Mine was a typical baby-scoop era closed adoption. I actually find it nearly impossible to imagine what my life might have been like if open adoption had existed in those days. I am aware that open adoption is a social experiment; we will have to wait to hear from those adoptees who have lived it before we can really determine if it is a success or not. I hope we will listen.
My daughter Ashley's adoption is very open. My husband and I adopted her from foster care; she knew her mother and was bonded to her. The family had come into crisis, but the bond was never broken. Our open-adoption relationship honors that bond. It honors her identity and her history. It keeps her connected to people she loves.
Our open-adoption relationship works because it is just that: a relationship. We have come up with a definition of family that works for us. Today, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, Ashley's first mother and her two youngest brothers will be with us.
I have concerns about adoptions that are nominally or technically open but lack a true spirit of openness. I have concerns about an industry that promises openness when wooing prospective mothers to relinquish, knowing full well that those open-adoption agreements are not enforceable. I worry that some people think open adoption has "fixed" adoption; it hasn't.
Today I am thankful for both reunion and open adoption as they play out in my life. I am
glad that both my daughter and I are connected to our original families. Neither of our adoptive situations are without sadness: we have experienced loss; we both grieve, at times, the ways that adoption has separated us from family. But in the end it comes down to this for me: Some is better than none. Knowing is better than not knowing. Connection is better than the severing of bonds.