Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Open Adoptions in Foster Care: Part 1

As research in adoptions has grown over the last few decades so has "openness" in those adoptions. When pursuing the typical private domestic adoption in America the adoption triad (first families/birth families, adoptive parents, and adoptees) are often encouraged to pursue some level of openness going forward.  That openness is a spectrum ranging from pictures or letters sent to the agency and then passed along all the way to accepting and welcoming the birth parent as a member of the family, complete with holidays and babysitting gigs.  Its generally been accepted that in most cases this openness serves as a benefit to the adoptee allowing them to acknowledge and embrace where they came from, provide an outlet to answer the questions they may have, and to know that they are loved and cherished by all the parties of their life story.

But, what about those children who are adopted from foster care.  Their situation proves difficult and unique when discussing openness in their adoption.  The majority of the time their birth families did not make a thoughtful choice rooted in love to find them a forever family.  Instead their birth parents rights were terminated or the parent voluntarily relinquished when it became evident that they were unable to keep the child safe.  These same birth parents who were supposed to love them abused and neglected them causing trauma that has lifelong scars.

How does an adoptive parent balance the need to protect a vulnerable child from those who failed them early in life and the desire to provide their child that connection with their past?

I certainly don't have all the answers!  Each story in the world of foster care adoptions is SO unique, but I can share with you our story.  I hope you join us!  I would love to hear how other families have tackled this unique angle of openness in adoptions, feel free to comment or if you want to share your story in a guest post shoot me an email (see Contact Form on the right).


  1. My son has a long sad story, but the short version is that the man we thought was his father, wasn't. After a brief reunification, he returned to us. We have a wonderful relationship with my sons grandmother, aunt and uncle and an open adoption with his birth father. It's strange, but it all works. As for my daughter, I don't talk much with her birth parents, but I do have a relationship with her aunt and great aunt. Foster care is crazy.

  2. I wonder if openness in this type of situation is more about being open with the child about their birth families and providing them with answers to their questions rather than having regular contact with the birth family members, especially when/if they are emotionally unwell. It's tricky, for sure - there are never any easy or "fix all" answers right?


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