' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: When an agency promises 'semi-open' adoption, look elsewhere

Friday, September 14, 2012

When an agency promises 'semi-open' adoption, look elsewhere

What is wrong with a "semi-open" adoption?

Just about everything.

As a birth mother, you are at the mercy not only of the agency, and its commitment to keeping the adoption semi-closed--let's be frank, that's what it is--but also at the mercy of the adoptive parents to keep up contact. If they do not want to, birth/first parents have no recourse through the legal system in most states to keep the information channels open. Whenever we write about this travesty, we get more comments from first mothers who were lied to by adopters, and whose contact with them ended without warning.

What is a "semi-open" adoption? One in which first mothers look through a few files and photographs of prospective adopters, and choose one; you are given first names, or names that the prospective adoptive parents are comfortable giving you, which may not be their real first names; you will probably learn which state they live in, and it is likely to be not yours, but several states away, or across the country; the adoptive parents agree in a non-binding arrangement to share photos and updates every so often. That's it. Notice all the things not agreed to?

Since private adoption agencies are a business, just like the local Taco Bell, they are under no legal obligation to make sure that the after-relinquishment agreements, and that the avenue of contact, ie, the agency, stay open and in business and able to continue servicing to its clients. That's not so terrible if you are a Taco Bell or a local dry cleaner, your customers can always go elsewhere. But what if the adoption agency that handled the placement of your child should suddenly close?

Tough luck. 

That is exactly what happened this April in San Antonio when one of the largest agencies in Texas, Adoption Services Associates, shut down, after handling some estimated 5,000 adoptions, leaving both prospective adoptive parents, and the birth families who had already placed their children through ASA, in the lurch. Another Texas agency, Abrazo Adoption Services, has tried to step in and help the birth mothers and a few birth fathers who were duped into "semi-open" adoptions at ASA. They were promised regular updates and photographs through the agency until the child was five, as well as the possibility of a reunion at age 18. But without an agency in operation, the birth parents were left in the dark and out of luck.

I was alerted to this sad state of affairs today at the blog, Family Preservation Advocate, and was able to reach the director of Abrazo, Elizabeth Jurenovich. "We get these frantic calls, it is heart-breaking," she says. "It is wrenching for us to hear--these mothers are panicked and have so little information to begin with. They don't have a concept of how little they had in terms of actual information. They are desperate, they feel betrayed. They have lost whatever shred of contact they had with their children."

Abrazo, a tiny non-profit with three workers, sent out a press release offering to help, and so far has heard from about 50 birth mothers and fathers. Using whatever information the first parents had, Abrazo has been able to locate about a dozen of the adoptive families, one as far away as England. None have agreed to direct contact with the birth family, and most are annoyed to hear from a social worker suggesting that they do so. "These people paid a lot of money to have a closed adoption--I've heard up to $60,000--and that is what they were buying." A half dozen or so adoptive families have also contacted Abrazo to inquire about the natural families and how to reach them, but again, direct contact is not what they agreed to, and not what they want now. Open adoption agreements between birth and adoptive parents are not enforceable in the vast majority of states, including Texas.

The records of ASA will be warehoused with the Texas Bureau of Vital Records, but it is under no obligation to forward mail or photographs or medical information, nor are there plans to do so. Abrazo stepped in when it became aware of the situation in order to provide whatever help it could.

"The agency claimed they were doing open adoptions, but they were really semi-closed adoptions," Jurenovich says. "An adoption is either open or it is not." There was an agreement to send photographs up until the age of five, and the agency also promised to forward any mail. Many of their adoptions were out of country, not only in England, but also Germany, France, and even Dubai.

What we have noticed about semi-open adoptions is that the adoptive parents offered to prospective mothers are often in a faraway state, making travel to visit a child costly and difficult. The adoptive parents of  Catelynn and Tyler's daughter, Brandon and Teresa Davis, for instance, are in North Carolina; Catelynn and Tyler live in Michigan. Their agency, Bethany Adoption Services, has branches all over; certainly there were willing adoptive parents in Michigan or nearby  Ohio. I heard about a "semi-open" adoption that led to this: The adoptive father, an editor of a popular consumer magazine, refused to do any television interviews for the magazine because, as he explained to a friend of mine, "the birth mother [of his child] might recognize him from the photographs." Yikes, I thought--that is an open adoption? That is chicanery.

Jurenovich is not quite sure exactly what assistance her agency can provide in the long run, other than counseling support. Several ASA first parents already attend the weekly support group.  However, Abrazo does not have the staff or the finances to be the middleman and facilitator for all of ASA's clients. Under consideration is setting up an adoption website where birth and adoptive families could share information and photographs, while still allowing the adoptive family to maintain anonymity. Emails do not come with addresses or names, and such a system would depend on the good will and willingness of the adoptive parents to participate. They have offered counseling too.

ASA was founded in 1984 by Linda Zuflacht, a founding member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, according to the Pound Pup website. ASA--a non-proft, let us note--was known for doing primarily closed and semi-closed adoptions, and ASA birth parents rarely were allowed access to their children's adoptive families identifying information. They had to rely on ASA for any updated information about their children, including pictures and letters, medical concerns, forwarding mail. The agency held all the contact information private so that any reunion would have to be arranged by them.

