The following is a guest article from a long time reader of The Po File who wishes to remain anonymous.
With the recent case about the child adopted from Russia allegedly being abused (do a Google search) by his adoptive mother, the usual suspects in the anti-adoption crowd are again beating the drums about the ‘evils’ of adoption.
Get a new tune!
One of the many complaints these agitators have is the sometimes lack of communication the BM (birth mother) has with the adoptive parents after the placement is made. They claim the BM has the right (?!) to know all about “their” child even after placement.
For the benefit those unfamiliar with adoptions there are three kinds of adoptions scenarios as far as post-placement communication:
Open – The BM and the adoptive parents remain in frequent/close communication, perhaps even speak or meet often, and even arrange for periodic meetings throughout the years with the adopted child after being adopted. In this scenario the BM is very much still part of the adoptive parents' and the adopted child’s life.
Semi-Open – The BM and the adoptive parents remain in occasional communication throughout the years typically by status letters and photos the adoptive parents send to the BM. Maybe at some point in the future depending how things evolve they may be more direct connect between the BM, adoptive parents and adopted child but it isn’t pre-planned.
Closed – It is mutually agreed that after placing the child with the adoptive parents there is no further communication and no contact again between the BM and adoptive parents or child. This is also the case when the BM (or other family) of the child is unknown (such as an orphan or protective custody with Child Services).
Back in the 50’s and 60’s and even a good part of the 70’s most adoptions were closed. It was often for the very simply reason that back in those days many of the women giving up a child for adoption were either unwed mothers or women who had affairs and the social stigma of an unwed mother and child or child from an affair was too great. Today however social attitudes, and due to the activism of various BM “rights” and anti-adoption groups, have changed (good or bad) about unwed mothers and even married women who have children by other men. As a result more and more adoptions are being at least semi-open if not totally open (this applies to domestic U.S. adoptions; Foreign adoptions are almost always closed as children usually come from orphanages).
With that said, in spite of all the noise these people make the fact remains that a great many potential adoptive parents harbor three main fears about open adoptions:
1) Shake Down – Adoptions cost a lot of green. The adoptive parents frequently pay the for the BM’s living expenses before she gives birth. That includes rent, food, clothes, utilities, transportation, medical, etc. as well as her legal fees associated with the adoption. Even without using an agency the expenses can easily be $30,000+. Adoptive parents fear the BM will “request” (demand) more money to complete the adoption process and sign surrender papers, maybe even after placement too. This is not an unfounded concern. It happens as much as some would like to deny it. It is not unheard of either that a BM will threaten to make complaints to Child Protective Services against the adoptive parents, accusations of child abuse, baby selling etc. unless the parents pay up. This isn’t at all common. By no means. But it does happen often enough to be a realistic concern.
2) Change of Mind – Most states have a statutory limit as to how much time the BM has to change her mind about the adoption. The period of time usually runs for some period during the time when the court places the child with the adoptive parents and the adoption itself is finalized. It can be a matter of days, weeks, or months. After that period of time the BM looses the statutory right to change their mind. At best they would need to hire their own lawyer and show some significant legal process wasn’t followed or some significant material information was false or not disclosed in order to even have a case. Nevertheless, the fear of the BM coming back months or years later wanting the adopted child back weighs heavily on the mind of an adoptive parent.
3) Too Many Cooks – Many adoptive parents don’t want the BM watching over their shoulder, giving “advise” on raising the child, and certainly not second guessing their decisions and actions. A child doesn’t get raised by committee (nothing good ever comes from a committee!). Adoptive parents fear the BM will try to interject herself into their family decisions and cause friction. Or perhaps even legal trouble if she believes the adoptive parents aren’t doing what she wants them to. The child is in a family, not a boarding hose.
I have no doubt it is a mere fraction of BM’s that give all BM’s a bad reputation which leads to these kinds of fears. And the media doesn’t help when they plaster the few stories about these kinds of things (especially #2, remember the Baby Jessica saga?) all over the front page.
But real or not these are true concerns of adoptive parents.