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ADOPTION EDUCATION, LLC


OPENNESS IN ADOPTION

by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


FULL DISCLOSURE

Child-centered thinking demands that adoptive parents be completely honest with birthparents. A profile need not and should not contain lies or half truths. An agreement about confidentiality or openness should be heartfelt and honest.

As the single parent of a toddler, my friend, Moira, made the courageous choice to plan an adoption for her second child. She did a lot of research first. Since she was already parenting a child, Moira knew what it would be like to parent again and she felt she couldn't handle two children as a single mom. She also realized that she could never choose a babysitter for her toddler sight-unseen, and so it became clear to her that she would not be able to live with an adoption plan for her coming baby unless she had a hand in selecting her baby's parents-to-be.

At a time when open adoption was still very new and agencies in her area were not doing it, Moira chose an attorney who would help her to find a couple willing to maintain a confidential, but communicative (through the attorney), adoption. Neither Moira nor the adopters had counseling, but they met several times (sharing no last names) and Moira was convinced that they shared common goals.

After her baby's birth and placement, things went well for a while, and, despite her predictable grief, Moira continued to feel that adoption had been the best choice for herself, her new baby, and her older child. But soon the adopting parents who had promised letters and pictures began to default, using as their excuse that they wanted to control what Moira did with any pictures and letters they sent (specifically, they wanted to tell Moira whether or not it was okay to share these with the child she was parenting). Later they made it clear that they had not been sharing Moira's annual letters with their son, and-despite their preplacement agreement-did not intend to do so until he was 18.

 

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