We are adoptive parents who now are being forced to have visitation with the biological parents. How many times a year is reasonable? Most items I have read say 2-6 times a year.
A couple of things in your post make me say “ouch!” First thing I would do is forget the word “reasonable”….if you have have seen any of the post on this site you will soon see that each open relationship is unique. It is varies from situation to situation. There is no normal or reasonable in open adoption, it is all about putting the needs of the kids first and hopefully nuturing healthy realationships with all the adults involved. As a result, it never looks the same!
My second ouch is related to the use of the word “forced”. I worry that if you enter into any visits with a “forced” attitude or feeling, you may poison the visit. Please try to frame visits as an opportunity…for you & your child to learn more about his or her roots! A positive attitude from you will only enhance the experience for your child! By the way, I believe most families do that have visits get together between once & six times a year! Good luck & I hope it will turn into a positive experience for all involved!!!
I’ve got a few questions. What do you mean by “forced?” How old is your child? What were the circumstances of his/her adoption?
“Forced.” Changing your attitude about it, even if it is legally court mandated, might change your outlook on the matter at hand.
That said, we had 4-6 visits per year before my daughter was in elementary school. Elementary school sucks the life out of family schedules and we now average 3-4.
For what it’s worth, where I am adoptions are done through the state government and 4 visits a year is what’s recommended. I think you really need to think about what these visits will mean though. They’re supposed to be about building a relationship, if it’s just about ticking boxes and doing what you *have* to do I’d imagine they’re going to be very difficult visits for everyone involved. While these aren’t something you’ve chosen I really hope you can find a way to embrace them and the connection they’re offering your child.
We have at least 4 visits per year with our daughter’s birthmom and her family. We are looking forward to a visit coming up in the next couple of weeks. We definitely use it as a time to visit, ask questions, and watch our daughter interact with her birthmom, her birth grandparents, and birth uncles.
We have three adopted kiddos. We have visits every other month with one birthmother and her sister and sister’s baby usually come over with her. One of my kids’ birthmothers lives out of state so we have usually seen her about 2 -3 times a year. Her family lives in our state so every time she comes home to visit she comes over. As said above, schedules start to get busy. We used to visit about once a month with our oldest child’s birthmom and life kind of took over. Now we try to get together when we can. Maybe 4-5 times a year at minimum? I’m guessing. We only live about 15 minutes away from each other so maybe more or less. I wish we could work out more. It isn’t always easy. It’s emotionally exhausting, but I need them in my life too.
“Forced”??? Ouch! Not a healthy way to look at it. It should be a good experience for you and your shared child. If you feel you are being forced to see the birthparents, eventually your child will pick up on it and it will taint the relationship between him/her and them. How awful That said, I see my son every 6 weeks or so. And every visit is wonderful. Keep in mind that you are all “family” now, and your child can never have too many people who love him/her.
You said it well. “Keep in mind that you are all “family” now, and your child can never have too many people who love him/her.” I agree completely.
The visits are very healing for my daughter who is a birthmom. A very open relationship is special and is the best thing for the adopted child in most cases. Visits heal my heart as well. I want my grandchild to know how much he is loved by his birth family.
I echo Dawn’s questions:
What do you mean that you are being forced? Is there a reason you would not want to have a relationship with the bio family? Is there some kind of danger involved?
If there is an especially high risk in having visits with the family I can understand your hesitation and need to set boundaries.
As far as what is “reasonable” I think that whatever works for you and the birth family is what is reasonable for your situation. For my circumstances, monthly visits, or even bi-monthly visits, would be highly UNreasonable as we live out of state. But there are other families who have much more direct contact because that is what works best for them. You and your child’s birth family get to decide what is reasonable for the both of you.
Visits can be extremely positive, even in the worst of situations, once you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and stick to what is doable for you while still taking into account what works for the family. Once you see how the visits affect your child you will have a much better idea of how often to visit and what the visits entail.
I agree with everything that’s come up here.
“Forced” may be true, it may be that you are NOT wanting this contact, or that you feel uncomfortable with the birth parents because of the situation. But remember that it’s not about you, nor your spouse, nor other extended members of your own family. It’s about what’s best for your child, and in all reality, the birth parents.
Secondly, again, every situation is unique. My son’s birth mother has moved overseas. Monthly, weekly, or semi annually, these types of visits would be unreasonable. Instead, she takes two or three weeks in the summer, comes back to Canada, and my son goes to stay with her and her parents. He comes home on weekends (we miss him when he’s gone) and he goes back again on Monday for the rest of the week while she’s here. When his other mother is back overseas, he spends about every other weekend with his Nana and Grampa.
We don’t schedule visits. We talk on the phone every couple days, and work out which days, weekends work best. Some months, he goes every week for just a day, and sometimes he goes every other week for three or four days (depending on school). And over Christmas, and holidays, we ALL go over, and they come here too. Birthdays, are a family affair- and they are family.
