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ADOPTION EDUCATION, LLC


OPENNESS IN ADOPTION

by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


PARALLEL EXPECTANCIES

If you will be adopting a newborn from the U.S., the chances are very good that you will be in direct contact with that baby's first mother (and perhaps other birth relatives) during the last several months of her pregnancy and your expectancy period. This is going to be hard.

Frankly, I consider this one of the few real negatives in open adoption-for everyone. Why? There are three reasons.

To begin with, there are far too few really well-trained, experienced, and fully competent adoption counselors who can work effectively with these two client sets with such different needs and expectations, supporting the needs of both, and helping each to maintain enough emotional distance to retain their objectivity. In the 25 years that openness in adoption has been growing to become the new normal, I've not seen this changing as much as it should have. Schools of social work and psychology are not offering more courses in adoption counseling. No professional association has set any real standards for this kind of counseling. Open adoption has not become a common continuing education topic.

Second, pregnancy is such a sensitive period to begin with-loaded with hormonal shifts-and an untimely pregnancy is especially difficult emotionally. Ambivalence should be expected in these last weeks and thoroughly experienced, without embarrassment or guilt. That's hard for an expectant mother to do when she's being hovered over by eager would-be adopters she's come to like very much. How dare she disappoint them?

 

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