Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past

By Betsy Keefer; Jayne E. Schooler et al. | Go to book overview

QUESTION 14: WHAT PARENTAL CHARACTERISTICS ARE FOUND IN FAMILIES THAT FIND SUCCESS IN OPENING A CLOSED ADOPTION?
"One of the primary characteristics is that adoptive parents have confidence in their own parenting abilities and styles," says Martha Nabor, an adoptive parent and an adoption professional with International Adoption Services Center in Maine. "They do not need to always second- guess themselves about discipline or boundary setting."Another characteristic Nabor cites that is helpful is that these parents need to be able to take risks:

Open adoption relationships require risk taking. Adoptive parents with these ongoing relationships need to be able to function without all the answers upfront and clear. You don't know all the answers when it comes to working out these types of arrangements.

A final characteristic is that these adoptive parents are aware of and sensitive to the core issues of adoption that impact not only their child, but the birth mother as well. Open adoption does not eradicate the grief, loneliness, and guilt for these birth mothers. It eases, but not erases. 15

SUMMARY
When opening up a closed adoption, it is critical that both adoptive parents and the adopted child have the opportunity to assess the following with an objective, supportive person:
1. What are the expectations?
2. What are the fears?
3. What are the wishes and worries?
4. How will we handle disappointments and setbacks?
5. What parental characteristics best fit successful relationships when opening a closed adoption?

QUESTIONS
1. How would you describe the current level of openness in your adoption?
2. What are some of the questions you can use to address your child's expectations about opening up the closed adoption?
3. What are your own wishes and worries for this experience?
4. What type of support do you have from your extended family, friends, or adoption agency?
5. Discuss why you agree or disagree with the recognition that opening up a closed adoption does not completely erase some of a child's pain regarding adoption?

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