A week before ASA closed and filed for bankruptcy, the agency workers were let go, reportedly with good exit packages. None of them are talking about what went on at the agency. Shortly before the agency closed, adoptive parents reportedly were contacted and told that for a few hundred dollars they would be given the contact information of the birth parents; birth parents were not contacted or offered the contact information of the adoptive parents. According to the website, My SA, the bankruptcy petition ran to 359 pages, listing nearly 950 couples as unsecured creditors. Some of them were in the process of adopting before ASA shut down; and some had paid the agency as much as $60,000. The state attorney general has filed two lawsuits, one against the agency itself, and the other against the owners, Zuflacht and her husband, James McMahon, Jr., who was the agency president. I'd call that keeping the money in the family.

At least one agency is paying attention to the heartbreak this kind of broken promise causes. Writes Jurenovich:  "I hope that ASA birthmoms and birthdads will be assured that the adoption community is taking note of their plight, recognizes their compounded losses, and is concerned for them." 

We write this tonight in sadness for the mothers and fathers who have lost all means of contact with their children. We write this tonight as a warning for all pregnant women considering adoption to refuse to enter into any adoption that is not fully and completely open: one in which you know the adopting parents' names, address, phone numbers, occupations, and place of business. We recommend you visit their home and  verifiy all the information given to you that it is accurate, so that they cannot disappear unless they enter a witness-protection program. If the agency refuses to offer you a fully open adoption, go elsewhere. We write this tonight hoping that no one is again duped into a so-called "semi-open" adoption. We realize this is probably a pipe dream, but we still we hope. --lorraine

To contact Elizabeth Jurenovich at Abrazo:

Read more: Closed adoption agency under investigation 
From Mirah Riben's Blog:
Adoption Services Associates' Agency Closing Leaves ASA Birthparents in the Lurch
From Abrazo:
Adoption Services Associates' Agency Closing Leaves ASA Birthparents in the Lurch: Abrazo To Help

From FMF:  No Matter How Adoption is Done, Grief Remains for Mothers 
Are Open Adoptions a Boon for Birth Mothers or a Scam?
An Un-Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents Lie and Break a Mother's Heart

The Open Adoption Experience: A Complete Guide for Adoptive and Birth Families--from Making the Decision Through the Child's Growing Years
From Amazon: "I found this book to be extremely helpful in learning about all that is involved in open adoptions. I am a birthmother, and found that this book addressed the concerns and feelings of both the adoptive parents and the birth parents. I only wish I had read it earlier on in my pregnancy, when I had just begun to consider adoption, as it is a very helpful book not only for those already involved in open adoptions, but for those who are considering adoption also, as it contains a whole section on meeting and getting to know each other. Overall, a great book to read for all involved in open (and semi-open) adoptions." To order, click on book jacket or title. 


  1. I am an adoptive mom. As my husband and I were searching for adoption agencies to use, we found that most were doing semi-open adoptions. They talked a lot (at orientation meetings) about how to keep your identity private when doing a profile, etc. And many had a proposed arrangement that included pictures frequently the first year and then dropping off as the years go on. As if after 5 or so years it no longer matters??? The agency we finally went with does only open adoptions and does a lot of mandatory education around this. Of course it is still not legally enforceable but it is a start. All of the families I have met through our agency either have open adoptions or are hoping for contact from their child's birth family. I believe that the education provided from our agency is so important and enlightening to those pursuing adoption. Wish there were more like that out there.

  2. Jeanne, thank you so much for commenting so quickly, and bringing such a heartening response to the idea of a truly open adoption.

  3. I'm living this nightmare..And couldn't agree more with your blog..Semi-Open is SO OFTEN just closed with a pretty bow on it. Heartbreaking!!

  4. You posted my story here, Lorraine and this is exactly what happened to me and the agency I went through in Texas.

    However, there was no agency back then (late '90's) offering to step up and help me navigate anything. Not one person ever contacted me to let me know they folded and who to contact further. Non-human "birthmother" had no right to know anything, it appears.

    Upon doing my own research, I discovered another local agency took over the records. All I had to do was call the old agency and the phones rolled directly over to the agency that had all of our records.

    That is why I have such a hard time believing that my son's adopters simply "lost contact" after the agency closed. If it was that easy for me to find out who to contact, it would have been just as easy for them.

    This was their easy out of an "open adoption" they never wanted in the first place... how very convenient for them, don't ya think?


  5. The semi-open adoption seems to be sold as kind of a six of one, half dozen of the other approach to being a parent. The first mother can have a relationship with her child but doesn't have the financial obligations or the day to day responsibility of raising the child.

    The truth is that once a natural parent relinquishes his or her parental rights, s/he no longer has any legal rights to the child. Their relationship is the same as if they were strangers.

    I remember watching Teen Mom and learning that in Tyler and Catelynn's "open adoption" (I think they called it open rather than semi-open) they did not know the last name of the PAPs or where they lived. I'm not surprised that there is so much duplicity in such an arrangement. An, unfortunately, it is easy to mislead young, vulnerable people who are facing a crisis pregnancy.

