SPIN OFF: Adoption Question

Updated on March 01, 2013
A.B. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
12 answers

If you are participating in an "open adoption", are there expectations that the parents align? Does the bio parent relinquish all right / say in the child's upbringing? Is it just a matter of merely allowing for the child and bio parent to have a relationship? Or does it entitle the bio parent to have a say in the manner in which the child is raised (lifestyle, diet, religion, schedule)?

I'm guessing that depending on the situation, one might see any of these arrangements?

How do the parties reconcile if they have differences of opinion in these areas? It seems like while the intention is admirable, it could easily become a difficult situation...almost like "too many cooks in the kitchen"...esp when the child is old enough to develop his / her own preferences.

Thanks for sharing!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for sharing your experiences! We are not currently considering adoption, but this was something I always wondered about and one of the questions earlier this week got me thinking about it again.

Thanks again for your time.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

In my grandchildren's adoption by their foster parents the papers said there was to be a minimum of 1 visit with the mom per month. She doesn't have any say in their lives but does get to visit them if she wants to.

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answers from Chicago on

I' m a social worker and an adoptive parent. Open adoptions simply mean that the birth parents and adoptive parents know who each other are and may agree to some contact thru the child's childhood.. The amount of openness should be discussed before the placement and usually birth parents look for adoptive parents that are in agreement with their wishes. But after the adoption takes place, the adoptive parents make all decisions for the child. They have the right to have contact or not with the birth mother.

We share emails, pictures with our birth mother and have several visits a year but it is always our decision and our birthmother is very respectful of this. We have a nice relationship thus far.

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answers from Los Angeles on

From personal experience with open adoptions in my family -

For any adoption to take place the bio parent(s) need to relinquish ALL rights to the child(ren.) This, therefore, excludes them in any decision-making whatsoever, gives them no say, recourse or reconciliation of any type in any situations regarding any and all aspects of upbringing, including lifestyle, diet, religion, schedule, type of relationship between child and bio parent(s), etc., once the adoption is finalized. In addition, an open adoption does not automatically guarantee a child/bio parent relationship, "open" can merely refer to the adoptive parents sending annual pictures of the child or simply the implied agreement that the adoptive parents will provide the child with bio info upon request on or after their 18th birthday.

The "open"ness of the adoption is left solely to the adoptive parent(s) discretion, they are not bound to any desires of the bio parent(s.) For this reason it is well advised the relinquishing parent(s) make any wishes or desires known to prospective adoptive parents, while knowing once the adoption is finalized it is out of their hands. Even if put into writing the bio parent(s) wishes are not binding, there is no contract, as the adoptive parent(s) are now the legal parents of the child, with all the rights and responsibilities of being parents, and the bio parent(s) rights and responsibilities being legally termininated. There won't, therefore, be too many cooks in the kitchen.

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answers from Portland on

There are many different forms of open adoption. One is that the adoptive parents send picture periodically, say once/year, and nothing else. No contact between child and birth parents. All the way to the birth parents being able to visit with the child.

One of my friends adopted a boy and sending pictures is all that they do. Another friend's sister had a baby which was adopted and the adopted parents allow her to visit, even babysit the child. They've formed an extended family relationship. The child calls her birth mother by her first name and the last I heard, does not know that she's her birth mom.

Never would a birth parent be able to make decisions involving the adopted child. They would have NO parental rights at all. The adoptive parents can involve the birth parent as much as they wanted or not at all.

I urge you to work out a plan in writing so that there will be no misunderstanding about what is expected/allowed. Unless the birth parent is exceptionally helpful/cooperative I would not allow frequent contact and I would not allow them to be identified as the birth parent until the child is old enought to understand and has formed a strong attachment to the adoptive parents.

I adopted my daughter when she was in school thru CSD. The worker advised me to not have an open adoption. We did discuss the various ways to handle the adoption. I urge you to talk with the social worker involved because they will know better about the birth parent and what is likely to work.

If you're not adopting thru an agency, find a social worker experienced in adoptions and discuss this with her. If you decide on an open adoption work with her to formulate a plan. You can or not involve the birth parent in making the plan.

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answers from Washington DC on

My friend's son was adopted in an open adoption such that she gets information, knows who they are, and can request a photo or such but totally recognizes that THEY are his parents and she is not. He is welcome to meet her at any time but she respects that they are not going to encourage this til he is 18 and can decide for himself as an adult. In the meantime, she provided all the medical history she knew in case they ever needed it and a letter he can read in case he wants to know about his birth parents. I also know other people who have visited their biological child and celebrated events with them. It varies greatly on the families involved. Occasionally you hear of stories like my coworker's friend whose daughter knew her birth mother and after her adoptive mother died in an accident was very confused and thought she would go live with her remaining mother. It was very challenging. I think there one of the problems was that it was not made clear to the child that the birth mother was no longer her legal parent.

