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OPENNESS IN ADOPTION

by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


A PERSPECTIVE AFTER LIVING IT BOTH WAYS

If any one thing has made me open to the idea that confidentiality may not be the best way to practice adoption, it has been coming to understand that there was a great deal of deception practiced in many old-style confidential adoptions. Birthparents were often given assurances about the adopting family that were not kept. Adopting parents were too often given inaccurate or incomplete profiles on the birthfamilies.

Our first and second adoptions, in 1975 and 1981, were a traditionally confidential one, as were my husband Dave's adoption and that of his sister. Maybe my husband's birthmother had no other choice and lived her life filled with regrets. We'll never know. She died before Dave tried to make contact with her. Maybe my son's and my older daughter's birthmother, now in their fifties, have been unable to manage their grief and move on productively with life. Or maybe all these of these women were confident in the decisions they made. How do I know? Is it important that I know? Is it important that their children know?

On the other hand, I remember the years when I felt a sense of disappointment when we didn't hear from the birthmother of our youngest daughter (adopted openly in 1984) for a while. She was moving on with her life. Did we expect too much from her and of ourselves in trying to maintain contact as our lives diverged and we were all so busy parenting young children?

 

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