Considering adoption for your child? With an open adoption, you will always be important in your child’s life.
My boyfriend and I loved our counselor at the agency. She was helpful and supportive throughout the process. -OA&FS Birthmother
Are you pregnant or parenting?
Call us to speak with a counselor.
Are you pregnant or parenting? Or is your partner, or someone close to you, pregnant or parenting? When you talk to our counselors, you’ll find the understanding and support you’re seeking. Call any time, day or night, 1-800-772-1115.
We’re honored to offer our services to women and couples throughout the United States. If you live in Oregon or Washington and would like to meet in person we have offices in Portland and Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington or we’ll come to you. We can also meet via Skype. (OA&FS can place children in adoption up to the age of three and one-half.)
A counselor can talk with you now. We’re available 24/7 to listen and provide you with a compassionate, non-judgmental space to talk about your thoughts and feelings. You’ll be treated with dignity and respect as you explore all of your options. Para Español 1-800-985-6763.
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What to expect as you explore adoption.
Are you considering adoption for your child? Through our progressive services at OA&FS, you’ll be empowered and supported by our compassionate, knowledgeable and engaging counselors. You will always be treated with dignity and respect. While you plan your adoption, we will continue to explore all of your options to ensure you feel comfortable with your decision.
If your choice is adoption, we’ll help you create an open adoption relationship in which you feel at home: warm, welcomed and accepted. The people you have included in your adoption planning process, such as the birthfather, family members and friends, are also encouraged to access our counseling services.
Steps to place your
child in adoption.
We’re honored to guide you through the open adoption process.
Your needs are important to us. We are committed to ensuring that you are empowered, and that you’re always treated with dignity and respect. We provide lifelong counseling services and open adoption relationship support. You can call our counselors anytime, day or night. We’ll be there for you. All of our services are free of charge to you. You also receive financial assistance for medical, living and pregnancy-related expenses. See what we offer birthparents, and our birthparent Bill of Rights.
- Together, we’ll explore all of your options. If your choice is abortion or parenting we’ll connect you with the resources you’ll need.
- If your choice is adoption, we will help you create your own adoption plan through our open adoption program.
- Only you can decide which choice is right for you, but deciding may not feel easy to do — there is a lot to think about.
- Whatever you decide, we’ll stand by you, offering our compassion, guidance and support.
- You’ll review a book of our 65 to 85 carefully screened prospective adoptive parents. Our diverse pool of families includes those that are straight and gay, married and single. Each family has thoughtfully prepared a letter for you describing who they are and why they are hoping to plan an open adoption. Get to know our waiting families.
- After choosing families you want to learn more about, you’ll receive their entire profile. The profile includes:
– The family’s entire official Homestudy Report, (12-17 pages), which has detailed information about their home and neighborhood; careers; relationship with each other and family/friends; parenting philosophies and values.
– A detailed family book written by the prospective adoptive parents that gives birthparents a glimpse into their lives. This autobiographical photo book covers topics such as their childhoods and what they learned from them, family traditions and hopes and dreams for their open adoption relationship.
- We believe you are the most qualified person to choose adoptive parents for your child, so we empower you by giving you thorough and complete information about our families.
- After reviewing this information, you will choose the family you would like to meet. We’re there to help you feel comfortable as you meet and form a friendship with the family.
- You can also come to us with an adoptive family you have already chosen.
- In this casual get-together, you’ll meet with the prospective adoptive parents at the agency. This is a time for you to explore connections with the family you’ve chosen to meet.
- Often, families will continue getting to know each other by going out to coffee or lunch afterwards.
- Both expectant and adoptive parents have an opportunity at this point to decide if their families are a good fit for each other, and if they want to plan an adoption together.
- As you and the adoptive parents get to know one another, you decide the exact terms of the written Open Adoption Agreement, which is a legally enforceable agreement that outlines the ongoing contact between you and the adoptive family.
- You decide the level of openness that’s right for you. You determine when your child will be placed with the family. In collaboration with the prospective adoptive parents you’ll discuss how often you will visit with your child and the adoptive family, and receive letters and pictures.
