Individuals and couples usually enter the adoption process somewhat fearful, especially in an open adoption arrangement, says Independent Adoption Center Associate Executive Director Kathleen Silber, MSW, ACSW. While these feelings are completely normal, Silber says there are many reasons why open adoption benefits all parties, especially the child, and offers her perspectives and tips for creating and maintaining healthy relationships.
“When adopting a baby, prospective adoptive parents may have concerns building and maintaining a relationship with the birthmother or birthparents,”
Silber says that as children grow older, they become increasingly fascinated about their roots. They usually begin to ask a lot of questions around the time they reach school age, particularly as teachers ask students to talk about their family structures in class, she notes, and an open adoption arrangement equips them with answers and confidence.
“Hugs, small gifts and—most importantly—
Once adoptive parents actually become parents, they realize that they are the parents, says Silber. It doesn’t take long for anyone to appreciate that they are the ones who are there every day taking care of the child, helping them learn, grow and love, she elaborates.
“The adoptive parents are the parents who the child recognizes as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad,’” says Silber. “And although the child sees the birthparents on a regular basis and they have a place in each other’s lives, the birthparents are not the child’s parents.”
Silber says it helps for adoptive parents to view the birthparents as relatives. The truth is that they are relatives because they are related to the child. Accepting them as relatives, she says, often makes it easier for many adoptive parents to feel comfortable maintaining an ongoing relationship.
“Most people have ongoing contact with relatives, who they may see once or twice a year, at holidays or birthdays, simply because they are relatives,” said Silber. “It works the same with birthparents.
“With ongoing contact, the birthparents become part of the extended family. If problems arise, they can be worked out the same way family members work out conflict. And if extra help is needed, they can seek out adoption mediation services, which are available for life for clients of the Independent Adoption Center.”
It’s important to move past the fears that everyone feels entering the open adoption process and into the warmth of a relationship built on trust and love, says Silber. “After all, your child cannot have too many people in his life who love him, and a little extra love will only help your child build a more positive self-concept,”
For more information about open adoption, please contact IAC at (855) 210-6205 or go to http://www.adoptionhelp.org.
About Independent Adoption Center
Independent Adoption Center (IAC) is an open adoption agency that provides placement and counseling to birth and adoptive families to ensure that every child grows up feeling loved and supported. Since opening in 1982, the IAC has successfully placed over 4,000 newborns with families in the United States.