' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: What is an 'open' adoption?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What is an 'open' adoption?

First weekend with my daughter, at her home
The other day one of my friends commented that a mutual acquaintance had an "open" adoption, which was news to me. I'd heard the son in question talk knowingly about genetic testing, 23 + Me, etc., and I had assumed that he had undertaken DNA testing--or was considering it--to locate biological relatives. Then my friend added that our mutual acquaintance, the adoptive mother, knew the name of the young man's biological mother. Thus, an "open" adoption.

"She told him [her son] that if he wanted the name, she would give it to him."  I flashed on the remembrance of hearing that she knew the natural/birth mother was from the area where we all lived that I 'd heard a few years earlier, and was anxious that the boy's original mother would want her child back. Worried is the word I remembered. I had not assumed that she knew the woman's name. That had not come up.

So she knew her name all along? And the son knows all about DNA testing, as if he has no other route to his biological family?

What I had heard was not an open adoption, it was the door ajar. This is Mom holding the keys to the kingdom and though she might say, "If you ever should want to know that other woman, I can give you her name," the adoptee is likely never to say, Well,  yes, I'd like that name, for what has gone unsaid here is: But you don't, right? Haven't I been enough? All of which implies that if I, your Mom, is not enough, you are going to hurt me. She doesn't need to add: After all I've done for you, because that sense automatically comes with the territory of being adopted--even if the adoptive parent has never stated that in word or deed. To my mind, it can't be helped.

It came up the first time my daughter was visiting me and my husband, and it came up out of the blue without anyone saying anything. She later said she was having a great time that day and then remembered her family back in Wisconsin, and felt guilty. So she pouted for the rest of the evening. Now most of you know I found my daughter when she was 15 (photo above) and from that time forward, our previously closed adoption became open. She lived with me and my husband for several summers.

In today's world a truly open adoption  is one--or should be one--in which the adoptee from the very beginning grows up knowing that he has two families: one of origin, one of environment. But environment is all he knows, and so for the most part, and if the adoptive family is accepting and loving, he incorporates a sense of what is owed that mother/father/ family that those of us who grew up on our biological families cannot fathom. We understand we are connected to our aging parents, and "owe" them care as they get on, but for the adoptee, there is this added twist that underlies what is owed: the adoptive parents took you in when they did not have to...so you don't want to hurt them in any way.

In the normal order of things, one takes care of a child just because they are your child. Period. There's no filter, there's no gateway to chose no instead of yes. That is, other than relinquishment. Children take care of their parents or they don't, depending on a zillion individual factors.

In my life as public relinquishing "birth" mother more than a few times someone has told me about someone we both knew whose hip liberal leanings led her to say to a son or daughter, "If you would like to find your birth mother...." but the individual adoptee has said, Oh no, she isn't interested in doing that. Once the mother herself told me, but then, this was the mother who felt it necessary to correct language from "daughter" to "birth daughter" within weeks of my daughter's death. I assume she wanted to assure those who heard her that I couldn't possibly have mourned deeply for my daughter--after all, I'd given her up once, what could it be to lose her again? I can't imagine that her daughter would feel that she could freely say she was interested in searching for her birth mother, and woe if she used any language other than that.

So when the few adoptive mothers who come here and comment--Second Mom and Tiffany and Jay Iyer and Lavender Luz--we are thrilled and gratified to hear from them.

As for what an open adoption is? It is one in which the child adoptee knows his "other" mother from the earliest years, and never hears the words...if you would like to know...I have her name (but of course you probably don't, right? Right? RIGHT?"--lorraine

PS--Let me thank Robin, one of our frequent commentors, for her review of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption at her blog--All In The Family of Adoption
To order, click on link here or book jacket. Thank you for being one of those who order through FMF!  And to participate in a study of mothers who relinquished after 1989, keep scrolling.

Born That Way: Genes, Behavior, Personality
by William Wright
"The author takes on the question of nature versus nurture, examining the roles heredity and environment play in determining not only what we look like, but why some of us like coffee rather than tea or prefer cats to dogs. Wright's position is clearly in favor of genetic control of our predispositions, based on compelling evidence from various research such as the famous University of Minnesota studies of identical twins raised separately and from newer work such as that outlined in Dean Hamer's Living with Our GenesWright states emphatically, 'The nature-nurture war is over.'

"Wright makes a strong case for genetic determinism, while carefully distancing himself from the socio-political ramifications of saying people are 'born that way.' He does this by showing how decades of research pointing toward genes as determiners of body and mind has been misinterpreted by groups or individuals intent on achieving their nonscientific goals." --Therese Littleton

The more studies, the better. Be a participator!

Dear Birth Parents,  (Note: as addressed)
You are invited to take part in a research study about the experiences of birth parents in the United States who have relinquished a child for adoption. The study aims to investigate the context and effectiveness of counseling practices offered to birth parents prior to placement. The survey is expected to take approximately 20-25 minutes.

Eligibility: Women and men who have relinquished a child for adoption in the United States during the last 25 years (after 1989) and who are over the age of 18 years of age.

Compensation: If you complete the survey, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of six $100 gift cards when the survey concludes.  By following the link below and completing the survey, you confirm that you are 18 or older, have read this document, and agree to participate.

Benefit to You: Your will have an opportunity to speak about your experience.  This will help us to identify gaps in existing practices and help us to develop better approaches to helping birth parents through the adoption process.

To participate in the survey, use this link and paste the link into your browser): http://tinyurl.com/AdoptionOptionsSurvey

Information gained in this survey will be completely confidential. That is, no individuals or organizations will be identified in the results or reports that come from the study.

Questions? Contact the researchers via email or phone: Elissa Madden, PhD  (254) 723-4545; or adoptionstudy@uta.edu. Research approved by the University of Texas at Arlington. We appreciate your time and effort to help establish better practices and make a difference in the experiences of other birth parents.
Elissa Madden, PhD, LMSW and Scott Ryan, PhD, MSW, MBA
School of Social Work University of Texas at Arlington

Note: If you do not qualify for this study but know someone who might, please feel free to forward this message to them; however, we also ask that you keep the content of the message intact so that birth parents have all of the necessary information regarding the study. Thank you! 


  1. Good points, Lorraine. The adoption you describe is no different from mine. My son Lenny is in a closed adoption. He knows the names of his parents and his siblings, has seen photos of his parents (I have none of his siblings, just one "suspected" photo from the internet but I am not sure), has heard all the positive, not-so-traumatic stories about them from me, knows their backgrounds, etc. But, he has no contact with them, primarily due to criminal histories and certain court restraining orders in place (contact with his siblings is most welcome, as far as we are concerned, but they are in adoptive homes that do not wish that to happen).

    Anyhow, regardless of the reasons, the bottom line is Lenny's is not an open adoption and it would be ridiculous for me to state otherwise. Closed adoptions like mine are easier on the adoptive parent, without a doubt - they are less threatening, less competitive for the love of "your" child. While Lenny is well aware that he can seek out his parents when he no longer is a minor (restraining orders no longer an issue at that point), and he knows he has our full support, when the moment of reconnaissance arrives, will I be generous and accepting? Or I will be an insecure mess and foist feelings of guilt on my son? I hope not the latter, but time will tell!

    1. "Moment of reconnaissance" seems to indicate "locating the enemy". If this is how you (subconsciously) feel about the first mother, there may be problems...

    2. From all that she has written here, as well as returned a child to her natural mother when the mother appeared, as well as deal with the boy she is raising, it is clear that she does not think of his natural mother as "the enemy." Let's us not attack her for being honest that she has not had to face this yet, and so cannot say how she will react.

      She also returned an older child she was raising when the mother appeared after a time in jail or rehab or just disappeared. She did not see the mother as the "enemy."

    3. Reconnaissance with my own feelings, is what I was referring to. "Locating the enemy"... I had to smile at your speculation about my son's story, and your fertile imagination.

  2. Here's what open adoption means to us: parents considering adoption have the opportunity to get to know prospective adoptive parents (including full names, addresses, "real" phone numbers, etc.) before matching or making any actual placement decision. Contact occurs directly (meaning the parties are not required to communicate through an intermediary, such as a social worker or attorney) as we believe responsible parents deserve to be given direct access to each other. Those who do opt to match are able to meet in person in advance of birth/placement, and all communication and contact after placement and finalization likewise is handled directly between parties. (Our agency only intervenes if mediation, counseling or support is requested by either party.) Our adoptive families are taught that it is their responsibility to bring the adoptee back for visits with the birthparent/s, but the child/ren's birthparent/s are typically welcome in the adoptive home, as well, whether in or out-of-state. Our agency also sponsors an annual national reunion each summer at a Texas dude ranch, which is "BYOB" (as in Bring Your Own Birthfamily... and they do!) The idea is that we want the children adopted through our agency to grow up with personal knowledge of and direct access to their birthfamilies across the lifespan. The adults share responsibility for their continuation of the open adoption relationship, whether or not the adoptee chooses to participate in it (because it is an adoptee's right to make that choice,) but it is each parent's sacred obligation to keep their promises to each other. Even so, we know that the best of open adoptions still cannot mitigate all the losses that the adoption experience entails, yet our hope is that the adoptions that we do need not cost the children we place the opportunity to grow up with healthy, lifelong connections to both of the families that love them.

  3. Isn't it true that most adoptive parents have the name of the natural mother from the beginning?
    I KNOW that is true from the agency I surrendered to in Illinois in 1965. (The Cradle Society) After I found my son when he was 24 years old, his parents freaked out but they never once questioned that I was who I said I was. I asked the agency if that was because they already knew my name and was told yes.
    But like the son in your post, my son was asked if he wanted to register for a match in Michigan when they started a state registry in his home state. (which he wasn't born or adopted in and they already had my name!)
    It was just a test to see if he wanted to search and as their good son, he assured them he did not.

    1. What the adoptive parents know varies greatly from state to state, agency to agency, time of surrender and adoption. My son's adoptive parents had my last name on the court papers finalizing the adoption, so they did always know that. This all took place in NJ. On the other hand adoptive parents wanting to help their adopted kid search have come to our local support group and did not have the name or any information, and could not get it years later, only at the time the adoption was finalized. I do not know how this works or who decides if the adoptive parents get the name. I have heard that when the adoption was private through a lawyer rather than an agency adoption like mine was, the adoptive parents almost certainly have at least the mother's last name, sometimes full name.

    2. I don't know if APs know the name from the beginning. My child was adopted a long time ago, and certainly her parents were not given my name. If adoptive parents are given the name, why then is not the original mother? This sounds as "balanced" as "positive adoption language" tilted to please adopters, not givers.
      If what you say is true, this is another form of adoption-industry chicanery foisted upon unsuspecting mothers when they relinquish their children.

    3. Marianne--I can see that adoption lawyers who have all the information would be likely to give it to their clients, the adoptive parents. Mine was an agency adoption, and no information ever reached my daughter's parents except that I was Polish. That's it. Not even that her father was Irish, as that would have resonated better with them, as her mother was Scottish/Irish. They thought I was a high school student. And when their doctor tried to reach me because of our daughter's epilepsy, they got no response.

    4. Adoptive parents receive a copy of the adoption decree.

      In an agency adoption, the child is surrendered to the agency which consents to the adoption. Thus the adoption decree (also called judgement of adoption) says something like "The court finds that the child was surrendered to ABC agency and ABC agency having consented to the adoption, it is hereby decreed that the child is the child of XYZ adoptive parents.

      In an attorney adoption, the child is relinquished to the adoptive parents. Thus the decree would say the court finding that DEF natural mother consented to the adoption, it is hereby decreed, etc.

      Thus adoptive parents are more likely to have the natural mother's name in a attorney adoption.

      Additionally, once adoptees started searching, adoption agencies got laws passed prohibiting them from disclosing names.

    5. DEF is the name of the natural mother.

    6. Yes, it is true, they do have the full name of the natural mother, in most cases. If you fill out paperwork from an adoption agency before the birth of your child you fill out a questionnaire the ap's are privy to, including your SOCIAL SECURITY number, so they can basically stalk you for the rest of your life, (while they proceed to dehumanize you to your child.)

      I will never forget a dinner I attended at a restaurant with the pap's of my soon to be child. The prospective adoptive father made a snarky comment to the effect of "Tell us more about you. You know everything about us and we know nothing about you."

      Not true. He was going by this blue binder they put together with everything they WANTED me to know. I did not know their last names, where they lived, their families names, where their families lived, where they went to school, etc. They knew all that about me.

      Just another fallacy in the fraud that is "open adoption."

  4. Abrazo wrote: "Those who do opt to match are able to meet in person in advance of birth/placement,..." So does this mean Abrazo does pre-birth matching, with the pregnant mom meeting the prospective adoptive parents before the birth? Are the prospective adoptive parents allowed in the delivery room and hospital?

