What level of adoption openness do you have?


When I was going through the adoption process, I had a few sessions with the counselor and she actually walked me through really what it is that I wanted out of the adoption process and together we sat down and talked over all the different options. For me, I wanted to be a part of the baby’s life but only to a degree in the sense that I wanted it to be up to her whether or not she wanted me in her life. So I chose for a semi-open adoption and the way it worked was for the first year I had one visit and then every month the mom would send me photos and an update just about the progress and the baby, what the baby was doing and so that was really great.

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That happened for the 2nd year as well and I had one visit on the 2nd year and then after that we cut back on the visits and also the letters and the pictures would come less frequently. Now I get a letter update and a picture every Christmas and so usually it’s a really long letter and it’s great because I get to hear about everything that’s happened throughout the year for my daughter and it’s just a really exciting thing to have. We decided that at the very beginning and never really changed that throughout the process.

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We have an extremely open adoption which I feel like, in talking to other birth moms is kind of a rare situation of where we are completely open. We know where each other live, we have each other’s addresses and we see each other several times a year especially around holidays and birthdays but we also like within the first 2 years of placement afterwards, I would go spend the night at their house and I would babysit for them. They were just so trusting of me and I’m just part of their family and it definitely works for us. And now 11 years later she’ll come and spend the night at my house with my kids and she becomes a part of our family for a few days and so it’s been a huge, huge blessing of what it turned into. Far more than I imagined what it would be and it works.


So I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be a part of my child’s life. Whether placing or parenting, always from beginning I knew. So when I chose the place, I wanted a couple that would allow me to be a part of their life. The cool thing about my couple is that it’s not them allowing me, it’s me allowing them. They wanted—I got to choose the level openness so if our adoption ever closes at all, it’d be because of me. Which I love because I want it to be super open. We have visits- more like in-house staying and hanging out and cause we’re family basically. I get videos and photos all the time. Sometimes she texts me during the day saying I didn’t get any sleep tonight and it’s awesome. I love the whole open adoption and being family. Because adoption it’s about love and gaining bigger relationships.


We have one of the most open adoptions I’ve ever heard of. Starting before I was induced. They live in California, flew out to Georgia where I live and we spent the week before my induction together doing all the things that typical couples do when they’re trying to induce labor whether it was running up and down stairs, eating spicy food, eating pineapple, every old wife’s tale and trick you could think of, we did. And they did it with me which is amazing because I hadn’t had a significant other to do the type of fun stuff [no audio] the whole pregnancy.

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So this was new, it was fun, it was a great bonding experience. Then when it came time to deliver Elizabeth they were with me in the hospital the whole time, stepped out of the room when she was being born. They were so respectful and gave me as much time as I wanted with her before I called them into the room and handed her to her adoptive mom. That moment was one of the most beautiful moments and one of the hardest moments I’ve ever been through. After that we spent part of the weeks together after she was born, just spending time together. They let me have alone time with her, just to hold her and love on her and at the same time I was respectful of them and gave them that same [no audio].

Fast forward 6 months, I’m off to college still we Skyped, we talk on the phone, well, I talk, she babbled. They would send me pictures, they would post pictures on Facebook, videos, they sent me a video tours of their house with her, showed me her room. Her adoptive mother and I actually picked out all of the decorations for her nursery together. We even at that point they would, they had Velcro straps and would strap the laptop to her crib so the screen was hanging over her face and we could Skype and talk and I could listen to her and talk to her and we would do that pretty frequently.

Then moving forward about 6 months, I visited. I came out to California and spent about a week with them. It was great for them, they got to go on date night and I got to babysit and they’re not gonna find a better babysitter who’s going to take better care of that child than me and it was great for them because they finally got some alone time, some one on one time which when you have a newborn tends to disappear. And we just had a great time. Then after I left and came back to Georgia and back to college, we continued to Skype and talk to the phone. As she’s gotten older they send me arts & crafts. Now we do Skype and actually have conversation. [no audio] We talk on the phone and have a conversation. She send me letters, like literal individual letter A, B, C, D or whatever in the mail, as she’s learning the alphabet. When we visit, they either come here or we go out there. It is so much fun, because I don’t feel like her adoptive parents are peering over my shoulder. They don’t feel like I’m being judgmental with how they’re raising here. It’s just so totally open. They even let me know what she’s struggling with. She was a biter growing up and no, there was no dishonesty. They would say, “Oh my goodness. This is so annoying. This is so difficult. I don’t know what to do, I’m so frustrated”. Being able to be there and share that with them, those parenting frustrations was [no audio] and then most recently she visited in June for my cousin’s wedding who my family’s always been really close to her adoptive parents and they decided that after the wedding they were going to go into a little vacation and I got to keep Elizabeth. I got to take her back to my apartment which is about 2 hours away and just spend the week just hanging out, having time with her. So it ranges from letters, phone calls, Skype to visits in person and even short vacations where it’s just [no audio] and it’s great.