  6. Robin, I haven't seen more than a few episodes of Catelynn and Tyler's episodes, (can't watch) but someone commented here previously that at one point when they were complaining about not knowing more about the adoptive parents, Brandon and Teresa Davis (that appears to be who they are), or have more contact with their daughter, the social worker Dawn said something to the effect of, Well, if you wanted a more open adoption you should have said so....and apparently it was clear that Catelynn had not understood exactly what the ramifications of her "semi-open" adoption were, or that more openness was ever a possibility. I'd call that being duped by Dawn and Bethany. Catelynn didn't come to the agency an expert in adoption.

  7. These deceptive arrangements get even more complex when agencies facilitate 'triangular' adoptions. In Utah, for example, pregnant women are flown in from other states to bypass the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) regulations. They give birth there, and the adoptive parents come to Utah from God-knows-where to buy their bundles of joy. Try to keep all THOSE balls in the air! Mothers have no idea where to even file a consent form in a passive registry in the unknown states of adoption of their children.

    As for the U.S. babies adopted in other countries, this brings up another point: Why is our federal government not taking an interest in the baby export business with follow-ups like the Russians are now implementing? We know about all the Russian children killed by their adopters here. What do we know about the safety and well-being of our U.S. citizen children packed off and sent abroad as adoptees? We do know of at least one case where a foreign judge ordered a baby returned to the U.S. because of the terrible pre-adoptive screening of the prospective adoptive parents. And what happens to a possible 'Semi-Open' arrangement the mother of the judge-returned child might have had with the adoptive parents? Would she be informed of the adoption failure and be given a chance to parent her own child - or at least make another choice for adopters? How many more of our babies have gone to homes like that and not been lucky enough to have their plight discovered by a wise judge?

    One country took it upon itself to limit the adoptions of U.S. children from what we'd consider the 'blue ribbon' category: under age 5 and with no health problems.

    Gladney has been exporting babies for decades to the UK, France, Germany and Scandinavia and who-knows-where-else. In fact, before the Hague regulations took hold here, there was a Gladney auxiliary in Europe. Couples who don't qualify to adopt in their own countries because of age have been gladly accepted as adopters by Gladney. To Gladney's credit, they reportedly had/have a good vetting process. But beyond that? And what about any alleged "open" or "semi-open" adoptions these foreign couples have entered into?

    When are we going to take responsibility for the welfare of our own children and stop couching the realities of the baby trade in tender terminology like 'Open-Adoption'?

  8. But alas, Lorraine, natural mothers are somehow supposed to "magically" know e.v.e.r.y. s.i.n.g.l.e. short-term and long-term ramification of relinquishing a child for adoption, both for her own health and psyche, as well as for the relinquished individual. She is forever held responsible for NOT knowing e.v.e.r.y. s.i.n.g.l.e. short-term and long-term ramification, both by society at large and sometimes, even the individual she relinquished for adoption. Society acts as if natural mothers come to the adoption transaction as well-researched experts in adoption practice and law. Society then blames, shames, and marginalizes natural parents when they discover, post-relinquishment, critical information was with held from them, or that they were used, duped, lied to, coerced, or manipulated in some degree of fashion.

    That is when society pulls out the "Well, no one had a gun to your head and made you sign that termination of parental rights papers" line. My response? "Some people rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen." (~ Woody Gurthrie)

    Semi-open adoptions and **ALL** non-enforceable post-adoption contracts (AKA "open adoption agreements") do exactly that: They rob a woman with a fountain pen, under the guise of promised future contact. It doesn't matter if the adoptive parents intend to keep their end of the agreement or not. The fact of the matter is they are entering into a sham agreement with the natural mother - a ruse - to procure an infant to satisfy their desires.

  9. Adoption Digger, thanks for lots of useful information about abuses in cross-state and out of country adoptions, and Lorraine thanks for this post about real adoption abuse and malpractice in Texas and some decent people trying to correct it as much as possible. It is most refreshing after some previous threads that disintegrated into name calling. I hope that will not be the fate of this one.

    Semi-open adoptions are often just a scam, and many mothers involved in them have no idea how fragile and easily cut off their connection to the adoptive family and their child is. Texas, like Utah, is notorious for adoption mills, scams,and bad practice, so it is heartening that at least one agency there, Abrazos, is trying to do the right thing. Let's keep supporting them and adoptive parents like Jeanne who post here who really are committed to true open adoption for the good of their children.

    This kind of story, and the shipping out of US children to other countries, usually minority children, is the sort of thing we should be monitoring and reporting on, not endless and pointless semantic battles or nature vs. nurture debates that neither side wins nor gives an inch on.

  10. This is my story. I was promised a totally open adoption. Visits twice a year phone calls full exchange of info. I got one visit at 6 months in my hometown. Everything they told me was a lie. The adoption was slammed shut shortly after it was finalized. I know nothing about them. They also had another child a 3 year old daughter.they told me her mom had chosen no contact. I no longer believe that I think they shut her out just like they shut me out. I wonder if they tell people I chose a closed adoption like I know they do with the other mother.

