Silber, K. & Dorner, P.M. (1990). Children of Open Adoption. San Antonio, Texas: Corona. ISBN 0-931722-78-0.
This book is dedicated to the authors' parents, children, and their childrens' birthmothers - a touching start to a very open book.
This one was a doozy! Very informative and comprehensive. This book has nine chapters, including:
-Open Adoption: Definition, Evolution, Benefits
-five chapters on open adoption through the child's life span from infancy to teenage years
-Long-Term Benefits for Everybody (includes parents, adoptees, birthparents, extended families, adoption professionals).
The goal of the book is to discuss issues regarding open adoption with children at various ages. It contains many letters from birthparents to children, adoptive parents to birthparents, and children to birthparents. The letters interspersed throughout the book keep the reader engaged and touched. Have tissures nearby.
Here is Silber and Dorner's definition of open adoption: "Open adoption includes the birthparents and adoptive parents meetring one another, sharing full identifying information, and having access to ongoing contact over the years. All three components must occur to fit this definition" p. 9. They go on to say, "Our new definition recognizes the birthparents as relatives of the child.... Acceptance of this reality is an important prerequisite to open adoption and an ongoing family relationship" p. 10.
Essential ingredients in open adoption include understanding that there are grief issues for each member of the adoption triad: baby, birthparents, and adoptive parents. People believe that the adoption experience is all joy and excitement for adoptive parents, but adoptive parents also deal with their own grief over the loss of their fertility. They quote, "Infertility is a loss - it is a loss of the imaginary or fantasy child. They will go through all of the normal stages of grieving for this loss, just as if they had lost a child through death. However, society does not relate to or understand the loss in infertility..." p. 23. It is especially important to process this loss in open adoption, because there is no pretending that the adopted child was born to the adoptive parents. Counseling is important in the open adoption experience so that each member of the triad can process their own feelings and grief.
Here are some highlights from the life stages:
Infancy - open adoption leads to feelings of bonding and entitlement because the birthparent has specifically chosen the adoptive couple to parent, so the adoptive parents feel entitled to raise the child.
Preschool age - talk about the birthparents often so that it becomes a normal part of your child's life and not a taboo, bizarre thing to them, don't leave out the part of your child's having come from their birthmothers womb, so they won't feel like they came from the agency and everyone else came from mommy's tummy
School-age child - children need to know that they are loved by their birthparents, and ongoing contact will assure them of this. This becomes especially important if the child gets teased about how his "real parents" didn't love him. He will know that is not true. Silber and Dorner state, " What we have seen in open adoption is a greater degree of comfort and peace with one's reality when contact is part of hte adoption experience" p. 73. This chapter also discusses the appropriate times to share information with your child regarding their birthparents life experiences and other children, visitiation, etc.
Stay tuned for part II!