So, what’s reasonable? I feel that you should do whatever you can to foster a relationship. It’s tough; we haven’t always had a good relationship with our son’s birth family. We worked at it (hard), and talked it through, and kept our minds on the fact that it had to be about him first. His happiness, his emotional stability, his family (all of us).
And today, I can honestly say, they are OUR family. Our biological daughters call them Nana and Grampa, and call Bugs’ birth mother “Auntie”. We love them. They love us. That’s reasonable to me.
Reasonable is different for every situation. I only get to see my placed son about twice a year.
I think you are looking for a way to toe the line on openness and I think you should forget that you can limit things and just play it by ear and see how it goes.
You will never know how well things can work out if you don’t try!
I too caught that particular word when reading the post, I am fairly certain that it must be coming out of a place of great pain. Life never happens like we expect it to. I am not going to reiterate what has already been said because it has been said. While I agree with what has been stated, I don’t think it addresses the primary issue you may be experiencing. So I would like to address that issue.
It sucks when things don’t go as planned.
Heck, in my own experience, I would like things to be greatly different. Ultimately you and your child are going to have to live in the situation that has developed, and how you approach your situation will determine how you feel and your child feels. I have seen many families torn apart by negative feelings. I am NOT saying it will be easy. I am not saying there won’t be bitterness and other negative emotions. However, eventually, there can be peace.
I am certainly no Suzie Sunshine myself, but I hope – for your own health – you are able to come to terms with your new situation. Granted I am assuming a lot from a three sentence post, but given the vocabulary and the terseness of it I don’t think I am too far off. I wish you the best of luck moving forward in this new relationship, and hope that things work out for everyone involved. Peace.
I know that it can be hard to visit with the biological family if that wasn’t something that was originally a part of your adoption agreement, and it sounds perhaps as though that’s your situation?? This is one of those moments in parenting were you put your child first and remember that this is about them and not you. You never said how old your child was, and so if they are still an infant or young toddler, it might feel like it’s more about you and the feeling you have. But that will pass before you can blink an eye and your child wll be asking about their biological family. My son is 4 and he ASKS to see them. Your job is to be a part of the relationships and make sure it’s healthy for your child and from there you will be able to know how much visitation may be appropriate.
Not accepting the biological family can be damaging to the child. I know children in this boat and they feel they came from ‘bad people’ and they worry that they are ‘bad’ and other negative feelings. I really believe this comes from the adoptive parents perspective rubbing off on the child.
You are the parent here and what you do, your perspective and felelings will have a huge impact. I would really think about your feeling of being ‘forced’ into visits. It’s not about being forced, it’s about love your child and doing right by them.
I am going to skip the word forced and not get hung up on it – and talk about entitlement. I am an adoptive mom (I use that term for this site only) Its been almost two years into open adoption and only speaking for myself these relationships have to form not with an entitlement mindset. Maybe the original poster finds herself in a situation where she feels overwhelmed with people staking a claim to what she is going to do and what she is not going to do and maybe she is looking for what would be “reasonable” to help sooth the situation so she can feel comfortable that she is neither closing the door or opening herself up to chaos from a poor situation…..our relationship with our bmother is poor – it started great and we only do pictures at this point, we have done mediation (after two and a half hours we stopped- it was pointless and not helping the situation) and have had numerous phone calls and letters with the bmother and the agency…. all an attempt to fix our situation, sometimes all relationships in our lives no matter where they start don’t work for periods of time. I learned that this relationship with the bmother is no different than any other relationship I have ever had – some work some don’t. The goal is that everyone has a very special relationship for the child – however, there is divorce, family’s do come apart. I don’t think open adoption is the exception to the rule where the relationship will always work because it is “best for the child” sometimes it isn’t . I posted this for the original poster as a lot of the responses are from people who are in a great place in there adoptions (I was at a point, and right now Im not) I just wanted to represent that yes – these can go in the ditch and I felt compelled to pursue contact for my child – but it wasn’t about the child in our situation – and maybe she finds that it isn’t about the child in her situation – it could be entirely about entitlement issues from the birth family.
Of course there is ‘entitlement’. There should be. The birth family is entitled by reason, morals and ethics to know the child of their blood.
And an adopted child is ‘entitled’ to know their roots and history, first hand if possible, and through letters and a medical history when not possible.
And the adoptive parents are ‘entitled’ to be the responsible party for the relationship until the child is old enough to foster the relationship on their own.
That’s what I am entitled to do as an adoptive mother. I am ‘entitled’ to work hard, every day, be a mom and do what is in my child’s best interest- and yes, I (and my husband) are the only ones qualified to make that decision at this point for our shared son.
When our son’s birth mother (BM is a medical community term for ‘bowel movement’ and it’s pretty rude to call someone who gave birth to your shared child a BM), was acting and saying things that hurt our child, I had to pull her and her mother aside and act maturely to let them know WHY their actions were having a negative effect- and to tell them that if they didn’t stop doing those things, visits would be terminated.