    This is coercive by its very nature, even when well-intended and where there is no overt pressure to surrender. A relationship before the birth with the people wanting to adopt the child makes the mother feel obligated not to disappoint those nice folks who have been so good to her, no matter how she feels about surrendering the child once reality hits her after the baby is born. For many young moms, the reality of being a mother does not sink in until after the birth when they see and hold their child.

    There should be time after the birth, after the mom has recovered some, to decide if she really wants to surrender and be matched with one of the many couples standing in line to adopt. Introduce them then, when the mom know adoption is really her best option, and does not feel obligated to surrender to people she has come to know and like.

    1. Maryanne, I agree with you!

    2. I couldn't agree more, Maryanne. Agencies should be discouraging pre-birth matching, not putting it out there as a positive thing.

    3. I agree with everything you said, Maryanne. I do have a practical question. If the process of matching is to start well after birth, what implications does this have for the child's care? What would be the options of mothers who have chosen adoption?

    4. I would not want the matching to start well after birth, but perhaps within two weeks or so after the birth. The child could be with the birthmother during that time if that were safe, perhaps in a mother/baby home, or in temporary foster care with a strict time limit. Options counseling should have started well before the child was born, with real options and help to achieve them provided. Mothers set on adoption could certainly wait two weeks to sign a surrender and meet the prospective adoptive parents, at which time the child would go to the adoptive home. Open adoption arrangements could be finalized then.

    5. Maryanne, you are absolutely correct: pre-birth matching, like post-birth matching (and/or adoption itself) has the potential to be both positive or negative, depending on the motives of those involved. Any relationship prior to or after birth has the potential to impact any decision(s) being made, for good or for bad, depending on the integrity of those involved.

      Every mother who births a child should have the right to decide who she wishes to have in her delivery room. No prospective adoptive parent belongs in a hospital nursery prior to relinquishment. And every child being potentially placed for adoption should have as much quality time as possible with his or her biological mother, prior to placement.

      (Please note, thought, that a certain number of the children Abrazo places each year are not infants but toddlers or sibling groups, however, and the same potential concerns arise in post-birth pre-placement matches, as well.)

      In the big picture, it seems just as unethical for responsible parents who consider placing to be denied the opportunity to thoroughly get to know (and yes, investigate) prospective adoptive parents in advance of matching or placement, regardless of whether or not birth has occurred. To deny parents considering placing a child with another family any access or information about another family until they are deep in the throes of placement trauma (or even worse, to expect them to relinquish all rights prior to any selection of an adoptive family) is no less coercive, depending how you look at it.

      Part of our work at Abrazo is to educate both expectant parents and prospective adopters to understand that adoption is not going to be the "right" outcome in every match, and to prepare both for the very real possibility that any parent may need to change her/his plan prior to placement-- as is her/his right. Both must know that any effort by any party to influence any adoption decision through coercion, inducement or duress is against the law.

      Ironically, it is often because of the authenticity of prebirth relationships that prospective adoptive couples are able to become genuinely emotionally invested in the needs of both the expectant mothers and their children. We have witnessed countless situations over the years in which expectant parents at Abrazo have been empowered to parent by prospective adoptive parents who have stood by them and said with all sincerity "if you wish to parent your child, we support you." (And then did.)

      In summary, Maryanne, we believe that empowering expectant parents to make their own best decisions should always begin before placement, whether thd parents choose to become acquainted with any particular prospective adoptive family prior to birth or not.

    6. Just wanted to add that this system is really much better both for the mother and for the adoptive parents. The mother makes her choice without the pressure of pleasing people she has met and formed a relationship with, and the adoptive parents know that surrender was really the mother's choice for her child, not something she did out of feeling beholden to them. If the mother keeps her child, nobody is hurt and everybody wins...there are no prospective adoptive parents who had hoped to get that particular child to be disappointed that the adoption did not happen, and the mother does not have to feel guilt for disappointing a nice couple she has met and perhaps accepted gifts from. Everyone wins when pre-birth matching is taken off the table.

    7. Thanks, that sounds reasonable. I like what you said about counselling. All the options should be laid out by some neutral agency or third party and there should be zero coercion as regards any particular choice.

    8. Abrazo wrote:" Both must know that any effort by any party to influence any adoption decision through coercion, inducement or duress is against the law." And that means exactly nothing in real life. Excuse my cynicism born of years in adoption reform. It meant nothing when some of us here surrendered over 40 years ago, and it means nothing today, when countless adoption providers scrupulously follow the letter of the law, but do everything short of breaking any law to psychologically pressure mothers who fall into their lair to surrender as always the noble choice. They have many sophisticated ways to influence the outcome, no need to resort to crudely illegal methods.

      Not saying your agency does this, you do seem to be trying hard to run an ethical adoption service. This statement about coercion being against the law is rather naive, though, as is the rather odd idea that it is coercive to take a surrender without the mother choosing the adoptive family. Just as many of those hand-picked adoptive parents close their open adoptions as ones the mother never met, and the way prospective adoptive parents market themselves to pregnant women makes it very difficult to know how things will play out in the future, or what the parents are really like when they are not selling themselves. Adoption is a crapshoot, some turn out well, some are disasters. I have not seen that the mother being allowed to pick the adoptive parents results in any better outcome than random selection.

      Empowering mothers to make a real uncoerced choice should also involve advising them against adoptive parents at the hospital or in the delivery room as a form of subtle coercion they may not realize until it is too late. I still maintain that for mothers to make a real choice and not be pressured either to parent or to relinquish can only be safely done by an agency or facilitator with no stake in either outcome, and that is a rare thing.

    9. Maryanne, the people who complain about Abrazo's policies on the Web are adoptive parents who do not like the openness the agency adheres to--which speaks volumes about how the agency is run.

      When an agency unexpectedly closed in Texas, birth mothers promised contact and letters with that agency as a go-between were left in the lurch. Abrazo did everything they could to track down the adoptive parents of any mother who came to them in despair, but ultimately only found about a dozen. Half of them did not want to stay in contact, and some of them yelled at the agency director for contacting them.

      From my personal contact with the director of Abrazo (I have written about the agency previously at FMF), I would not hesitate suggesting it as the facilitator of choice for anyone set on adoption for their child. The director is fully aware of the pitfalls of adoption for both mother and child.

  5. I have a close friend named Mary, an adoptive mother, who came to me for advice. Her 27 year-old son's first mother committed suicide when he was 3. Up until that time she was sending pictures regularly, and now she has some contact with the mother's family. Mary has never told her son Steve about his first mother's suicide. Beginning when he was a teen, she has offered to give him whatever information he wanted, but he has always declined. Steve plays the "good son" role (cleancut, athletic, high academic achiever, religious, lucrative career path), while his younger brother, who is reunited with his first mother, plays the "bad son" (dropped out of college, hair long and bushy beard, plays guitar, stopped going to Mass, was living with a girlfriend, blue collar job).

    I believe Steve does not allow himself to be curious about his first family precisely because he plays the "good son" for his adoptive parents. Mary saw some truth in this when I explained it to her.

    Mary wondered if she ought to tell her oldest son about his birth mother and put him in touch with her family. He is going to be married soon. I told her absolutely yes, for several reasons. First of all, when Mary and her husband die, their son will probably find the correspondence from the first family in his a-parent's home. He could learn the about his first mother's tragic death at a very bad time, when he will be grieving his adoptive parents. He will have little support to deal with this, and could even deny himself the chance to grieve for his first mother. Secondly, Mary has been carrying around this secret for 24 years and it is a burden for her. Third, his mother's family no doubt still grieves for her and it could bring comfort for them to meet Steve.

    Learning about his his birth mother died might shatter his self-image of being nearly perfect in every way. And of course, there will be questions about whether the adoption contributed to his first mother's suicide, and then will come guilt. It is never easy for adoptees to sort these kinds of things out, and I told Mary it wouldn't be easier a year from now or even 10 years from now.

    Adoption just has so many layers of secrets.

    1. The layers of secrets are those kept by your friend Mary. I am having difficulty finding compassion for her, and hope that she does the right thing immediately and tells him the truth. He may be able to forgive her for her lie.

    2. @Anonymous: This adoptive mother sounds awful, but can we please move past this tired trope of "blue collar" being "bad"? Our world needs blue collar workers as much as other sorts of workers, probably even more. Try to imagine a world where there were no car mechanics, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, grocery store employees, janitors, sanitation workers, letter carriers, fire fighters, cops, house cleaners, baristas, farmers, day care workers, etc.

    3. I disagree. The adoptive mom has asked her son if he wanted information and he has said NO. Don't thrust information on him that he doesn't want. It matters not if he 'plays' at being good or bad - he is an adult and he knows what he wants. Be happy for him - he is getting married ! Let him deal with major life events the way he wants to.

      Respect his request. He may want to keep his feelings about his biological family members private from his adoptive mother and that is certainly his right. She should not cross that boundary.

    4. My first response to this hasnt posted yet but i decided to comment again anyway. this post really upset me. Why are you, Anonymous, deciding to tell this adoptive mother that one of her sons is playing the good son and the other is playing the bad son? Or did she come up with that herself? Why did you take it upon yourself to interpret that, since he is the good son, then he has certain motives for answering certain ways? I agree with you that he *could* be thinking this or that, but, it seems to me that you want her to tell him about his mother and are retrofitting 'coulds' to support your case.

      To me if the mother is thinking that one son is good and the other is bad based on choices that they have made as adults - then she is not respecting their choices as adults. She needs to grow up and let go, let them make choices and accept them as grown men making their own lives for themselves. If he has chosen as an adult to not to ask her about his biological family, she should respect that. If she has asked him if he wants to know more and he has said no, then she should respect that. Whether she thinks it is a good idea for him or not no longer matters ! Now it is up to him.

      I can't help noticing that this question is being posed as he will be marrying soon. It sounds like Mom is wanting some attention. Maybe Lorraine is right and he feels that she has held this information from him and feels manipulated by that, but he has chosen to deal with it his own way. Is she upping the ante now? Using the timing of the wedding as an excuse somehow? So she can reveal this information to him whether he likes it or not?

      Layers of secrets? You bet. I think he is aware of that. But I suppose there is no end to the layers of manipulation and games this mother can play with these secrets now, if she won't leave well enough alone. If he has asked not to know, please respect that !

    5. As long as the adoptive mother knows that his mother died a long time ago...it does seem ...like she should have told him without even asking if he wanted to know when he was a older than three. If the adoptive mother was informed, she then became the gatekeeper of the child's data. She did not need or should not have asked "Do you want to know?" as that sets up a situation like I describe. Individuals react in all kinds of ways, and the perfect son may have wanted to remain "perfect" by not answering that question in the positive.

      As I think about it now, the adoptive mother was put in a difficult situation learning the truth of what happened to his mother when the child was three.

      I remember very clearly the day I learned why my mother couldn't take Communion in the Catholic Church. I asked, she told me she had been married before, my older brother was my half brother, and in the eyes of the Church, she was living in Mortal Sin. We both cried, but it was best to know the day I asked her as I was preparing to make my own First Communion, and attending Catholic school. I'm just reminiscing here--no big revelation answer, but comprehending that the adoptive mother above was put in a strange situation with no easy answer.

      Lots of men who say they don't want to know anything find that their wives do want medical histories, and so say...Mom, X, my wife...wants to know...and that takes them off the emotional hook. Then he will find out that she knew...all those years. I continue to think that saying, something like I have something important to tell you...would be the way to begin. And say that you hadn't told him because he said he didn't want to know, but it is a burden for me to keep this from you as you well might find out one day. I think any reasonable person would understand.

    6. Lorraine, I agree with you that the mother could say that she has information about his family that she is uncomfortable knowing while he is kept in the dark about it. He still has the option to say that he does not want to know and she will need to respect that if that's the case.

      i also agree with you that a reasonable person would understand why the information was kept from a 3 year old. additionally, a reasonable adoptee might well understand a lot of things about his adoptive mother.

      thanks for the clarification Lorraine I feel a lot better now :) it's nice to share some common ground.

  6. Lorraine. is open adoption really possible from the standpoint of the adopting parents? Based upon my contact with numerous adoptees, the experience has been that adopting parents want nothing more than the sever all possible connections between the biological mother and the child. I believe that, in many, if not most, cases this is done out of fear on the part of the adopting parents that the child might one day meet their biological family and completely abandon their adopted family. I know that this is one of my adopted father's biggest fears. However, my adopted parents actions regarding me over the years have actually pushed me further and further away from them.

    I've heard many stories biological mothers are promised pictures or other forms of information regarding the child they gave up for adoption, but either they are sent rarely or never. Another issue is that the adopting parents "spent a lot of money for this adoption" so their financial investment should guarantee distance between them and this woman who gave away her child.

