People Involved In Open Adoptions Shared Their Stories, And It's Actually So Interesting
"It's not an experience I initially would have chosen, but it ended up being such a blessing."
1. "When I got pregnant, I was in absolutely no position to raise a child ... When I was eight months pregnant, we lost our house and I felt hopeless."
"I decided on an open adoption because I knew it would absolutely kill me to not be involved in my son's life ... It’s been challenging to navigate at times, and sometimes the overwhelming emotions sneak up on me, but I get to see how happy he is (in person and in pictures) and that brings me a lot of peace. He knows who I am and he knows where he came from! I think about him and miss him every single day, but I know I made the right decision for both of us."
2. "I was adopted by a family member of my biological mother. When I was a kid, I thought it was cool. We would visit her (and eventually my half-siblings) in the summers, [and] she would call me on my birthday and holidays."
"As I started getting into my early teens, the dynamic shifted ... [She] didn’t call anymore [and] became really distant. It was a really hard thing to adjust to, and I spent nearly 10 years trying to push back and make the connection happen. It wasn’t met with much (if any) effort on the other end. Now it’s rare to hear from her at all ... I haven’t visited in years, and I don’t have any intention to. It’s too hard. I have these overwhelming, indescribable feelings of sadness and rejection. My heart aches most of the time. I often feel like there isn’t enough therapy in the world to make me not hurt. I wish I didn’t know her."
3. "Our two children are adopted from foster care with different kinds of openness. Our daughter sees her birth mother and sister. Our son sees his birth sister and brother. Pre-COVID, we had visits quarterly and hope to meet again soon."
"We don't use labels like 'half' or 'step' or 'bio' or 'adopted.' Everyone is just a brother or sister, and we consider the biologically related siblings ... and their respective adopted siblings as part of our extended family. We feel lucky that our children have a connection to where they came from; it doesn't diminish the love they feel for us or threaten their belonging in our family."
4. "I found myself pregnant in my early thirties ... My husband and I knew we wanted to be child-free. I considered abortion. But we had close friends who were struggling with infertility and couldn't afford the expensive treatments. We offered to let them adopt the baby and they accepted."
"Mom came to every appointment, and it brought me so much joy to see her excitement over becoming a mom. ... However, the experience also had its difficulties. People don't embrace you wanting to place your child for adoption. ... I could also see some of the apprehension my friend experienced as she always had in the back of her brain that I could change my mind. ... I knew I didn't want to be a mom and that never wavered. But I was nervous about what my feelings would be after the birth. Would I feel guilty? Would I be able to handle seeing the baby, or would that be difficult? Were the parents not going to want to be around me after the baby was born? ... None of those fears came to fruition. ... I feel a close connection, but no sort of parental connection with the child. ... I've had zero regrets and it has been such a joy seeing my friend be a mother."
5. "My experience has been somewhat disappointing in the long term. I promised my son's mom pictures and updates and said that we could have regular phone calls. Fairly quickly, her level of contact fell off more and more and more."
"The last time he spoke with her was a completely unexpected call in response to a picture we sent wishing her a happy Mother's Day when he was 3, so [we're] coming up on four years of no contact from her. ... I continue to send her pictures every month, because I want to show my son when he's older that I made the effort to keep him in contact with her. He's old enough now that he wants to know why, and it's just very hard to explain. I had hopes that there would be calls; that he might know his half brothers that live with his mom; that they would meet. That seems unlikely now."
6. "I’m in the process of potentially adopting two children (unrelated to each other) through foster care. I have worked hard to develop and maintain healthy relationships with both sets of my children’s parents."
"It brings a strong sense of security to my kids knowing that we will all circle together because we love them."
7. "My adopted parents were family friends of my biological mom. She knew she couldn’t keep me because she was young, and my biological father was not a good person (still isn’t). I grew up knowing my mom as an aunt until I was old enough."
"Once I turned 12, I spent a weekend every couple of months visiting her and getting to know my younger sister and two brothers (she married a wonderful man a couple of years after I was born). We had a lot of family dinners with my adopted family (two older brothers) and biological family together over the years, and my parents were always supportive and enjoyed getting together. ... It was definitely an unusual situation for the time. I met the man responsible for my birth when I was 16 and became very disappointed with who he was. We have no contact anymore, but I was able to find another sister through him who I bonded with instantly!"
8. "I was adopted in an open adoption. My mom kept in touch with my biological mom for a few years, and then she moved back out in our area when I was 16 and we ended up meeting and stayed involved with each other for a few years."
