“Each family is unique. There is no single formula for open adoption. The only constant is adjustment over time. Each family will need to determine what works for them in the best interests of their child.” – Joni Mantell, LCSW
The most important question that you need to ask yourselves is ‘how to handle openness in adoption in a way that is right for you and your family?’
IAC Center is uniquely positioned to help you process this question. We have extensive clinical experience with adoptive parents, birth parents; children, teens and adults that were adopted. Unlike most adoption agencies and attorneys we work with individuals and families both before and after their adoptions. We can help you to understand how your initial open adoption decisions may play out over the course of the life cycle for both you and for your child. And since we do not do adoptions, our perspective is always neutral and unbiased. IAC Center’s only goal is to help you make timely decisions that you can live with for a lifetime.
The Center offers single consultations in person or by phone, counseling, education and mediation. You will probably want to start with a single consultation.
Open Adoption Consultations can help you:
- Learn about the range of options for openness
- Understand the benefits and complexities of open adoption relationships
- Create an adoption plan in which you ‘under promise and over deliver’. We believe this is the best way to start since these plans are always created in a time of crisis. (Adoptive parents are worried about whether the adoption will happen. Birth parents are feeling and anticipating grief.)
- Process what is the best initial plan to make for your particular adoption situation. We will help you to process and communicate your wishes; and will act as advocates if needed.
- Successfully maintain contact with birth parents in the best interests of your child (regardless of the level of openness you create or birth parents follow through).
- Process your child’s needs and readiness for meetings and visits
- Discuss how to help your child with feelings related to adoption
- Deal with any difficulties, conflicts or problems that arise
- Counsel or provide referrals for birth parents
- Determine whether mediation would be useful
There are as many ways of handling an open adoption as there are families. Some children actually view their adoptions as open because they can comfortably discuss adoption with their parents. Others enjoy regular visits with birth family from the outset. And probably most common is for families to have a few visits when the child is pre-verbal and then to wait until the child is older and his voice can be incorporated into decisions about contact. These families view these early visits as comforting to the birth parents, and a good way to lay more solid groundwork in the birth and adoptive parent relationship. Some of these relationships will grow organically and be very helpful to the child and also be very satisfying to all family members.
Open adoptions are extremely complex relationships. It is almost always a good idea to process what is right for you and for your child at multiple points in the child’s development. Reading, participating in adoption support groups and private consultations can help. Some references on Open Adoption:
- Open Adoption Etiquette AKA Open Adoption: A Reference Guide for Families – By Joni Mantell, LCSW – NOTE: To me this article is more about the etiquette of beginning and maintaining positive adoptive and birth parent relationships in the best interests of the child. A Reference Guide for Families would cover the full range of open adoption options ranging from sending letters or emails and pictures to various plans for in-person visits or Skype; as well as guidance on dealing with the complexities that may arise. I hope to write that someday.
- 6 Key Factors to Consider for an Open Adoption – By April Dinwoodie
- Understanding Open Adoption: The Benefits and the Challenges – By Eliza Carney
- The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden
If you are interested in more information, contact Joni Mantell, IAC Center Director at JMantellMSW@iaccenter.com or 609-737-8750