In the interviews below, birth grandparents living an open adoption placed through Open Adoption & Family Services were eager to share their experience with families considering adoption.
How did you work through any fears or misgivings you had when you heard your son or daughter was considering an open adoption?
"At first I just had a total lack of knowledge about what open adoption meant. Also I was worried about how my husband would respond to the idea of adoption. We talked facts and received a lot of good information from the agency. When we met the adoptive parents, we really liked them and felt so much more positive about our daughter’s adoption plan."
"A closed adoption is all I had any experience with, but I was a quick convert to open adoption. The reading I did about it made sense. On an emotional level, there was a secret joy at the thought that I would not lose contact with my first grandchild."
Now that you’re in an open adoption, how are you involved with your birth grandchild and the adoptive parents?
"We keep in touch via email and visit each other on special occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc."
"They are extended family to us. We stay at each other’s homes and acknowledge all special days."
"Our grandchild’s adoptive family makes every effort to see us. Sometimes they call and invite us to meet halfway between our homes to go to the zoo or aquarium. We are part of each other’s families."
"Now that our granddaughter is older, we are invited to all her school plays and sports events. We feel very invited to be her grandparents in every way."
"My relationship with my grandson is priceless. There is a little ball of grief in my gut because he is not fully mine/ours, but there is so much joy. It is a joy to watch him grow, read to him, play with him, do all those grandmother things. I am "Grandma Lisa" and we are comfortable together."
How did you build that relationship?
"Honesty. When our daughter dropped out of the picture for a time, we struggled to figure out how we could stay in our grandson’s life. Eventually we decided that no matter how unstable our daughter’s life was, we are still grandparents. The adoptive family knows we would help them or our grandson in any way."
"I met the adoptive family at the first meeting. After the birth we stayed in touch with visits, phone calls and email. When my grandson was about two years old, his adoptive mom and I agreed that the relationship just felt like a friendship, so why not treat it like a valued friendship? So we do."
"We were fortunate enough to link up with a set of adoptive parents that we ‘clicked’ with. I would think that the way we hit it off was unusual, but our daughter went over the prospective adoptive family profiles carefully and she is very intuitive when it comes to people."
Now that you know what open adoption is like, what would you like to share with other birth grandparents with children considering open adoption?
"Realize that it is your son or daughter’s decision. They are making an informed decision. Be as much a part of the visits with the adoptive family as possible."
"Encourage your child all that you can. Having a child at any age is challenging. Trying to do it alone or with someone who doesn’t want to parent is nearly impossible. Growing up in an atmosphere of resentment is not good for a child. Adoption is a wonderful alternative."
"From the beginning, I told my son and his girlfriend that this was their decision, their responsibility. I did everything to support them, but I was careful not to take control of the situation. The critical thing is to realize that your child is hurting and you must step up and be the parent for your child: to love them no matter what, to offer advice, but only when asked, to do whatever they need to make the best of a scary situation."
"I have learned that my daughter’s adoption plan was really a compliment to my husband and me and how we parented her. She felt she had a wonderful childhood, the very kind she wanted for her own daughter. Our daughter had the maturity to see that she could give her daughter that kind of life by trusting an adoptive family to raise her."
"Be open and honest with the adoptive family. Be willing to go out of your way to get together and build that relationship."