- With your counselor’s guidance, you will also develop a birth plan by deciding the following: Will the adoptive family be with you during the birth? Will the baby stay in your room during your time at the hospital? Will you breast feed? What do you want your hospital time to look like?
- You are in control of every step of your process, and we are here to support and guide you along the way.
- After the baby is born a counselor will be at the hospital to support all parties. We’ll check in with you in a day or so to see how you’re feeling. We’ll review your options again.
- At our agency about 5% of moms change their mind about their adoption plan, which we fully support. If you’re one of the 95% who wants to continue with your plan, you’ll sign legal consents only when you’re ready, and without pressure.
- In Oregon, you cannot sign the Consent to Adoption and Certificate of Irrevocability – the permanent and legally binding documents that relinquish your parental rights – until after the baby is born. After the birth, you will decide the best time to sign these documents. Many birthparents wait until the day they leave the hospital.
- In Washington, you may sign the documents prior to birth, but they are not legally binding until they are filed in court at least 48 hours after your baby’s birth.
- After you sign the consent documents, the adoptive parents bring the baby home. Then your visits start.
- During these visits, you can see for yourself that your child is happy, healthy, and thriving in the adoptive parent’s care. Through the time you spend together, the adoptive parents continue to develop a relationship with you. They care about you and genuinely want to include you in their family.
- At the placement you can have an entrustment ceremony, which is pre-planned by you and the adoptive parents. You’ll do something special to commemorate the moment. You might light a candle, read a poem, say a prayer, play music, have a group photo taken … whatever is meaningful to all of you.
- This recognition of a bond created around the child creates a lasting reminder of how this special, lifelong relationship began.
What Can I Expect Long Term?
Hear from birth family members (birthmothers, birthfathers, and birth grandparents), adoptive family members (adoptive parents and adoptive grandparents) and open adoptees who came together through OA&FS and are now living open adoptions in these open adoption stories. To learn more about how long-term adoptive relationships are formed, watch our “Placement and Entrustment” video. You are an integral part of our thriving open adoption community, which offers these opportunities:
From our summer picnics to our holiday parties, OA&FS hosts a variety of events where you can connect with other birthparents and adoptive families.
Public Speaking Opportunties
Birthparents are invited to help educate others about open adoption by sharing their stories at a variety of venues.
This annual retreat offers a unique opportunity for you to connect with other birthmothers, and embrace and celebrate your role.
Birthparents may connect with other OA&FS birthparents who have volunteered to serve as mentors.
Access to OA&FS Services
You’ll always be welcome to access our services, free of charge. These include adoption-related counseling and open adoption relationship guidance.
A private email group for our clients that have placed or are considering placing their child to connect.
How to build an open
Child-centered open adoptions begin with a close and trusting relationship between birthparents and adoptive parents. This unique partnership acknowledges not only the parties’ mutual respect and shared love for the child, but also their separate and distinct roles.
Birthparents and adoptive parents work together to create a healthy foundation for the child. As the child develops and pieces his identity together, he needs the unconditional love, acceptance and support from both birthparents and adoptive parents. Children need to know that these important people believe in them, love them, and celebrate them.
Birthparents and adoptive parents can affirm one another by endorsing the special roles each holds in the child’s life. In a truly child-centered open adoption, birthparents and adoptive parents cope with their own losses so they are able to build a respectful partnership that meets the ongoing needs of the child. We have been so impressed over the years by the ways in which adoptive parents and birthparents have welcomed one another into their lives.
How birthparents and adoptive parents
can affirm one another.
- Be yourself; don’t feel you have to hide who you are. Face your fears and insecurities and do your best to settle them. Do you fear the other party’s disapproval? Their grief? Their bond with the child? Do what you need to work through these concerns, so instead of worrying you can relax and enjoy the relationship.
- Be expressive and affectionate – don’t hold back. Create an atmosphere of inclusion and belonging. Welcome one another and leave no doubt about your sincerity.
- Keep the lines of communication open. If you are uncomfortable with a conversation or visit, go back to the source. Talk to the other party about what could improve communication. Express concerns directly and graciously. Part ways with a clear plan for when, where and how the next contact will occur.