    1. Unfortunately, there will always be a need for some adoptions. And yes, a great many adoptive parents do not carry through in their agreements with the first mother, and those women suffer the most of all because not only have their relinquished their children, they were duped and so feel cheated on top of their loss.

      But since there must be adoptions, let them at least be fully open not only for the mother's sake but also for the children. The case above or below of someone keeping a mother's suicide from the adopted individual for 24 years is unconscionable! That's not a good parent, that's hiding behind a tissue of lies, while the good son did all he could to prove his worthiness. The outcome when he learns the truth is not going to be pretty. He is going to feel duped by his parents, and to what end? Because they could not deal with reality, his reality.

    2. Robert, I am an adoptive mother in an open adoption. What I mean by open is not only do my daughter's first parents have our email, address, and phone numbers -- but I send texts and pictures on a weekly basis, post videos, call at every holiday, and chat on the phone with them at least once a month. my husband and I set aside funds to visit them every year. I do this because I learned through my research that remaining connected to her natural family throughout her is life is, I believe, essential to my daughter's health and well being. She is too young to make the choice for herself. It is up to me to provide for her everything she needs.

      I do not feel any threat. Doing this does not make me feel like less of a mother. It actually makes me feel even more her mother (of course not her only mother) because I believe that keeping her natural mother and father in her life is part of the whole picture of adoption--whenever it is possible. I read this blog regularly to remind myself how important it is for me to keep the lines of communication open between ourselves and her first family. It is important for me to be the warm and welcoming one.

      I am not entitled to anything from my child because of the financial cost of adoption. Any parent could have medical bills or other large financial costs from parenting--but they are not owed any obligation from their kids because of this. Adoptees need support from their parents, not guilt.

  7. I realize that this is a forum for mothers... but i feel compelled to point out that a truly open adoption includes the biological mother providing the identity of the biological father, and that contact with him and his family is also sought between the adoptive parents and the father and his family.

  8. Lorraine, I agree that a very good argument can be made for adoptions to be open. With regard to the specific case you refer, I take issue with your identifying the son as a good son, proving his worthiness. That was an interpretation placed on him by Anonymous and the mother, not by him as far as we know. Good or bad, adoptees don't deserve to be lied to, have their identities withheld from them, or to have their adoption status be used as leverage against them emotionally.

    Maybe it is he who is having difficulty with his reality and he is taking his own time and path in processing it. His relatives are in contact with his mother - they can seek him out if they desire. It is not all on his shoulders.

    Maybe he wants some privacy with his feelings. Maybe he does not want his possibly already manipulative mother reading anything into his face, his voice, let alone his actions, when she tells him anything and everything about his adoptive family. Maybe she did keep that information for the wrong reasons, maybe it is unconscionable. If the mother has some issues, mixed feelings, fears, about his bio family then telling him is not the way to work it out. She can go to a shrink for that. He has chosen to work it out on his own without her, possibly because he is aware of her issues or mixed feelings. Regardless of the maybes, he has told her that he does not want to hear more about his family.

    Being adopted does mean that sometimes one has relationships with parents who experience a lot of jealousies, fears, resentments, regarding the other sets of parents. Parents sometimes cannot avoid those feelings - they are natural, right or wrong, convenient or not, it is reality. In this case the son has chosen to deal with this reality by not discussing it with his adoptive mother.

    If the mom hasnt been telling him information as they go along before then bringing everything up before a wedding is HORRIBLE. To me it really smacks of manipulation and attention-seeking. If the mother feels she needs her son's help working out her issues, she can ask him and he can help or not. But he does not have to work out any issues he has over his adoption with her if he does not want to.

    I suspect that this may be a blind spot for some first mothers and difficult for some of them to accept.

    1. I personally think Anon went way out on a limb there in terms of her assumptions about "good" and "bad," which included the trope of "good adoptee," and that the only thing in the story worth talking about was the fact that the a-mother continued to withhold information from her son. However, I agree: that doesn't mean now is the time to do it. I also agree that the son should be taken at his word. Moreover, Anon should pass on getting involved at all since she projects far too many of her own assumptions on the situation.

      I'm not even entirely convinced about the good/bad adoptee trope. It's too simplistic and doesn't allow for genuine differences in personality, interests, need for risk-taking, etc., and loads everything about the person into one bucket. The fact of being adopted is something adoptees incorporate into their selves and identity in diverse ways, not 2 ways. As you would know even better than I . . . ;-)

    2. I am not suggesting she tell him just before the wedding; I'm criticizing a system that let her in on information about her child that she chose to withhold. Yet I have heard of just such kind of a reveal happening just before the wedding;in fact, I think it may be more common than is often talked about. Marriage is a turning point in an individual's life.

      It is as if the adoptive parent has held in all the information for such a long time and as the wedding represents a new life, on his own, with a partner not parents...some adoptive parents finally have the courage to tell what should have been told years before. Knowing the truth about the man's other mother has obviously been a burden to the woman and now she may be feeling guilty and ready to let go of the burden of secrecy, and the impending wedding is pushing her to do that. At first I was outraged, but in a calmer mood, I actually feel sorry now for the woman who didn't have the counseling to give him the information about himself, at say, 10 or 16, or 18, just because.

      I'm saying that the ethical way to handle information is to give it to the person to whom it concerns--without that person having to ask for it, or given a choice as to if they want it. One could give one an envelope with the information, and if they don't want to open it, that is their choice.

      Whenever anyone is asked: Do you want to know (who your biological parents are, why you were adopted, their address, the letter I've kept in a safe place from her for 30 years, etc.)? is a way of suggesting that ... Why would you want to know? Aren't I enough? It is a way of suggesting--You don't want this information, do you? It's about you, but... haven't I been a good parent, a mother enough? Answering that question with a YES would be hard for anyone. Because you would have to start out by reassuring the mother/father that you loved them, etc...

      And see the latest comment below, from Juliet, about why she didn't ask but was relieved when her brother did.

      What do natural mothers have a hard time accepting? That their children don't want to know them and they are likely to always have a complicated relationship? I'd say most of them know that from the moment they sign termination of rights papers.

    3. The "good" and "bad" descriptions were to illustrate the dynamics between siblings. These dynamics exist between many sibling groups, adopted or not. They are at present in my personal relationships with my own siblings. Perhaps I should more appropriately called the sons the "pleaser" and the "rebel." I pointed out the blue collar thing, because it can be difficult for professional parents to accept a child that does not achieve academically or aspire to a high-status career path. In a professional family, a child who shuns the pressures of such achievements may be perceived as a "rebel." Steve's father was an influential community leader for years. Mary and her husband do not see either of their sons as "bad." I used the terminology to describe a family dynamic, not to place a label. The "good" and "bad" designations are often used in the field of psychology to describe polarity of individuals. I am sorry if some were offended.

      In adoptive families, it is often the "rebel" who searches, while the "pleaser" may find it more difficult to give himself permission to do so. I have first-hand experience with this, having observed this over and over again in families, including my own.

      One of Mary's big concerns is that Steve will find out after she passes away. The paperwork, letters, obituary, etc. is in her home. After her death, Steve will no doubt find it as he is going through her things. She does not want him to find out this way. She is a two-time cancer survivor. Mary is very aware that she will not be around forever. In her mind, giving Steve with the information now is the more compassionate than continuing to keep a secret.

      I agree there is no compelling reason to coincide the adoption information with the wedding. At the time Mary asked my opinion Steve was not engaged yet. He recently proposed to his sweetheart and wedding isn't until next October. If Mary does decide to give Steve the information, it would be better to do it well in advance of the wedding.

      Death by suicide is also an important part of medical history, just as much as is she had died from early onset breast cancer or heart disease. The clinical depression that most often precedes death by one's own hand can be a hereditary condition. That is medical information I'd want to know, as it might lead me to seek help for depression when I otherwise would not.

      I do know where the ones who disagree with sharing information are coming from. I have sided with adoptees such as Colin Kaepernick and Steve Jobs who refused to meet first parents. We need to be free to explore our adoption issues in our own way and in our own time. I can see both sides of the issue.

    4. Somebody's been reading too many psych books, and takes them at their word.

    5. Lorraine, i am aware of many times when someone finds out information that they didn't think they wanted to know, that they are indeed glad that they know. this could even be the case with this situation. but i don't think that justifies not respecting his wishes as an adult.

      i can think of MANY cases, countless, actually, when this has happened to me. Am i glad to know these things? yes, because they are reality. Am i happy about it? no ! I'd rather both of my Moms respect my decisions and quit trying to decide what's best for me, what i deserve, and what oughta be good for me. deciding that i need to be slapped in the face with reality at the time of their choosing, because, after all, i'm the adopted one. why should they have to have any of the burden all to themselves?

      to answer your question, the blind spot i was referring to, i think that mothers can have some confusion over what needs to be done to make things right vs what does not. nothing will make things right. the situation is broken from the beginning. you can talk about open adoption all day long but you can't make it right. it can merely be the best that you can do once the broken system is in place. just as there is no right way to solve for a parent's death, or a parent's chronic illness, or a divorce.

      telling this son about his mother will not make things right. Anonymous lists reasons to do it, and the con being the suffering to the son as if that doesn't matter. well, if he indeed suffers, i'm sure it matters to him. i would imagine he'd appreciate having some control over it, the timing if nothing else. he can seek information when he is ready. will he regret later that he didn't know/seek earlier? maybe.. but that is still his choice.

      but getting back to the reasons Anonymous lists for coming forward, it seems to me that there is an effort on hers and her friend's part to set things right. there is no doing that now. what's done is done. pretending that is a reason to do it is false. really she just wants to unburden herself and project the responsibility of this burden onto him. in my opinion, too bad, if he doesn't want to discuss it, then too bad. but i have an idea it won't matter. no matter my opinion i imagine the subject will be brought up, before he marries, and although it is a year and a half away, it will weigh on him throughout that time. yay !

      information about one's biological family can be a life changing event. up there with marrying, the birth of one's children, and significant deaths. suicide carries with it so much to process, too. it is not something that he can deal with in a week and get back to his life. his own wedding is presumably a happy occasion and he's going to have a year and nine month buildup to that !! i'd let him enjoy that time, he has the rest of his life to deal with heavier topics, and, having had hopefully a wonderful time with his fiancee and later wife, i assume, then he will have started the beginning of the strongest, most important relationship in his life with the person who will be there to help him through it all. leave him alone.

      i think that the blind spot is the inability to separate what a mother thinks ought to have happened (to make things as right as possible), what she hoped for her give away kid, how she wanted her son or daughter to see things, and the way that the son or daughter chooses to see them for themselves. that is something that adoptive parents, and biological parents, should give up on trying to change for adult adoptees, whether adoptees make good decisions or not. i guess i see it as an emotional violation to do otherwise and being adopted does not give any parent special privilege into such violations for the adoptees own good. nor does it engender trust.

    6. Lorraine, it also occurs to me that this mother isnt the only one with the secret. she is in touch with other relatives, surely they know. she is not alone in her burden.

      i dont know these people, maybe you're right, maybe he would be receptive to an envelope. i wouldnt, it would feel manipulative. but we're talking about him, what we know of his situation. i guess i'm reading too much into the question a "should" he be told, or is it the right thing to do? rather then "how" should he be told. at least the question seemed to be asking should, not how, to me.

      ultimately i'm only offering food for thought, but that is not to say that it is invalid.

      this conversation has been very beneficial to me. i have always wondered at the connection between being adopted and low self-esteem. one of those things that i know about, and feel, intuit, but can't quite describe. but this situation finally has given me the words. as an adoptee, my desire to be accepted, respected, even celebrated by my parents for who i am and the choices i have made, make, have always been secondary, subjected to their need to make me 'face reality' which is usually a euphemism for something they find difficult to handle on their own. it has robbed so much joy from us all but there is nothing i can do about it. i'm the constant reminder to them of their difficulties with me the moment i'm there, there's no joy.

      i believe every adoptee has the right to their information but i don't believe that they should be forced to take it. I read what Juliet wrote, it was no revelation, i've been there, still there, not wanting to hurt my parents. who wants to hurt their parents??? but from what i understand no one forced Juliet either.

      lastly, being adopted has meant that i have to keep many secrets from all of my relatives, so that i don't hurt them and cause a lot of family drama. it is truly such a burden. should i unload it all on all of them?

    7. Kiasa--Do whatever feels right for you. You don't want to hurt them unnecessarily, but if you are about to burst unless you tell them what's going on in your mind, find someone to tell. Maybe a therapist will do. Maybe start with your mother--or not. You are not the keeper of everyone's peace and mental health. Everyone is responsible for their own lives.