Sometimes one party or the other feels coerced in to a more open relationship than they are really happy with and I think people need to be absolutely honest with themselves and others before entering into an open adoption. It is not always a bad thing to have a closed or mostly closed adoption, depending on the people involved and the situation. However, I do think that the child needs to know he or she is adopted - and that it means that he or she was chosen and very much WANTED vs feeling thrown away. My late BIL struggled with the secrecy of his adoption but my cousin has not because it's always just been a fact of his life. He's tall, he's good at math, he was born in South Korea.

IMO, the adoptive parents must be seen as the final authority in the child's upbringing. They ARE the parents. My friend does not expect to have any say in her son's schooling, religion, activities, etc. A birth parent becomes more of a distant aunt than someone who has say-so in how the child is raised.

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answers from Washington DC on

When a child is adopted the adoptive parents become the parents, and the biological parent is no longer the parent. They are not co-parents.

Open adoptions does not even require the child and birth parent to have a relationship, it just requires the information be available should they choose that, but also so for things like medical history, or finding siblings etc.

In a disagreement about anything, the biological parent has no more right to be heard than an aunt, teacher, neighbor, or anyone else who might have an opinion that doesn't really count.

Sure, there are adoptive and birth parents who CHOOSE to have a much more collaborative experience, but birth parents aren't ENTITLED to it, if the adoptive parents make a decision, it's their decision to make. Period.

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answers from Seattle on

As far as I am aware an open adoption is not a formal, legal agreement but a civil one. When the adoption is legally final, the birth parents loose ALL rights to the child including any say in his or her upbringing and the right to visitation and contact.
In an open adoption the involved parties agree to a certain amount if contact, this can vary from sending pictures once a year to active participation in the child's life. But it is important to understand that the birth parents have no legal protection in this arrangement. The adoptive parents can abort or restrict contact at any time, and even if you have a written agreement it cannot or will not be enforced by most courts.

So the extent of bio-parental involvement is totally up to the participants.

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answers from Dallas on

I have known many friends who were able to adopt. One friend has 6 adopted kiddos!! There has not been one situation where the open adoption allowed a bio-parent to have any "say" in raising the child. This is NOT their child to parent anymore. Most of the open adoptions I've seen includes having some sort of relationship, letters, phone calls, and some visitation. Nothing more. One of my friends (The one with 6 kids) regrets the open adoption they have. It's with the first child, and they had closed adoptions after. The bio-mom DID think she should have an opinion on how the child is raised, but she doesn' It certainly raised some contentious issues.

We are not interested in having anymore children, but we'd adopt if we were. I would only ever have a closed adoption after seeing what she went through.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know legally, but my understanding of an open adoption was that the adoptive parents have 100% control over how the child is raised. The "open" aspect refers only to knowing who the bio parents are and, if desired, having contact with them. Contact can be in person, over the phone, or even just mailing the occasional photograph. I would expect the bio parents to relinquish 100% of the parenting duties.

I've never been through an adoption on either side, but I've never heard of a situation where the bio parents maintained some control over the child's upbringing.

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answers from New York on

Usually an open adoption means birth Mom can visit with child a certain amount of times. Usually the adoptive parents raise the child the way they want, birth Mom has no say.

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answers from Anchorage on

If it is an actual adoption (not just someone having custody) then the adoptive parents have all rights over the child and allow the bio parents into the child's life as they see fit. Usually this is decided upon (how involved ect) before the birth. One lady I knew just got pictures and send letters, like a pen pal, but others do outings and visitation.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We are homestudy approved for domestic adoption. If the laws are the same from when we first started in 2006, agreements to stay in touch are only mutual agreements and cannot be legally bound. The adoptive parent(s) are encouraged to follow what they promised and notify the social worker immediately if they need to deviate from the promise(s).

Every adoption is different. While there are tons of stories/books/blogs out there telling about these certain experiences, we know several families that have grown through adoption and I can tell you about 2 completely different situations . . . #1 - the adoptive couple wanted to be open about everything, allow the birth mother to visit/call whenever she wanted, have any role she desired in raising the child. The birthmother only contacted them when she needed bail money or other issues, and it caused several heartbreaks for the child. They wished they had started differently. #2 - the adoptive couple wanted as little communication as possible, and agreed to mailing pictures/updates twice/year to the agency for the birth mother to access. They ended up falling in love with the birthmother, thinking of her as more like a little sister to them and they visit 3x/year (she comes once, they go to her twice) and stay in touch on Facebook and other things.

Knowing about so many instances, we just wanted to take each instance as it came and not put out any absolutes. It just so happens that the opportunities that have come our way all involved birthparents who wanted zero contact. Not at our request, but at theirs. Unfortunately, all opportunities were out of our reach so far (three happened when I was pregnant and in the hospital for practically the entire time and of course, couldn't leave), two happened that involved double agency fees that we could not afford, one involved a couple who changed their mind.

I remember reading a blog by adoptive parents who had complete open-ness with their birth mother. It started well, but then there were problems with parents choice of formula, then feeding, then schooling and the birthmother drifted further away to the point of almost no communication by the time the child was 5yo.

So many different variables.

1 mom found this helpful
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