  11. I was horrified when I read the news about that agency but it is not the only agency that has closed and has left countless families on both sides shut out.

    I believe adoption should be federally regulated - especially seeing as there is a federal tax credit.

    Tons of respect for the agency that has tried to step in to help. They deserve full credit and recognition.

    Can I link?

  12. A story like Rebecca's could be disastrous for the child. First, s/he has to grow up thinking that her n-mother could have contact and chooses not to. This would be very hurtful, reinforcing her idea that she isn't valuable and important enough. Then when she is an adult if she chooses to have a reunion and learns the truth, she will first off have to struggle with who to believe. If s/he believes her first mother and realizes that her APs lied to her and manipulated her all these years, s/he will most likely have a lot of anger and bitterness towards them. This could even end the relationship. And then if the reunion with the first family doesn't go well and s/he doesn't end up as a fully integrated member of the family again, s/he could end up with no family at all. Adoption sucks. Keep your kid.

    I loved your comment that adoptees are tied to both families. Whenever anyone gives me any flak about adoption, I will simply remind them that I am now, always have been and forever will be tied to both my families.

  13. I totally agree with everything everyone has said. One thing that is frustrating to me is that in 2012 there is PLENTY of information out there for people to fully inform themselves with. Leaving the agency out of this for a second, potential adoptive parents only need to do a google search and a million sources of information about adoption related issues will appear at their fingertips. But I don't think all potential adopters want to know the other side of adoption or that everyone, including the adoptee, may not just live happily ever after. Likewise, it seems that some expectant mothers contemplating giving their children up don't WANT to know the ramifications of their decision. I'm not sure why this is. Fear of someone not wanting to adopt their child? Not wanting to infringe on the lives of the potential adoptive parents? Brain washing by the agency? Again, that information is only a google search away. Clearly the agency isn't the source to go to in order to become fully informed.

    For me the bottom line is this: Agencies should be legally obligated to provided full and thorough information about the adoption process. They should be legally bound to explain that whatever choice an expectant mother makes regarding openness, once relinquishment is signed, the adoptive parents aren't legally required to maintain ANY contact regardless of what they promised beforehand. Agencies should also be legally bound in the event of going out of business, that another agency will take over their records in order to facilitate contact between mothers, adoptive parents, and adoptees.

  14. Having the tiny little open part of the adoption that had been promised slammed shut on me was probably the most devastating event that happened in my life.

    It was as devastating as the act of giving her up but even more so because at least with that I felt that I was acting in her best interests and clung to the idea that I had myself made this choice. Looking back now I see the undermining of confidence and the coercion and shaming but that's another story.

    When the adoption was closed on me and the reason being that I seemed to love her too much, the feeling of injustice and powerlessness and betrayal was quite overwhelming.

    I'm so glad to have all that behind me now, I feel like I have a second chance now. A chance to live a normal life. I still have the pain of adoption lingering in my aura but it doesn't cripple me anymore like it used to.

  15. When I relinquished my son, I was only promised a 6 week picture, a 6 month picture, and then any further updates would be at the discretion of the adoptive parents. I did not know I had to ask for these updates, each and every time, until I happened to befriend another first mother who went through the same agency and told me the policy. I immediately requested an update and from that point on, would request every year. Sometimes I'd get a picture and/or a or little update about my son's life, sometimes not, but at least I did get something throughout his life until he was grown, then it was up to him whether or not he wanted to continue. Other first moms I've met through my agency said they either didn't get anything beyond that 6 month pic, or else the updates stopped at age 5. I think the agency had a "guideline" for the aparents that the updates should stop at school age for a number of reasons, none of which I agree with. First, the child is becoming more recognizable at age 5. Second, they assumed (wrongly) that the natural mother needed to "move on," as if we could. Finally, the agency was more concerned with the adoptive parents feeling as though they could be parents without interference from the child's first family. There was so much emphasis on falsely recreating a natural family at that time and this could only be done by crazy practices like falsifying birth certificates, "matching," and obliterating the first mother/father/family to whatever extent possible. I feel very fortunate that I did get those updates throughout my son's life. If they had stopped, it would have been devastating, but I also knew very well that my son's parents did not have to send them. The fact that they did, at a time when our adoption was not even defined as "semi open" or "semi closed" (they didn't call it anything back then, and ours simply evolved into what is now known as semi open) is something that I do feel very thankful for. In retrospect though, especially now that I am reunited with my son, I wish there could have been more openness and more frequent updates with more than one picture at a time. But I do realize how fortunate I was to have gotten anything at all. Having said that, why I couldn't know their identity, or where they lived, is something I just don't understand and never will. I never knew how to address them, and the agency said to use "Dear Mr. and Mrs." (so awkward!) until finally my son's parents signed their real first names to one of their updates. It was also so hard to sign my name. Of course, I wanted to say "mom" but couldn't, so I had to use my first name. I believe these tactics are one of the reasons sending updates is so very difficult for first mothers. In addition, I was always very worried that if I said the wrong thing, or expressed too much sorrow, I would risk not getting future updates. I did not want to upset them or my son by talking about the loss of it all, but at the same time, to only talk about happy stuff when there was so much sorrow intertwined, seemed phoney. I also asked one time if I could get updates more than once a year, and the agency shot that one down right away. I think my son's parents might have been OK with that, but I doubt they were even asked if they would consider my request. The agency simply didn't want to start that, and also probably didn't want the extra work of acting as intermediary for any extra updates.

