Most adoptive parents and birth parents experience trepidation when they first approach the adoption process. They both report a fear of being judged, of being vulnerable in front of strangers and of not knowing if they can trust the other party to follow through on promises. What adoptive parents and birth parents usually learn over time is that they have more in common than they imagined, they genuinely like each other (even when they come from radically different backgrounds) and they share a common deep and abiding love for a child that bonds them together.
Adoptive parents have often experienced infertility or other challenges in trying to build their families and so the feelings of not being in control and not being able to predict outcomes are sometimes familiar to them, but that does not make those feelings easier to cope with. Many adoptive parents report feeling like they are “under a microscope” with social workers and birth families evaluating their family and profile, and if they have a long adoption wait, they can start to feel as though they don’t measure up. As one adoptive father put it in the video that in hindsight, “now we realize we were just waiting for THIS little guy”, indicating his adorable toddler son in his arms.
Most adoptive parents learn that they can develop a tolerance for not knowing and for being open to how the adoption unfolds, even if it is in the most unexpected ways. Every family reports feeling that they brought home the baby that was meant for them and every step led them closer to their perfect child. One of the benefits of going through such a roller coaster ride is that many couples, some in this video, feel the process strengthened their relationship with each other and it brought them closer together than ever before.
Pregnant women who contact us considering adoption frequently report feelings of sadness, shame, doubt, and fear that the adoptive parents will not honor their agreements to remain in contact. They ask me and the other counselors’ important questions about how much we know about families, whether their child will be safe and loved how they can ensure their child will always know who they are and that they were placed for adoption out of love.
Over the course of meeting adoptive families and matching with the parent/s they choose for their child birth families often come to learn that adoptive parents are deeply respectful of them, dedicated to openness, willing to help with the chaos of an unplanned pregnancy and eager to develop a real, trusting relationship. Birth parents often report being surprised by how comfortable they feel with the adoptive family and experience a sense of relief when they imagine their child being parented by these people. Many birth parents learn they have found people who love their child as much as they do and everyone can work together for the best outcome.
Open adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is setting sail on uncharted waters and hoping for safe passage and a smooth landing. Learning to sail is just the first step to a lifetime of deeply fulfilling relationships that change lives for generations.