"It took four years for me to be legally adopted, so my parents told me at the age of four that I was adopted. Obviously, I didn't handle it well. It ruined my relationship with my parents, but I can't say what the perfect age would have been. Now that I'm older, I'm much closer with my parents and I always understood why my mom was unable to keep me and never blamed her."
9. "I was adopted before adoption laws were really set in stone. ... My biological father wanted nothing to do with me. Once I was born, my biological mother told my parents she would love to be a part of my life but only on my terms."
"My biological father actually changed his mind ... he sued my adopted parents for custody. ... My adopted parents were allowed to leave the state because my mom's dad had just passed. ... Luckily, during that trip, my biological dad called and said he would drop the charges and apologized. ... Flash forward 25 years and I actually have a good relationship with both of my biological parents. I have two half-siblings on my dad's side that I try to see once a week now that I've graduated college (they live about 20 minutes away). My mom lives about two hours away, and I don’t see her as often, but she’s more a friend than a parent. ... I also currently live next to my biological maternal grandparents, who are some of my last living grandparents, and I love [them]. I split holidays as best as I can right now, and I won’t lie, it gets stressful. But overall, all my parents are understanding and love me."
10. "With my older sister, it was hell. It meant that her toxic mother had a hold over her for a really long time, so she never really got to be free."
"Eventually, her mom got the help she needed and she and my sister are on good terms now, but she lost out on so much of her childhood because of that continued relationship. My mom and dad didn't really want it to be an open adoption situation, but my sister was 14, so it was tricky. ... We all lived in the same town, and she was still going to school with her other siblings. My mom did her best, but she never really felt like 'mom' to my sister."
11. "I was adopted by a tenuous family member. I knew my birth mom and hated her for giving me up."
"Life is funny though, on occasion. I had a falling out with family, a bad adoption really, then I got sick. My birth mom is my caregiver now as well as my best friend."
12. "When we first started looking into adoption, we thought we wanted a closed adoption. However, through our education course and Home Study, we realized that A) more adoptions are actually open rather than closed, and B) if it is safe to maintain those relationships, it has a huge benefit for the child!"
"Our daughter is 20 months old. We have visited with her birth parents twice since she was born (should have been four times — stupid COVID) and we are so happy we have done so. One day, she will have questions about her adoption and her biological family. Who better to answer them than her birth parents? We also don't feel scared or threatened by that relationship. Yes, they gave her life and her genes, but we are there for the day-to-day and have the privilege to watch her grow up. We are her parents."
13. "There was a contract for the first five years of my life saying that my biological mother had rights to see me at least once a year. My parents let her continue to have contact with me throughout my life. When I became an adult, I made the decision to stop having contact."
"There were some pretty big letdowns where she ... no-showed or she canceled at the very last minute, and I decided I didn't need that nonsense in my life because my parents are wonderful. I appreciate that they wanted to keep that relationship open for me. I just wish they had been a little more honest with me growing up about how flaky she was. There were years/long chunks of time when I was a kid that they didn't know where she was and they lied about it to protect my little heart."
14. "I am a child of an open adoption and my (adopted) brother is the child of a closed adoption. Our parents are our parents, but my biological mother and her family were involved in my life for a long time."
"My bio mom would come in and out of my life a couple of times a year, and her parents would send gifts and stop by and visit when they were in town. ... As I got older and my bio mom married and started her own family, I had a harder time coming to terms with my adoption. From what I could see, she was emotionally and financially stable, was in her mid-twenties when I was born, and continued her relationship with my bio dad for three years after I was born. There didn't seem to be a 'big reason' to not keep me, which made me feel unworthy and rejected. ... Looking back, I know this was massively unfair to both her and to myself, and I wish I had started therapy as soon as these feelings started to arise because I pulled back from my bio mom and her family in my teens/twenties. There are still calls on my birthday and the occasional get-together, but it isn't the relationship it was. ... Despite these issues, I am incredibly grateful to her for choosing my adoptive family to be my family."
15. "I became a birth mom when I was 16. I had worked with an adoption agency after spending six months hiding my pregnancy. When I first met my daughter’s adoptive parents, I knew that they were meant to be her parents."
"Fifteen years later, I have a great relationship with my daughter and her family. I moved out of state when I was 18, but my parents still live nearby and they see her almost monthly. The key is open, honest communication and boundaries. I’m so thankful for my daughter’s family."
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.