It wasn’t fun, and I’m sure they didn’t mean to do those things- but the fact remained that I was ethically responsible to care first for his immediate emotional wellbeing, and secondly to keep this relationship open for later in his life’s emotional well being and happiness.
So, ‘entitlement’, yeah, there is some, but there SHOULD be. Otherwise adoptive parents start pretending birth families don’t exist- which is detrimental to the adoptee (read the stories of loss and loneliness if you don’t believe me).
Now, if what you’re implying is that you believe the birth family is dangerous in some way- well, the courts wouldn’t mandate a visit with a dangerous party. So it’s still up to the adoptive parents to do what we can to keep tabs on them, keep lines of communication open, to foster relationships- however you choose to put it- with the birth family.
It’s NOT about how I feel. Not about whether or not I ‘wish’ I was his only mom. Reality is that I’m not. And he deserves, and she deserves to be respected by me and treated as well as I am in his life. No, a birth mother does not ‘do the work’ a parenting mother does- but they are still a mother.
You can’t undo that just by saying “entitlement issues”. And dismissing the loss and grief is simply disingenuous- and in my opinion, morally ignorant. Birth parents should be treated as family. And no, not every family situation works out- but put the welfare of the child over the pride of the adults and see how much better it all works out.
Sarah, your response was perfectly worded
Sarah, thanks for this. I wanted to let any readers know that I corrected the BM in the comments previously and changed them to bmother. I always do this when I catch it so Sarah’s comment re., Bm may not make sense but they did previously. I was at work when the comment came through and I don’t have the OAS password saved on my work computer so I couldn’t go in and change it then and I forgot ’til Sarah’s comment came through when I was at home.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I had decided not to respond to this comment because I was so worked up over it! Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what needed to be said!
And I also want to point out that if you know anything about Sarah’s open adoption relationship with her son’s family, then you know that she is hardly biased from an ideal relationship. If anyone understands how hard and painful these relationships can be – it is her. So please take to heart what she has said.
Well said Sarah! I wish my daughter’s adoptive parents shared perspective.
Just to let you know – our relationship with the birthfather’s family extending into different generations is incredible! We have worked and worked and worked with the birthmother and it isnt working. I wont be back to the site for support – I was just trying with my whole soul to bring a different perspective…..I wont do it again. I never intended to be disrespectful with the abbreviation and it never crossed my mind. No one ever told me I was responsible for every relationship to carry it on my shoulders no matter what the actions of the birthmother were – no one told me this relationship would be mine to bear for our child – no one ever told me she can lie about yell, and cancel parties – send horrible emails – no one told me that she can do all this and I am responsible to keep the relationship going. Thanks for the assumptions.
I’m confused as to why you are so very offended.
The details you offered were very vague, it’s hard to give good advice on so little information.
I think you did get some very excellent advice given what you stated at first.
I’m glad that you did try and everything, I’m sorry about all that went wrong.
Anne, I understand where you’re coming from. I also get the ‘entitlement’ stuff from one of our birthfamilies. Sarah, I do not agree that all birth families are entitled to know their child. Some families really do not love or want their kids!!
Our family privately adopted a toddler who arrived at our house when he was several months old. We agreed to first keep him till mom went for therapy because she had no attachment to him and couldn’t stand him. She never bothered doing anything, her family didn’t care much at all & she eventually signed off. Fast forward several years: because he suffers PTSD from domestic violence in utero, constantly being moved from stranger to stranger the first several months, visits are totally stopped. (She saw him 2 times in 3+ years and constantly cancelled every other visit we planned.) Our adoption therapist said his wounds are too deep and he needs to heal. I have pictures of his birthfamily and I also keep in touch every 7-10 weeks with his mother. I like her and am her friend, yet I have to admit she isn’t very interested and has never been, in her/our little son’s life even with all the medical problems he had. Her mother tried the ‘entitlement, I deserve to know him’ on us. But after all the yelling, screaming and swearing at us, we’re done with her. The constant drama and lying is over the top! Other professionals tried to help but it didn’t work. We couldn’t enforce boundaries and there’s little trust due to all the lying.
Our other adoptions are from foster care and are totally closed due to violence. We never met mom or dad. We collect whatever info and pictures we can. They do remember their parents but they also remember the violence, drugs and abuse. I wish you could see our one child as he/she makes sure the door is locked at all times because of the fear that birth relatives may show up and take them away.
My husband is also adopted. He knows his birthfamily but has very little contact with them. He knows what adoption feels like and is very good at helping our children deal with their adoption issues.
I realize that our adoptions through foster care and our unique private adoption may not be the norm for this site. For some of us, any sort of open adoption with birth family is impossible. So no, some birth families are not entitled to know their child.Their child, though, is entitled to knowing their history and have pictures, etc. etc. My husband’s adoptive parents and we have never pretended that birth families don’t exist! We talk about them and our children know they can freely talk to us about their birth families. We look at their pictures, talk about their good memories and pray for their parents. It’s all we can do.