- Acknowledge shared traits. Adoptive parents, verbally acknowledge the characteristics (i.e. personality, physical traits, talents) the child shares with the birthparent. Birthparents, point out the traits the child has received from the adoptive parents (i.e. mannerisms, values, hobbies).
- Acknowledge loss. Adoptive parents, express the empathy you feel for the birthparent’s loss. Birthparents, acknowledge your empathy for the adoptive parents’ infertility losses.
- Show appreciation. Express your appreciation for the way the birthparent interacts with your family. Compliment the adoptive parents on what a great job they’re doing as parents. Encourage a sense of teamwork. The child needs your affirmation and will surely benefit from everyone’s cooperative efforts.
- Be realistic. The average age of birthparents is 23 years old. Adoptive parents, have realistic expectations about birthparents’ willingness and ability to reciprocate phone calls and correspondence. Take the initiative to keep the relationship lively and current. Even if there are stretches when your efforts meet with little or no response, do your best to keep the connection alive because it holds great importance to your child. By communicating frequently, you are letting the birthfamily know that their hopes for their child are being realized.
- Be considerate. Birthparents, be considerate of the time restraints adoptive parents may be experiencing as new parents. Make the effort to keep in touch with the adoptive family; they care deeply about how you are doing.
- Be optimistic about the other party fulfilling their potential in life and within the relationship. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Be proud of one another and your open adoption relationship. Let others know how enriching your open adoption is to you.
- Share your appreciation of one another with the child. Let the child know he’s surrounded by people who care about and love him deeply.
- Recognize holidays. Remember Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthmother’s Day and the child’s birthday as important times to acknowledge and honor one another.
Adoption has changed a lot over the years.
Watch these birthmothers discuss what it’s really like to live in an open adoption.
Curious about what it’s like to live in an open adoption?
Learn from these OA&FS birthparents’ experiences.
Just as the kids of open adoption are uniquely qualified to convey their experiences, birthparents are also the best spokespeople of their perspectives on their open adoptions. We’re reaching out far and wide to OA&FS birthparents, asking them to share their experiences. If you’re a birthparent and would like to contribute a video or essay, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll be excited to hear from you!
Haley placed her son Liam with adoptive parents Paul and Tracey in 2015. The relationship they’ve built around Liam and Haley’s older son E.J. is a testimony to their hospitiousness, and the positive framework that open adoption provides. View video.
We first started working with Sharene in 2010, when she reached out to OA&FS as part of our collaborative relationship with Oregon Department of Human Services. She had – and continues to have – a strong vision for her childrens’ lives. Because of this, she was featured in our video “Open Adoption: An Alternative to Foster Care”, which chronicles the early stages of Finn’s adoption.
We’ve kept in touch since then, and are so grateful to Sharene for continuing to share her experiences. So often in adoption the focus is on the moment the baby is placed. Now that her son Finn is four, Sharene, along with Finn’s Dads Peter and Brady, have a more evolved open adoption story to tell. View video.
“I have never regretted our decision to give our son a better life.”Chris, Birthfather of Tristen
My name is Chris and I am a birthfather. I was 24 years old when I found out that I was going to be a father. The news had me so excited that I began to forget who I was. I was quickly falling into the world of drugs and ending up in and out of jail for reasons I wish not explain. I was overjoyed when I found out that we were going to be expecting a son. Shortly after finding out our baby’s sex, his mother informed me that she wanted to place him for adoption.
Growing up in the foster system, I was scared because of everything that I went through. When I then found out that it was going to be open adoption through Open Adoption & Family Services, I felt somewhat relieved. During the pregnancy I always promised my child that he would have a better life than I had. I didn’t want to lose my son so I convinced his mom to try and co-parent, but would keep an open mind about adoption if we were unable to. Everything was going wonderful for the most part. We chose approximately eight families that we were comfortable with if we decided to go through with the open adoption, but out of these only two families were willing adopt our son, due to us having mental disabilities.
