Openness in Adoption from Foster Care

I’m the fence about how much openness I would want in our adoption.

On the one hand:

  • Having contact with one’s birth family is crucial to understanding who you are.
  • Having more than one set of people loving you is awesome.

On the other hand:

  • Since we’d like a newborn … wouldn’t it be more difficult for the birth parents to adjust to not being the main “parents” in their kid’s life?

I have no idea! I read this and it got me thinking … .the problem is …. I have no solutionĀ  ….

A reader commented:

If a home is so bad that a child has to be removed from it and the first parents rights terminated doesn’t the child have to be protected? When a foster child is adopted don’t they need to know that their forever parents are forever and they are safe? I could see the benefit of keeping the door open, but it frightens me.

And a bit of her response was:

I may have given Erica a hug on our first meeting, but I that doesn’t mean I gave her my phone number, address, or even my last name. Initially, our contact was by P.O. Box and an anonymous (for me) email address, and our meetings were in public places. In our case, my husband and I eventually decided that those protections weren’t necessary, but they were in place at the start and could have remained so indefinitely.
An open adoption is different from allowing a child to remain in an unsafe home or returning the child to that home; it is a limited relationship that takes place in a structured, controlled environment. Most kids want that. They don’t want their parents to disappear completely, even if those parents weren’t able to care for them as well as they should have. The reasons why kids enter foster care are various and complex.

Every situation is different so I guess we won’t know until we’re in it ….



2 thoughts on “Openness in Adoption from Foster Care

  1. I feel pretty strongly about this because I absolutely cherish the relationships we have with our adopted daughter’s family and I also don’t think the state was wrong to remove her in the first place or to terminate her parents’ rights. One other piece of this is that “family” isn’t just parents. While I have a good relationship with each of my daughter’s parents, it’s not as deep as the connection I have with the aunts who are raising her other siblings. It has helped fill a missing piece in her understanding of her life to know her siblings and cousins and it’s helped them, too, because hey were missing her and grieving for her during the years in foster care when she had no family visits.

    A lot depends on the situation, on what went on and what the child’s needs are, but there’s such a push (at least here) to not even consider openness after adoption for the reasons you quote above. In our case, we live fairly close to her family and I was much more comfortable pushing for a relationship on our terms (she was almost 4) than having us run into one of her siblings at the zoo or her mom at the grocery store or something where she would be recognized and no one would know how to respond. I know adoptive parents who stay out of whole towns because they don’t want to run into their kids’ relatives, and somehow “coincidentally” that often means avoiding the race and class culture the kids come from. Hmmmm!

    We also were briefly foster parents of a young man who had been seriously abused by his parents and who has remained part of our lives. I know he had some interest in doing prison visits in homes of getting some kind of closure. I would have supported that, too, though I also would have made sure he was in therapy. The person who ended up adopting him didn’t think either of those things were necessary for him to heal, so that’s not what ended up happening.

    I don’t think any of this is an absolute, but do think that being open to openness and trusting yourself and your instincts are important steps toward eventually figuring out what you need when you’re in a given situation.

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