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The level of adoption openness, I knew I wanted open adoption, but back in 1987 a completely open adoption, I don’t even know if that was an option at the time. So it was either close or semi-open. So we opted for semi-open and that entailed letters and pictures, Rick and Theresa left it open to whatever I wanted. They were very gracious in saying whatever I was comfortable with and whatever I wanted. So I received letters and pictures for the first couple months, I won’t say monthly, I could get it wrong. It may have been every 3 months but it was pretty frequent and then we went to every 6 months and then yearly. That worked really well. After year 7 there was a little hiccup in our communication. I blamed myself saying that I didn’t think I wanted the letters and pictures anymore, Theresa said no, that didn’t happen. She kept sending them. They kind of got lost somewhere in the adoption agency, somewhere along there.

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We reconnected when Colin was 18. We reconnected with him. We emailed for a few years and I’ve been in contact with Rick and Theresa and then a few years later Colin decided he did not want to have any more communication at this point. I haven’t met him. I haven’t spoken with him on the phone. We just did some emailing but I’m really fortunate that Theresa has been really kind and we talk often and we text almost weekly and she gives me the inside scoop on what’s happening and share some really great parts of Colin’s life with me. So that’s where we at right now and it’s okay. Colin’s an adult and when he’s decide that he’s ready and wants to meet me and if he doesn’t and that’s just not what he needs in his life then that’s okay too. It’s a beautiful mess what I think adoption is but it’s great. There’s blessings on both sides of it.

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We have a pretty open adoption. We do regular visits when we can get together. They’re super busy all time because they have crazy energy. We write emails to each other all the time. When we first went through this I wasn’t really sure what kind of level of openness that I wanted it. To me, I thought maybe something more like semi-open or maybe even veering towards not closed like no contact whatsoever but very limited contact, but as time went on I realized that I wanted something more open and so did they.

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Myself, Mike and Amanda were kind of afraid of stepping on each other’s toes by acting to how to be more open. We started out with smaller communications like letters and pictures. Actually, our agency has a very basic openness level contract where letters and pictures the first 6 months and then once a year and then after that year we decided to open it up to more frequent emails. We email all the time now. She just emailed me twice today. It’s really awesome. I get updates which I love and they get to hear about me. They have a special email that they have for Henry when he gets older.

I was really afraid of asking for more openness. I was afraid that I was pushing myself on them and maybe they didn’t want that. They were afraid of stepping on my toes and impeding on my healing process if I wasn’t ready. Luckily, all I had to do was ask my case worker to send them my email and ask if that was something that they’d be interested in and pretty much the next day that Amanda had emailed me and that’s what really got us started.

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I describe it as semi-open. I do get emails and pictures from the adoptive mother. I don’t have a whole lot of contact with the adoptive father. It wasn’t chosen, it’s something that just happened. I placed 19 years ago so adoption wasn’t talked about like it is now. Knowing that there was openness in adoptions was not something that was known, not to me anyway. I didn’t go through an agency so I didn’t have the help of others. The only person that chose the openness that we have is the adoptive mother.

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I think for the most part, having a semi-open has worked for me. There have been times that I would be angry when I hear all the other stories of open adoptions and how these birthparents get to see their children and so I would get upset. But for me personally, I think that it has really been an amazing journey and something that was meant to be the way it is. At this time I don’t have any contact with my biological daughter. She has chosen not to have contact. I did write her a letter when she was 18 and sent it to her. At that time she asked her mom to let me know that she was not prepared to have any kind of contact with me. And I chose that I need to accept that because 19 years ago was when I chose that it would be her decision to contact me or not when she’s older.

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