    Now that my son an I are communicating directly and have been for the last several years, it just seems so crazy that we couldn't have had this type of contact all along.

  16. Annette Baran, one of the pioneers in the concept of open adoption, expressed concerns in later years that it could be easily exploited by unscrupulous adoption brokers. You can read the pure concept of open adoption as envisioned by Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor here:

    Clearly, their intention at the time (1993) was for there to be no deception; no intermediary manipulation; no hidden identities:

    Definition of Open Adoption
    An open adoption is one in which the birthparent(s) at least meet the adoptive parents and may even participate in selecting them. In contrast to closed adoption, open adoption includes the exchange of identifying information and the making of agreements regarding future contact and communication. The frequency and extent of this contact and communication will vary and may need to be renegotiated at different times in the lives of the individuals involved, depending upon their needs and desires and the quality of the relationship that evolves.

  17. I absolutely agree that the intentions both stated and agreed upon going into an adoption should be enforced, both in spirit and intent.

    However and I know this won't be well received, sometimes keeping personal details private or limiting previously agreed upon contact becomes necessary.

    I'm sure this is the minority, but for 12 years we embraced a fully open adoption. We scheduled visits, planned trips to meet with our shared child's first mother, sent updates, maintained a private blog that only she had access to and it wasn't easy (for anyone) and often messy, but it worked.

    Then came the years at around age 4 for our daughter when she (FM) began calling at erratic times(sometimes the middle of the night), making threats and frightening this vulnerable child. Things would get better, for even years at a time and then much anticipated visits would be missed (by her), many in a row. Mailed notes/updates came back unable to be forwarded or delivered and 2 years of no contact from her.

    It was devastating to our child. The final straw was when she came over unexpectedly ( we had always shared our private information) and told our daugther to bag her bags, that we were "giving her back."

    It has been a tremendous process undoing the trauma all of this has caused and in hindsight we should have done more to shield our daughter from what is clearly a heartsick and ill woman.

    We have since tried to get our daughter's FM help, but again she has gone underground.

    Sadly we too have had to take steps to protect this child from further contact of this nature, at this time.

    Could it change? Yes. That is our wish.

    I realize this does not represent any one elses' situation but our own and clearly its extreme. But I do know of other adoptive families who have faced similiar (though not exact) situations and had to make the difficult decision to break or limit contact.

    I think agencies need to do a much better job of supporting vulnerable FM's all the way through the process, whether they choose to parent or decide to place a child for adoption.

    Our daughter's FM needs and needed that support.

    I am saddened reading of all the mothers on this forum denied what was promised to them.

    The best word I can use is shameful. Shameful that more protections are not in place. A promise made should be a promise kept in all but the most extreme circumstances. And even then, no ties should be severed completely.

    Thank you for letting me share and offering one exception to the rule.


  18. "The Crafts used an agency in Texas instead of Connecticut to take advantage of more favorable adoption laws for the adoptive parents. They were approved by the agency in July 2011, and by February 2012, they were matched up with a birth mother."

    I just read this in a story from NBC CT about the couple who were out $35,000 to Adoption Services Associates. Yes, it is sad to be out $35,000 to a sleazy agency, but that does not compare with the heartache and heartbreak of birth parents without recourse. Of course, since their "open" agreements were not enforceable, they have no legal grounds to stand on.

  19. I'll read the whole article when I have time. I skimmed the 1st paragraph and stifled a vomit. Then I read Jeanne's nice comment; she's trying to make change.

    It's really hard not offending people when you're talking about an offensive subject - see I offended already - so I'll comment only on the disgraceful adoption industry. And, I'll be concise.


    Why is the cowardly adoption industry so scared to respect the natural mother and the complete natural family? Why are they such scared cowards? Is it the fear that the natural mom might want to "intrude?"

    That's pretty contemptible! You know ahead of time how devastating the loss of a child is on a mother - AND YOU KNOW IT WILL GET WORSE OVER TIME - and still you stay in the separating-families business instead of helping vulnerable families stay together. No money in staying together? Right?

    Here's an alternative: Go look for TRUE orphans with no family relatives to take them in! Not that noble? Huh?

    By the by, fabulous moderators, Jane & Lorraine are terrific for keeping this blog alive. If I'm not mistaken, in the left sidebar, "Making an Adoption Plan" doesn't connect to anything. Or, am I doing something wrong?

  20. @Adoption Digger, really, you should not believe everything on the internet. That message about Dutch politics is from 2009, after it was made, it met a very strong pro-gay-adoption lobby,and it disappeared.

    Adoptions in the Netherlands, from the US, domestic and total.

