our kiddos. we adopted through the fostercare system. our daughter is now 3.5 and our son is 19 months. As we headed for the trial to terminate their Bparents rights, at the last moment the bdad signed an open adoption agreement with us stating that he wanted 2 face to face visits a year and 2 letters with pictures a year. we put in the agreement that he had to contact us a month ahead to know if he wanted a visit. and that if he didn’t contact, then there would be no visit (we set the visits up for january and july- so he had to contact us via a letter to our po box in december and june) this december was the first month that we were supposed to hear from him… nothing. and it says in the agreement that if he misses two visits in a row we are no longer obligated to do visits. the bmom never showed for the trial and they terminated her rights, and so it is a closed adoption with her.

    don’t be scared. yes it is a scary process at times, but you can do it! do research. pray. seek advice from those who have been there. take some advice, let some go if it doesn’t fit YOU and YOUR child and YOUR situation.

    good luck, i will be praying for you! i am going to follow you on twitter too!

    Reply
  2. Happy to have found you! I’m in the process myself only legally I shouldn’t be saying that anywhere on the internet. We have had “baby bread” for a year now. Love foster-adopt. New follower! @lmrphotos

    Reply
  3. I would totally encourage you to create an anonymous blog. Its so therapeutic and protects both the child and your family! I am following you on Twitter! 🙂

    Reply

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