No matter where you are in the adoption process chances are you’re more familiar with one arrangement over the other. Open adoption and closed adoption are two different approaches to the adoption process, primarily concerning the level of contact and information exchange between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child.
Talking to families, this topic comes up often. Aside from the best practice approach that you can find online or through other sources, I love to give my own personal experience with both sides of the dynamic with transparency and honesty.
What was your experience growing up in a closed adoption?
I was a closed adoption. Adopted as an infant, my family was all I knew — in an intimate sense. Objectively, I was told from a young age that I was adopted, and my parents did a wonderful job sharing my adoption story. As a transracial adoptee, my multiethnic background was also well-known to me. It wasn’t until much later, in my late 20’s, that I met my biological father and biological mother. That was a pretty incredible story in itself.
Growing up, I was aware of the demographic information of my birth parents. I knew for example that my birth father was African-American, and my mother was Caucasian. I knew their age, names and the town they lived in. However, that knowledge wasn’t intimate, and it resonated when in conversion when it was brought up. To me, Mom and Dad were what I knew.
There are a few parts of my closed adoption story that I really appreciate:
- I grew up with a strong family identity.
- My foundation was firmly rooted in the values and norms of my family.
- My sense of place and desire to belong were nurtured by the loving relationships I had with family.
Closed Adoption Challenges
The biggest challenge for me, however, was working through my need for closure. This was a constant gnawing feeling, that I had to learn to manage over time. The sense of loss common to all adoptees was overbearing in that regard.
Another common struggle for transracial adoptees, in particular, is the ethnic and cultural connection of our culture of origin. I felt so disconnected from people who looked like me and struggled to find positive interactions with peers. As I’ve mentioned many times in consulting calls, my initial interactions with peers resulted in negative attention. Those values and norms I cherished reflected my family and home environment. There are, however, some strategies to navigate these challenges, which we can unpack in another blog.
Despite my struggles, I wouldn’t have changed my adoption arrangement. However, this is only true for some situations. Closed adoptions are uncommon today, and it’s essential to explore their implications and effects on all parties of the adoption triad.
***We provide the following adoption services at Christian Adoption Consultants: Embryo Adoption, Domestic Adoption & International Adoption. If you are interested in working with Jonathan, you can reach out directly to him here-he would be more than happy to assist you, provide you with our adoption informational packet, and set up a FREE 30-minute consultation with you!***