    8. Thanks Lorraine. I think that the mother in Anonymous's example should also consider the possibility of talking with a therapist, rather than resolving her burden by telling her son something that most likely will hurt him, when he has asked her not to. i guess that is the point i'm trying to make.

  9. I agree with Kaisa on this one. We do need to hear the adoptee viewpoint. This is a story we got at least third hand here; we do not know the family dynamics or the actual people involved. This is a secret that may have to come out eventually but dropping it on the poor guy right before his wedding is indeed horrible. He is an adult, he should decide what he wants to discuss with his adoptive mother about his adoption and what not. Since we are all making assumptions about these people, it is entirely possible he already knows all this and is keeping it to himself. I know many adoptees who searched in secret and did not share that with the adoptive parents. In any event, it should remain his call, and he should not be forced to meet relatives he may not be ready to meet either. Being the son of the dead mom returned is a pretty heavy role and one that should only be taken on if he wants it.

    I found the description of the two brothers, pictures as "good" and "bad" highly suspect and biased. Anon wrote: "Steve plays the "good son" role (cleancut, athletic, high academic achiever, religious, lucrative career path), while his younger brother, who is reunited with his first mother, plays the "bad son" (dropped out of college, hair long and bushy beard, plays guitar, stopped going to Mass, was living with a girlfriend, blue collar job)."

    I agree with the earlier poster who questioned the denigration of a blue collar job, and actually tne "bad son" sounds more like someone I would want to know and more like one of my sons who is a fine generous bright man, just like his brothers in fancier jobs. Both sons sound "good', just following different life paths. Neither is described as a criminal, an addict, a bum with no job who refuses to work, nor as cruel or anti-social. I fail to see the problem here except in the eyes of anon and her pal Mary. Mary has to deal with her own guilt for not disclosing the full story earlier, but I am with Kaisa that now is not the time.

  10. It seems unnecessarily cruel to tell this fellow - just before his wedding - this particular truth, since he has stated several times that he does not want to know about his birth mother.

    Anonymous' story about Mary and Steve has disturbed me, as I must say I don't understand why Mary is being so widely criticized. I read all the comments, I just don't understand them. She has tried to be kind to Steve. He already has grown up with a heavy load to carry emotionally, knowing that he was adopted. And his mother is not coming back. Why pour more salt in the wound?

    I sincerely hope that Anonymous' friend does not reveal the big secret at this time. Maybe wait and see if any info is requested afterwards. This is not the kind of statement that will make him happy and feel good about his origins. It may make him question, needlessly, his own stability and sanity.

    I agree, it would be better if he had been able to live with the truth from a younger age. But causing him damage now would be selfish, and would be an act without any sensitivity or conscience.

    The only argument I can find in support of revealing his birth mother's suicide, is maybe it will reassure him that his mother did love him. She hung on for 3 years, and must have been in a tremendous amount of pain. And maybe he will want to know her family and hear more about what kind of person she was. STILL - He has said many times that he has no interest! Don't his wishes count? Doesn't Mary's judgment, to protect him and comply with his wishes, count?

  11. I recently found and contacted my birth mother last year. My parents gave me her name when my brother requested that they share our adoption papers with us many years ago when he was seeing a therapist. Being the "good adoptee", I wasn't the one asking but I was secretly glad I was getting the information. I was thankful to my brother for being brave enough to ask because I wasn't. We were given the information along with the warning to be careful about opening a can of worms. I was happy just to have my mother's name and this was enough for me for a long time. My parents never asked either one of us if we did anything with our information, I don't think they wanted to know.

    After I got married and had three children, my need to know about my original family became stronger than my fear of knowing. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found them. It has been such a wonderful experience for me. It has been very hard, but worth it. I finally know who I am. I want to share everything I have discovered with my children, who are young and don't even know I am adopted, but first I need to tell my mother, but I am absolutely terrified to do that. As far as I have come in my journey of self discovery, there is still that scared little adopted child in me who afraid to disappoint my parents. To admit that I needed to search, that I needed more than they could give me. I did the ultimate unspoken betrayal, I found and contacted my mother. I did what they asked me not to do and I know that they didn't have the right to request that of me. I would like to think they were trying to protect me from being hurt by who or what I found, but I can't help but think they were protecting themselves from being hurt.

    I needed to find my mother, I have needed to do it all my life, even though I didn't realize it for so many years. Subconsciously I have been searching my whole life. Just finding my family tree and putting it together has filled a huge void in me that I didn't even know existed.

    I believe you can't truly grow up and be an adult until you know your truth, whatever it might be. It is so exhausting going through life only imagining what the truth might be. The secrets are so toxic and that is why I know I have to talk to my mother about this for my own well being, but it is hard not to feel the terror in the pit of my stomach whenever I think about doing it.

    When I hear adoptees say they don't want to know, I get it. I used to be too scared to even think about it. We have all grown up with that fear and we tell ourselves we don't need to know and it is not important. It is hard to accept the fact that you were born and then given to another family. I think it is a lifetime journey to come to terms with what happened us. I don't think that can happen without knowing the truth about where we came from.

    1. Juliet, thank you for telling your story. I agree it will be difficult to discuss this with your adoptive mother, but I commend you for knowing it will be the best for you to not have to keep this secret. I hope that she is able to accept your reality without feeling you are disloyal, etc. As we all know, it ain't easy being adopted.

    2. Juliet, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. I think if you explain to your adoptive mother exactly as you just did to us she will understand. I will keep my fingers cross! Wishing you the best.

  12. Juliet wrote:"It is hard to accept the fact that you were born and then given to another family. I think it is a lifetime journey to come to terms with what happened us."

    WOW! Your entire comment was so powerful, Juliet. Thank you.

  13. When I was 18, my parents offered to help me find my birth mother if I wanted to. I didn't have any feeling of "if I do I'll be a huge disappointment," I just simply did not want to. I still do not want tom. Some people don't! I think the adoptee should be taken at his word, he may be like me and just have no interest. As far as sharing the suicide to "prove" She loved him can back fire. The adoptee may (unfairly) blame himself, may associate the suicide with his adoption. I think the generalization that everyone has to know "who they are" and can only know themselves if they meet some person they may feel no connection to is also false. I went through a period where I felt like I was a bad adoptee and a bad person because I did NOT want to know. After reflection and therapy I've realized I'm not a bad person or a bad adoptee. I'm a normal person who is entitled to her feelings and also deserves her feelings, opinions and decisions to be respected.

    1. "I think the adoptee should be taken at his word."

  14. As a non-adopted person, I was not asked if I wanted my birth certificate. I was simply given it as a matter of course.

  15. Suicide is never proof that someone loved you. Rather it feels that they did not love you enough. For an adoptee, the mother's suicide can very easily induce needless guilt that his birth and adoption were what killed her. One suicide in my family, two in my husband's' believe me it is not a sign of love but of selfish despair to the survivors.

    1. Maryanne, thank you for your words. My search was pre-computer era and took well over a decade before I was able to find my mother. My search sadly ended at her grave. She was relatively young at the time of her death and the cause felt important to know but I was too devastated to care about the cause and needed to mourn first. It took awhile but eventually I was able to search for the cause of death. Oh god, she took her own life. I've never been so turned inside out in my life. My biological mother was an adoptee herself so I truly had nowhere to look for genetics as possible answers to why, just endless possibilities left to my imagination- and I have one hell of a wild imagination.

      My first thought was an organic type of chronic depression. I was terrified. I've always been a pretty happy, cup half full person and bouts of depression were situational but not long lasting or immobilizing. What was once normal situational depression, such as mourning the death of my mother, was now evidence of genetic manic depression and it immobilized me. I warned my husband. I learned my mother was adopted at the beginning of my search after receiving my non-id records, so medical was never an issue for me. I knew I had to rely on myself for my health but medical mental illness never occurred to me- so not only did her cause of death turn me into a genetically immobilized manic depressive on suicide watch, but I was FURIOUS over being denied this vital medical history. Like always, I worked through this and processed it and my 'situational', 'genetic', 'manic' depression got under control with my lifesaving plan to consult a psychiatrist if I ever dipped too low. After a bit of time I stopped believing that I suffered from manic depression and began wondering what other reasons might have caused her death.

      I then attributed the cause of death to her inability to live with the shame and secrecy which was even worse than possible medical depression as the cause. My mother took her life a few days after the 27th anniversary of my date of birth. The guilt was just as immobilizing as the depression thing, only it lasted a LOT longer. People searching during the computer era have no idea how difficult and time intensive pre-computer era search was. I'm focused, goal oriented and I climbed a mountain to find her and beat myself silly that I couldn't find her in time. Maybe if I worked harder I would have been able to let her know that I was well and that neither of us were shameful and that she was free from keeping her secret. I thought for awhile that her date of death was evidence that I mattered to her but that didn't last long. I had no right to presume that it was evidence of her love for me. Hell, it could have just as easily have been evidence that she hated me. The date of death may or may not have been coincidence. If the anniversary of my birth was the catalyst for her decision I can only believe that it wasn't about me and all about her. It's been awhile and I understand that my feelings of guilt were irrational but the truth is I still wonder every now and then 'what if..'. My mother had a double whammy with being both an adoptee and a mother giving up her child...on top of whatever else was a part of her life experience.
      I'll never know my mother's experiences but I know for sure that nothing good ever comes from a secret.

    2. LotrCat,

      I indeed know how hard searches were in the pre-computer era, and so please never blame yourself for not searching harder or faster to find her. Though the news must have been devastating when you heard it, her death that way was her path, not yours. Your writing about it here is proof that you have come through this with some understanding and strength.

      There are always so many causes of a suicide. While no good statistics can be compiled, as coroners are not noting "adoptee" on the death certificate, but we do know that adopted adolescents are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than the general population. And I agree, the double whammy of adoption/relinquishment in someone's life is a double burden to bear. I shall never forget the first such individual I met--in a courthouse bathroom where I was a witness for her to obtain her original birth certificate.

      My daughter had the double--not triple--cross to bear of being adopted and having epilepsy (as well as severe PMS, which appears to be genetic, at least in our case) and she also relinquished a child to adoption. You may not know it, but she died by suicide in 2007. Epileptics are a known risk for suicide. She died at a time when her PMS would have been at its height.

      Her suicide was not a selfish act--no one commits suicide because they are "selfish"--but rather a desperate act of despair. She had tried several times before. I wasn't angry, I was just sad, knowing how she must have felt to go that far. Her death was the impetus for finally finishing Hole in my Heart. a memoir I had started and stopped so many times before. I hope your mother had others to mourn her passing. But you must not blame yourself. I repeat, your life is your own path; your mother had hers.

      Adoption sets off so many negative reactions--in the mother, in the family, in the child--and they reverberate for generations.

      I can't reach out and touch you physically, but know that many mental hugs and sympathies are coming your way. I don't know you personally, but any loss like yours is sad to know of. Be kind to yourself.

    3. Lorraine, I only recently reopened my adoption records and one of your articles was the first google search hit that I found. So, yes, I'm slightly aware of your experience. I think the second article that I read of yours was about suicide. I'm sorry for your loss and for your daughter.A close friend suffered epilepsy and died relatively young,in his sleep. There was never a time that I was with him that he didn't seizure- this sounds awkward but the seizures were frequent and expected so when they happened one eye was on him while conversations continued. I didn't know there was a high risk of suicide until I read your article a couple of months ago. Our mom's were best friends and so I practically grew up with him. It made a lot of sense only how could I not have known that statistic until reading your article. I didn't know about your daughter's PMS. If it was in the other article I missed it. I'm so glad that you wrote about it in your response. My youngest daughter started her period at 10. She's 17 now and I swear I've never experienced anyone's PMS symptoms that parallel my child. I didn't give it the significance deserved until about 2yrs ago when I finally realized it wasn't PMS drama and declared her PMS a red-flag level alert.

      My response about my mother's suicide was to support Maryanne's comments seeing as how I have firsthand experience. It's not evidence of a mother's love for the child she had to give up. It's not evidence that she hated the child she had to give up. It's not evidence of the end result of her personal adoption trauma. It's not evidence of mental illness. It's not evidence of anything for those like myself whose information is limited to cause of death. There's no valid excuse to withhold this from an adoptee regardless of whether history leading to the suicide is known or not.

      A lot of years have passed since I learned the cause of my mother's death. But all the emotions I felt at that time- sadness, guilt, confusion, fear- were normal! It was my right to know this information and my right to experience all the feelings associated, and my right to process it. I don't own her 'stuff'. I'm incredibly sad for her and my only anger is directed at the government.