    2009: 29(US-NL),40(NL dom),720(NLtotal)
    2010: 33(US-NL),36(NL dom),720(NLtotal)
    2011: 51(US-NL),28(NL dom),563(NLtotal)

    Now, it has to be granted that 2009was an atypical year for the period, a high for Dutch domestic adoptions, and a low for adoptions from the States, but still...

  21. Since this article mentions babies being sent out of the USA I will ask that question that always comes to mind.

    What becomes of their status as US citizens? Can these children return and claim full citizenship and all of the associated rights? How do they claim their rights as natural born citizens when birth certificates are falsified and records are sealed?

  22. @Maybe,usually those children are born in the USA, thus US citizens, it is suggested they have to keep their passports and all updated, to be able to return to their mother (Assuming for arguement's sake that the adopters are two honorably married men).


  23. I wonder what percentage of expectant mothers really understand that these agreements are not legally enforceable. It sound like it should not even be legal to make these kinds of promises. Or at the very least it is highly unethical since they turn out in so many cases to be a sham. This sounds like just another ruse to encourage more vulnerable young women to give up their babies.

    I don't really know the answer to your question but I do know that the place of birth is usually not altered on the amended birth certificate. My birth certificate is from the state where I was born, (different than where the adoption took place) has the raised seal and lists the county where I was born. So I would think that any child adopted overseas would still have the U.S. location listed as their place of birth.

  24. Caleigh,
    Thanks for letting us know about the bad link to "Making an Adoption Plan" This was to an excellent pamphlet by first mother Heather Lowe on the CUB website. CUB has updated the site and appears to have removed the pamphlet.

  25. Thanks to those who responded to my question about citizenship. I'm glad the place of birth isn't changed (although I can see unscrupulous agencies trying to do this, some recommend putting the APs directly on the OBC and there have been cases of altered DOBs).

  26. An an AAC meeting, I heard of many cases of altered Place of Birth on amended birth certificates. The ones I remember the most were coming out of Georgia, to suit the whims of adoptive parents.

  27. Kate,
    Links to FMF are always welcome. Thanks for your nice remarks on your blog about our blog.

    We're always pleased when adoptive parents read our blog. The more we share information, the better adoption, when it has to occur, will be for all.

  28. Our agency only does fully open adoptions. There was a form that both the birth parents and DH and I had to sign that stated that any openness agreement was a moral imperative (my words) and not leagally binding. It was short and easily understood and I don't understand why more agencies don't do something like this at the outset so that all parties know the legal ramifications of openness agreements.

    As an adoptive mom, I get angry at other adoptive parents who fail to live up to their promises to the birth families. Whatever the reason-fear, insecurity or just dishonesty--their failure of integrity casts doubt over all adoptive parents, even those who understand the benefits of on-going contact with the birth family and strive to maintain a healthy relationship on behalf of their child.

    The best thing I can do for my son is to share him with his birth family. And the best thing I can do for the adoption community as a whole is to be an example of how an open adoption works.

  29. Lorraine said: "An an AAC meeting, I heard of many cases of altered Place of Birth on amended birth certificates. The ones I remember the most were coming out of Georgia, to suit the whims of adoptive parents."

    The adoption law in New Jersey still allows the place of birth to be changed to the adopting parents residence if they want to. It was part of the changes in the Adoptee Rights Bill which was gutted/veto'd so it is still on the books in 2012.

    I am sure it isn't the only state.

  30. I stumbled across your blog after a friend showed it to me. I am a birth mother, having given my daughter up for adoption this past June when she was born. No one prepared me for how hard it would be, I never saw the original birth certificate and was told it was shredded, no one can tell me who the woman was in my hospital room the day I was discharged having me sign papers, and the adoptive parents are now trying to make the adoption closed rather than open which was promised to me.

    At first, they had promised visits, letters, phone calls, etc. to not just me, but also to my friends who they met who had helped me through my entire pregnancy.

    Then, not even two months after placement, they are trying to go back on all of it. They told the agency (American Adoptions) that my friends were "harassing them" (yeah, okay...) and told me that I was not my daughter's mother and that I was preventing them from being a family. They wanted to cut off all ties with me for six months. As of right now, I have been able to get them to send updates every other month for the next six months. But after the six months, who knows what will happen...

    All of this has really made me regret the adoption, and most days I wish I had not given my daughter up at all. I truly do not think someone as heartless as the adoptive mother deserves to be a parent, least of all to MY child. Now instead of being able to visit my daughter on her first birthday, I doubt I'll be able to see her until she turns 18. And that's only if the adoptive mother hasn't been feeding her lies about what a terrible person she thinks I am until then, and my daughter actually -wants- to meet me.

  31. Kim,
    I'm so sorry to read about your loss. What those adoptive parents have done is unconscionable. They are not only breaking a promise to you, but they are hurting the child

    Have you asked the adoption agency to help you to get the adoptive parents to honor their agreement? If the agency hasn't helped you, you might consider filing a complaint against the agency with your state's agency which licenses adoption agencies, likely your state's child welfare agency.

    You might also consult an attorney. You can find a link to your state's legal resources at Find Legal Help

    We also encourage you to post your story on the Origins-USA website.

