Why Open Adoption?

Dawn Davenport

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I can’t wait to share this terrific blog post with you by a first mom, Michelle, who placed her daughter in 2009. Her blog is

A birth mother tells what it is like to be denied access to her child.

A birth mother tells what it is like to be denied access to her child.

Not Quite Juno,  and her adoption story is not the usual, but then, none are.  She is married with three kids.  She unexpectedly became pregnant. (Turns out your high school gym teacher was right–birth control is not 100%.)  Emotionally and financially—especially financially– they were not in the position to raise a fourth child.  They turned to adoption.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me (or to her), Michelle decided to search for adoptive parents through Craigslist.  Perhaps she thought an adoption agency would just add complications or red tape.  But one “complication” or “red tape” that good adoption agencies provide is counseling and education.  Without an agency, she and the adoptive parents were left alone to walk this very tricky path.   Out of ignorance, or out of the need to “get on with her life”, or more likely both, she asked for a somewhat closed adoption.  Remember, “open adoption” and “closed adoption” are not clearly defined terms, and each set of first and adoptive parents negotiate the arrangement they want.

Looking back

In an ideal world, both adoptive and first parent receive education and counseling on adoption, on negotiating a lifetime relationship, and on openness.  In an ideal world, both parties remain flexible to adjusting the agreement based on their changing needs and most important, the needs of the child.  Reading Michelle’s posts about the time of her pregnancy and placement, made me itch to talk with her and the adoptive parents.  I suspect many of the subsequent bumps in their relationship could have been smoothed with better understanding and communication.  But, I wasn’t there, and no one else was either.  Michelle is left to figure out much of this on her own, and she does so eloquently in her blog.  She is one terrific writer!  In this post she answers the question “If I had it to do over…would I do it again???”  I dare you to read this without getting misty eyed.  I dare you to read this and not come away with a better understanding of openness and hopefully less fear.

“I have NEVER regretted my decision to choose adoption. I have spent a great many nights regretting ever even having sex so that I could get pregnant. I have regretted not educating myself on my options. I have regretted the lack of counseling, and the lack of a proper support staff. I have regretted a million different things, and find new ones daily, but I DO NOT regret adoption as my choice. You cannot regret a decision that you could not change. I could not keep her, and I knew that from the moment I saw the double lines on the pregnancy test….

I know that my adoptive parents are no more perfect than I am.  And because of that, I have spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not I would choose them again.  The questions all start with “If you had it to do over again…” or “If you knew then what you know now…” and the reality is that I don’t.  I didn’t.  No one does.  No one can.  And regret is an ugly thing, especially when based around something so beautiful….So for the record, once and for all, don’t ever ask me if I regret my decision to choose adoption, because I don’t.  It was my only option….

I think a lot of times hopeful adoptive parents promise the world to birthmoms in order to complete their own. I think that many “over promise” and under deliver.  L & M [her child’s adoptive parents] told me many times that they “were fine” with me wanting a closed adoption vs. an open one, when it seems to me it should be the other way around. I wonder if they were disappointed that I didn’t want an open one originally, or if their first thought was, “FANTASTIC! Hang on to this one.”  There is no way to know.  I do know one thing though…I loved them.  I loved them heart and soul, with every fiber in my being, and I wanted them to love me too.  And I miss that feeling.  It’s like a bad divorce….you have years of good times, and then it all goes south.  Except I only had a few months of good, and now an unknown amount of bad times.  I want an open adoption.  I want to be part of their lives.  I want to know that they love her and I want to see it.  I want them to be secure enough in their roles as parents to let me be around them.  I want to sleep well at night knowing that I made the right decision.  I want to be able to live my life without every song, movie and book reminding me of what has happened.”

Image credit: Not Quite Juno

02/11/2010 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 8 Comments



8 Responses to Why Open Adoption?

  1. Jamie says:

    Dawn, I’ve heard so many times on your show and reading books, etc, that a kid never has too many people to love and support them. I have no doubt that openness in adoption can get complicated. It probably starts complicated! But I wish that we could give our new daughter from China another person to love her – I wish we could connect her to her birth parents – and my advice to anybody who has the opportunity to maintain some connection with birth parents would be absolutely to do it! I wish we had the chance to give our daughter the gift of a relationship with her birth parents.

  2. Michelle is such a brilliant writer! I had the pleasure of meeting her last month at a conference and all I can say is that she is just as real on her blog as she is in life! So proud of her, the you featured her today! She really is an AMAZING writer…thanks for shedding the light on her.

  3. Brendy says:

    You’re right, I got misty eyed. Touching and poignant.

  4. G. A. says:

    Thank you for another great post. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I appreciate your work.

  5. Beatrice says:

    Why open adoption? Why not? Thanks for introducing me to Michelle’s site. Good stuff.

  6. Podcast addict says:

    Open adoption is scary to us. I recently listened to your show on Open Adoption and felt much better. There was so much we didn’t understand. And now today I saw this and really began to get it. I can’t wait for my DH to read it. Thanks and thanks to Michelle.

  7. Fiona says:

    Thank you for posting this. Adoptive parents need to understand where first parents are coming from. Thank you for continuing to show all sides of adoption. I wish Michelle well.

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