Ah, but see, you DO have an open adoption. The other Anne was indicating that the birth family bore no rights at all, and thus indicated that they weren’t as important to her child as she was. That they weren’t ‘entitled’ to know her child because she didn’t like them.
You have the info and the contact with one family (even if you had to stop the visits- I’ve been there, I understand how disruptive and painful for the child they were and why they were stopped), but the point is YOU KNOW THE FAMILY. And you tried.
And you keep the contact, which is keeping that option open for later in life for both your child, should they choose to get to know their birth family again, AND for the birth family to receive updates. That is what I meant by ‘entitlement’ being a good thing.
The birth family KNOWS (even if they don’t like or respect your decision right now) that you are doing what is in your child’s best interest.
In the second case, you know about the history of abuse. I never, ever, advocate for a child to be exposed to violence. I advocate that WHEN possible and safe (emotionally and physically) that a child know their birth family, and when that isn’t possible for safety reason, that they at least have a medical history and names to go forward with as adults, should they so choose.
I am not advocating that children be exposed to violence or mental instability- only that adoptive parents put their child’s needs above our own.
In the past, there were several times when I would have LOVED to close our adoption because our son’s birth mothers’ family said all kinds of atrocious things to me, about me, to my husband, about my husband, to our son about us etc. But I didn’t, because it would have hurt him more in the long run. So, I DO understand- trust me, I do understand. But I also found a therapist for myself to talk to, for my son to talk to and we’ve set boundaries, and held them, regardless of the birth family’s actions.
And again, there were times when I did step back and say, “No, you know what, that’s wrong, and until you stop this, you can’t have him over there at all.” And after a few months, they usually understood- but during those times without visits we continued to have contact- even though it was painful.
My son was traumatized by his birth mothers’ leaving (when he was two) so I understand the difficulties with attachment and bonding that are particular to an older child adoption, and I truly hope you and your child can find some peace at home and that your child can learn to trust and open to you.
The first person by the name Anne also has an open adoption with the birthfather. She did state that after her first post though. I did not get the same vibes from her that you did. I read that another mother is tired of dealing with people who think they are owed something. Maybe it’s because of my experience of dealing with birthmom’s mother who did state she is entitled to see her grandson. No, she’s not. She didn’t care what happened to him during his first year or so until she realized he’s staying with us. All the ranting, screaming and cursing after his adoption is not going to work! The sympathy and passing on of info and pictures to birthdad who we’ve never met and who was in prison for a number of years is not going to help us trust her. We’re more cold hearted in this that what you might be and that’s ok.
I know I have an open adoption with birthmom but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I can talk to her on the phone and she doesn’t ask about him at all. I usually have to introduce him into the conversation and I’ve stopped doing it. She doesn’t want to hear about him. So we talk about her job and the other kids she has. It is what it is and I cannot change it.
I do wish sometimes that open adoptions would all be more similar so we’d have more examples to follow. It sure can feel like you’re finding your way in the dark, at times. Blessings!
It sounds to me like we’re saying the same thing- in different ways.
You’re doing what’s best for your children, given the particulars of your situation. That’s all any of us can do.
And yeah, it almost always felt like I was stumbling blindfolded through the dark, into a minefield for the first 8 years (or so) of our adoption situation.
But the results these last few years have made me darned glad I took that walk.
Anne, maybe you’re right that this might not be the right place for you to find support. This site is dedicated to “open adoption”- however that looks for each family. But looking different doesn’t mean denigrating or judging- and that’s not what I was trying to do to you either. You reached your limits of tolerance, and that’s fine, I wasn’t judging you, or your personal situation.
I’m just going to cut and paste,
We honor the connection adoptees have to both of their families.
We recognize the love and joy as well as the losses and grief of adoption.
We do not diminish one family in favor of another.
We are flexible, understanding that needs and circumstances change.
We set boundaries on the basis of what is best for our children.
We understand that open adoption looks like different things for different families.
I haven’t had a ‘perfect’ open adoption. I still keep some nasty emails in my files for my personal reference section about what’s been said and such.
But yes, I feel it is on me. He’s my child. I keep trying, and keep working on the relationships because I KNOW it is in his best interest. So for 10 years now, I’ve put up with more *crap* than I think I should otherwise be forced to tolerate. And the end result is a real relationship with the other half of our family.
And yes, I continuously need to remind my son’s other mother of our boundaries, and expectations- so I know how difficult that relationship can be. But that’s the promise I made to him, and to myself when I signed the adoption papers. And after 10 years, she and I are finally able to be friends- above and beyond and around our shared child. We’re friends. I urge you to consider continue trying and maybe one day you can reach that point too.
And as a parent- I think it stands to reason that you are responsible for every aspect of a child’s life until they can be responsible for it themselves. We haven’t reached out to my husbands’ birth father- because my husband does not want a dangerous person around our children (I happen to agree).
