closing an open adoption
What would justify an adoptive parent changing their mind after the adoption and closing the adoption?

There have been a series of posts in the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group that break my heart. Several birth moms have talked about having been promised an open adoption before placement by their child’s adoptive parents, but a couple of years into the adoption, communication started to dwindle and ultimately the adoptions closed. Others talked about their fear of this happening.

It is heartbreaking to read of their longing and angst. They feel betrayed by the very people they chose to do the most important thing in the world—raise their child. Understandably, many also feel mad as hell at the adoptive parents, at the adoption professionals, and also at the very institution of adoption. I get it!

Is there ever a reason for an adoptive parent to close an adoption and break a promise they gave of openness?

Well, I suppose if I think hard enough I can imagine a scenario where the child’s safety is truly threatened or the first parents are simply not able to work within any boundaries, but in almost all cases, some degree of openness can be maintained even in the most extreme circumstances. (Keep in mind that openness does not necessarily mean visits.)

And honestly, often when I hear adoptive parents consider closing an adoption, it is for annoying, but relatively trivial things that would elicit a deep sigh and an eye roll if done by another family member. It certainly would not result in cutting that family member out of their life.

After reading some of these tragic stories in the group, a group member wrote the following letter to her son’s birth mother and birth father. Get your hanky ready!


Eight months have gone by since we met you, and then E [their son], and our lives changed forever. Eight months is such a short amount of time, and yet some days it feels like a lifetime. We think back to those first few meetings we had getting to know each other. Intermingling the most intense and important conversations of our lives with talk about bands we like and how many times M has gone to the ER (a lot).

So many things were said, promises were made and the unknowns were too great to measure.

We know how unsure we were of how to feel, what to say, what to do. We never wanted you to feel pressured, but we also wanted you to know how much we wanted to be parents, and how committed we were to maintaining a relationship with you both. We can’t imagine how you were feeling, preparing to trust us, practical strangers, with the most precious thing in the world– your son. You were taking a chance, hoping that we meant all the things we said, and that we would do all the things we said we would. It was a big leap of faith, contact agreement or not.

Through much reading online, we’ve learned that too many birth parents feel afraid all the time that their children’s adoptive parents will pull back or pull away. That if they say something wrong, or do something wrong that their access to their child will be restricted. It’s been heartbreaking to know that people feel that way and live with that kind of fear. So we thought that 8 months after we made so many promises, when there was so much on the line, we should tell you again what our intentions are.

You will always be in E’s life. You will always have a place in our hearts and at our table. We look at this child who we love more than life itself, and we see both your faces looking back at us. We are grateful for you every single day, and we think of you every single day. No matter who you are, or what you are, or what you do, or what kinds of challenges life throws your way, we will never shut you out.

Nothing you could say or ask or think would change our commitment to you. You are our family now, and that is forever.

It won’t always be easy. We won’t always see eye to eye. There will be misunderstandings, miscommunications, differences of opinion, and we will work through them. We don’t expect you to be perfect, and we hope you don’t expect us to be either. We’ve made mistakes and we will make them again, and we hope you will forgive us. We know you may make mistakes as well, and we promise to forgive you.

We are not in competition with you for the role of E’s parents. We are all his parents. Adoptive mother, adoptive father, birth mother, birth father. Each is different but they are all equally important to him. He needs all of us in different ways. Him loving you does not take away from the love he has for us. There is enough love for all of us.

We want you to know that in every choice we make for him, adoption related or not, we are thinking of E and what is best for him. And what is best for him is to always know you and be able to see his face in yours. To be able to ask you the questions he has about where he came from and why he was adopted.

Someday this sweet little baby will grow into a boy, and then a teenager, and then a man, and we will have to answer to him for every choice we’ve made for him, as will you. We want to be able to look him in the eye and tell him that we always put him first, even when it was hard.

We are in this for the long haul, we are not going anywhere. You don’t ever need to be afraid to be yourself and share your life with us (which we hope you will!). We aren’t just tolerating you; we want you in our lives! You’re stuck with us, so get used to it. {smile emoticon}


If you promised openness, what would make you close it? Have you closed your adoption? Why?

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