Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Open, Semi- Open, and Closed Adoption & Adoption Date for Joanna

 So this is a continuance of my domestic adoption post - People ask all the time what are the differences between open, semi-open, and closed adoptions.  So I am going to give you some definitions that are pretty accepted in domestic adoptions.

Closed adoption- this is where there is NO contact whatsoever between the birth family and the child or baby even as the child is growing up.  There is no exchange of contact information and you may not even know who the birth mom's name is, have a picture, or know anything about them whatsoever.  Most overseas adoptions are closed (except some programs now such as the Ethiopia program are pleased to have birth family meeting and happy to pass along pictures etc. to the families, but this is not the norm).

Closed adoption is also a protection for children that need to NOT be exposed to the birth family for safety concerns.  Sometimes this option is ok with these situations because obviously the children need to be protected even at the cost of not having that relationship.

In my opinion these are the only two situations when adoption should be closed.  I think even if it is minimal contact- there should be something.  If for no other reason than just a curiosity that all children will have about the birth family.  That is my opinion- you don't have to agree.  I have had several families that have adopted overseas and really mourned the fact that they can't tell anything to them about the birth family.  Breaks my heart because most of the time they LOVE their families, but just want to see if they look like their birth mom or have any of their traits....simple curiosity.  Or they want to know that they are safe and ok.

On to Semi-Open...this is when you send ongoing pictures, letters saying what the children are doing at different stages, and you may even have open electronic lines- like e-mails, facebook, or blogs.  Most times you meet the family at the child's birth or shortly after the consent forms are filled out for parental termination. This is what we have with all of our children's birth families.  This is a pretty comfortable place to be.  You get to share some things online, or with letters & pics.  We tend to do this at least twice a year, with more often in the beginning.  Eventually when our children are older we have made it very clear that they are able to choose getting to visit their birth families.  We have had pictures of the birth families on the wall.  We keep our conversations open about the birth families.  We are happy to say things in our home like- oh you have _________'s smile.

The thought of this sometimes scares the mess out of people, but I want to emphasize that once you get passed the "scary" first meeting.....it is a great way to make sure your children don't feel that rejection as strongly.  It is something you can be open about.  Let me also state that the birth family is usually JUST AS NERVOUS as you are.  Imagine for a few minutes how it feels to know that you LOVE YOUR CHILD SOOOOOOO  MUCH!!!  You have viewed profiles or been told a family has been found for your child....then you have/get to meet them.  Sometimes for the first time - the day your child is born!  I mean- talk about pressure.  You wonder......do they think that I am a loser?  Do they think I am just to incompetent to raise my child?  Will they tell my child horrible things about me as they grow up?  What will they really think about me?

I don't know about you, but that list crosses my mind as I think of our birth families........I want to MAKE SURE they know that NONE of that is true.  ****I also want to say that in the case of foster care sometimes it is a GOOD thing to have a break before having any ongoing relationship.  Sometimes I believe you can cause more damage by trying to start anything right away - on the child's behalf.  As in we have always written the letters, and sent the pics.  At first we didn't make a big deal about it....because just months prior our children had "mental breakdowns" over having to have visits with them.  So you do have to judge this for your child's mental safety as well.

I would say that sometimes our feedback has not been positive.  REMEMBER the birth family is hurting!  This is a time to show grace and mercy....not throw stones!  We have received plenty of negative letters from one of our birth families.  This was an opportunity for us to show Jesus to her and resist any urge to be snotty back.  We simply sent our usual letters and pics as if we had never received anything hurtful from her.  You know what- just lately we have received some very nice letters from her :)  Praising God for this!  It is HIM who works things out and our job is to do our best.

Then there are open adoptions.  These are something hard to do.  They are not for the faint of heart.  My cousin's family has an open adoption with both birth families....and it is sometimes heartbreaking.  They have media contact, phone contact, as well as visits.  Now this can of course only happen when you live at least somewhat locally.  Which for most of our birth families....we don't.  So it is hard to have any twice yearly or less or more often visits with them when they live pretty far away.  We do plan on visiting birth families - when we are able to visit these other states in the future.

