Domestic Adoption: Open vs. Closed

When I disclosed that my small perfect Los Angeles family would prefer to adopt internationally, many of you weighed in with Comments about domestic adoption instead: it’s cheaper, takes a shorter amount of time and allows your adopted child to know its birth parents. But… what if I don’t want my new kid to know her own birth parents? What if they are awful people?

Controversy ensued.

Than, a brilliant letter from author Lori Holden, who just finished writing “The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole” (available from Rowman & Littlefield 2013). She allows us to read excerpts below or on her site. And she discusses the pros and cons of open adoption far better than I ever could — she just went through a successful domestic, open adoption. With love and care.

Part 1 and Adoption Letter from Lori. I’ll add Part 2 from Lori on Friday — stay tuned to The Adoption Diaries.

“In listening to people from all walks of adoption (adoptive parents, first parents, adult adoptees) while researching and writing my book, the prime fear I hear from adopting parents is that they’ll never be considered the ‘real’ parent. That they feel like as much distance as possible needs to be put between their newly-formed family and the not-so-convenient spare parent out there ready and wanting to rapaciously take over.

This fear is at the root of much dysfunctional thinking and acting in open adoption relationships. But though simple awareness of that fear, it can be examined and resolved.

Often, such fear causes people to come from a place of Either/Or thinking. Either WE are the “real” parents or THEY are. Either we can legitimately claim the child or they can. In the old days of closed adoption, the child could scarcely even think about his other parents without it feeling like a betrayal. US?….or THEM??? (Cue ominous and sinister music.)

But this type of thinking is like splitting the baby. Remember that Solomon tale? The wise king knew how to tease out the “real” mother when two women came to him claiming the same baby. When his “solution” was to split the baby in half, thereby sharing it with both claimants, the “real” mother would be the one to do whatever it takes to keep the baby whole and well, even if it meant loss to her.

Tune in on Friday for Part 2: An Adoption Letter from Lori.

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