Opening up to open adoption

What happens when adoptive parents keep in touch with biological parents of the baby? Lori Holden answers

Like many couples, we wanted to build a family. It didn’t take long to figure out that we didn’t have the required biological building blocks, so we set out to become parents in another way.

Of course, we knew all about adoption—didn’t everyone? We were to pretend it wasn’t adoption, the biological parents were to pretend it wasn’t adoption, and our future children were to pretend it wasn’t adoption.

This was the first guiding point that helped us chart our way through the adoption ocean: We soon found out that everything we ‘knew’ was wrong and we started to see adoption from an entirely new point of view. Our adoption agency coached us on this newfangled thing called ‘Open Adoption’ in which the birth mother can interact with the adoptive family. Not even 10 years old at the time, there was very little research available on this alternative to the closed adoptions [in which the birth mother’s identity was kept secret]. The children of past open adoptions are only now becoming adults who can express what it was like to have knowledge of, and perhaps contact with, two sets of parents—one of biology and one of biography.


When infertility takes away choices, a couple can be struck hard by Baby Fever. All that matters is having a baby and becoming a parent. When the chosen method is adoption, there can be a myopia that is focussed on only one part of the adoption triad—us, the adoptive parents.

But people in successful open adoptions are mindful from the very beginning of the other two parts of the triad: [1] the baby who will become a child, a teen, an adult; and [2] the birth parents who will always have an undeniable influence on the child, no matter the degree of contact.

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Adapted from The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden and Crystal Hass, Published by The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

This was first published in the March 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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