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I Call Bull$hit

“The Downsides of Open Adoption” — an article by a content mill

There’s a new article on a site that churns out provocative content, a site that seems to value clicks over quality. The article is titled “The Downsides of Open Adoption,” and though you could easily google and find it, I ask you not to. I’m not going to link here because I don’t want to reward uninformed ideas packaged as link-bait.

But I will share some of the statements I find problematic.

downsides of open adoption, wheelbarrow of manure

By the way, a bit of research on the author reveals no evidence of direct involvement with adoption, much less open adoption. The author has written about 200 articles for the site, and by my estimation, 199 of them are about pregnancy or parenting. No others about adoption.

6 Problematic Statements

In the order in which they appear.

Repeated use of the word settle.

“When settling for open adoption…”

“…consider the following cons before settling for it.”

Such word choice indicates a stance not actually open to embracing the spirit of open adoption. This stance is either ignorant or biased. Or both.

Outdated language.

“If the birth parents gave their child up to receive a better life, they might be frustrated if this condition isn’t met.”

Give up and better life have given way to place for adoption and different life based on current and more accurate language. Adoption writers have a responsibility to do better in telling the truth.

1990s movie-of-the-week trope.

“It becomes a nuisance when the adoptive parents learn their kid has been seeing more of the birth parents behind their back.”

Actual openness helps parents stay connected with their child in a way that the child doesn’t need to do such things behind their backs. It’s the foundation of openness — you know, with things being in the open.

Knowledge = confusion?

“The adopted may suffer from identity confusion. When the kids become of age, they may find it challenging to explain their family history, as there are two families involved in their upbringing.”

Rather, as open adoption pioneer Jim Gritter said at a conference I attended, Is it your experience that when you’re well-informed you’re confused?

Blame the adoptee

“Since adoptive children are aware they have two sets of parents, they can be manipulative.”

Any triangulation that occurs would remain the responsibility of the adults to address and prevent. How? Through open communication.

Logical fallacy

“Adoptive parents can change their minds about adopting a child, which can severely hurt the adopted kid.”

A failed adoption would be devastating, for sure. But it wouldn’t result from openness. In fact, an open adoption might provide an ongoing connection to the original family no matter what happens next.


I’m frustrated because people looking for reasons to choose a closed adoption — which some adoptees have called a form of child abuse — will come across this article and consider it fact, permission to proceed in a harmful way. They will see it as justification to remain in an Either/Or mindset. Unmotivated to check their bias, they may not have the critical thinking skills to find this article’s glaring flaws.

And as a result, adoption will continue to be done by some in a closed way, an ignorant way, a parent-centered way.

I call bull$hit on all that.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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17 Responses

    1. I didn’t. Suprisingly, no one has. I’d rather the conversation take place here, as at least I know of what I write.

      I don’t think the writer meant to be closed. I think she wrote a quick piece about a topic she didn’t know anything about (because really, how complex can adoption be!?!?) and didn’t take the time to research it. I can’t fault anyone for wanting to earn money, but I wish she’d stick with what she knows.

  1. I call BS too. I also suspect the author is both coming from a place of fear with her perspective. This combined with the recent videos from Myka Stauffer really demonstrates how far we have to go with opening up the conversation so that it’s about the adoptee and I worry that articles like this are adding gasoline to fires of panic, with people focusing on closed adoptions due to misinformation and myths. Hopefully the author is getting an earful from the community.

    1. More likely ignorance than fear. That’s the way of the content mill.

      So true what you say about the Stauffer situation and some people going in to adoption wearing rainbow-colored glasses.

  2. Nicely said. It never ceases to amaze me that people will argue for something that seems so clearly to work against the interests of the child. And they try to justify it. Argh!

    1. Yup, and this Mark Twain quote comes to mind: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that ain’t so.”

  3. I saw on the author info that she is writing from Ghana and works for several websites. My guess is that she’s just cranking out material at top speed to pay the bills, and that there’s no real conviction behind anything she’s writing. Not that that really helps…

    1. Huh. My research shows Kenya. and I think you’re right that there’s no conviction. Just a churning out of content. That non-critical people will take as truth.

  4. Thanks for bringing all of these statements to my attention. I fear they are statements others may say or hear around the topic of open adoption, and without mindfulness or further review, may take them as facts and/or hear and accept the poor nuances of her language. I also like how simply you addressed each one. Thank you!

  5. Uggghhhhhh. It was a terrible article. Everything was ill conceived and lacking in any knowledge of open adoption and language choices that aren’t hurtful. Grrrrrrrr.

  6. I came here looking for a way to heal after getting an unpleasant and unkind letter from my birthdaughter’s mom. That’ was an “open adoption.” It is uncannily similar to letters I received from another birthdaughter’s mom. That was a closed adoption. I believe that responding with kindness and love is essential but I am feeling shredded right now. I am glad I found your blog.

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