That’s a parental perogative that we assume when we become parents. So, if the birth family is dangerous, then no, there should be no contact. If they are unstable, maybe supervised visits are safest. But as a parent, it’s still up to me to protect, nourish and foster a good relationship with ANYONE in our sphere of family and friends. Do you not assume the responsibility of introducing your child to your family, of making play dates for them with friends? Why would you then bear LESS responsibility to a relationship with the people who loved him first?
Brittani- thanks love.
i loved reading everyone’s comments. it has helped me tremendously. i am currently a foster parent (through CPS to 3 toddlers (4, 3, and 2). we are hoping to adopt the kids and currently going through litigation.
deep down i do believe that it is good for the kids to know their birth families, however, i am concern also of the potential hardships (both for the children and us) will face.
Here are some possible situations:
1. the court could order us primary “possession” of the kids without terminating the parents rights (meaning birth family will have some possession. i don’t like the term buts that’s how the law is states it.) kinda like a divorce. i am unsure of the visit schedule or terms and who gets to decide that, judge, us, or birth family
this seems to leave the kids in limbo and is the least desired option for us.
2. the court could terminate the birth parents rights. in texas open adoption is not enforced. if this is the case, i still would like for the kids to have visits with the birth family, but i struggle with how that would look. but i fear that the birth family would continue to show negativity towards us
3. the birth parents can relinquish their rights. again, if this is the case, i still would like for the kids to have visits with the birth family, but i struggle with how that would look. i hope that if the parents self relinquish their rights, they would also be able to let go of the negativity they have towards us so that we can build a healthy relationship
so the difficulty for me right now is coming up with a reasonable visit schedule that would be positive and beneficial for all parties involved.
i can’t possibly go through all of the details of the case (it will take forever)
sorry for rambling, but we are new at being foster parents and new to this whole process. we want to do what is best for the kids yet we have no experiences.
any additional advise would be greatly appreciated!
As a foster care alumna, former adoptee, and birth mom of nearly two years, I just want to say that it sounds like you are committed to doing what is best for the children in your care. It may very well be that visits need to be limited for the time being, you are the one who knows best whether the parents are a threat to these children. There was a time in my life when visits with my birth parents would NOT have been healthy, but I craved photos and information particularly about my siblings but also about my parents. I needed to know where they were and if they we’re “ok” and unfortunately for most of my life I did not have that information after TPR. If you can keep the kids as informed about their family as possible, you are headed in the right direction.
As far as visits go, should you decide to schedule them, I would take it one visit at a time. If you do not set up a concrete schedule from the very beginning you have flexibility to scale back without the parents feeling like you have broken a promise to them. Many people won’t agree with this because having consistency and commitment helps to make OA successful. However, working with an addict or person struggling with mental illness consistency is hard to achieve. You can have the commitment to OA without having visits at set intervals. You could counter this by sending updates photos to the parents at set times I.e every month on the 15th or something similar so that there is consistency without over committing yourself. When planning visits I would opt for a neutral place such as a park, play place, pool, children’s museum, etc until you are comfortable with each other and then proceed from there.
Snow, our daughter was in foster care and her first parents ended up voluntarily relinquishing their rights. It took a number of years but we did open up the adoption. The key for us was finding someone in the birth family who was easy to deal with and open to making things work. For us, that ended up being a grandparent. We started with letters through DSS, then calls through the therapist we were working with and then calls to our house over about a year period. Eventually that lead to visits and expanded contact with other family members. We’ve tried to be clear to everyone about our expectations and some people have respected that, some haven’t. We’d had rough patches but we’ve had a lot of good visits too.
Now 9 years into this, everyone has our home number, address and has even been to our home, everything is fully open. Some of them have even stayed overnight here.
It takes time and slow ‘baby steps’ to establish appropriate relationships and acceptable boundaries. It helps to have someone involved in the process who can reinforce that you and your spouse are NOT DSS/CPS/the state, you are two individuals. You didn’t have anything to do with why those children are in care or the decisions made on their behalf until now.
The poster is the “parent” and as a parent she has to do what is best for her family. You talk of the bfamily being “entitled” to know the child-well, if that were the case, they should have raised them! The aparents aren’t foster parents or babysitters; they are parents to a child that needs parents. Nor is adoption a form of parental sharing. It is the transferring of parental rights and responsibilities from one person to another. It the aparents are being told the bparents have a “right” to see and know the child, then who are the parents? Maybe for you adoption may work that way, but adoption is adoption be it open or close. And if one wants a relationship with their child, then they should raise them-plain and simple.
Adoptmee, I think we’re getting hung up on the word “entitled.” But let’s get rid of the tired idea that if birth parents wanted to see their children then they should have raised them. Let’s also get rid of the even MORE tired idea that adoptive parents are “babysitters” if they embrace openness. You’re right, adoption is NOT a form of parental sharing and neither is open adoption. It sounds like you don’t understand or embrace open adoption, which makes me wonder why you’re visiting this site? (Read our beliefs over there on the left sidebar.) If you’d like to learn more, please explore and read previous posts and answers — maybe it will help you understand what this site is for.