Then one day I got a call no father wanted to hear. My son’s mother had preeclampsia and they were going to have to induce labor about 27 days early. I was scared beyond belief. On November 23, 2009 she gave birth to a very healthy baby boy. He weighed in at 6 lbs 1/2 oz and was 18 and 3/4″ long. It was love at first sight.
The next day was the worst day that ever happened to me. Child Protective Services came to the hospital. They began to use every mistake we had ever made in our past against us. So we made the decision to call our adoption counselor at Open Adoption & Family Services and let her know everything that was going on with CPS. We made the decision to go with the open adoption and gave her the name of the family we were most comfortable with. The next day we met the wonderful parents. We were overjoyed when they agreed to work with us on naming our son. We named him Tristen. Today he is a thriving six-year-old big brother to a beautiful baby sister. I have never regretted our decision to give our son a better life.
Information for Birthfathers
Open adoption then and now.
At OA&FS, it’s all about relationships. In our open adoption program, birth and adoptive families form a lifelong friendship. The birthparents are welcomed into the adoptive family as extended family members and get together often. The birthparents are present as the child grows, and have an honored role in their child’s life. We provide lifelong relationship guidance and support. Meet OA&FS famiilies who’ve been living in open adoptions for years!
“From her birth to when she left for college, I have been a part of Ariel’s life. Through her open adoption, her birthfather and I gave Ariel amazing parents who offered her more than I could have imagined. Seeing who she is now is proof of what an incredible job they did. I’m very proud of the decision I made those many years ago.”Sara, Birthmother of ArielRead Sara and Ariel’s Story
“Open adoption has given me the comfort I needed to be certain I made the best decision for my daughter. I love that I can call her any time; I love that we have a natural, close relationship. I will always know she’s safe and happy, and she’ll know that about me too.”Melissa, Birthmother of BriannaWatch Brianna’s Video
Open adoption facts and myths.
There are still common misconceptions.
Why do expectant parents outside
the Northwest choose OA&FS?
They like that we’re non-profit, pro-choice, welcome diversity, provide fully open adoptions and offer lifelong services.
They’re attracted to our families. They can’t find a of pool families who genuinely want a lifelong relationship with the birthparents elsewhere. Our families are open and welcoming.
They respect our agency process. Perhaps their local agencies have operated as matching services without any real counseling or relationship guidance, and haven’t included the birthfather. Or local waiting family pools have included only a few same sex families, if any at all. Many agencies are religiously affiliated, casting shame and judgment. Their views of “open adoption” are limited and often don’t endorse, or provide guidance for ongoing visits.
At OA&FS, they found a warm, supportive process that honored everyone’s needs. They were presented with an abundance of information on the families, learned the tools to have a relationship with them, received a legally enforceable agreement for ongoing visits and accessed lifelong counseling.
They could easily connect with our counselors. They found them to be compassionate, respectful and knowledgeable. They said that our counselors were so engaging, they felt as if they were in the same room with them, even though they lived across the country.
We welcome LGBTQ clients and recognize that same sex families enrich our community. Typically, our pool of prospective adoptive parents is comprised of 35% same-sex families. These families come to OA&FS from throughout the United States.
Our website feels warm, relevant and inviting. Our information is transparent and accessible. There are not separate messages (or hidden agendas) for expectant parents and adoptive parents.
We’re also part of an innovative partnership with Friends in Adoption — the National Pro-Choice Adoption Collaborative. From this platform our agencies work with attorneys nationwide to build a solid foundation for the children of adoption, as well as enriching the birth and adoptive parents’ experience.
What a typical expectant parent may be experiencing.
An Ohio woman in her 20s finds herself facing an unintended pregnancy. She is four months along and already has two children. Her boyfriend is younger and isn’t ready to parent. Her resources are limited. Her family is supportive but not in a position to provide more assistance. She doesn’t know how she can manage parenting another child. Adoption could be the answer, but she’d like to discuss her options with a caring professional. She envisions her baby with active, engaged parents. But the agencies in her area are overwhelmingly religious or merely “matching services”.