      We were taught the importance of defining personal boundaries and enforcing them. And, we're only responsible for our own emotional wellbeing. Compassion/kindness doesn't mean carrying someone else's baggage. And it sure as hell doesn't mean deciding for another person what they can or cannot handle- doing so violates the right of another human by denying their freedom of choice and control of their own life. The woman who fears letting her adopted kid know his mother's death was a suicide isn't concerned with how it would make him feel, rather how it might make HER feel if it should cause him grief. Selfish, cruel, controlling but not kind or compassionate.
      Adoptees are denied the right to control their own lives in every which way- selfish government, selfish adoptive parents, selfish natural parents who think privacy means something more than their right not to answer their phone or open their front door.

      I'll end by saying that I agree suicide is about unimaginable level of despair. Like you, I'm not angry, just sad. Technically, suicide is selfish according to the definition of the word selfish. But suicide is commonly and incorrectly characterized as selfish by survivors in a 'look what you did to us' context. The person who chooses suicide is not responsible for the survivor's wellbeing. Because then the survivors would be just as accountable for the emotional despair and ultimate suicide.

    4. LotrCat--I've just got a minute here--people are coming over and I have to well I said I would bake scones!--but my daughter's PMS, or as a diagnostic category--PMDD (words that mean it vaults into the red zone of emotional distress) was severe. I recognized it in myself, but i was able to get treatment, that came late for my mother. But I could not get my daughter Jane to treat it seriously, or treat it at all. I write a much more about this and her suicide of course in the memoir, H♥le.

      Your analysis of how one reacts to a suicide is well thought out. Suicide in my mind is never a selfish act, as you say. That is only in the mind of those are left behind.

    5. Severe or chronic depression, chronic physical pain and other chronic conditions tend to take up a lot of brain space. So, my connecting the act of suicide to the word selfish, which means: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself, was a thin connection.

      When I hear suicide characterized as selfish it really hits my sore spot. It's ignorant and illogical especially by those who acknowledge thoughts of hurting one's self and thoughts of suicide as symptoms associated with medical conditions. It's interesting that the symptoms associated with medical conditions are legitimate ONLY UNTIL the one suffering actually commits suicide. At that point, the act of suicide is reduced to the symptom of a selfish person.

      When adoptive parents are characterized as selfish, and the act of suicide of a natural mother or adoptee are characterized as selfish, the insulting comparison makes my head want to explode.

      My mother was shamed, degraded, humiliated, dehumanized in life. To characterize her death as selfish is to shame, degrade, humiliate and dehumanize her in death. I can't tolerate that.

      PMDD- thank you for that. I've not heard of it and am looking into it.

    6. I suffer from really bad PMS and when I read Lorraine's book I really learned a lot about it--and that for some there is a safe treatment that works. Hole in my Heart is really about a lot more than just adoption, if you don't mind my saying so, Lorrine. Thank so much for writing it--adoptee beth

  16. What happened to your acquaintance and to your daughter is what I'd call "splitting the baby," and I believe the onus is on the adoptive parents to do what they can to prevent it from happening. That means we need to continually hone our sense of self-awareness.

    I agree with you about what open adoption isn't: keeping things from the adoptee, waiting for them to ask. Or not ask. This is why everything is so much easier if you just start with openness right from the start.

    (Thanks for including me :-) )

    I think at one time, adoptive parents perhaps didn't know that their own fears and insecurities about claiming the child could be harmful to the child. Now that we know, though, we really must strive to do the best we can.

    1. Hey, Lori, could you clarify to whom your comment is directed? Thanks!

    2. To Lorraine, about the post in general. Not in reply to any comment.

  17. As an adoptee, my views on the importance of knowing my history changed over time. I went from periods of "I don't want to know" to "I'm kind of curious and might want to know someday" to "I need to know". When I had children and got to experience genetic mirroring for the first time I found it fascinating. I was blown away by how much my kids were just like me, from the shape of their toes to the way they behaved. They were a reflection of me, but where did I am come from? Being adopted I never realized what I was missing but once I became a mother I did and it created a lot of sadness for me. Then there was the experience of being pregnant and giving birth, it was hard not to think about my mother and if she was ok. That's not an experience you easily get over. The impact of being adopted never goes away, it's a lifelong condition that needs to be emotionally managed. For me, becoming a parent changed me. I might be scared to do things for myself but I am brave for my kids, and I will do anything for them. It is their history and heritage too.

  18. Oh fuck not hurting our adoptive parents feelings. I am so sick of this shit. We owe them nothing concerning knowing who our real parents are because WE NEVER ASKED OUR ADOPTIVE PARENTS TO TAKE US AWAY FROM THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. I swear, all this guilt, fear, concern, it is like the nuns. priests and social workers put some binding spell on our mouths. To adoptees that can't bear to hurt their adoptive parents little fweelings I say GET OVER IT MAN. The hell with them, put yourself first. You have to for survival.

    1. well i dunno about anybody else here but you've convinced me !

  19. "In an agency adoption, the child is surrendered to the agency which consents to the adoption. Thus the adoption decree (also called judgement of adoption) says something like "The court finds that the child was surrendered to ABC agency and ABC agency having consented to the adoption, it is hereby decreed that the child is the child of XYZ adoptive parents."
    So what are you saying Jane, that the adoption agency owns the infant? Holy crap, being adopted IS like slavery.
    And this-
    "Additionally, once adoptees started searching, adoption agencies got laws passed prohibiting them from disclosing names"
    What do you mean disclosing names? Whose names? And how did the stupid adoption agencies get those laws past? You're an attorney right?

    1. The laws of most states prohibit agencies from disclosing ANY identifying information without a court order. Oregon just repealed its law but that's a rarity.

      Yes, I'm an attorney but I am not practicing. I am an inactive member of the Oregon State Bar.

      When adoptees began searching, agencies went to legislators and convinced them it would be bad for natural mothers and adoptive families if the agencies had to disclose identifying information. They also convinced legislators that they could operate mutual consent registries which would allow natural parents and adoptees to find each other if both chose to do so. If only one party registered, the agency could conduct a search (for a large fee of course) to find out if the other party wanted contact.

      Adoption attorneys were bound by ethics laws to keep identities secret other than what was required in court filings. States created mutual consent registries to handle searches in non-agency adoptions or where agencies went out of business.

      The adoption industry has substantial political power. Agency employees and adoption attorneys contribute to political campaigns. Prominent citizens with political connections sit of agency boards. Any time anyone proposes changes to laws that would affect their business, the industry unleashes scores of nervous adoptive parents to testify against the changes. Some legislators are adoptive parents and are very appreciative to the industry for getting them a child. Through constant media campaigns, the industry has convinced many legislators that adoption is next to godliness.

    2. Let me add that the agencies and attorneys form organizations both at the local level and the national level. These include the National Council for Adoption and the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys which hire lobbyists. When the lobbyists and their sponsors come to the legislator, they claim to be experts in adoption and tell legislators they represent all triad members.

      Meanwhile, those seeking reform are often poorly financed and poorly organized.

  20. Good adoptee/bad adoptee reminds me of good mental patient/bad mental patient who won't take their toxic poison "medication". Good adoptees don't fight against drinking the koolaid it seems...

    1. Anon, that is a terribly insulting statement, both to the mentally ill and to adoptees who choose not to search. For some people with severe mental illness, their only hope of a decent life is to keep taking their meds, and disasters occur when they go off them. Not poison to them, but life-saving. Adoptees should all have the right to search if they want, but should not be categorized as "good" or "bad" for either searching or not searching.

    2. Jane is correct, when a mother surrenders to an agency, the agency takes ownership of the child, and then in some cases turns ownership over to adoptive parents. The mother has no say whatsoever once she surrenders. In agency adoption it is not a direct legal transaction between the surrendering mother and the adoptive parents like private adoption.

      The big loophole in this, as discovered by some unfortunate searching mothers over the years, is that the agency does not have to find an adoptive home for the child nor do they have any obligation to notify the mother if the child dies while in foster care, or was born with a severe handicap and ends up an institutionalized ward of the state. I knew several mothers years ago who found out that was exactly what happened to the children they thought were growing up in secure adoptive homes. In several cases they had died in infancy, in others they were never adopted at all. One mother found her surrendered child was in the same institution as one of her brothers suffering from the same serious hereditary condition. Had the mother not searched, she never would have known. We used to advise mothers to send for the OBC under the name they gave the child, if it came back "no such person exists" at least they knew the child had been adopted. If they got the OBC with no problem, that either indicated a clerical error that it was not sealed, or much worse news, the child was never adopted at all and was either dead or grew up in some form of state care.

  21. Withholding information from an adult adopted person, especially about their heritage-biological parents, is a betrayal of trust & will alienate the person from those being the 'keepers' of their personal information. It should only be decided by the adult adopted person whether or not they want to look at it or not. But it definitely shouldn't be decided by anyone else. Lies and omission of information are so hurtful, usually done by well meaning people trying to protect the person, but sometimes for selfish reasons (fear of losing the 'child' - who is an adult), and this usually has the opposite outcome, because once that person discovers the lie or omission of info. then its hard to rebuild that trust. I don't believe giving this info. at a major life event should be done either.

    A friend of mine(First mother) whose son (adoptee)found her about 5 yrs. ago (closed adoption-1980), has been mostly estranged from his amom over the years because she tried to keep information, a 'baby letter from the First mom', that was given to the aparents by the SW. The adoptive mom was refusing to give it to him, but the adad insisted she give it to their son. I believe if they had been able to have an open adoption relationship this situation could have been avoided. Taking the power away from someone by keeping what is 'their' information to know about themselves causes mistrust, and hurt feelings. It shouldn't matter whether or not that person even wants to do anything with their information, it is only that person's, business, & they have the right to that information, to do with what they will. That includes their right to their original birth certificate, whether they decide they want to look at it or not.

  22. My answer to Anony's friend Mary - write a note with all his adoption information, and that way when he does find the paperwork after Mary dies - he'll have amom's note explaining "why" she did not give him this information earlier - i.e. Steve did not want to know.

    Just a suggestion! :)

    1. good idea Lee !! I love it :)

    2. I'm not an adoptee, but just in general, this would be really hard for me to deal with as a person- to have someone drop this kind of info on me, but be dead so I couldn't respond to them and ask why they never told me before. The adoptive mom would be gone, so the son wouldn't be able to confront her with any feelings he may have about her keeping this info from him. I think that's a lot to handle on top of dealing with her death.

      I think adults are capable of owning their own personal stories and histories, adopted or otherwise. I have all my daughter's adoption and birth paperwork, every last scrap, in an envelope in a safety deposit box. When she's older, she can go through it, and it will be hers. I keep all email correspondence with her parents. I don't own that information. It belongs to her.

      If it were me, I would provide the son all the adoption paperwork I had in a folder, including a note about everything I knew personally that wasn't contained in independent papers, and meet with him to talk about whether he wanted me to just turn it over to him to open when ready or he wanted me to discuss it. I would share that there is some pretty heavy information contained within it, and I don't want him feeling, after I was gone, that I kept things from him. Then let him decide. Settle it with him like an adult, and allow him to be the holder of his own history on his terms and remove the adoptive mother from being the gatekeeper.

      Just my two cents, but I do think there's probably no real "right" way to go about this. I hate secrets, so perhaps that is coloring my view.

  23. Some argue that expectant mothers should not select the prospective adoptive parents until after the birth because if the mother knows the PAPS, she may feel obligated to give them her baby.

    Several problems with selecting the PAPs after birth. She must either take the baby home or place the baby in foster care. Of course if she takes the baby home, she will likely not give up the baby -- but she could have taken the baby home even if she had selected PAPS.

    If after birth she still wants to give up the baby, the baby will go to foster care while she selects the PAPS. This may be a drawn out process since she will have to read their letters and interview them. Some will be coming from a distance so the interviews can't take place for days, even weeks. Meanwhile the baby is in limbo in foster care.

    Another advantage for screening the PAPs before birth, is that the expectant mother may decide she doesn't like any of them. In that case she may realize that adoption is not the right decision. If she has given birth before she starts the PAP selection, she may be in panic mode and take the first couple who seems halfway suitable. In her desperation, she may agree to terms that she would reject if she had time to decide. She may sign any paper put in front of her.

    As for having the PAPs in the delivery room, I generally oppose it. However, some mothers would have no familiar face while they give birth if the didn't have the PAPs there.

  24. Honestly, if she takes the baby home, she has a much better chance of figuring out that if she really wants to parent, she will make it happen. What's wrong with that? I don't know anything about the research on long relinquishment timelines, but surely they decrease even further the number of children who are surrendered.

    The mother may have decided to look at profiles, sure, but she doesn't need to have PAPs interfering in what should be *her* decision up to the time it's made. This forced coziness between expectant mothers and PAPs is what drives a lot of bad adoption decisions and what in turn fans the flames of regret, animosity, and skepticism about ANY adoption, which is too bad. Because those who want to keep should; the very small number who want to surrender should; and APS should not be setting their sights on a child who is most likely not going to be surrendered if enough time is allowed for a good decision.

