Opening Closed Adoptions
The concepts underlying the closed adoption system haven proven to be ill founded. In light of this, we must apply the new and ever unfolding knowledge to address the needs of those impacted by this practice. Opening a closed adoption means that children during their growing years are able to have a link to both their families by birth and adoption. Adoptive parents or birthparents may initiate the contact request. It can be done by individuals (**with the use of resources) or with the help of a professional. It means going from barriers to contact to working on relationships as other blended families do.
We have come to learn that adopted persons, even in early childhood, have a need to understand why the adoption took place and whom they resemble. They struggle with issues of identity, rejection, grief and abandonment. They act out to verbalize their needs in ways that we now are better recognizing as typical.
Birthparents, whom we assumed forgot their children, have taught us that the pain associated with the separation is of a magnitude they were not prepared to endure. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority is open to contact with the children and their adoptive parents.
Last, but not least, adoptive parents typically were unprepared in the past for the adoption realities ahead. Fear of birthparent interference overshadowed much of their adoption experience. However, they witnessed how their children expressed needs they were not able to personally meet. They then proceeded, as most loving parents would, and began to embrace the possibilities associated with open adoption.
An integral part of this involves consideration of the stages of going from a closed adoption to an open one. This is a gradual process which embodies taking time for each step in the building of relationships between the family by adoption and the family by birth. It includes the preparation of all parties and the processing of the contact as it takes place. By definition, this process calls upon all involved to build the bridges of trust allowed to develop in all other sectors of our society except, until now, in adoption.