She searches the Internet and finds the OA&FS website, coming back to review it multiple times. Even though the agency is across the country, she feels an affinity with the services it offers, and the respect it gives to birthparents. She texts the agency and is immediately connected with a counselor. With this support she explores her options and feels adoption could be right for her situation. She’s pleased that she is given many families to consider, including same sex couples. After further counseling she decides to involve the baby’s father. Together they select a family and place their child in an open adoption.
Five years have gone by. She’s now married and continues to live across the country from the adoptive family. Despite the distance, a strong friendship has grown between her and the adoptive mom. They arrange family vacations together. She has an ongoing relationship with the daughter she placed and is at peace knowing that the vision she had when choosing adoption has come to fruition.
All of the above is true.
This story is a compilation of the experiences we’ve heard from expectant parents throughout the country. Are you facing an unplanned pregnancy? Our counselors are available to talk any time, day or night.Call Now
Meet birthmother Jaque.
For a personal view from a birthparent who chose to plan and adoption with us from another state, we spoke to Jaque, a Montana resident who placed her daughter Adrienne in 1998 through OA&FS. Here’s what Jaque had to say about her experience.
Why did you choose an out of state agency?
In Montana at that time, all the agencies were religiously affiliated, either Christian or Catholic. I’d done my research and knew I wanted to explore open adoption. That was important to me, and was the only way I was willing to go if adoption was my choice. Since Montana agencies didn’t offer this, I drove to my aunt’s house in Seattle to research agencies there, and discovered OA&FS.
I called OA&FS and was able to talk to a counselor right away. They didn’t try to push or persuade me; the conversation felt comfortable. I hadn’t made a decision yet so the counselor helped me research parenting. I also made a list of qualities in an adoptive family that I required, and thought through my vision for our relationship. The agency process was very smooth and supportive. I liked being able to read all about the families. I wouldn’t have been able to make a choice with more limited information.
How has the relationship grown despite the distance?
We had good friend chemistry from the beginning. I’m like a family member that lives somewhere else, but that hasn’t affected our close friendship. If some time has passed we just pick up where we left off. I now have two daughters. My children and Adrienne all know they’re sisters, and their friends know too. It’s very natural and matter-of-fact for them. This is their family. Not having secrets makes all the kids well-adjusted. They look forward to getting together and talking — it’s like they’re cousins!
How have you used technology to connect? How does this work for you?
It’s been huge! We text, talk on our cell phones, email pictures, deliver birthday presents online. It allows us to have an informal and natural relationship.
Do you have any regrets that you didn’t choose a family in your home state?
No. I can’t pick where my sister lives either. Oregon feels close, and this is how life unfolded. Our relationship is important to us. We care about each other and want to stay in touch.
Do you have any advice for other birthmothers considering an out-of-state adoption?
Know what your options are. Explore them all so you know you checked out everything. Articulate what you really want in a family. Get a feel for how they communicate. Can you trust and be honest with them? Above all, be confident in your decision. If it’s going to be an open adoption, you have to be comfortable being open about it. Be sure of yourself.
Do you think there’s a need for OA&FS to extend it’s reach to expectant parents throughout the country?
Absolutely! I don’t know what I would have done if I had been limited to the options in my home state. Through OA&FS, I was able to plan the open adoption I had envisioned. Thanks OA&FS!
Jaque in her late teens.
Jaque with Adrienne’s birthfather Stevin.
OA&FS adoptee Adrienne (center) with birthsisters Hailey and Gracie.
Answers to questions
frequently asked by birthparents.
A. After your first meeting with the adoptive parents, each of you will decide if you want to make an adoption plan together. If so, as you and the adoptive parents get to know one another, you decide the exact terms of the written Open Adoption Agreement, which is a legally enforceable agreement that outlines the ongoing contact between you and the adoptive family. Every adoptive family we work with is committed to their relationship with you. With your counselor’s guidance, you will also develop a birth plan by deciding the following:
- Will the adoptive family be with you during the birth?
- Will the baby stay in your room during your time at the hospital?
- What do you want your hospital time to look like?
A. You and your counselor will talk about what is important to you in select the family that will raise your child. You may choose from our diverse pool of 65-85 adoptive families. To help you make this decision we will provide you with:
- Complete profiles of the families you want to learn more about.