    1. There's nothing wrong with that at all if the mother wants to and decides to do that. Agencies don't want to encourage this because it might result in the mother keeping her baby and it goes against what PAPs are looking for and want. But ethically speaking, it should be made very clear to mothers that this is an option open to them.

      However, that being said, I agree with Jane and Lorraine that it's very important to understand and realize this is just not an option for every mother considering adoption. For some mothers, the whole reason they are considering adoption is because they don't have the support to bring the baby home. For this reason, pre-birth matching should be available to a mother. I believe it should be up to her with the choices all neutrally presented to her so she can decide for herself what is best for her situation. I honestly don't believe an agency is capable of this, but then, I support moving adoption to being actually non-profit, and have independent counselors paired up with each mother to ensure they understand their decisions and options fully.

    2. Jess, what you say may well be true if the expectant mother is a middle class woman in her 20's or older. Knowing the PAPs before birth may be coercive. Many of these women shouldn't even be considering adoption--and wouldn't be if they had better information.

      Many expectant mothers, however, are teens or homeless or in abusive relationships. They cannot take the baby home. Some of these women leave the hospital immediately after birth with no forwarding address. If an adoption has not been arranged, the child may go to foster care for an extended period of time.

      Expectant mothers do not have to meet the PAPS. Many want to meet the PAPs so they can select PAPs who appear to have what they want in parents. Barring all expectant mothers from meeting PAPS would be a disservice.

  25. Not everyone is able to bring a baby home.
    Families do not always welcome the teenager and her baby for a couple of weeks; some decisions are pretty much set in stone before the birth. While the practice of having prospective parents cutting the cord is abominable, choosing parents beforehand can be preferable to not.

    There is no way I could have come home to a third-floor walkup, where I was alone for three days, with a baby. Some women and teens are in the same position today. Say a woman is married and her husband knows the baby is not his; she may not be able to bring the baby home. The child may need to be placed immediately.

    My daughter, unknown to me until after it happened, spent a couple of weeks in a nursery somewhere after she was released from the hospital. I thought she would go directly to the adoptive parents, which seemed like a better option than something in between. In my case, it would have been a great comfort to have met her adoptive parents beforehand.

    1. I agree with you Lorraine. that adoption exists is so often blamed on the adopting parents, when the conditions in which the pregnant women find themselves bears consideration. the idea that after giving birth a woman can come home to her parents or husband, but cannot bring her newborn baby with her, that the baby is unwelcome, is an an idea that our culture needs to find completely unacceptable.

      throughout at least my life-time the situation of a lot of out-of-work and blue-collar men, often non-white men, society has been giving them a lot of consideration once it's found out that they are fathers - there is virtually no excuse that can let them off the hook for being so. they cannot choose to relinquish a child they believe they cannot care for. it is high-time that society stops believing that is perfectly acceptable for a middle-class woman to give up her newborn because her parents or husband find it unacceptable that she has a child, or because she lacks their support because she hasn't told them. while i believe adoption should remain legal, i think it should become a much less accepted as a viable solution to an uncomfortable situation, the same way absentee fatherhood has become.

  26. For those who are confused: When a pregnant teen or woman feels there is choice other than adoption for her baby, and would like to meet the people hoping to adopt prior to giving birth in an atmosphere where they will not be paying for things in advance, that is their decision.


    I certainly did not. Other women--very young, very old, married, single--can also be in that situation. Not everyone giving up a child has a support system and a place to bring a baby. IF THEY WISH TO MEET PROSPECTIVE ADOPTERS, that is their choice.

    The Anonymous person who left a comment confusing the issue about what we say needed not to be Anonymous. I suspect it was from someone who regularly comments here and wished to inflate what we are saying to have the last word. What is valid for some is not for others. See Jane's and my comments above.

  27. My older brother (by 10 1/2 months) and I were both adopted and are not biological siblings. Our parents were given little information about our biological parents and shared it freely with one exception. Flor Critt invited PAP's to view a newborn infant in the hospital nursery they'd be petitioning to adopt. Back then we wore little bead letter identification bracelets spelling our mother's last name. When my parents went to view my brother they forgot to remove his bracelet and our mom saw the last name of his mother. She told us that she pretended not to notice fearing it might've compromised the adoption.

    Our parents were not secret keepers. They weren't insecure. They were the only source to date that freely validated our biological connection to our mothers as well as our entire shared genetic thread. They never marginalized our mothers or whatever feelings we had about our mothers. They were supportive of our right to search and the right of our mothers to search for us.

    I told my parents when just a little girl that I was going to search. I did, and my mom was right there with me. She was the first person I'd call to share every new clue with and she was always as excited as I was. My mom lost her battle to ovarian cancer before my search concluded but she would have been devastated for me had she known that my search ended at my other mother's grave.

    My brother said he never wanted to know who his biological parents are for as long. He knew our mom read his mom's last name but was adamant that she not tell him. She honored that. My brother and I have always been very close and to this day he insists he doesn't want to know. Neither of us had any concern about the feelings of our parents (we were brats lol)- but my brother has always feared what he might find if he searched. As an adoptee I can't fault him for that. Search is scary. As a parent, I can't fault our mom for honoring his wishes. But, I believe wholeheartedly that our mom never would have held back information such as a suicide or knowledge of specific medical issues despite my brother's wishes. It's one thing to impose a last name on someone who doesn't want to know that name. But withholding information to protect the emotional wellbeing of another is controlling. We don't have that right.

    So, not all adoptive parents fit the description of the parent in the article but far too many do. My brother was just telling me the other day about a young woman around 28yrs old who expressed desire to search but doesn't because it would hurt her mom. I told my brother to let her know his sister said that was child abuse.

    About identifying information given to adoptive parents- My brother and I were born in the same state, our mothers both stayed at Flor Critt unwed home, we were both born at Flor Critt General and both adopted through Flor Critt agency. After the mother or GAL signed the probate court 'Release Of Child' and related forms, Flor Critt agency was the name in place of the mother on ALL documents that followed.

  28. For those who are confused: When a pregnant teen or woman feels there is NO choice other than adoption for her baby, and would like to meet the people hoping to adopt prior to giving birth in an atmosphere where they will not be paying for things in advance, that is their decision.


    I certainly did not. Other women--very young, very old, married, single--can also be in that situation. Not everyone giving up a child has a support system and a place to bring a baby. IF THEY WISH TO MEET PROSPECTIVE ADOPTERS, that is their choice.

    The Anonymous person who left a comment confusing the issue about what we say needed not to be Anonymous. I suspect it was from someone who regularly comments here and wished to inflate what we are saying to have the last word. What is valid for some is not for others. See Jane's and my comments above.

  29. Phoenix Rising: We did not receive any comment from you. Since I know that you have first-hand experience with meeting with the adoptive parents--who totally went back on their sweet promises--I most certainly would have posted your comment. It did not come through. It happens sometimes, and unfortunately no one saw it.

  30. Phoenix Rising: We did not see any comment from you. I will message you.

    Sometimes it happens and the blog does not have a mechanism for letting you know that the comment was not "taken." It has happened to others before, and it happens especially if you came here from Facebook and did not "click out" of Facebook. They do that so that you will only leave your comments on Facebook.

    We certainly would have posted your comment/story, as you are someone who met the parents and were promised the moon at your hospital bedside, and then the adoptive parents went back on everything. Not everyone does that, but your story is worth telling again and again. Please contact me; you have my email address.

    And the blog you wrote for us is here:

    An Un-Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents Lie and Break a Mother's Heart

  31. @Phoenix Rising, I read the blog on 'An un-open adoption". It was so disheartening to read such blatant lies from the agencies & adoptive parents, giving hope to expectant mothers that they would get to be a part of their child's life. Those claiming 'christianity' as part of their background seem to be the worst at it because they use 'God's word' to justify everything they are doing (every lie they tell). I'm sorry this happened to you & the other ladies who were told they had an 'open' adoption, when clearly they had no intention of keeping their word.
    I spent the better part of yesterday looking into various adoption agencies (which means I feel like I've been to hell & back), and the realization of people spending upwards to $30,000 on a human being...makes me wonder how 'christian' people can justify being part of the problem of 'child trafficking'. I came across an PAP who did her own investigating of agencies, & one in particular that hit me hard was, A Guardian Angel (UT), where she was told from this agency that "the social work staff will work closely with the nursing staff to insure the birth mother is ready to sign". It's not that I'm shocked they go to this extent, but that anyone would have a conscience to be OK with that. THEN, I uncovered my state of Kentucky, now known to be the most corrupt state with the 'Child Protective Services'(the largest adoption agency in the state) going so far as to remove (kidnap) children (that are adoptable) from homes and place in foster care long enough, 6 months, to then be eligible for adoption & are changed to "terminate parental rights". While I knew there were many, many disreputable agencies, I truly didn't know the extent of it. Now when I see someone with an adopted child, my first thought will be, "where did you get that child", and that goes for all of these 'celebrity' adoptions. Adoption seems to be the 'in' thing to do now, its no wonder we have so much 'human trafficking' going on. In the scheme of this night-mare, the Abrazo adoptions seem, at least from what I've read, to be one of the more 'humane' agencies. But after all I've uncovered on these agencies and my home state, the door is too wide open for corruption, it's pretty shocking, still.

  32. Sorry for posting yet again. But Robert asked about open adoptions actually being possible give APs attitudes towards first parents, and I saw a response from Jenny W that as an AP, she works really hard to maintain openness.

    I wanted to add that as an AP, I tend towards Robert's statements being taken pretty seriously because as it stands right now, it is up to the goodness and moral compass of the APs to maintain an open adoption. Jenny, it sounds like you care very much about it and take your promises made at relinquishment quite seriously. I do as well.

    However, until open adoption agreements are actually legally binding and enforced in court, I will view them as a tool used by agencies to increase the pool of adoptable infants. I know the agency we used to complete our adoption paperwork (we did not meet our daughter's parents through an agency, so we missed seeing some of the steps APs go through usually) was very big on open adoptions and talked a lot about the importance of them. But when I was completing the paperwork, I requested, rather naively, for legal guidance on crafting the wording in the Contact After Adoption Agreement. I wanted to be sure that our daughter's parents explicit wishes were clearly stated. It was then that I found out that these agreements aren't enforceable, even in my state (CA), where they are filed with the adoption paperwork. The agency told me to write "whatever I wanted." I conveyed this to my daughter's mother and showed her what I was writing in the document. I told her it mattered very much to us to have ongoing and completely open contact, and they would have access whenever they wanted, but I wanted her to understand that, legally, she had only our word.

    It's not right to put mothers in these positions. I feel open adoption as it stands now is coercive.

    As a note, the judge didn't even glance at the CAA agreement when she finalized the papers. I brought it up, and she replied that that was up to us how we handled the contact going forward. I struggled to not get up on my soapbox, but I had already snippily stated that I was upset about the closure of my daughter's OBC and the amended BC. So I left it. I just read on a forum yesterday about adoptive parents of a two month old complaining about the birth family and saying they were thinking of closing the adoption. They said they hadn't even wanted an open adoption and had only agreed because they felt they wouldn't get a baby otherwise.

    Sadly, I think there are quite a few of those parents that counteract the Jennys out there.

    1. I completely agree with you Tiffany. First parents and adoptees need to have legal rights to information and to maintain relationships if there is not abuse involved. The legal situation right now is completely unfair to first parents and adoptees.

    2. One of the areas our Adoption Work Group ib Oregon plans to tackle in the 2017 Legislative Sessions is making open adoption agreements enforceable.

    3. Tiffany, you sound like such a good mom to keep your word to your daughters mother. The openness in adoption is such a great benefit to your daughter, and I wonder if most adoptive parents don't really understand openness isn't just about the first parents keeping in contact, but for the child to know where they came from and taking the secrecy out of it helps the child too. Wished more adoptive parents would understand that. It really restores my faith a bit that you are willing to keep your word to your daughter and her mother.

    4. @Tiffany. Who is Robert, and where is this conversation taking place?
      I can't find it here.

    5. Anon, it's way up at the beginning. "Robert S. Grosse January 13, 2016 at 9:14 AM"

      Sandy, yes, that's it exactly. I don't understand why more people don't see that it's not about the adoptive parents at all.

      I love my daughter's parents. They are really wonderful people, and I admit they make it easy to be inclusive because of that. But I love my daughter, and no matter what, hard or easy, I should do what is best for her. If we were having problems with our communication or interactions, we would go to counseling. I would find ways to work through it. That's what family does! They don't quit on each other just because things get challenging. And on top of that, I should be an honorable person and keep my word. It seems pretty simple to me...