Nothing in real life is plain and simple. The truth is always much more complicated than you want it to be.
Personally, I have to point out that parents share their responsibilities as parents with many other people.
Children need more than just two people to raise them, they need as many people as are willing to be loving influences on their lives.
Openness is more about treating everyone with respect and kindness, they way that they all should be treated.
I find your statements extremely unkind and disrespectful.
Adoptmee’s comments may have been unkind and unrespectful, but I believe they are true, in a way.
The one who is entitled is the child. Pure and simple. He is entitled to know his roots. He is entitled to have his safety kept, if members of birthfamily pose some physical or emotional danger. He is entitled to grow up with as much love and wellbeing as it is humanly possible to surround him with.
(The last entitlement implies that he is entitled to grow up with an adoptive parents who do not feel threatened or jeoperdized by a situation “forced on them”, and he is entitled to have the adoptive parents try their best to alter their perception of the situation and make it livable for themselves).
Since the child cannot, until a later age, make decisions concerning his entitlement, it is his legal’s guardian’s right and duty to do so, Thus, it is the adoptive parent’s right and responsibility to act on the child’s behalf and make decision’s in the child’s best interest. (And yes, the child’s best interest is to grow up with a happy adoptive parent. If the adoptive parent feels miserable due to visitation it is the child’s right to grow up with a parent who is not miserable, either due to change in the adoptive parent’s perception or due to a change in the visitations).
The birth parent has no rights or entitlements. it would be kind and decent to have him or her be in contact with the child, but this is the child’s entitlement, not the birth-parent’s.
My response was to Sarah who said the bparents are entitled to see/ have a relationship with their placed child. My point was/is that open adoption is still adoption, and if the aparents aren’t comfortable as family doing something, then they should not be forced or feel obligated to do so!
It has nothing to do with being anti-open adoption, but everything the aparents being the “parents”. To me Sarah was saying that the bparents ARE ENTITLED to see and have a relationship with their child, and that is not correct. The only way a person is entitled to have a relationship with their child is if they are willing, able and ready to raise them.
Adoptme, I disagree with your last line. I don’t think the aparents should be forced into doing something they’re uncomfortable with but barring safety reasons, I think aparents should challenge themselves and not just say NO WE ARE THE ONLY PARENTS WHO MATTER.
It also sounds like we have different ideas about what it means to be a parent. I am the parent because I do the parenting but I believe my daughter’s first mom is the parent because she gave birth to our daughter and I’d say that she IS entitled to see and have a relationship with her child.
Dawn, I agree on the entitlement of a relationship but I don’t think that automatically means visits. Relationships have to be appropriate to the situation and physical access to the child is not an entitlement in my book.
I suppose what I”m saying is when there is an ‘entitlement’, we have to discuss that there is a ‘responsibility’ that has to go hand in hand.
Now I do think my child is entitled to a relationship with her first family and it’s my responsibility to be the steward of that until she can take it over. But I do not think they are entitled to see her if they are not being responsible.
You mention safety issues above and I know you understand that component – I’m really not trying to argue over semantics. But sometimes in the course of an open adoption, physical visits are off the table. Sometimes it’s just safer to do phone or letters.
I guess in my book, it’s the relationship that is the entitlement but how that is defined is more an individual thing.
Michelle, I agree. And please note that I used “I-statements” in my comment very deliberately. I think what we’re all getting hung up on here is that the original poster left us very little information and so we’re all reading into it with our own experience. I know that there is no one on this site that argues that open adoption is more important than a child’s safety and I have not ever heard anyone say that any adoptive parent should put her child in danger to maintain an open adoption.
I am reacting to the commenter who is saying that adoptive parents have the right to shut things down, period and I’m saying that obviously they do (legally) but asking is it the honorable thing to do (if there are no safety concerns)? And because we cannot know if the original poster had safety concerns, I hate to jump to the conclusion based on the three lines above that the adoptive parents are right BECAUSE they are the adoptive parents. Instead I’d rather question their use of the word “forced” and not immediately assume the birth parents are in the wrong because way too often people in general assume that birth parents, by virtue of BEING birth parents, are in the wrong.
I’m not trying to argue with you especially since I don’t question your commitment to and support of openness in general (while I do question the commitment and support of Adoptme); I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from.
You’re right. I did say they are entitled.
And I believe that they are. My son’s birth mother is NOT always a reliable person in his life (she is not dangerous, but she is highly neglectful and impervious to his feelings).
She’s not a physical danger; so I have no reasonable reason to say to my son, “Nope. Not her. I know uncle H smokes pot and you still see him. I know my father drinks too much sometimes and you still see him. I know that my family isn’t perfect, but you still see them. But nope. Not her. She is too immature to be a part of your life, or for you to know her.”
