Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One Baby, Two Moms: a Rise in Open Adoption

From the Wall Street Journal:
As Susan Edwards and Scott Cargle last month held their adopted newborn daughter Lydia in the hospital in Greenbrae, Calif., like all parents, they wondered what her future would hold.

But some things they knew for certain: With an open adoption, they will visit with their daughter's birth mother at least once a year, phone her at least twice a year and exchange a minimum of two emails a year with photos and updates. They will also take a group picture every time they meet.

As opposed to closed or confidential adoptions, open adoptions allow the adoptive and birth families some degree of contact, which can range from a single, in-person meeting to sharing photos and news periodically, to frequent reunions. In a shift over the past 30 years, the vast majority of domestic adoptions are now open. The phenomenon has become more visible over the past few years thanks, in part, to the popular MTV series "Teen Mom," which prominently features an open adoption.
In about half of U.S. states, including California, families can choose an enforceable contract agreement that firms up the relationship's parameters. Adoptions aren't reversed, but if a dispute arises, it can be settled using the court that completed the adoption or through mediation.

Ms. Edwards and Mr. Cargle say hashing out the details of how to keep in touch with the birth mother, Sarah Raetzloff, 26, helped them understand open adoption and build trust.

"It's a good thing to have the agreement, and it's not even about its enforceability," says Ms. Edwards. "Because of the contract, we all know what to expect….Having that agreement does a lot to take away the nervousness or anxiety."
Well, the oh-so-cynical me says only the adoptive parents can say so comfortably "it's not even about its enforceability," when talking about an open adoption agreement.  To the birth mother -- the person NOT in possession -- it should be ALL about the enforceability. As in, you shouldn't consider it an "agreement" unless it's enforceable. Without enforceability, your open adoption agreement means only what the adoptive parents want it to mean.


Lorraine Dusky said...

Wow--not about enforceability? Melinda, thanks for noticing how casual "enforceability" is tossed aside when it is the one in possession talking. At FMF we have a ton of first mothers who wish their contracts had been enforceable, and furthermore, that they had not been outright lied to about contact.

Without "enforceability" there is not real contract, just a promise.

Thanks once more for your lawyerly and realistic analysis of her offhand comment.

Stephanie said...
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Stephanie said...

I happen to be one of those mothers who was promised openness and contact, then cut off from the only link to my child after only a few years. This was a defining decision on my choice to go through with the adoption and my child's adopters knew this. I was conned.

There was no "enforceability" of our agreement and I was S.O.L when they stopped sending updates. In that time they managed to indoctrinate and brainwash my child to believe that their god willed all of this and he believes it, so I am still S.O.L and will remain that way unless he ever breaks free of their lies and deceit.

To any young woman who may read this, take heed. "Open adoption" is not worth one bogus "agreement" that you are promised. Not a one..

Unknown said...

The child Scott Cargle and Susan Edwards adopted is my biological granddaughter. I have tried for the last four years to establish contact and get them to know me. I have been met with total silence, so when I went to California this June I tried to meet Susan, but she would not meet me. Instead I got a phone call from the adoption agency telling me to stop, the adoptive parents were secure in their adoption of Lydia, and if she ever wanted to know about us later they would not discourage her. WTF! The lesson learned is "open" is NOT open!!!