The tricky part with this is there is A LOT OF TRUST to do this kind of adoption.  Sometimes it is not easy because a comment is made....and it can cause hard feelings.  Although sometimes it can be very beneficial- but it depends solely on how the "adults" handle it as well.  It can be well done if you put the effort in.  Of course for us - it is a cross between semi-open and open.  There are many options in between :)

So you need to figure out what you are comfortable with.  One of our birth moms didn't want ANY contact, but after meeting her at the hospital.....that all changed.  Now we have her number, and she has our blog address, and we are able to send pics and letter directly to her :)  So sometimes it changes....and that is fine if both  "parties" are good with that :)

I would say the most important part- is the children!  What is beneficial for them.  If you are having issues dealing with something it can have a negative effect- not good.  HOWEVER- if you are willing to really put your effort into it- IT CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF YOUR CHILD!!  In their bonding to you, in their security, and in who you are as a parent.  :)

**WE HAVE A COURT DATE FOR OUR OFFICIAL ADOPTION OF JOANNA- NOVEMBER 22, 2010!!!!!!  9:30AM :)  We couldn't be more thrilled.  YEAH!!!!!

****Please continue praying for the Loux Family!!!  If you don't know - little Mattie (newborn) has a very severe infection and is on very heavy medications in the hospital.  They are having to drive to St. Louis from Kansas City- yikes and they have 6 other children. 

****My other cousin (not Heidi who just had her newly adopted baby girl Jessa)- Heather has been taken to the hospital.  She hadn't been feeling well....and now has been told she had a heart attack.  They are doing some procedures now.  Please pray for her husband Jackson and her family & friends.

**** We also have a couple of unspoken prayers too....thanks!

Have a Blessed time seeing who we have put into the houses.  HOPE you voted!!!!!!!  So important to pass this very very very important privilege to our children!!!!!  :)


  1. Congratulations on the upcoming adoption! We have a date for termination so we're getting there...

  2. Yeah for finalization!!!
    Praying for Heather and her family and for your unspoken prayer requests too.
    Much love!

  3. So glad that ya'll got your court date for Joanna's adoption! YAY!!

  4. Praying for you!!! And huge congrats! :)

  5. Congratulations on your finalization!
    I was just on a panel on openness in adoption at a workshop on attachment and FASD this weekend. In my adopted growing up family we have every form of openness (and closedness - not a word, I guess!) and now in our own adopted family we have all forms as well. Two of our children have completely open adoptions, visits, etc. and I just want to say it has not been hard AT ALL! In fact, I call their first moms before I even call grandma to celebrate a big event. We live in BC but we fly to MI to visit one of our children's first families. (Yes, the tickets are paid for at great personal sacrifice!) Distance has nothing to do with it. If grandma lived in MI we would fly there to visit her. First moms are certainly as important in our lives and grandmas! Anyway, at this adoption conference I was at I found out our family's way of doing things (keeping the love flowing between first and adopted families) is definitely the new normal - and according to all the social workers there it is definitely in the best interest of most children, even where abuse has happened in the past. I would just encourage parents to really really consider it as the relationships that can grow are incredible (not to mention often God-ordained!). Many blessings, Jennifer

  6. So question Choose Joy- if you check back- why would you have any "closedness" if you feel it is more beneficial to be more open? Just wondering. THANKS! I would love to hear more.

