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myths & truths of open adoption

The Many Myths of Open Adoption

When it comes to adoption, I tend to go by feel and Dawn Davenport prefers to go by data. *

Dawn founded Creating A Family, a rich resource for those impacted by infertility and those interested in adoption and other family-building methods. Its Facebook community is cross-triad, which means the group tends to keep itself in check more intentionally than groups made up of only adoptive parents or only first parents or only adoptees.

I was thrilled, then, to have the chance to talk with Dawn during a recent podcast/radio show. Regarding open adoption myths, I just know in my gut what is and isn’t true, and she knows by staying on top of research.

A unicorn is a myth. Is a happy open adoption?

It was validating to hear through the course of our conversation that so much of my inner knowing is backed by hard data and research.

* Truth be told Dawn and I both go by both intuition and research in varying measures.

Open Adoption Myths & Truths

Here are some of the preconceived notions about open adoption that Dawn and I cover. Are they myths or truths?

  • Open adoption is basically co-parenting.
  • Open adoption will make me feel less like the mom/dad. I will feel like I’m competing for the role of mom/dad.
  • Open adoption is confusing to kids.
  • Does open adoption mean I have to adopt the whole family? Really I only want to adopt the baby.
  • Open adoption is messy and complicated.
  • Open adoption is not worth the trouble.

More Pressing Open Adoption Issues

We also talk about common issues adoptive families face.

  • How to maintain an attitude of openness.
  • Is contact exclusively through the adoption agency or adoption attorney?
  • Helping extended adoptive family members come to terms with openness.
  • How to handle if your child says “you’re not my real mom.”
  • The Slightly Annoying Grandmother Rule.
  • The importance of birth siblings.
  • How to honor the spirit of openness even without contact.

Listen in!

Which open adoption myths were/are you most concerned about?


This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. Whazzat? A post that’s not too long. Head to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

Lori Holden's book cover

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.

Her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Her second book, Standing Room Only: How to Be THAT Yoga Teacher is now available in paperback, and her third book, Adoption Unfiltered, is now available through your favorite bookseller!

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

4 Responses

  1. I have to listen when I’m not reading blogs while Bryce is sleeping, ha ha. These myths are pervasive. I still have conversations with people who don’t understand open adoption, who are confused by it and think it’s wrong. Both from the perspective of us attempting domestic infant adoption (“why didn’t you just adopt from another country? So much EASIER and far less messy, no pesky birth parents” — holy cringe, NO) and from the perspective of having students who are adopted and speak freely of first families, birth parents, etc (“he must be adopted from grandparents, why would he get to see the people who gave him up?”). UGH. Good opportunities for education, but frustrating misconceptions to work through nonetheless. You do great work with discussing these topics with intuition and research!

  2. I am adopted, and for the life of me, I can’t understand adoption, open or closed.
    I don’t see what infertility has to do with it.
    Just because someone can’t have their own child, why do they think raising someone else’s will help them? Why do we have to give up our families, for you?
    Someone at work the other day was talking about adoption. They said how wonderful it was, because it helped children who had no families. I told them that there is no such thing as a child with no family. We all have them.
    If a woman is mentally fit enough to participate in an open adoption, why adoption at all? Does she just not want to raise her child, but wants to visit from time to time? Why? Why not raise your own with help. Why involve total strangers?

    And the one who adopts do you really feel you become the mother of someone else’s child? How can you possibly believe that? Because you do the work? If that were the case, nurses and nannies would be the mothers of the children they care for.

    I’ve been adopted all my life, and it just seems like such a farce. You pretend I’m your mother, I’ll pretend you’re my child. I’ll pretend you’re not my child anymore, and everyone lives happily ever after.

    Except, DNA, voices, bone structure, gestures, traits. They come from our families. Try and explain all this to me, because I’ve never understood it.

    1. I agree Marylee that things don’t work well when people pretend, for that comes from denial. Things have a chance of working better when everyone can deal in the realm of What Is.

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