Considering adoption for your child?

With an open adoption, you will always be important in your child's life.

"When we first called my mom and I were greeted very warmly, like we were being welcomed into a new family. We love you guys. This agency fit all of my, and my family's beliefs of the baby having an extended family. You help bring joy to people and to the world." - Addie {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"OA&FS has done an excellent job, much better than I could have imagined. Thank you so much for everything." - Sarah {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"Being with my daughter and seeing how happy she is means so much to me." - Melissa {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"I couldn't have asked for better parents for her, or for a better relationship. If you saw us together, you'd think we were all one family." - Robin {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"Thanks to open adoption, my son is in a great place. I can watch him grow and develop with confidence that he is well loved and provided for." - Bryan {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"I loved this boy so much. I knew he deserved the best, and this was it." - Garrett {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"The counselor treated me well and made sure everybody felt comfortable. The adoptive parents are two of the coolest people I have ever met. After the placement I gave them a big hug and said "You're raising my daughter, we're family."" - Robert {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"My relationship with Fin's family is comfortable, rewarding and fun. They're so willing to share the joy of Fin's growth with me." - Katherine {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"Fin will always have a solid sense of who he is. I know he's happy, and that makes me happy. " - Katherine {OA&FS Birth Parent)

"Open adoption was the light when everything else was dark. It gave me an opportunity to have a relationship with my daughter, while making sure she'd get everything she needs. 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 {Birth Parent)

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 birth father, family members and friends, are also encouraged to access our counseling services.

Open Adoption Stories and Video
A pregnant woman considering adoption for her child

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. 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 birth parents, and our birth parent 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 carefully screened prospective adoptive parents. We have a large pool of waiting families with a diversity of identities and lifestyles.
  • 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 birth parents 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 are the most qualified person to choose adoptive parents for your child, and will have access to 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 relationship 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.
  • You'll have the opportunity to consult with an attorney at no cost to you. This representation ensures you'll have someone available to answer your legal questions and help you fully understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the adoption process.
  • 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 birth parents 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 parents' care. Through the time you spend together, the adoptive parents continue to develop a relationship with you, much like extended 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 (birth mothers, birth fathers, 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 birth parents and adoptive families.

Birth Parent

Our quarterly birth parent gatherings held via Zoom offer a unique opportunity for you to connect with other birth parents, and embrace and celebrate your role. 

Access to

You'll always be welcome to access OA&FS services, free of charge. These include adoption-related counseling and open adoption relationship guidance.


Birth parents are invited to help educate others about open adoption by sharing their stories at a variety of venues.


Birth parents may connect with other OA&FS birth parents who have volunteered to serve as mentors.

Birth Parent

A private Facebook group for our clients that have placed their child to connect with one another.

How to build an open
adoption relationship.

Child-centered open adoptions begin with a close and trusting relationship between birth parents 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.

Birth parents 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 birth parents and adoptive parents. Children need to know that these important people believe in them, love them, and celebrate them.

Birth parents 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, birth parents 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 birth parents 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 birth parent. Birth parents, 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 birth parent’s loss. Birth parents, acknowledge your empathy for the adoptive parents’ infertility losses.
  • Show appreciation. Express your appreciation for the way the birth parent 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 birth parents is 23 years old. Adoptive parents, have realistic expectations about birth parents’ 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 birth family know that their hopes for their child are being realized.
  • Be considerate. Birth parents, 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, Birth Mother’s Day and the child’s birthday as important times to acknowledge and honor one another.

Adoptee Malcom with birth parents Carrie and Kentrel and adoptive parents Micah and Quinn, (r-l).

Birth parent Carrie shares her perspective.

Hearing the experiences of other birth parents gets me thinking. We’re all very different people, with different struggles, different outcomes, and different reasons for choosing open adoption. But when it comes to societal attitudes or reactions to adoption, there seem to be some things we can just about all relate to.

First and foremost, it seems much of society is still really stuck in outdated notions of adoption. Some people just can’t wrap their heads around the concept of an open adoption where birth family is not raising a child, but still involved in his/her life. I’ve seen that Malcolm’s parents meant everything they’d said about wanting my involvement.

Although it comes with its own set of challenges, open adoption seeks to lessen the shame and uncertainty around adoption, among other things. Which yes, is good for birth parents, but more importantly is good for adoptees!  But most of society still has a long way to go in understanding what open adoption is actually about. It can be hard to move away from outdated notions of adoption and to stop associating adoption with shame and tragedy.

I just hope the love of both of Malcolm’s adoptive and birth parents as well as his parents’ friendship with other families created through open adoption will have a bigger impact on him than some of society’s rigid mindsets.

Curious about what it's like to live in an open adoption? Learn from these OA&FS birth parents' experiences.