  7. OOPS- sorry Jennifer....Obviously didn't see your name listed at the end.

  8. The whole concept of "Open vs Closed" or whatever title people give their relationships with Birth Families is so interesting to me. Each adoptive family is different. The wishes of the wife and husband often differ, so the thoughts of others may differ even more so.
    And what is best for most kids may not be best for your own. That is why it is so important to know your kids, and to search your own heart. Are you hiding your kids away fearfully and selfishly? Or are you legitimately concerned for emotional well-being of your child?
    Another thought I wrestle with is legally, these children become adopted, and as our judge put it, "the same as if they had been born to you". And in an adoption to the body of Christ, we cut off ties with our former "family". I am NOT suggesting all or even most adoptions should "cut off" from the birth family AT ALL. I'm just stating a fact about what is true spiritually. And the weight placed on the fact these children have an inheritance in our family and will forever be a part of our family tree is amazing to me!
    We want to be careful not to force the birth family into their lives, and also be careful not to ignore where they came from.
    There isn't one way to raise any child - even an adoptive child. A first born and last born in the same family aren't even raised the same. But that is one of the beauties in parenting.
    As parents, we should be "open-minded" for their sake, in regards to the Birth Family. And if you (and your husband) feel your child is not ready, than you need to do what's best for them; no matter what other people are doing.
    Bottom-line - every situation is so different. Just keep weighing what others say, reading literature, reading your child - and PRAYING!
    Those are some of my thoughts on this. :)

  9. We have no contact with any of our kids' families. I did write to Adam's birth grandmother a couple of times but then her husband found out and put a quick end to it. She said she'd send pictures of the birth mom to Adam if he didn't find out but we never got them so I guess he did. It's sad but I know it was shock to him to come home early and find his daughter with a baby. Can't imagine.

  10. hooray for 11/22!!!!! so exciting!

  11. In our last adoption we (actually I) struggled with the thought of having an open adoption. The social worker strongly recommended it, but I had had some pretty negative experiences with some birth parents while fostering other kids and wasn't sure I wanted to try again. After much prayer, we opted to keep this one open and I have been so blessed by it. Again, it doesn't work in every situation, but if it can, it's really, truly a wonderful way to do it.

  12. I am so incredibly excited to have found your blog!!!! We are just starting out on the adventure of adoption. Most likely we will be adopting from Lesotho, Africa. My husband and I have our first meeting with the an agency to get our home study done tomorrow. I've been to the police station to get my fingerprints taken and the others in my family will do so today and tomorrow. Exciting times!
    I'm glad that I found you...my mother told me today that "Why don't you just forget it..." and it hurts me to hear that. I am ready for the trials of having a racially blended family but I do wish I had unwavering support from my parents. (However, we are a very strong family with lots of older children and friends who will be supportive and encouraging along the way!)
    I will be following your adventures, as well. Blessings to you...you have a LOVELY LOVELY family!!

  13. Thank you so much for your insight!! Every situation is different, but I am with you and I wouldn't want a closed adoption for any reason. My girls really have a hard time not having any contact with their birth family. It truly breaks my heart.

  14. Hi, Dawn. Yes, I guess that wasn't very clear. We have closed adoptions in cases where the biological family refuses to be contacted in any way. That's their choice so we accept it. Thanks for asking. Blessings, Jennifer

  15. Sweet sweet photo of brother and sister! :-) Congrats on your court date!(cheering :-D)

    Thanks for your post on the various types of open and closed adoptions. In our international adoption it doesn't look like there will be much contact with the birth family, but I think it would be a blessing for my girls if I even get the opportunty to at least meet their birth mother, chat with her and hear her heart. We'll see.

  16. Congrats! You really amaze me. 8 kids from foster care!! Wow! You are really and truly a hero--my hero! These are the luckiest kids in the world!

    That baby is delicious! I want to eat her up she is so cute!

  17. Like Jennifer at Choose Joy, we have quite a few different dynamics with the three birth families. One is completely open because we are fostering a third sibling while the first two are adopted with the mother's blessing. We remain very open because I am watching my older kids start to process their adopted lives and they have no birth family contact for safety and other reasons. I have found that most relationships either remain strong or fizzle out. Sad though it is, the reality is what we have to live with.