An Un-Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents Lie and Break a Mother's Heart
I recently joined Facebook and there have connected with many new people involved in adoption issues. One of them is Vanessa from Texas, a birth mother who was promised an "open" adoption, but it was slammed shut when her son was six. While we bloggers three--Jane, Linda and Lorraine--gave our children up when open adoptions did not exist or were extremely rare, today they are the most common type of private adoption in the country. However, any woman considering entering into such an agreement should heed this tale of caution:
When I learned that I was pregnant at 19, the baby’s father and I had recently split up. I was alone, scared, unsure of what to do. By the time I was five months along, I was considering adoption, but I did know that I would not be able to simply give my child up and not know what had happened to him or how he was as time went by. If I were going to pursue this option, open adoption was the only route I was willing to consider. I contacted a local agency, met the director, and made this very clear. It was open adoption or nothing.
I moved into the maternity home provided by the Blessed Trinity Adoptions in Texas, which is no longer in business. While I was still unsure about giving my child up, the pressurized atmosphere of the maternity home convinced me that I would not be the better parent for my child because I was young, unmarried, and did not have a four-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac. The social worker and the agency director strongly encouraged me to look thorough prospective parent profiles and select a couple whom I might discuss open adoption with. I found a couple who seemed to be what I was looking for: a stable, loving people—good Christians—who would be able to provide my child with everything that I could not (or so I thought).
Our first meetings went well. I voiced my reluctance about going through with the adoption—if they were unwilling to agree to regular correspondence and pictures of my child until age 18. At that point, of course, he would be old enough to make his own decisions. The agency did require that the couple agree to a single visitation when my child was one, and held out the promise that there might be more. Yet I was still apprehensive. My hesitation must have been obvious, and so, during our last meeting—shortly before I gave birth to my son—both the man and the woman looked me straight in the eye and promised that they would honor our spoken agreement for an open adoption. I believe they would have said anything to get my child.
I had the agreed-upon one-hour visitation when he was a year old, but that was it. I was never offered any other visitations or meetings with them, or, more importantly, my son. For six years I received the promised pictures and correspondence, and while they were always bittersweet at least I had some connection with my son.
Everything ended when he was seven. The adoptive parents moved and left no forwarding contact information. The correspondence and pictures no longer came. I had no way to reach them. I was devastated. A lawyer I contacted after a few years told me that because I did not have a signed legal agreement specifying certain conditions, there was nothing that I could do. However, I am not sure what gooda signed paper would have been anyway because in most states such arrangements are difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.
The people who adopted my son—supposedly good Christians—were people I trusted, yet they deceived me and destroyed my relationship with my son. To anyone who says that getting a child under these false pretences is not coercion, you are wrong. I would never have agreed to let my son be adopted if I knew the couple would not honor their promise. They dangled the carrot of “open adoption” before me, but it was a lie. Living with the knowledge that I entrusted them with my child has been a terrible cross to bear.
Twelve years went by without any word. But when he was 18, I found him and we recently met. After I told him that I always regretted giving him up he looked me right in the face and said that “God put him where he was supposed to be.” The very people who betrayed me have brainwashed him into believing that it was “God’s will” that he was adopted by them. I doubt they also told him that it was “God's will” that they lied to his mother and let her live in a state of despair and disillusionment all of these years.
The adoptive parents who do this are not "loving" parents or good Christians; they are heartless wretches. I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy. If there is anyone out there who is considering embarking on an “open adoption”, please reconsider. While I commend those adoptive parents who do honor their child’s mother and the agreements for openness, there are far too many who don’t. The psychological damage this causes is devastating. I am not the only person who has been tricked into agreeing to an “open adoption.” There are many other women like me.
The adoption industry is built upon the premise that infertile couples are more deserving of your child than a young, unmarried woman because they have more disposable income at the time your child is born. What older couple doesn’t have more money than most 19-year-olds? But that does that make them more entitled to someone else’s child. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Financial and life situations change. To anyone considering an open adoption, I say...find another way.