You’re probably aware of the term “open adoption” — but do you know what open adoption means in modern-day adoption journeys?
If you are like many pregnant women, you likely have many questions regarding how open adoption works, how it might benefit you and your child, and who gets to decide how “open” the relationship with the adoptive family and your child becomes.
We know this is an important part of your decision-making process, and we’re here to get you the answers you need. Keep reading to learn more about open adoption in South Carolina, or reach out to our team anytime to talk in person.
What is Open Adoption?
Many people believe “open adoption” only refers to a personal relationship between the birth family and the adoptive family. For them, open adoptions are where the parties visit each other periodically throughout the year, frequently exchange phone calls and emails, and generally interact like a blended family.
While these situations do occur, they are not the sole description of what it’s like to ‘give up’ a child for open adoption in South Carolina.
Here at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, we view open adoption on more of a spectrum, with a fully closed adoption being on one end, a fully open adoption being on the other, and endless possibilities for contact lying in between.
The example above is obviously on the fully open side of adoption. If you want this kind of openness in adoption, we’ll be happy to make it happen.
Want a fully closed adoption instead? We can talk about the pros and cons of this option to help you decide if it’s right for you.
If you find that your interests fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between fully open and fully closed, you are not alone. In fact, 80 percent of the women we work with choose to pursue what we refer to as a “semi-open adoption” or “mediated adoption.”
Why Semi-Open Adoption is the Best of Both Worlds
Generally, a semi-open adoption is a relationship that preserves each party’s identifying information and allows for mediated contact. This can take place via conference calls or meetings before the birth of the baby, and email exchange, texts, phone calls, and picture and letter updates after the adoption is complete.
Semi-open adoption is often the most requested type of adoption by a pregnant mother because:
- It maintains her privacy and identifying information.
- She is allowed to have a relationship with the adoptive family and her child.
- She can receive pictures, letters, emails, texts and videos sent by the adoptive family to our offices, which are then forwarded to her — all in an effort to protect last names, addresses, etc.
- Most adoptive families are also willing and eager to engage in this type of relationship.
- It doesn’t “close the door” on future contact in the case of a medical emergency or if the child wanted to reach out to her one day in the future.
Now that you understand why so many women in your position choose open or semi-open adoption in South Carolina, let’s look at all of the different ways in which you can get to know the adoptive family and continue a relationship with them and your child.
How Does Open Adoption Work in South Carolina?
Open adoption, semi-open adoption, closed adoption — these are all just labels to identify the type of post-placement relationship. What your relationship is called is not important; what is important is engaging in the right type of contact that will benefit you now and well into the future.
Remember that you get to choose the types of contact that you will share with the adoptive parents.
Pre-Placement Open Adoption Contact
In the initial stages of your adoption process, one of our social workers will educate you about your options regarding open adoption in South Carolina. She will ask you lots of questions to better understand what your ideal adoption looks like and whether that includes future contact with the adoptive family and your child. Once we know your open adoption preferences, your social worker will show you profiles of adoptive families with similar requests.
After you choose hopeful adoptive parents, “pre-placement contact” may begin, which may include:
- a meeting between you, your social worker, and the adoptive parents at the hospital, our office or a neutral location.
- a phone call between you and the adoptive parents, mediated by your social worker.
- email exchange between you and the adoptive parents.
Many pregnant women find this pre-placement contact to be very helpful. Often, it confirms the family is truly the right choice.
Once it comes time to deliver your child, you will get to decide exactly how that day’s events play out:
- Will the adoptive family be in the delivery room?
- How much contact will you share with the adoptive family during this time?
- How much time do you want to spend with your newborn?
- Do you want to take pictures with the adoptive family?
- Do you want to leave the hospital with the adoptive family?
Any and all of your requests will be granted during this delicate delivery experience.
Post-Placement Open Adoption Contact
Finally, once placement has occurred and the adoptive family has returned home, post-placement contact may begin. Usually, this is the part of the process that most people associate with “open adoption.”
This post-placement contact may include:
- Picture and letter updates
- Email exchange
- Phone calls or texts
- Gift exchange around holidays, birthdays, etc.
- Personal visits
- Social media interaction
- Any other forms of contact agreed upon by both parties
As with all other aspects of your adoption plan, this is your decision. However much or little contact you want to share with the adoptive parents and your child, there is always a family out there seeking a similar relationship.
Don’t dream too big or too small when it comes to finding a relationship that works best for you and your child today and well into the future. The Law Offices of James Fletcher will help you find that perfect situation. Contact us today to learn more about open adoption.