Guest blogger, Paige Knipfer, of Love Grown Adoption Consulting shares her insight on navigating open adoption from her experience as an adopted mother. We here at ARSS believe it is important in giving a platform to all the different voices involved with adoption. By listening to each other we hope it continues to build a stronger foundation in reforming adoption and flipping the script. We are thankful for adopted mothers like Paige who support open adoption and opening records in all states so that we, adoptees, can be treated equally and give voice to the issues surrounding adoption. Please respect her opinion and remember we all have our own voices to share. Thank you :)
A year ago, today my husband and I jumped on a plane to meet the expecting parents we had been matched with and attend “baby’s” ultrasound. I was SO nervous. My stomach was in knots and the night before I had such extreme chest pain you would have thought I was having a heart attack. It's ok to be nervous but keep in mind EVERYONE including the expecting parents/family are also nervous.
I tell people often it is like dating. You are starting a new relationship with someone you barely know. A very intimate and potentially lifelong relationship. Potential because she is still an expecting mom. She has made plans with this adoption however she can and has the right to decide to parent at any point.
You have all those worries, fears, and anxieties that you do with any new and important relationship. The kicker though is that adoption pulls expecting parents and hopeful adoptive parents together who may not have a lot in common, people who otherwise would never know each other or have a relationship, and the big one people who live very different lives. It is important to try and understand where the other is coming from background wise and mutually respecting one another.
The goal and focus should always be on the adoptee and what is best for this child. Open adoption is one of the best options. As the hopeful couple many fears that the adoptee/child will feel a need to choose between you and the birth family. This just isn’t true. Look at the birth family as more people to love your child. People who have a history and biological connection to your child. They will be able to provide things to your child you just can’t and the same goes for you. You as the adoptive parents will provide things the birth family cannot. Your child does not need to choose, and nor should you ever make them feel that way. Another fear is that the child will love their birth family more than adoptive parents. You are their parents, this isn’t co-parenting and it's like saying you love one parent or child more than the other. You can equally love people.
As an adoptive mother and consultant, I find creating an agreement (hopefully with a third party if possible) to be helpful with open adoption. The most important part of the agreement besides making sure all sides understand their role and commitment is to revisit this often. Also, some states now are requiring an open adoption agreement that is enforceable which I advocate for. Often, I hear of adoptive families who close the door on the birth family. Please, please, please for the sake of your child that I know you love dearly, do not do that. No matter how tough it may get.
Navigating an adoption, in general, is always evolving and changing. Many factors also change with time play into this. Sometimes the door may be closed by the birth family and if this happens to respect it. If the birth family does close the door, make sure they know it’s always open on your end and keep items in a box for the potential of it being opened. As the adoptive couple, you should never over-promise on your agreement and never close the door on the birth family. Even if the door is closed on you, it is your job to always keep the door open on your end. Focus on what is best for the adoptee always.
To show your support for opening records in all states, please visit our petition and sign your support! #adopteesrightsmatter
To connect with Paige or learn more about Love Grown Adoption Consulting, please click here.