I believe she has the RIGHT to see him. To know that he is safe, loved, cared for, well behaved, well mannered, kind, smart, honest and loving- to know that for him and for her, she made the right choice.
And I believe that he has the RIGHT to see her, to know that she loves him too.
I believe that to be her right and his right. I could terminate visits with her, under the strictest letter of our adoption agreement. I could do that. Or, I could (and do) work WITH her to set limits, boundaries and encourage her and her family to take an active role in our lives.
That, to me, is what open adoption is about. Sharing lives so that my son never suffers, wondering if he was loved.
As a birth mom who signed an open adoption contract at the time of relinquishment I am LEGALLY and not to mention morally, ethically, and biologically, ENTITLED to have a relationship with my son. And thankfully my sons parents agree or we would have a serious battle on our hands because there is not anything anyone could say or do that would convince me otherwise. I feel this way because I KNOW that it is in my sons best interest for him to know me intimately as his birth mother.
If you feel this way then why aren’t you raising your child?
As a parent, one has the right to decide who has access to the child until they are older and can decide for themselves. I do not believe in aparents lying or promising an OA and then closing it (because they had no intentions of having one in the first place). But I do believe if there are boundaries being over stepped, or safety issues, then the aparents do have the right/entitled to close or limit contact. They are the parents and they have taken on the responsibility of raising the child; and along with this responsibility, come the obligation to do what’s best for their family. In short, to me, no one is “entitled” to anything unless they are doing the hard work of parenting.
First of all, it is absolutely none of your business why I am not raising my child.
All you should know about me and my son is that I carried him in my womb for nearly 10 months, loved him and put his needs above mine from the time that he was conceived to this very day. I placed him for adoption, regardless of the circumstances, at the time of his birth because I am his mother and it is my responsibility to make the decision of what is right for him and that is what was right at that time. I chose an absolutely amazing family who insisted on an open adoption and committed to allowing me to be a part of his life and him a part of mine. If for no other reason, THAT is why I am entitled to know him, I placed him with his family under the agreement that I WOULD be allowed to know him and see him.
As his mother I also have the responsibility of maintaining a healthy lifestyle so that I am in no way a danger to him. As you will notice from other posts on this site (and even this page) we do not in any way condone relationships with family members who are a threat to the children.
“In short, to me, no one is “entitled” to anything unless they are doing the hard work of parenting.”
As a birth mom I have done some of the hardest work of parenting by choosing to give my child the family that is raising him.
This site is called “OPEN ADOPTION SUPPORT” so if you are going to be rude and condescending you should probably find a different site to visit because you don’t seem very supportive of open adoption.
Adoptme, that is a really really out of line question to Brittany. I feel very frustrated that you are going to the extreme (“boundaries being over stepped or safety issues”) because we’re not necessarily talking about that when we’re talking about entitlement. We all agree here that aparents have the right/obligation to keep their children safe and no one is saying that a birth parent’s right to have contact with his/her child supersedes that child’s right to safety. But placing for a child for adoption does NOT negate that person’s connection to said child, which is one of the cornerstones of this site’s belief. I saw you said to Justin that it is not your intent to be rude but you’re being incredibly rude to Brittany.
Thank you. It was not my intent to be rude, but from my end I was hearing the birthparents are entitled (and their feelings/desires supersede the aparents).
Yes, it is important for an adoptee to know their roots and medical history, but it is up to them to decide if they want a relationship/contact with the bfamily. To say “I am entitled to have contact with my child even though I placed them for adoption” dose not sound right to me. I think this is one of the reasons why some OA fail because some bparents have a feeling of entitlement when it comes to contact with the child.
Oh and also, please back up your belief that one of the reasons some OA fail is bparent entitlement because I haven’t seen any research that states that. NONE. And anecdotally, I have not heard of OAs that fail because of entitlement issues although I have seen some fail because of boundary issues, which may be related to entitlement but is not the same thing. Because I have known wonderful bparents who feel entitled to contact but are respectful and appropriate in expressing that (my daughter’s mother is one) and whose entitlement has helped shape the relationship in positive ways. Entitlement is in and of itself a dirty word.
Dawn, I think you meant “Entitlement isN’T in and of itself a dirty word.”