- The family’s entire official Homestudy Report, (12-17 pages), which includes detailed information about their home and neighborhood; careers; relationship with each other and family/friends; parenting philosophies and values.
- A detailed family book written by the prospective adoptive parents that gives birthparents a glimpse into their lives. This autobiographical photo book covers topics such as their childhoods and what they learned from them, family traditions and hopes and dreams for their open adoption relationship. You can also watch short videos of most of our families in which they talk about what they appreciate about each other, and why they want an open adoption.
What we offer birthparents.
As a birthparent considering adoption, you have many choices. By becoming a client of Open Adoption and Family Services, we can offer you …
Compassion and Respect
Everyone at OA&FS holds birthparents in high regard. We feel you are the best judge of your needs and the needs of your child. We are here to listen and provide you with choices and resources. You are in control of every step of your process, and we provide support along the way.
In creating your open adoption agreement, you choose the number of visits you want per year. All of our agreements are written contracts. They’re legally enforceable and last until the child is an adult. The average number of visits is 3-4 per year. We also provide guidance in creating a strong, healthy relationship with the adoptive family. Our hope is that you create a comfortable, natural friendship, and see each other as often as other important people in your life.
Open Adoption Planning
At OA&FS, we are committed to helping you plan a child-centered open adoption in which you and the adoptive family create a healthy long-term relationship that meets the ongoing needs of your child. You are empowered to make your adoption vision a reality. We have over 30 years of relationship building expertise: we work with everyone closely to give you the skills and tools you need to create a strong and healthy foundation to your open adoption relationship.
We are always available to provide you with open adoption counseling and support. You are also welcome and encouraged to join in our open adoption community events, including the summer picnic and the holiday party, our annual birthparent retreats, and ongoing educational workshops. You are now a member of our open adoption community!
Adoption Plan Representation
By working with OA&FS, you are choosing an open adoption philosophy that supports your enduring role in your child’s life. As your representative, we will ensure that your plan continues to reflect your adoption vision and meets your needs. You’ll create a birth and hospital plan; (including breast-feeding if that’s your choice). You also determine how involved you want the adoptive parents to be at the hospital. We follow your wishes.
Adoptive Family Information
To assist you as you choose adoptive parents that share your values and interests, you will be provided with detailed information about the 65 to 85 adoptive families in our pool. These families are working with OA&FS because they want an open, genuine ongoing relationship with you. If you would like to work with adoptive parents who are not in our pool – either an adoptive family you seek out or an adoptive family that approaches you – we can bring them into our process.
Our birthparent Bill of Rights.
We believe that you’re entitled to …
And if you choose adoption to…
Birthfathers make a big difference.
We understand that there may be circumstances that make you feel hesitant about participating during pregnancy options counseling and in adoption planning. Because we value birthfather involvement, we are committed to creating an environment that respects you and the birthmother. Adoption is a loving, responsible and honorable choice.
Here’s how you can be involved.
- Participate in options counseling at OA&FS. Birthparents can participate together in a shared counseling session or they can each meet with their counselor individually if that feels more comfortable.
- Assist in the process of reviewing prospective parent profiles and choosing an adoptive family.
- Meet the adoptive parents and participate with the birthmother in the adoption planning. This will include making important decisions about the birth plan and the placement, as well as defining your role in the new family.
- Create your own open adoption agreement with the adoptive parents. Plan the level and type of ongoing contact you will have with your child. (Open adoption agreements are legally enforceable in Oregon and Washington.)
- Follow through on your commitment to the child. Stay in contact with your child and the adoptive parents. Our agency can support and guide you along the way.
Hear from birthdads about their open adoptions.
“Thanks to open adoption, my son is in a great place. I can watch him grow and develop with the confidence that he is well loved and provided for. One of the best characteristics of this adoption is that I didn’t lose a family member; I gained many more.”Bryan, Birthfather
Birthfathers who have placed a child through OA&FS and OA&FS adoptive families have a lot to say about the important role of birthfathers and the benefits birthfathers receive from being involved in their child’s open adoption.
