Pursuit of Adoption Information
If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, you may have already contacted an adoption agency. Maybe you simply wanted some information, but they encouraged you to meet with a staff member. Adoption agencies have an interest in persuading you to place your baby for adoption. For them, that is how they make their money. Even if they are a non-profit adoption agency, they still need to bring in revenue to pay their salaries, bills and so forth.
This is what drives their desire to get you to meet with them. They have been trained on the most effective statements to influence you to give your child up for adoption.
One way adoption agencies may try to persuade you is by promoting open adoption as an attractive option. You can visit almost any adoption agency website and they will demonstrate their commitment to open adoption. Within that section, they will sell open adoption by shining a spotlight on the perceived positives.
The Happy Adopted Child
Adoption agencies will also want you to see positive outcomes of open adoption. One of the ways they do this is by highlighting open adoption success stories from “happy adoptees.” Typically, in these articles, there will be an open adoption adoptee in their late teens or even their twenties accomplishing great things, winning awards or prestigious scholarships. The adoptee usually says something to the effect of:
“I’m so lucky to have such a large family that includes both my adoptive and biological families. I feel fortunate to have so many people who love me, care for me and mentor me. Open adoption is wonderful because I was able to have the genetic connection and know who I looked like, my heritage and extended family while also having the benefit of a loving family to could provide for my needs.”
It almost reads like a warm Hallmark card, doesn’t it? Lots of cozy words like “lucky” “love” “wonderful” “family” and so forth.
In the beginning of this series, I mentioned that when it comes to certain issues like open adoption, there will be those who want to focus on the positives, the “rainbows and unicorns,” and those who want to focus only on how horrendous something is.
In the middle is a truth of complexities.
That is how open adoption is. It is complex. There are issues and lots of them. These issues exist for adoptive parents, birth parents, adoptees, extended family members and friends. It is far reaching.
When I see happy adoptee stories where the adoptee seems to project a “perfect” image and she refers to her open adoption was “wonderful” or uses a similar type of wording, there are a few questions that come to mind.
Is it possible they feel pressure to make sure their adoptive parents feel reassured that they are happy so they don’t feel they are disappointing their parents?
- Might they feel responsible for reassuring their biological parents that they aren’t angry or sad they were given up?
- Could they be feeling pressure to be better than the best because they are scared of rejection or abandonment?
- Is it possible they feel the need to protect their parents from criticism regarding adoption?
My Open Adoption Success Story
I’d like to share a personal experience. I was about fourteen and in the middle of a nasty teenage rebellion. I was on a weekend camping trip with my mom and had been forced to go. After we set up our campsite, my mom met our camping neighbors who were all sitting around outside just chatting and my mom insisted we go over there to visit them. So we sat at the picnic table with several older adults that we had never met before. During the conversation, my mom brought up the fact that I was adopted and was being raised in an open adoption. One of the really sweet ladies we had just met looked at me and asked, “Oh wow, how do you feel about that?”
I will never forget the look on her face. She seemed to have the hope of a child on Christmas that I might share something wonderful with her. Sadly, I didn’t disappoint her. I went on and on about how lucky I was, how happy I was to have been adopted and still get to see my biological mother. I saw what she responded well to and dug even deeper to give her a story where open adoption had turned out perfectly for me. It was the success story that she wanted to hear, and the more I talked, the more the adults oohed and awed over what I was saying.
I looked at my mom and she couldn’t have been more proud. She had tears in her eyes.
A little piece of me died because it seemed more important to make others feel okay about my adoption story than to be true to my own story and talk about the many issues I faced within open adoption. I had denied my own feelings to reassure those that wanted to know that open adoption was just … wonderful.
Being in an open adoption is complex for the adopted child.
If someone is glossing over that fact and presenting open adoption as “wonderful” by sharing only happy adoptee success stories from open adoption, you might ask:
- Is there more to the story?
- Is there more to hear?
- Is there more to know before entering into open adoption for me and my child?