Just as the kids of open adoption are uniquely qualified to convey their experiences, birth parents are also the best spokespeople of their perspectives on their open adoptions. We're reaching out far and wide to OA&FS birth parents, asking them to share their experiences. If  you're a birth parent and would like to contribute a video or essay, please contact


Birth Parent Sharene

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.


Birth Parent Haley

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.


Birth Fathers’ Perspective

At OA&FS, the non-pregnant partner is welcomed to participate in the pregnancy options counseling and open adoption process. Our services are offered to both birth parents.  We’ll help you form a lifelong relationship with your child. View video.


Birth Parent Angela

Angela was encountering state involvement while pregnant and chose to plan a private agency adoption. We recognize that not all parents facing state intervention choose to pursue the path of parenting.  View video.

Birth Father Chris

"I have never regretted our decision to give our son a better life."Chris, Birth Father of Tristen

My name is Kourtnei (Chris) and I am a birth father. 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 birth parents are welcomed into the adoptive family as extended family members and get together often. The birth parents 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 birth father 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, Birth Parent of Ariel
Read 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, Birth Parent of Brianna
Watch Brianna's Video

Open adoption facts and myths.

There are still common misconceptions.

Answers to questions

frequently asked by birth parents.

Birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees spending time together

Adoptees Erick and Aubrie with adoptive parents Tee and Troy, Aubrie's birth parents Maddie and Wyatt and her birth grandmother.

What we offer birth parents.

As a birth parent considering adoption, you have many choices. As a client of Open Adoption and Family Services, here's what we can offer you.

Compassion and Respect

Everyone at OA&FS holds birth parents 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.

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.

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.

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 have the opportunity to consult with an attorney at no cost to you. They can answer your legal questions and help you fully understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the process. 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.



Contract Assistance

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.

Ongoing Support

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 birth parent retreats, and ongoing educational workshops. You are now a member of our open adoption community!

Our birth parent Bill of Rights.

We believe that you're entitled to ...

Receive respect and compassion as you explore all of your pregnancy options.
Receive unbiased counseling from qualified counselors available 24/7.
Have your choice honored, regardless of what it is.

And if you choose adoption to…

Receive ongoing counseling, guidance and support through the process.
Choose your child’s adoptive family from our diverse pool of all available families.
Review the adoptive family’s homestudy and detailed family book.
Receive guidance as you develop a relationship with the adoptive family.
Receive a legally enforceable contract for ongoing visits.
Create the birth plan.
Be able to consult with a separate attorney at no cost, and only sign adoption consents when you’re ready.
Entrust your child to the adoptive parents in an entrustment ceremony.
Stay connected to your child and the adoptive parents.
Receive ongoing consultation and guidance from the agency.
If you're a birthfather, to be included, heard and valued.
Attend the Birth Parent Retreat.
Be connected to other birth parents.
Be welcomed into a vibrant open adoption community.

Several birthfathers who have been able to take on roles in their childrens life thanks to open adoption

Birth fathers make a big difference.

We welcome and encourage birth father participation in pregnancy options counseling and our open adoption program. All services OA&FS offers are available to each birth parent. 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 involvement, we are committed to creating an environment that respects both birth parents. Adoption is a loving, responsible and honorable choice.

Here's how you can be involved.

  • Participate in options counseling at OA&FS. Birth parents 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 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 birth dads 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, Birth Father

Birth fathers who have placed a child through OA&FS and OA&FS adoptive families have a lot to say about the important role of birth fathers and the benefits birth fathers 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, Birth Father

“We liked OA&FS’ program because it gave us (me and the birth mother) 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, Birth Father

“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, Birth Father

“It has meant so much to have Andrew (birth father) 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 birth father 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 birth father 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 (birth father) 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 birth father than his birth mother. 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

“Birth mothers may seem front and center, as they are the ones who carried the child. But birth fathers 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 (birth father) as a valuable member of our family. He is just valuable for being the person he is, unconditionally.” — Laurel, Adoptive Mom

“Garrett (birth father) 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 birth father was thinking about him … It’s so valuable to the child to really have the knowledge that his birth parents love him. The best way for a child to experience this is through a relationship with the birth parent. It’s a pretty amazing gift to a child if his birth father can stick it out and stick around in his child’s life, even when it’s scary.” — Joell, Adoptive Mom

Birth father myths and facts about open adoption.

A birth grandparent taking an active role in the adopted child's life

Adoptee Russell (center) with birth grandmother Vicki, birth parents Collin and McKenzie and adoptive parents Timothy and Brittni, (from right).

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 birth parents 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.

OAFS adoptee Carolyn hugging her birth grandmother

OA&FS adoptee Carolyn gets a hug from her birth grandmother Patti.

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."

OAFS adoptee Carolyn hugging her birth grandmother

Adoptee Adrienne (center) with birth grandmother Pam and birthmother Jaque (from left).