Embracing Open Adoption: Personal Story from an Adoptive Mother of Two

Birthparent Stories, Families

This is a guest post by Paige Knipfer from Love Grown Adoption Consulting

I remember the day I decided to start looking at adoption as the avenue to grow my family. I wanted to be a parent but at the age of 22 I was deemed infertile. The worst part: they couldn’t diagnose me or find the root cause of it. When you go to the fertility clinic, they also do genetic testing. We got a call a couple of months into all that I had endured to find we were both carriers of cystic fibrosis. I’m not sure why that call was it for us, but it was.

Adoption gave me hope again that I needed after grieving the idea of carrying a child inside me. Personally, the biology part wasn’t what I wanted; it was the experience of pregnancy. I know that may sound strange to some but its something I had dreamed about my whole life. You often don’t know some of your preconceived thoughts for the future until they are taken away. That grief is something I sat in for a while. I declined baby showers. I no longer found joy in strolling through the baby section at Target. I think often we don’t sit in this space long enough after deciding to stop the pursuit of conceiving a child. I also see families pursue both at the same time too. There is nothing wrong with either but coming from someone who has experienced please heed my advice. I also carried some childhood trauma that I thought I had “figured out” in therapy. Again, you may need to revisit therapy and that’s ok! Your future child may also need an adoption competent therapist in the future and that is also ok.

The Concept of Open Adoption

Once we started to learn more about adoption we heard about the concept of open adoption. We heard it was better for the adoptee psychologically speaking. The concept scared me. I immediately felt my wall go up and want to protect a child I didn’t even know. I felt ownership and pride that I would be the mom, not anyone else. I also felt disappointed. I didn’t want to share parenthood and I didn’t care if I sounded selfish saying it. It’s not that I felt owed a child either, but we had already been through so much and now I felt like we were being told we had to co-parent. I didn’t want someone telling me I was parenting wrong; I didn’t want that kind of pressure. I didn’t want to fall in love with this child and the idea of having the title of mom for it to be ripped away. I remember all those fears and insecurities I had of who I would be as a mom.

Now I can speak as an adoptive mom of two.  I can tell you open adoption is far from co-parenting. You are the parents but I often tell hopeful adoptive parents to put themselves in the shoes of the adoptee. If you were adopted wouldn’t you want to know where you come from? Your medical history? If you look or have the same mannerisms as your biology? Wouldn’t you want to know more about your story? I know I would and that’s often what has led and created such a great space for a successful open adoption for my children. I often think about my child getting older and telling them more details of their story. I always want to say I did my very best and looked out for them. I want them to know I did everything in my power to keep that door open.

The Expecting Mom is Trusting You

I also often ask hopeful adoptive parents to put themselves in the shoes of the expecting mom. She is trusting your word (in most states). A very real fear that time and time again occurs is the adoptive parents once they have the child, they disappear on the birth family. Once parental rights are terminated the adoptive parents essentially hold all the power as far as the relationship goes. The expecting mom/family is trusting you that you will stay in contact. Wouldn’t you want picture updates just to know the child you carried for nine months is ok and healthy? Would you want the possibility of pictures, updates, and possibly even visits? Again, putting myself into the perspective of a birth mom I know I would want those updates. Also, I have the title mom because of my children’s birth family. Its something I could never repay them for, but I can honor them in keeping my promises.

I also am not saying navigating open adoption isn’t easy, but it can be done. It’s like any relationship, it takes time and energy. I now look at open adoption as more people to love my child. It’s more ways to help my children cope with their own story, adoption, and questions. I always want to best help my children and if you listen to adult adoptees they are screaming for open adoption.  I no longer feel this threat of open adoption. I am my children’s mother and I always will be. I’m secure in that. Honestly, my kiddos birth family are more people in my family that I love as well. There is also guilt I have had to deal with. I feel guilt that a woman chose me to be her child’s mom. I sometimes even now feel this pressure to be perfect creep in. The adoption narrative of a better life doesn’t help with this. Give yourself, your child’s birth family, and your child grace in this journey.

Adoption Has Made Me a Better Mom

I often think adoption has made me a better mom. I have come to accept I may have nothing in common with my child. I’ve learned that my children will have their own interests and become their own person. That may sound like common sense but with biology, we often put our hopes and dreams onto this child. Biology or not, your child will become their own person. At the end of the day that’s the goal, right? For your child to follow their passions and become the person they are supposed to be. Open adoption helps your child work through their trauma that you cannot prevent. Open adoption helps your child navigate who they are, where they come from, and who they want to become. This openness is all I could ever want for my children.

This is a guest post by Paige Knipfer from Love Grown Adoption Consulting

Interested in learning more about The Ultimate Guide to Adopting a Child?  Check out our entire guide here.

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