Category Archives: Adoptive parenting

De-freakifying open adoption…wherever you are

For a few years, Crystal (my daughter’s birthmom) and I have offered classes to hopeful adoptive parents about the ins and outs of creating a successful open adoption.

Some students are exploring the idea of adoption. Some are trying to decide between the domestic and the international routes. Some are seeking information to calm their own fears and give them ways to explain OA to friends and family members. And some are actively working on their adoption profiles.

Distance was a problem for people who don’t live in the Denver-metro area.

We have remedied that. Crystal and I are now available for 2-on-2 consulting about developing a healthy open adoption, either in person (in the metro-Denver area) or by phone. And we’re cheap very affordable.

Here is a description of the session, written by a woman who attended our class and said that seeing our relationship at work was very helpful in de-freakifying open adoption:

When considering adoption, many couples don’t know where to start: It’s sometimes hard even knowing what questions to ask. In a setting that is one part classroom, one part coaching session, and one part storytelling, two mothers in an open adoption share their insights and experiences. You’ll begin with a focus on the differences between open adoptions and closed adoptions—for parents and for children—and explore practical and emotional issues related to open adoption. Specific topics covered include 20 questions to ask before you select an agency, how to minimize the pitfalls along the way, steps to ensure an ethical open adoption, and secrets of successful open adoptions.

Your phone or coffee-shop session will be co-created by the four of us. We each lead and follow as Crystal and I (1) share with you what we have experienced and built; and (2) answer your questions.

Our consulting fee is just $1 a minute, with a 30 minute minimum.

One couple who attended our class had this to say.

Want to talk with us further or set up a time? Email me.

Crystal and I look forward to chatting with you.


From attendees of De-Freakifying Open Adoption.

Lori and Crystal,

I want to Thank You so much for the wonderful class! It was not only very informative, but it was very personal. I wanted to write this letter of recommendation so that others can truly understand the benefits that one can get out of your class/seminar.

As you know, we are currently in the process of going through infertility treatments. However, my husband and I have always known that we wanted to adopt. Given the current situation, we may be adopting earlier than we had originally planned. Because of this we have been informally interviewing, and attending seminars, so that we can get as much information as possible before we get pulled entirely into the adoption process. In addition, we are still in the process of determining whether or not to adopt internationally or domestically. A part of this decision was deciding whether Open Adoption was right for us. This lead us to your class.

Not only did we get a list of resources, but we got a bird’s eye view of what it really means to go down the Open Adoption route. One thing I really appreciated was that it wasn’t your goal to insist that everybody be okay with an open adoption. Instead it was your goal to inform. You informed us of what it meant as a birth mother and as a adoptive mother. You explained what makes open adoption work and not work.

After your class, not only was my husband more enthusiastic about adopting than he had been before, but we felt armed with the knowledge of what it truly means to be in an open adoption. Thank you so much for being so open to all of our questions, and thank you for having this class. It will be something that my husband and I talk about for years to come.

Sincerely, Paula and Daniel Smith
(August, 2008)


A conversation I never want to have

(This entry was originally posted as a guest post on Stirrup Queens as part of Geohde’s Great Blog Cross-Pollination.)

Because I have chatted with some of you, I know that many readers here are looking for travel brochures to Adoption World or are considering relocating there. Periodically I’m going to write about adoption language and why I choose some words and phrases over others.

The first phrase is give up for adoption (and variations). And here’s the conversation I never want to have.

“Mom, why did Michele give me up?”

“Well, she loved you very much. In fact, she loved you so much that she found Daddy and me to be your forever parents.”

“She loved me so much that she gave me away?”

“Well…not exactly…”

“If she loved me less, would she have kept me?”

“That’s not what I meant…”

“And through the rest of my life, should I be afraid of anyone loving me too much because then they will reject me?”

“Let’s start over, Reed.”

Some may call it semantics or political correctness, but I DO have reasons for choosing certain words and phrases and rejecting others. In this case, I prefer made an adoption plan to gave up for adoption.

First of all, made an adoption plan implies conscious thought. Michele thought about her baby as she decided what to do. She was aware of him. She planned the best future possible for him, given the resources available to her at the time. She was not forced out of parenting him (although this does happen in some cases, which I’m told is devastating for a child to realize).

And more importantly, it doesn’t include rejection. Gave you up and gave you away are inherently rejective (to make up a word). And they could make the child feel like an old toy or an outgrown article of clothing, a toss-away. Imagine if you lived your life thinking you really weren’t worth keeping.

It’s not such a leap from she loved you so much she gave you up to big love = rejection. This is NOT a belief I want to impart to either of my children.

I want them to know that their firstmoms loved them enough to make a difficult choice. I want them to go through their lives fully capable of giving and receiving love. I’d rather have THIS conversation.

“Mom, why did Michele do adoption with me?”

“Michele loves you so much. She knew back then that she wasn’t ready to be a mommy to any baby. Even though she really wanted to be with you, she made a plan to make sure you had parents who were ready to take care of you.”

“That’s you and Daddy?”

“Yup. You have so many grown-ups who have loved you from the very beginning. You are so lovable! (devolve into a tickle session.)”


Other terms I plan to cover:

  • “birthmom”
  • “our” birthmother
  • the birthmom “changed her mind”
  • “He is adopted.”
  • “a child of my own”
  • “born in my heart”

Please let me know if there are any others you’d like me to have addressed.


I’m honored that Jenna and Pamela Jeanne have included me in a fabulous group of women who have been awarded the Blogger Flame of Fortitude. Jenna created this award to recognized our battle scars, our victories, our defeats and our courage in facing infertility.

I now pass the torch to Furrow, Yoka and Lea Bea and Niobe. Let’s keep on supporting and keep on going, no matter what.