At least, what I think you were getting at….
i think its all about what mind set you had going into the whole adoption process.
for some, open adoption is totally on the table
for others, it wasn’t what they had signed up for
and yet others, are unsure
for those that did not sign up for open adoption, i can see how they feel “force” (or what ever term you want to use) because that’s not what they wanted. im guilty of that but am learning to see the positive side of open adoption – its taking a bit of time though
however, in the end, as parents (birth or adoptive) we have to see what’s best for the kids.
i feel that is ok for everyone to feel the way the do (we are all human) dispite our best effort to be our best. some are more passionate at expressing their views than others, but equally valid.
sometimes we get caught up in the words we use that the whole meaning gets lost…. i read the post as a mother trying to seek advise for something that is totally new to her and wasn’t something that she had orginally wanted. she’s reaching out and trying to learn more.
i am sure with positive support, she will get to the point where she will be comfortable with the situation.
i often remind myself… Faith in God includes Faith in His timing…
perhaps its just not her time yet to totally embrace open adoption.. and perhaps it does feel force…hopefully, one day in God’s timing, things will work out as it should be.
one last note…
i really have to say that i am grateful for everyone sharing their comments. this has helped me tremendously. i have a better understanding and perspective from birthmom and of fellow adoptive moms.
i too struggle with open adoption…the uncertainity it would bring, but i am very hopeful that it can be a beautiful relationship that will enhance everyone’s lives –the kids, birthmom, and us adoptivie parents
Doh! Yes, thanks, Sarah!
I do not mean to sound rude or condescending, but I have heard this many times from bparents and some aparents about entitlement and the bparents right to have access to the child. I am very much for open adoption but when the word entitlement is throw in, it does not sound right. That is all I mean.
I am not sure we’re arguing only about semantics, as a previous commenter seemed to imply. I think the argument here is about the nature of open adoption.
In my opinion, open adoption is made for the sake of the adopted child. It is true that both adoptive and birth parents may benefit from it as well, but that is secondary. The adoption itself, as well as its conditions, should be in the service of the child. Thus, the choice between openness and closeness, as well as the degree and conditions of openness, should not be decided by the benefits, damages or entitlements to the birth parents or the adoptive parents.
From this thinking stems that at times it would be beneficial for the child to close the adoption, even though the birth parent wishes to remain in contact with the child and has been promised so by contract. At other times, it would be beneficial to the child to open the relationship to even more contact, even though the adoptive parent does not feel comfortable with the openness and did not promise that in the initial contract.
When I hear a birth parent claiming she is entitled to contact, it means to me that the contact should be done for her benefit, rather than the child’s, and that, in my opinion, is wrong.
Since the adoptive parent is the legal guardian of the child, she has the right and responsibility to decide which degree of openness is beneficial to the child. If at all possible, she should put the child interests above her own wishes. If at all possible, she should honor any agreement with a birth parent.
That’s a good point, JustinSt, and I agree that the child should always come first. Thank you for the reminder that in heatedly arguing for the rights of birth parents I may have inadvertantly left the impression that I don’t think the rights of the child should always come first.
“From this thinking stems that at times it would be beneficial for the child to close the adoption”
How exactly would it benefit the child to close the adoption? Have limited contact/no visits – yes I can think of many situations where that would be necessary. But IMO it is never in a child’s best interest to close their connection to their roots. Any information is better than no information.
I can see how closing it could certainly benefit the adoptive parents and as a birth mom there have definitely been times where I have wished I could walk away from the heartache of seeing my son parented by someone else.
But for my son? Given that I am a stable, healthy and secure adult, it would not ever be in his best interest for his parents to “close” his adoption.
As an adoptee I will never forgive the people who placed me in a closed adoption with absolutely no information about my birth family and forever separated me from my 6 siblings. One of whom I sill have not located. My adoption ultimately failed in part because I was grieving the loss of my entire family. It took me one year after my adoption ended to start asking for contact and information about my birth family and I, thankfully, had people in my life who were willing to help me find the information I was looking for, good or bad, and I am now in an open relationship with both of my birth parents and all but the youngest of my siblings (because her darling adoptive parents believe that a closed adoption is in her best interest, how kind of them).
My point is, as adults we can do whatever we think* is in the best interest of our kids and ultimately we will have to own those decisions when our kids grow up and start asking why we did what we did. Every child has the right to know where they come from, adopted or not. We have an innate need to know our history.
Brittany! Thanks for your beautiful response. I actually kind of stopped reading all the replies because I was, well, sick of the arguing. I was happy to read your reply as an ‘adoptee’. Being an adoptive mother of three, I know one day my kids will be grown and will want to continue contact with their birth families. I know they will someday have more brothers and sisters. I know, realistically, someday, if things go chronologically, that I will be gone from this Earth before my kids and I want them to have all the family and support and love surrounding them that they can have. I want them to have people they can go too. I want to teach them about loving others even if they are not what we expect them to be. (I am talking about ALL humankind…) We are all human and I fully admit I have not dealt with situations in the most mature adult and appropriate ways, but I keep trying, and through it all, we remain in contact, and continue visits, and rebuild relationships. And since our young children can’t fully grasp the complexities of adoption, I’m sure they have feelings and emotions that they can’t describe to us….I feel that it is my entitlement of parenthood to continue to foster a positive and continuing relationship with the best of my abilities with each of their birthmothers and other family that may be involved. I hope everyone else can someday feel that too–even in the most difficult of situations.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
About Arras WordPress Theme
Copyright Open Adoption Support. All Rights Reserved.