Pleasant Hill, California (EastBayDaily) — Individuals and couples usually enter the adoption process somewhat fearful, especially in an open adoption arrangement, says Independent Adoption Center Associate (IAC) Executive Director Kathleen Silber, MSW, ACSW. While these feelings are completely normal, Silber says there are many reasons why open adoption benefits all parties, especially the child, and offers her perspectives and tips for creating and maintaining healthy relationships—expanding on an article about IAC and open adoption that appeared in the Pleasant Hill Patch earlier this week.
“When adopting a baby, prospective adoptive parents may have concerns building and maintaining a relationship with the birthmother or birthparents,” says Silber. “Some might feel it would just be easier to ‘take the baby and run’ and not have to deal with birthparents. But what seems like an easy solution initially may not be the best situation for the long term.”
Silber says that as children grow older, they become increasingly fascinated about their roots. They usually begin to ask a lot of questions around the time they reach school age, particularly as teachers ask students to talk about their family structures in class, she notes, and an open adoption arrangement equips them with answers and confidence.
“Hugs, small gifts and—most importantly—communication with the birthmother are all confirmations of her love and care, and important for building self esteem,” explains Silber. “Ongoing contact helps the child feel confident that they are loved by all of their parents, instead of feeling rejected or abandoned by his biological parents.”
Once adoptive parents actually become parents, they realize that they are the parents, says Silber. It doesn’t take long for anyone to appreciate that they are the ones who are there every day taking care of the child, helping them learn, grow and love, she elaborates.
“The adoptive parents are the parents who the child recognizes as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad,’” says Silber. “And although the child sees the birthparents on a regular basis and they have a place in each other’s lives, the birthparents are not the child’s parents.”
Silber says it helps for adoptive parents to view the birthparents as relatives. The truth is that they are relatives because they are related to the child. Accepting them as relatives, she says, often makes it easier for many adoptive parents to feel comfortable maintaining an ongoing relationship.
“Most people have ongoing contact with relatives, who they may see once or twice a year, at holidays or birthdays, simply because they are relatives,” said Silber. “It works the same with birthparents.
“With ongoing contact, the birthparents become part of the extended family. If problems arise, they can be worked out the same way family members work out conflict. And if extra help is needed, they can seek out adoption mediation services, which are available for life for clients of the Independent Adoption Center.”
It’s important to move past the fears that everyone feels entering the open adoption process and into the warmth of a relationship built on trust and love, says Silber. “After all, your child cannot have too many people in his life who love him, and a little extra love will only help your child build a more positive self-concept,” she points out.
For more information about open adoption, please contact IAC at (855) 210-6205 or go to http://www.adoptionhelp.org.
About Independent Adoption Center Independent Adoption Center (IAC) is an open adoption agency that provides placement and counseling to birth and adoptive families to ensure that every child grows up feeling loved and supported. Since opening in 1982, the IAC has successfully placed over 4,000 newborns with families in the United States.