Open Adoption Round Table Discussion #36
Open adoption agreements are the documents signed by placing parents and adopting parents that establish post-adoption contact expectations and boundaries. Discussions often focus on their legal weight (e.g. Are the agreements enforceable in court?) or the practical details (e.g. How many visits?), both very important issues.
When we first began our adoption process I was totally cool with Semi Open adoption but not so sure of "Open Open Adoption!" We had friends that had open adoptions with both of their children but still it was kinda scary. I thought it was going to feel like a divorce situation but instead I have been so surprised that it feels more like a family extension. We stepped out on the edge when our agency's Pregnancy Counselor asked if she could show our profile to a Birth Mother who wanted 1-2 visits a year. Frankly, I was just excited to have my profile shown and was thinking I could handle 1-2 "supervised visits" a year!! When Kaycee's BM chose us and we met her, our whole perception changed. Before then it was just words and stories we had heard. Then there was a real, amazing, beautiful woman who I just wanted to hug and hold and love on. I always giggle when I think of the conversations my husband and I had on the car ride to and from meeting our perspective BM.
It went something like this:
Car ride there...
Husband: "Um, she's never coming to our house ya know. We can meet her at Bethany's office or at a public park with a social worker there." Me: "Ok yeah we'll see how it goes.... I mean I don't want this to be like co-parenting or anything."
Ride Home 2 hours later:
Husband: "Wow-- she is amazing. I think we should have her over for Christmas this year."
Me: "Um, ok let's just see how it goes..."
And we did have her over for Christmas last year.
One thing we did do (which is why I am responding to this round table discussion) is have a written agreement in place. I had another friend who had adopted her son and had an open adoption a few months prior but no written agreement made. She recommended we do it to prevent any miscommunication or hurt feelings. So we did and I was glad we did. We set it up for pics and letters every month for the first 6 months, then at 9 and 12 months and then visits every October, February, June or something like that... As you can tell we haven't really followed it because we have opened it up to where we can text or call and set it up whenever but it was sooooo important to me to have that in place in the beginning. Not because I was afraid she was going to over step her boundaries but because I never wanted to let her down or hurt her feelings by not letting her see Kaycee. So now I send pictures when I get them or I'll text them to her. We saw her at Kaycee's birthday in October (she came to our home for the party) but have not seen her since. I have tried and left that door open for her. Whenever she wants a visit I'll be there with arms wide open. I pray that she will continue to want them...