This guest post is by Jennilee, a birthmother.
An open adoption is a lasting relationship between the birth mom, adoptive parents and child. It can include extended family. You need to have Trust, Respect, Understanding, Honesty, Communication and Love just like you would with any friendship, family or loved one.
I trust the adoptive couple I choose to raise my birth son and they in turn trusted me to follow through with my adoption plan and to respect them. An open adoption is a relationship not just with your birth child but with the parents that you choose to parent him/her.
I feel they are extended family. I like to share my joys/heartaches with them and I love to hear about their life as well. My siblings and parents have also been part of the relationship sometimes coming to visits and always eager to see the pictures and read the letters.
I have also been able to meet some of Spencer’s extended family cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents and see how loved he is. An open adoption is not co-parenting. I do not help raise him or make decisions.
We gradually went to bi-weekly, monthly, every three months, every six months and have been writing yearly since he was 4. This wasn’t all decided at placement. We would communicate what we both wanted and felt comfortable with as time passed. My relationship has evolved over the years as well it should. As you grow closer to someone you know their likes and what is comfortable for each of you. When I first placed my son we only talked about frequency of letters/pictures which was weekly for the first 6 months.
When I first placed my son I went through an agency where the first six months was confidential meaning I didn’t know their last name, where they lived and visa versa. We also wrote through the agency and they would read the letters to make sure nothing was shared that shouldn’t be shared.
After finalization it was our decision how open we wanted to be. I didn’t know if I would have visits. I asked them if I could see them after finalization. I wasn’t ready yet to see Spencer but I did visit with the couple. At this time we also exchanged email addresses and would use this to communicate faster about visits and any exciting news.
We decided to have another visit with Spencer a week before he turned one. It was so neat to see him. At that visit we decided our next visit would be at a park when he was 2 ½. During that visit I didn’t feel as much of a connection to Spencer but enjoyed seeing his relationship with his parents.
We didn’t discuss another visit. The next time I saw them was at my wedding when he was 4. I then moved out of state and we didn’t know when another visit would be. I asked them because of moving if it would be okay to correspond to each other instead of through the agency.
We started writing to each other. I was able to see Spencer March 2010 during a visit to see my family. I moved back in 2011. We have had a yearly visit since 2010 and have plans to keep having them yearly. We both know where the other lives, email, last name and phone numbers. We text pictures and news sometimes but still have a yearly letter and visit.
I am grateful for my open adoption. I never need to worry about my birth son. I know he is loved, taken care of, happy, healthy. He will grow up knowing he is adopted and who I am. We have a relationship. He calls me by my first name but has at visits called me his tummy mommy and birth mom.
Openness is: Love, Trust, Honesty, Respect, Communication, Understanding = a lasting relationship.
Jennilee is a birthmother who works in the medical field in Utah. She placed her son Spencer for adoption when she was 21 and shares her story at her blog, New Forgotten Always Loved.