  32. Kim, So sorry to hear you were mislead in this way. I hope that they reconsider and reopen their connection to you. Your/their child will surely have questions for them (probably sooner than they think) if they do not keep their promise to you. Open adoption is complicated and uncomfortable at times (for everyone involved) but I can think of very few circumstances where it is not the best way to go. take care.

  33. I lost my firstborn to Abrazo. The agency only provided counseling through them and although they knew I was raped and wanted to parent they spent every second talking to me about how my child would remind me of the rape and how adoption would be hard but it was "the better choice" to allow me to move past being raped. When I tried to change my mind they laid on the guilt, pointing out how much the adoptive parents wanted a baby and how they were the only ones who had truly supported me through the pregnancy. They then cut contact before my child was a year old. Abrazo offered me no help and told me there was nothing they could do about it. Abrazo is not a better agency than others. They manipulated me and I am sure countless other mothers. Losing my baby to adoption was worse than rape.

  34. Very informative and helpful blog. Keep posting.

  35. helpless in wyomingJune 12, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    I am a birth mother that put my child up for adoption 14 years ago. It was to this day the most difficult decision I have ever made, but I knew that I could not have provided for her the way that she deserved. I was tortured with the thought of adoption, but hoped that by going through Catholic Social Services and their "semi-open adoption" process it would ease my fear and apprehension. My case worker talked about how this was the way to go. How it promised updates and pictures all the time. Although I only knew the first names of the adoptive parents and that they supposedly live somewhere in the same state, I felt somewhat better about my decision. I received one card and picture when she was 6 weeks old and then a letter about 2 years ago. I have written since and sent pictures with no response. When I contacted the adoption agency, they were unsure they had the correct information for the adopted family and asked me to keep writing and ask for correspondence from them. I'm sorry, but does that make any sense? You may not have the right address, but im supposed to keep writing with no clue whether or not they are even making it to my child? I have called, emailed with no light at the end of this nightmare! I thought that because I was going through an agency run by a church and it was a "semi open adoption" that I wouldn't get screwed! I was sadly mistaken. I wanted to give my little girl a better life and I'm not even sure that she's getting that. I have no rights and don't know what to do. I have grieved for 14 years 6 months and 7 days because of this. No closure!

  36. Helpless in Wyoming:

    It appears your agency through Catholic Social Services was party to what I would call a scam--they scammed you, the adoptive parents scammed you, and both you and your child are the losers. We need to keep telling this story over and over again so that more vulnerable women do not fall into the trap of "semi-open." In many--or-most--cases it means, "likely-to-close."

  37. I'm an adoptive mom of two boys, and I'm shocked and horrified to read of the experience so many women are having -- not getting the letters/photos they were promised. Maybe I'm naive; I had no idea this happened so often. Our agency takes the communication very seriously, and we are committed to sending photos and letters twice a year for 18 years. We would never consider skipping this!! We hear back from the birth mother and both birth grandmothers of one child, and are thrilled when we do; now that he's old enough to write, I helped him write a letter back to her. We show him the photos we have of them and talk about them, and if the birth parents requested it, we'd be very happy to meet again. We do not yet hear back from the younger child's birth parents but would be thrilled to; in fact I called the agency asking if there was a chance of hearing from them, and the agency hopes so too but the parents evidently need time. My heart goes out to anyone who waits for letters and photos or contact of any kind, and doesn't get it.

  38. Thanks, Susan, for leaving a comment. We know there are parents like you, but we don't often hear about them, or from them. It's always good to know that there are adoptive parents who take the open part of open adoption seriously. But it does sound like the letters go through the agency. Have you considered direct contact? Agencies go out of business, people move, etc. Best would be direct contact with the natural parents if you can locate them.

  39. I am so fed up with the terms like "first parents", "real parents", etc...when birth parents choose, through free will, to legally have their chid adopted, THE parents are the Adoptive Parents...period. Furthermore, agencies such as Abrazo who simply use and manipulate birth parents under the guise of giving a damn are beneath contempt...we experienced their manipulation and underhanded tactics first hand. The entire industry, and that's what it is folks, just makes me sick.
    I commend all of the Adoptive Parents, who are the REAL parents, for persevering through this mine field of hypocrites and charlatans to truly do what's right by THEIR children...
    Adoptive Dad

  40. Yes, adoptive parents are parents, real parents, but so are the mothers and fathers who conceived the children. Adoptive Dad, unless you got your child from a stork, there are OTHER parents. Otherwise, no child.

    Yes, we know that the system is corrupt, and women are manipulated to give up their children so the adoption industry has "stock" to trade. But your anger at the mothers who made a child is misplaced. "Your" children are their children too. Adoptees have two sets of parents.

    You might enjoy reading Mirah Riben's book, The Stork Market. If you are so angry with the system that supplies infants, perhaps you ought to look to foster care and give a child who needs a home one.

  41. Adoptive Dad, July 31, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    1. Do you also tell African Americans and other races and ethnicities how to self identify? Why do you care what we choose to be called? None of the names you listed usurp your precious title of "real." When adoptees reach puberty abd beyond, they know who and what is "real" and who is not.

