The gifts one inherits from birth parents do not merely form the template, with the adoptive parents forming everything else. The personalities of adoptees are shaped throughout their lives by their biological and cultural roots.
Many people are navigating the waters of openness not because they think that it will make the pain of adoption disappear, but because they believe that it will enhance the child's sense of self.
In The Open Adoption Experience by Lois Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia, the authors underscore the effect of the closed [adoption] system:
It gradually became apparent through research, personal accounts, and case histories that the failure to recognize and grieve for the losses of adoption had long term effects...impaired self-esteem...difficulty forming an identity...difficulty forming relationships...Not all confidential adoptions were failures, nor did all adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents suffer serious psychological problems. However, there were many people that found their experience of adoption provided them with emotional challenges that they did not expect and didn't always know how to conquer.
If I knew who my birth mother was, I could have stopped fantasizing and wondering...I could have just asked her those questions instead of just having them bounce around in my head for all those years. - Ben, an adoptee, age 29
Although birth parents were not ready to parent, they have a vital role to play in helping their child know that she was loved then and is loved now by those who gave her life.
If someone would have just told me about open adoption, or turned me onto a book, or let me talk to another birth mom, everything would have been so different. The whole experience would have been so much less chaotic and overwhelming. - Molly, birth mother of Leo
We thought that by choosing open adoptions, our children would be less likely to be plagued by issues of abandonment and rejection, and that the birth families would not wonder if a child they passed on the street could be their own. - Mathew, adoptive father of Lily and Reed
While Chris and I have not made any formal decisions about the level of openness that will happen in our adoption, I find myself very drawn to the idea of openness in adoption and am reading up on this important and potentially life-changing topic. Making Room in Our Hearts, in addition to be informative, happens to be an exceptionally interesting, compelling and thought provoking read as you can probably tell from the quotes above. If you are considering open adoption, I imagine that this book is a must-read.
In addition to books, I have of course, been checking out numerous blogs. I was surprised to find quite a few bloggers who write about their open adoptions. Dawn writes beautifully of her life with daughter Madison and of their lovely and close relationship with Madison's first mom, Pennie.
Rebekah and Rebekah...I only found their blogs a short time ago and haven't left any comments, but have become a regular reader and am inspired by their story. Rebekah and Rebekah found each other in late January 2009. Rebekah #1 is a single parent who was pregnant with her fifth child who felt strongly that she just couldn't parent one more child. She made the difficult decision to pursue an open adoption. Rebekah #2 had been struggling with infertility for some time when she and her husband Ben made the decision to start a family via adoption. Along came baby Ty who is now the strong connection between the two families. Their blogs are lovely and reading about Ty from both perspectives - adoptive mom and first mom - is pretty amazing.
I'd like to write more, but it's late and I should take myself off to bed.