My Account



by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


There are so many myths about open adoption. Let's look at some.

MYTH: Open adoption is co-parenting. I don't want anyone else to interfere with my family.
FACT: Open adoption is not offered as an opportunity for birthparents to continue to parent their children. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents are legally that child's only parents, able to make all decisions on behalf of their children without interference. In this regard, open adoption has nothing at all socially or legally in common with co-parenting agreements when parents divorce. Instead, open adoption is based on the goodwill belief of two families that the best interests of a child are served when he has access to information. Healthy, well-planned, and open adoption has clear boundaries which have been discussed and agreed upon by birth and adoptive parents with the support of experienced professionals.

MYTH: Open adoption solves all children's adoption-related problems and ends the birthparent's feelings of grief and loss.
FACT: Open adoption is not a panacea. Nothing can "stop" feelings of loss other than healing support. Adoption is a unique family structure with its own challenges. Open adoption may help children answer some of their questions about their identity, but, as in all family relationships, access to birth families doesn't mean that relationships with them are always easy. Relationships take work.

MYTH: Open adoption confuses children about who their "real" parents are.
FACT: All adopted children must at some point grapple with the fact that they have two sets of parents and two families-one by birth and one through adoption. Research over a full generation of open adoptions demonstrates that children rarely are confused by having relationships with members of their birthfamilies and that adoptive parents, too, have fewer fears about birthparents when they are known to them.

MYTH: Seeing her child, and knowing where we live, will just deepen a birthmother's grief and make her likely to want her child back.
FACT: Birthparents make adoption plans because they want what is best for their child. Having information, pictures, and contact, as opposed to fantasy, can only reduce curiosity and deepen a sense of reassurance that the plan was a good one and the child is doing well.


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