  33. Tiffany, thanks for telling us how things played out with your open adoption agreement that was only worth your word. The judge knew it wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

    While we made some people angry with our refusal to say that every time meeting the prospective adopters is always and absolutely wrong--and some women and teenagers will want to do that, will insist on it--what we've come away with is this: If you do meet the people who might adopt your child, continue to realize that once they have, they hold all the rights, and whatever communication that will exist between the two of you is largely up to them. Meet them, if you must, but do not let them influence you when it comes to making the final decision.

    Phoenix Rising must have left a comment about how she was urged into giving up her son by promises from the adoptive parents--at her hospital bedside--but they turned out to be absolute monsters and shut down communication completely.

    When her son turned 18, she was able to find them but he wanted nothing to do with her. Mothers like that fare the worst emotionally. Not only were they emotionally coerced into giving up their babies at the time when they are vulnerable, they then realize they were lied to and tricked by evil evil people.

    Tiffany--what were the adopters of the 2-month old complaining about as they were considering closing the adoption? I am thinking about what it was like at two months. My god, I was a mess. I was looking for a job in another city...because of course I couldn't go back to my old job.

    I was damaged, embarrassing and embarrassed, trouble, etc. God, today it sounds like I lived in the era of Downton Abby, but it wasn't far removed. Speaking of that, I keep thinking how Marigold, Edith's daughter, will grow up ... as family and not family because she will be "illegitimate" and polite society will always ... think "how unfortunate" for her. The movie "Belle" comes to mind.

    I wonder if Fellowes (the writer) will let Mary in on the secret before it ends. If Edith will simply move to London and marry (finally) the new guy.

    Just rambling here tonight.

  34. Lorraine, yes. I know that I would want to meet PAPs in a mother's position. I'm a natural reader of people and would know immediately if I was ok with them or not and what type of people they are. I 100% agree that mothers need to be careful not to be influenced, and I think that can be a concern for some mothers, especially those without any other support or those with pressuring parents/significant other. I absolutely understand the concern people have expressed about pre-birth matching. I still think that it's a right that mothers should continue to have. I deeply wish agencies weren't profit driven so that the mothers could depend on some independent party to help maintain that balance and perspective.

    The post was older, and I stumbled onto it searching for adoption info. The poster was complaining about the following (keeping in mind this was 2 months postpartum for the mother): the mother (he called her birthmom) wanted to call her child by the name she liked (which was not the one she originally selected nor the ones the APs went with); she was going to get a tattoo with that name; she and the birth grandma wanted to be friends with the APs on facebook; they asked about visits; they sent some emails asking for pictures; the mother posted a picture of her daughter on facebook and called her "my daughter" and said some typical proud mama remarks. The AP was quite irritated and said this wasn't at all what they had signed up for and made it very clear that open adoption had not been their first choice.

    Rotten jerks.

    Poor mom was going through so much. You know, of course. She was mourning, on top of all the post partum stuff, and all the APs could think about was their own selfish desires. And that is why open adoption agreements should be legally binding. They never updated the post, probably because very few responders agreed with them, so I don't know whatever happened. Since many (most?) open adoptions eventually close, I would imagine that if at two months, they already felt this way, that one eventually closed.

    One poster said that they had gone through similar "issues" and eventually, after they were firm with withholding any further info than the agreed upon pictures once a year, the pesky birth mother faded into oblivion. The poster said "she moved on with her life, as she should." Moved on. Forced out. Potato, Patato.

    I just read the link to Phoenix's story. How heartbreaking. I really don't know how some people look themselves in the mirror. I'm so very sorry.

    I haven't watched Downton Abbey yet. Call the Midwife's adoption stories have made me ball my eyes out in bed several times, so I'm reluctant to watch more.

    1. This is sad. An adoption that never should have happened.

    2. Absolutely heartbreaking. I can't imagine how that child is going to feel about all his when she gets older. Very sad indeed.

    3. Tiffany, if you don't mind my asking, what forum was that on? I'd love to go and give someone a piece of my mind...

  35. I know very little about open adoption but it seems as if writing law that enforces the open adoption agreement is going to be quite complicated. But if law can be written to enforce the open adoption agreement, shouldn't there be law that enforces the parenting philosophy expressed by the adoptive parents that contributed to the natural mother selecting them to raise her child?

    For example, A natural mother makes it known that she is adamantly opposed to spanking as a form of discipline and would never allow her child to be raised by spankers. The PAPs tell the mother they wholeheartedly agree and would never hit a child. The mother selects the PAPs and they spank the child.

    A natural mother makes it known that she will only select PAPs who are vegan and promise a strict vegan diet for her baby. Mother understands that PAPs won't have full control over the child's diet outside the home, but expects a strictly vegan household. PAPs say they're vegan, will always be vegan, would only feed the child vegan. Mother selects the PAPs based on this. The adoptive parents feed the child eggs and bacon.

    Why would the other contributing elements that lead to the selection be any less important as a need to enforce than open adoption?

    1. It's not that hard, really, it just isn't in favor of the APs being completely, 100% in control of what society views as strictly their child, not the first parents. I think that's where much of the resistance comes from.

      We completed a Contact After Adoption Agreement. In my state of CA, this is meant to be worked out between the two parties as agreement of what type, the duration, and the nature of the contact. There were checkboxes for: email, phone, text, in person visit, etc. Then you could write in to describe your agreements of how those were going to happen. Most adoption agencies actually have the parties work out their agreement. All that is now required is to enforce this the same way that you would a custody agreement. The APs cannot simply stop all contact just because it's inconvenient without going before a judge and proving it is detrimental to the child (with a social worker and psychologist and everything divorced parents have to deal with).

      As for the other things, that's murkier. I see what you are saying, but I agree that those are much more difficult to enforce. I can't speak to any of those things because I think that's several steps down the road from where adoption is now. But currently, open adoption is popularly touted by agencies to expectant moms as a benefit to adoption, and there is absolutely zero guarantee behind it. I think it's a rather small step to make these agreements as legally binding as the adoption is itself.

    2. LotrCat - murky indeed ! I'm against legally binding any of that. For one thing, a lot of new parents set out to be vegan, or religious, or to limit tv time, to avoid spanking, etc., and then change their own minds as well. Why should adoptive parents be given less power to parent?

      I have seen this get a little nuts in divorce law already. A mother and father have two girls who are raised riding horses competitively. The family starts to have financial troubles, and they divorce. Part of the settlement of the divorce is that the father must continue to pay for riding lessons, barn fees for the horses, etc., as the girls have become accustomed to these things. Whereas, had the couple stayed together, and each of them been more reasonable, they might have cut back on such items as the normal course of life. instead, the girls must have these things for the next 8 years, by binding contract.

      Whether the AP's are college-educated and whether they intend to provide undergraduate (and in some cases, graduate) financial support is already being discussed during the AP selection process. I can hardly wait for horse riding lessons, horse family lifestyle, to become part of the equation as well.

    3. Thank you Tiffany. Again, I have little understanding about open adoption and the issues involved. I'm certain there are plenty of PAPs who enter into an open adoption agreement just to get a baby and then slam the door. I'm certain plenty of PAPs end up shutting the door after feelings of insecurity or exclusivity begin to creep in. Besides those two types of things, for the PAPs who enter into open adoption with intent to actually have an open adoption but eventually shut the door, what's the predominant reason? It seems to me like conflicting parent philosophies would have a toll on the open adoption.

      You described a contract that had a lot to do with visitation/communication. Is that because visits and or communication is the biggest problem in open adoption? Or because there's no honoring anything beyond visit/communication? I'm curious because if the natural mother voices concern over something and the AP slams the door shut, will a judge honor the open adoption contract and reopen the door? Or, if the AP's reason for closing the door is parental interference, how likely will a social worker, psychologist and judge use 'best interest of the child' and decide in favor of the AP's? Is visit/communication enough on the open adoption agreement to protect the natural mother?

    4. A promise not to spank the child or to provide only a vegan diet could be put in the written agreement. If the state law provides that the agreement is enforceable, a judge could order the adoptive parents to abide by it.

      I've seen agreements that require mothers not to smoke or use alcohol in front of the child. I'm sure these are enforceable.

      I was surprised by Tiffany's statement that "most adoption agencies actually have the parties work out the agreement." What I've seen in both agency and attorney agreements is that the natural mother is given an agreement and told it is the standard. Mothers may be able to negotiate an extra -- allowing grandparents to visit for example, but mothers don't know what bargaining chips they have.

      The other thing -- mothers don't distinguish between what is told to them and what is put in writing. Thus social workers and PAPS may indicate that certain things can happen and mothers assume these things will happen. An example is the mother being told that three visits a year is the minimum but she and the PAPS can agree to more. The PAPS assure mothers that they're comfortable with that and the mother assumes the PAPs will agree to more visits. Then the PAPs hold to the three visits a year in the written agreement.

    5. I should explained that the agreements I've seen allow the parties to decide on the details. The standard agreement is an outline, a fill-in-the blanks. The parties can decide, for example, whether phone calls will on the third Saturday or the fourth Saturday every other month but mothers are not aware that they could insist on a phone call every month.

    6. In Oregon the Courts use the best interests of the child standard if one of the parties fails to comply with the open adoption agreement. This is most likely true in other states. The parties can also asked the agreement be amended if circumstances change.

      This is also true in divorce agreements. If the father paying for the horses, for example, was severely injured and had to go on disability at a fraction of his former salary, a judge might left him stop paying for the horses.

    7. Thank you, Jane.
      [Jane wrote:]"I've seen agreements that require mothers not to smoke or use alcohol in front of the child. I'm sure these are enforceable"

      Has there been a case where a judge has had to order the APs more than once to abide by the agreement? If so, what is the extent of punishment to date given to an AP?

      Does violation of the adoption agreement, at least in states that enforce the agreements, call for the termination of the AP's parental rights to the child and the adoption ended? And has that ever happened?

    8. Kaisa,
      Today, when a natural mother is allowed the opportunity to select the adoptive parent and is in an open adoption with enforceable agreements, her core beliefs on religion, spanking, veganism, non-smoking homes are types of things that are reasonable and most certainly should be enforced. Or, what is the point of allowing the natural mother to have a voice in who raises her child?

      Summer camp, college education, ponies are financial and can't be enforced as there are no guarantees of job security. TV limits fall under the category of silly to try to regulate and impossible to monitor for purpose of enforcing.

      Adoptive parents who want the freedom to parent as they see fit without the interference of the natural mother's input are the adoptive parents who have no business going the selective PAP/open adoption route. Those PAPs need only apply to traditional closed adoption.

    9. I don't know of any case where a mother has taken the adoptive parents to court even once for not abiding an agreement. I'm not practicing law so I'm not in the thick of things. I think going to court is rare. The parties are required to try mediation with the agency as mediator to resolve disagreements. If that doesn't work, a mother can file a court action but she would have to have the money to pay for a lawyer. Oregon statutes say that failure to abide by a continuing contact agreement is not a basis for ending the adoption and returning the child.

      In my experience from talking with natural mothers, adoptive parents, adoption attorneys and adoption agency staff, the majority of adoptive parents comply with the agreements. The problems arise with mothers who expected more than what the agreement provides, mothers who did not realize how difficult it would be not to have their child with them, and children who want to go and live with their natural mothers. Other problems include adoptive parents or mothers required to re-locate because of job requirements, adoptive parents who divorce, adoptive parents who develop beliefs or practices the natural mother doesn't agree with, and mothers who have friends who the adoptive parents disaprove of.

      If the parties are acting in good faith doing the best they can for the child, the agreement can be filed away and never looked at. If the adoptive parents agreed to an open adoption just as a way to get a child and are not committed to it philosophically there will be problems. Likewise if the natural mother thinks of open adoption as 24-7 baby sitting and she can come and go in the child's life as she sees fit, there will be problems.

    10. Jane, thank you again. What an industry- it makes my head spin!

      You said that it's your understand that the majority of open adoptions are in compliance with the agreements. Are the common problems that you went on to write about, the type of problems between natural mother and APs while in compliance with the adoption agreement? Or are they the types of problems that cause the agreements to be broken?

      How common is it for the child to want to go and live with the natural mom? How is it handled? Do we know how many minor children who want to live with their natural mom actually end up doing so while still a minor?

  36. Interesting, Jane. We wrote out the contact we all agreed to, or rather, I wrote what the parents wanted and requested because we were open to anything. I typed it up, we all signed it, and I attached it to the form.

    This is the form used in California:

    You can see that it's completely up to the parties to specify the contact on the form, then add detail on an attached sheet.

    I wish more states were like Oregon. Like I said, even the judge pretty much ignored this document. It should not be something so easily broken.