“It is very rewarding and very healing to play a role in your child’s life. Witnessing the birth of my son and seeing the joy of his adoptive parents, Jan and Michael, was the most powerful, sad, joyful day of my life… I personally could not let my girlfriend go through the process alone, nor could I live with not knowing I did not play a role. I wanted my child to know who I was, too.” — Andrew, Birthfather
“We liked OA&FS’ program because it gave us (me and the birthmother) a way to be a part of our son’s life. If it hadn’t included that option we wouldn’t have chosen adoption. We wanted to see him grow up. We wanted him to know us … Mitchell (my son) knows I love him; he would be hurt if I wasn’t there. The adoptive parents would be disappointed if I wasn’t part of his life. They’ve laid the groundwork by letting him know where he came from. I followed through by being involved. That makes them happy because Mitchell is happy.” — Cody, Birthfather
“With the exception of immediate family, the reaction of people has been that I may have taken the easy way out (by planning an adoption instead of parenting) and that I lack integrity. However, I know that is not the case. For me, it would have been so much easier to keep my daughter. Wanting a loving family for your child does not equate to a lack of love or integrity. I feel it is just the opposite.” — Warren, Birthfather
“It has meant so much to have Andrew (birthfather) involved. He was involved in choosing us, so we felt an immediate connection to him. We were so lucky he wanted to stay involved in our lives. He and our son Devin have a relationship that’s very special and unique. Andrew writes to him and visits. The friendship they have answers Devin’s questions. It helps him understand himself. They’re pals. As Devin grows, he looks more and more like Andrew. The relationship gives Devin a connection to his origins … This has been so valuable for all of us. We’ve benefited and been enriched so much.” — Jan, Adoptive Mother
“Ariel (our daughter) has never had to worry that her birthfather doesn’t love and care about her. His love has been demonstrated over and over again. It’s not enough to just love a child, you have to be there to show them you love them … My daughter’s birthfather is like a close uncle to her and a son-in-law to me.” — Nick, Adoptive Father
“It takes two people to make a child. If one person is not in the picture later on, there’s a part missing. Cody (birthfather) completes the picture. We are all so fortunate that Cody has stepped up to the plate to be a part of Mitch’s life. Cody is a part of who Mitch is. Without him there’d always be a gap for Mitch … Mitch is closer to his birthfather than his birthmother. They have a physical connection. They’re always wrestling or tickling each other. Mitch likes to grab Cody’s baseball cap so Cody will chase him to get it back.” — Mary Alice, Adoptive Mom
“Birthmothers may seem front and center, as they are the ones who carried the child. But birthfathers are just as front and center. Their love and acceptance of a birth child is so important to the child. It helps them know themselves and feel good about who they are. By being available and showing an interest — a kid feels that love and acceptance … We honor Andy (birthfather) as a valuable member of our family. He is just valuable for being the person he is, unconditionally.” — Laurel, Adoptive Mom
“Garrett (birthfather) has a strong sense of responsibility to his relationship with Fin (our son). Garrett is very clear about wanting Fin to know how much he cares about him (and our whole family). Even when Garrett was out of the country for two years, he sent Fin numerous postcards and gifts. Fin will always have those to look through and again see how much his birthfather was thinking about him … It’s so valuable to the child to really have the knowledge that his birthparents love him. The best way for a child to experience this is through a relationship with the birthparent. It’s a pretty amazing gift to a child if his birthfather can stick it out and stick around in his child’s life, even when it’s scary.” — Joell, Adoptive Mom
Birthfather myths and facts about open adoption.
Birth grandparents are vitally important in open adoptions.
Birth grandparents can play an integral and meaningful role in the open adoption relationship and the adoption planning process. However, birth grandparents can find themselves in a difficult position: wanting to support their child to make a decision they feel good about; while at the same time experiencing strong feelings about the choices their child is facing. Whatever choice birthparents make, the birth grandparents are very much affected.
Open Adoption and Family Services extends counseling and support to birth grandparents. Counselors can give you a safe place to process your feelings, so that you can be present to give your child positive and unconditional support.
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Birth grandparents share their experiences.
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.”
OA&FS adoptee Carolyn gets a hug from her birth grandmother.