Openness-The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Dear fellow reader,

I want to add a side note, like many things in adoption openness is something that has to be decided by each individual. It a very complex dynamic that may often times be difficult to manage and it certainly is NOT for everyone. For some healing comes from focusing on other aspects of their lives and the constant reminder of an adoption plan through visits or pictures may prove to be too painful and may hinder their healing process. That being said here are some facts we know about open adoptions.

Research from the book the Open Adoption Experience

 

Children have a connection to their birth parents that begins even before birth and cannot be changed by any legal process

 

Children need information about where they come from to help form a personal identity it’s better for children to deal with reality

 

Children need to know that their birth families care about them and the adoption didn’t represent a rejection

 

Birth families need not represent a threat to their children or to the attachment between children and their adoptive parents

 

Birth parents often feel more at peace when they know the outcome of their pregnancy and their adoption plan.

 

Any developing relationship is often healthier when it is open and honest.

 

Adoptive parents feel more authentic when they receive permission from the birth parents to be their child’s parents and see that the birth parents involvement doesn’t take away from their parent child relationship.

 

We also know that birth parents and adoptive parents experience this process very differently in many ways, what many do not know is that often some feelings are the same for both. Now you may remember a posting from a few months ago where we reviewed the grief cycle, here it is again with a little twist.

 

Loss

In adoption in order to gain anything one first must lose…a family, a child, dream depending on which member of the Adoption Triad(birth parent, adoptive parent, adopted child) you’re focusing on.

Adoptive Parents whether through infertility, failed pregnancy, still birth or death of a child have experienced one of life’s greatest blows prior to adopting.

Birth Parents experience a tremendous loss of giving birth to a child and having to give up not only their child but a “normal” parent/parent child relationship with that baby.

It is these losses and the way they’re accepted and hopefully resolved which set the tone for the lifelong process of the adoption.

Rejection

All members of the adoption triad may wonder what they did or didn’t do to deserve the loss.

Adoptive Parents may wonder if their bodies have rejected them because of infertility and may also worry the birth parents may reject them for not being “good enough” parents.

Birth Parents often reject and condemn themselves for being irresponsible.

Guilt

Birth Parents and adoptive parents may experience a sense of deserving such rejection leading members to experience guilt or shame.

Adoptive Parents often feel shame about their inability to have children biologically, and may experience responsibility and guilt for causing pain to birth parents. Their happiness may feel like  a huge price to pay for someone else’s sadness.

Birth Parents may often feel guilt or shame for conceiving a child and not being able to take care of their baby.

 

Identity

Adoptive parents and birthparents share a common experience of role confusion. They are handicapped by the lack of positive identity associated with being either a birthparent or adoptive parent (Kirk 1964). Neither set of parents can lay full claim to the adoptee and neither can gain distance from any problems that may arise.

 

Mastery/Control

Adoption alters the course of one's life. Birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees are all forced to give up control. Adoption, for most, is a second choice.

 Birthparents did not grow up with romantic images of becoming accidentally pregnant and surrendering them for adoption. In contrast, the pregnancy is often a crisis situation whose resolution becomes adoption. In order to solve the predicament, birthparents must surrender not only the child but also their volition, leading to feelings of victimization and powerlessness which may become themes in birthparents' lives.

For adoptive parents, the intricacies of the adoption process lead to feelings of helplessness. These feelings sometimes cause adoptive parents to view themselves as powerless, and perhaps entitled to be parents. Some adoptive parents may seek to regain the lost control by becoming overprotective and controlling, causing them to be too rigid. This control issue also translates into relationships with birth parents, it may cause adoptive parents to overcompensate or pull back depending on how they respond to this loss of control.

Best Wishes,

Lindsey

 

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