    Some people also don't think about what happens if both APs die. The birth parents could lose complete contact if that was to happen and there wasn't open information sharing. Our wills include all this info, our chosen guardians have the info to contact my daughters parents, and I also sent the chosen guardians info to my daughters mother to hold onto. No one likes to think about such terrible things, but they can happen, and grief shouldn't be compounded by a loss of contact with birth parents as well. That all should be required legal actions as part of an adoption.

  37. I'd call change of circumstances--one party moving across country, for example-- require open adoption agreements to be amended rather than broken. If the parties are getting along this may be accomplished with a hand shake or a brief note about how to manage cross country visits.

    I don't know how common it is for adopted children to want to go and live with their first mothers. But I've heard several mothers tell me how difficult it is to explain to the child why he can't live with her. One mother told me that her son who lived in Illinois called her on his 18th birthday and told her his was coming to her home within a few days. She had a good relationship with the adoptive parents; they weren't abusive or anything.

  38. It is painfully obvious that a great percentage of open adoption agreements are not fully met, or, in fact, close within a couple of years. The best statistic I could find when I was writing Hole in my Heart was that only about 12 to 20 percent had contact of any sort after a couple of years, particularly if that contact is through the agency or an attorney. While there are obvious cases of fraud, that might euphemistically be called "change of heart" by the adopting parents, they do not include all. However, those natural mothers hurt--which is an inadequate word for the emotional outcome of broken promises here--are the ones who stories we are likely to hear. Now and then I see blogs or reports from natural mothers who are in a good relationship with the adoptive parents, and the children.

    Because I have a instinctive distrust of third-party intermediaries, or go-betweens, in adoptive relationships we maintain that in those cases where a teen or woman is determined that she must relinquish her child, without any possibility of changing her mind, and wishes to have a fully open adoption, she is better off knowing exactly who is getting her child, where they live, what they do for a living, et cetera, and meeting them beforehand--than relying on an intermediary or waiting until she has the child.

    Yes, it would be better if the mother had a moment--or week or two-- to bond with the child and thus see if adoption must be the next step, but it is not a perfect world. All the social services that might be possible in one place are not universal; some women or teens who see adoption as the only alternative are not willing to take care of their babies for a while before they must part. If the child is to go to a new home upon release from the hospital, and the mother wishes to have a say in choosing the adoptive parent or parents, meeting them beforehand, for some, will be preferable to waiting, and then feeling desperate to make a quick choice.

    Contact should be minimal; gifts or monetary exchange should not take place (as is known to have happened); and any counselors involved in arranging such a meeting must impart of the pregnant mother to be that she must NEVER feel obligated to give these "nice people" her baby. A child is not a gift to make up for someone's lack in their lives.

    On this we will have to disagree with CUB. The statement does not take into account the fact that some mothers will not have a place to bring their babies while they interview and consider prospective parents.

    1. It's important to distinguish between open adoptions that close because the adoptive parents violate the agreement and those which were not truly open in the first place. I know a mother who had an agreement for letters and pictures through the agency for several years and then contact would be up to the parties. The mother was confident that the adoptive parents would continue contact. They didn't.

      I met a mother whose agreement provided for a minimum of three visits a year. She showed up at the adoptive parents home the first three Saturdays after they took her son home. At the third visit, they said you can't come back for a year. The mother was devastated. The reality of her loss set in and she tried to cope by moving away and staying away for several years.

      I know a case where the agreement said that if the mother contested the adoption, all contact would cease. The mother sued to undo the adoption and lost. The adoptive parents shut the door.

      If you count these as open adoptions that closed, then yes the numbers would be higher.

      The real problem is that the mothers did not fully appreciate what was in the agreement and relied on what the PAPs and the agency worker told them and what they assumed would happen. It reminds me of when we bought a new car and the salesman told us we would get free tires for the life of the car. When the tires were worn, we took a closer look at the agreement. It required the dealer to replace the tires when the tread were less than 1/32nd, far lower than what is safe. The salesman did not lie; he just omitted a crucial fact.

  39. Amazing to think that someone considers having the name of the mother as an "open adoption". Even if you take the era in which the baby was born into consideration this stretches the imagination...Open adoption to me means OPEN - as in door wide open. To me that example sounds like looking through a peephole in the door(!)

    My only friends in adoption circles are first moms and adoptees. I have heard countless stories of adoption parents who bailed. And yet I've seen so many adoptive parents in different forums who cry foul at the often quoted statistic of "80% of all open adoptions close". I believe that number to be true just based on my friends alone. It's abhorrent.

    I cannot imagine telling a new mom "well you've used up your three visits - come back next year". As Tiffany said, "how do these people look themselves in a mirror?" More importantly how do they look their child in the face??

    Ours has always been a completely open relationship except for nearly a year due to the mother asking/needing to pull back. Luckily our son was little enough that the passage of that much time didn't seem (?) to completely register and when she came back it was as if she hadn't been gone.

    Since everyone's definition of "open" is different let me clarify what it means for us: going to each other's houses, going to sporting events, celebrating holidays and birthdays, sleepovers etc. Oh and of course phone calls, texting and social media interactions.

    It hasn't always been sunshine and roses - as evidenced by my rant from a few weeks ago when the paternal grandparents were horsing around with when they would pick up their grandson for Christmas break, but in some ways it's really no different than other family relationships. You hit a rough spot, recover and keep on going.

    Nearly eleven years and counting. Here's to the hope that he reaches eighteen and feels all of us (in both families) did the best that we could with our situation.

    1. In the first case I described, the natural mother did not have the names or address of the adoptive parents. All correspondence went through the agency which read her letters to the adoptive parents. The agency refused to send some of the letters she wrote describing her pain and begging to have her son back. This adoption took place in 15 years ago. I think the only letters and pictures through the agency was more common then although Catelyn and Tyler of 16 and Pregnant fame did not have the contact information of their daughter's adoptive parents and had to send gifts, etc through the agency, Bethany Christian Services. Their adoption was about six years go.

      In the second case I wrote about I think the adoptive parents were over-whelmed when the mother showed up three weeks in a row. They came to the decision before the third visit, perhaps with encouragement from the agency, that it could not go on. So they held the mother to the strict terms of the agreement. The natural mother was not upset with the adoptive parents whom she considered wonderful or the agency; She was trying to get over her pain, looking for a magic pill.

      In some way I don't fault the adoptive parents. In order to get them to adopt, the agencies tell them that open adoption is not co-parenting; that they are in control. They are manipulated almost as much as expectant mothers.

    2. I'd forgotten about Catelyn and Tyler having to go through the agency. That seems bizarre to me in the 21st century. (Well it was bizarre in the 20th century too but you get my point.)

      I can see where the adoptive parents in the second case were overwhelmed but why not ask for some space or something is what crossed my mind. I'm glad the mother wasn't upset but it seems so harsh. Our son's mother was at our house quite a few times in those first few weeks. It would have seemed cruel to turn her away for a year.

      And I definitely hear what you're saying about adoptive parents being manipulated by agencies but it makes one wonder how they could not finally reach the point where they think "this feels wrong" and leave the agency out of their decision making.

    3. I should add, I saw the second Mom several years later and she said she was back in touch with the adoptive family and things were going well.

  40. Based on the many heartbreaking stories already spilling out all over the place the last several years, open adoption will eventually be seen as another broken spoke in the corrupt human rights violation umbrella. Open adoptions have many of the same ingredients of closed adoptions: false promises, lies, secrets, falsified records, and damaged adoptees and first mothers. Irregardless of the newer, trendy sugar-coated name, adoption is still a dirty, corrupt industry sustained through baby selling and human trafficking. A spade is still a spade, even if the packaging is more colorful. Open adoption is still centered around entitled and needy (and usually infertile) adoptive parents and not at all around the best interests of the baby who is sold to the highest bidder. Shock! Many still think adoption is child-centered. Open adoption is still adoption, any way you call it, with all its ugly warts and all, and usually the brood breeder mare, the first mother, will end up before long at the bottom of the triad barrel. Closed adoption, open adoption, adoption needs to stop unless in extreme life or death emergencies to the child. Wealthy infertile women need to stop using poor women as breeding animals. Had the intention of open adoption been child-centered, laws could have and would have already been in place to protect the commodity bought, the child, and possibly the breeder who is usually shut out of the open adoption picture. There is a law for anything and everything else in our society. As there are virtually no enforceable laws in open adoptions, it's quite obvious whose interests are being served. Same song, same verse, but new cosy-sounding title, and it's just that, a title and no substance behind it. Oddly, open adoptions have done little to stop the falsifications of birth certificates but are still occurring to satisfy the insatiable demands of the buyers of newborn human flesh. Open adoptions are the lipstick marketing on the stinking pig industry. Open adoptions, as were closed adoptions, are still sought as a cure for infertility, despite the thousands of children in foster care and in need of forever homes. There are also lots of cute puppies for sale that don't cost as much and can satisfy a baby lust.

  41. As some of you may know, I began researching adoption in 1979 and have authored two books on the adoption industry. I consider pre-birth matching one of the major evils of domestic infant adoption today.

    Open adoption and the "right" to "choose" parents are today's selling points because shame no longer works. They are as much a lie as were the falsehoods told to older generation mothers that we would forget and get on with they lives...that keeping our babies was selfish and if we really loved them we'd give them the opportunity of a "better" life.

    We weren't told the ruth that we'd never forget and that more material advantages does not always equate to a "bette life."

    Reports of mothers who have been betrayed by false promises of open adoption are abundant! Far too many report how being pre-matched creates feelings of obligation and indebtedness and disallows them time to think and consider their adoption plan once their child is a reality. Instead, they have they rebounding time co-opted by ads in the delivery room. Too often they are enmeshed with an individual or couple who makes them feel so very special - playing on and exploiting their vulnerable and isolated state.

    It is a very dangerous practice that should be banned. It turns mothers in crisis into surrogates who are conditioned to think of the child they are carrying as not theirs. They are locked in financially by suggesting or out right telling them they'd be liable to repay those expenses if they do not hand over their baby. That's extortion.

    It all works to chip away at free will.

    Let us never forget that even the "best" of adoption agencies are 100% funded by the fees paid by adopters upon the completion of an adoption.

    All counseling - both emotional and legal - is paid for by adopters! One of my suggestions to avoid this coercion is state pools into which adopters pay that are used to help expectant mothers in crisis with legal counsel etc. Housing and food can and should be provided by the state. None of this expenses should be one-on-one or paid for by a would-be adopters directly to expectant moms (who are now being routinely called birth moms before they give birth!)

    Birth fathers are even more at risk today than ever before. Putative Father Registries were put into effect to reduce the number of contested adoptions by virtually eliminating fathers rights.

    Let us also recognize that International adoptions are on a huge decline and so the pressure for American mothers to relinquish is extremely high to meet a demand that is not diminishing as infertility is on the rise and same-sex marriage has added to the demand.

    1. Yes, Mirah you have been researching adoption since 1979.You have contributed to the literature in adoption. I note, though, that Lorraine published her first article on adoption in 1975 and her first book in 1979.

      We who wish to reform adoption should focus on what is doable. It would be impossible to ban pre-birth matching because in about half the cases of voluntary infant adoption, the parties match themselves. PAPS find "birth mothers" through referrals from doctors, clergymen, friends, relatives, even their hairdressers, and from ads in the media and on Face Book.

      Yes, the industry is skillful at manipulating vulnerable young women. But expectant mothers walk into these agencies and law offices voluntarily. CUB would do a great service by working to inform the public and especially women with unwanted pregnancies of the losses inherent in adoption and ways they can keep their babies.

      Yes, the state should provide housing, food, and counseling to pregnant women but that will not happen soon. Most states are led by conservative governors and legislators and are cutting budgets, not increasing services to the poor and poorly informed.

      Yes, there is high demand for infants but increasingly this is met through fertility "treatments", not adoption. Of course some these "treatments"--egg donation and surrogacy--also exploit women.

      Those who want to reform adoption should work on legislation which has a reasonable chance of passage. Bills to ban pre-birth matching would go nowhere. Bills to give mothers a reasonable time to decide and require they be given specific information have a chance of passage.

      On a personal note, I came to adoption reform in 1998. Since then I've assisted in getting a ballot measure passed in Oregon allowing adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates and getting legislation passed giving adoptees access to their court files and making it easier for natural mothers to see their children's files. I recently was featured on the front page of Oregon's largest newspaper advocating for reform. I'm actively working on a legislatively sanctioned work group to improve Oregon's adoption practices.

      I'd suggest that those who want to reform adoption start working with the better segments of the industry like Abrazo on legislation that has a chance of passing.

      A note to readers -- we have exhausted this discussion of open adoption and will not post any more comments.



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