Closed adoptions were the most common adoption type, but in recent years open adoptions have far eclipsed them in number. There’s a reason for that — open adoptions have a number of benefits over their closed counterparts. Adoptees benefit from contact with their birthparents in a number of ways, as we discuss below.
Knowing the “Whys”
In the past, not knowing where they come from could often leave adoptees feeling a sense of abandonment. They would have no way of knowing why they were placed for adoption, and could sometimes feel it was their own fault. Being in communication with their birthparents can help adoptees come to understand why they were placed for adoption. Whether the birthparents weren’t prepared to parent a child or just couldn’t provide all the opportunities the adoptive family could, being able to speak with their birthparents helps alleviate any potential feelings of abandonment and self-doubt.
Knowing Their Identity
Another big issue that was a problem with closed adoptions of the past was adoptees not knowing anything about their racial or ethnic identity. Even if they are adopted by a family of a similar background, many adoptees longed to know their birthfamily’s specific background. Being in contact with the birthfamily ensures that the adoptee can learn about the family’s history, including any countries of origin. Some adoptees are even able to use this information to learn the language of their birthfamily, which can help later in life when they may be interested in becoming a part of that community.
While the adoption agency always tries to get a thorough medical history from the birthparents, many things may not be known until later in life. Being in contact with the birthfamily allows the adoptee to keep their family’s medical information up to date and reach out for more detailed information if new medical issues arise in adulthood or if they are trying to figure out family planning down the road.
Larger Support Network
One of the best reasons for adoptees to maintain contact with their birthparents is that doing so provides the adoptee with an extended support network. While many open adoptions start with a simple email or phone call every few months, it often evolves, with the birthparents becoming a sort of extended family to the adoptive family. This gives the adoptee more people to rely on, and more people to provide support and advocacy for the child as they grow.