    2. Lorraine is absolutely correct and no one should adopt who cannot accept the FACT the child they chose to raise has two sets of parents.

    3. You said: "when birth parents choose, through free will..." Sir, many of us did not and do not today make a free will choice. Many mothers and fathers were and sill are coerced, pressured, deceived etc. both here and overseas.

    4. You are aware that adoption is an industry. It is in fact a mega billion dollar industry, created to serve, and kept alive by those who are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars per child. It is in fact a demand and market driven industry. If there were no demand for children, other than the 100,000+ in US foster care who cannot be reunified with family and COULD be adopted, there would be no corruption, no exploitation, no deceit...etc.

  42. Our adoption is a little different because of the fact we're adopting from foster care. We were advised to put the least amount of contact we'd be willing to do down on the official paperwork. Then were told we could always do more and if we wanted to do less we had to go through legal routes but he told us it was really easy.

    It makes me so sad I feel like no one stood up for our little one's first mom. I understand that she made mistakes but I really think a lot of it had to do with her back ground and mental issues. We are doing much more than what we have in our official paperwork because we love her and I love having another mom to gush over her adorable pictures with. :)

    I'm so sad so many first moms have been taken advantage of. Hopefully the parents saved all the information so they can still give it to the kids to seek you out if the kids want to.

  43. NavyWifey

    If there were more parents like you, adoption would be less troublesome for a whole lot of people. We appreciate you, as will your child when he is older. If you look at some of our later blogs, you will also find another wonderful adoptive mother named Jay Iyer.

  44. Hi there, if there was a agreement made in court by the judge that birth mother is allowed to be sent letters and a picture twice a year can the adoptive mother break that agreement? thanks

  45. Anon,
    Whether the agreement is enforceable depends on the laws of the state and the terms of the agreement. You should contact a lawyer. If you were represented by an attorney in the adoption, contact that attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, go to http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm

  46. Unlike closed adoption, semi-open generally allows contact info, updates/photos, and the child to know who you are at the age of consent. The two are absolutely different. Each agency/attorney should be held accountable to provide updated info to both sides. As of 2015, an open adoption generally involves birth parents to heavily interact (via phone, mail, internet) and visit with the child on a regular basis.

    Legitimate semi-open adoptions are fair if a woman cannot raise her child. When you SURRENDER your baby out of desperate need and eternal love, you must also surrender to the trust that he/she will be loved and taken care of, as you would hope. You CANNOT expect adoptive parents to simply be "glorified guardians" or to be a "co-parent" yourself. They are the primary parents - whom you chose or accepted - and you are the genetic parent. To be candid, getting pregnant and giving birth is the easy part of being a parent; raising a baby into adulthood is the most difficult part of bringing another human being into the world.

    This may sound a bit harsh, but If you cannot keep your baby or find family to raise him/her, then suck it up and let them go to qualified parents of whom you approve. It's AMAZING that they are even willing to raise your unwanted or poorly-timed pregnancy. Their deep desire for a child (usually due to infertility), is your ticket to give your baby the best chance at a wonderful upbringing that you simply cannot provide after the birth. Intrusive involvement will only confuse and potentially harm your child. Open adoption is historically fairly new. Research is just beginning to show the NEGATIVE effects of the heavily involved birth parent(s) in the young adoptive child's life - the children often experience emotional stress that can adversely manifest mentally or physically (e.g. nausea/vomiting prior to a visitation). It's one thing to have everybody's contact information and medical history, regular updates/photos, etc…but it's another to EXPECT to be regularly involved in your genetic child's upbringing. When your bio child is 18, then they absolutely should be readily given, or at least be able to easily retrieve, their birth records along with your personal info, so they can contact you if he/she wishes. If they meet up with you as an adult, the reasons behind your surrender can be made fully known to them. That is quite different from CLOSED adoptions.

    The Lowdown: When you surrender a child for adoption (not guardianship), DO NOT EXPECT TO CO-PARENT. Expect to share basic and medical info until the child is the age of consent. If you don't like the adoption plan or arrangement, then somehow RAISE THE CHILD YOURSELF or find family members to raise the child. I am flabbergasted by the anger and hatred toward adoptive parents that are simply willing to raise your (and your sexual partner's) currently unwanted or undesired genetic baby as their very own. It is UNFAIR to turn your sadness or guilt into anger or animosity against the very people willing to help you out of a difficult position, and take on the physical, emotional, and financial expenses that a baby creates. They want a baby that they didn't conceive, while you're in the the opposite position. It's as unjustifiable to accuse the adoptive parents of simply "buying" your baby, as it would be to claim that you coldly "gave it away" - both assertions are very cruel. If you really cannot surrender your beloved bio baby, then please find a way to raise him/her, but do not encourage others to punish those that are willing to raise a relative stranger's baby into adulthood…to love it with every bit of their being. THAT in itself is truly a gift that you would be fortunate to receive in return - while you bestow the very best intentions upon your genetic baby whom you were not prepared to bring into this world just yet. It's okay to surrender and trust when there is truly no other option. Love will always find its way back to you.



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