What is Adoption?

What is Adoption?
While growing up, adoption wasn’t the way we envisioned forming our family; however, life doesn’t always work out the way you think it will, and adoption has become an intrinsic and beautiful part of our family. Because you are our friends and family, adoption has now indirectly become a part of your life, too. We want to share some thoughts, feelings, and information about adoption and it’s specific culture and vernacular so you can all feel informed and comfortable with this subject. If you have further questions or need clarification, we would be happy to help!
A dear friend of ours, who has also gone through the adoption process three times, wrote this to me when we began this journey in 2007. It was a perfect description of adoption—with it’s intricacies, loss, emotions, and joys. I would like to share it with you:

Dear Lora,

Although I have been silent, I have been paying
attention to you and yours. Maryann's mom has updated
me a few times and I knew adoption might be coming
your way. Remember this: all adoption begins with
loss. But it's us, or is that we? It's humans who
spend our entire mortal existence trying to make
something wonderful out of something less than
wonderful. It's who we are. You have a loss, and so
does a small little one somewhere. You claim that
amazing little soul and it will claim you, too, and
out of your disappointment and that baby's loss you
will build a wonderful family, and who better than you
and John to do that? I can't think of anyone.

Adoption is expensive and invasive and risky and scary
and frustrating....AND adoption is a true miracle and
amazing, and wonderful and exciting, and intense and
personal and life affirming and joyous and
exhilarating and phenomenal. I, for one, am SO
excited for you all. What a magnificent thing to do
with your life. My girls will be happy
for you too. They are FIRM believers in adoption.
You have so many choices and options. OF COURSE I am
your reference, your cheerleader, your person who
understands, your fairy Godmother. Go for it and
never look back. Of course people will tell you how
they adopt one or two and then become pregnant, maybe
that will happen for you...it didn't happen for me :)

I love you Lora and I am so sorry for your loss. I
know we all have these stories we write in our minds
about the way our lives will unfold. Sometimes it's
like our plans, sometimes it's better than our plans,
and sometimes our plans for this life don't come
through until the next life. Feel the pain, cry the
tears, acknowledge the loss. But I know you and you
won't get stuck. You will find your way and by
opening your mind and heart to this new idea you will
be blessed. I promise you that. I promise you!

What is Open Adoption?
Open adoption is an adoption where, “birth parents, the adopted child, and the adoptive parents know each other and interact directly at their own discretion. Their contact may be in person, or through correspondence and phone calls”(The Open Adoption Experience, xvi). The idea behind open adoption is to reduce the feelings of loss: the birth parents can see how their child is healthy and happy, the adopted child can know about his/her family of origin, and the adoptive couples can get health and medical information from the biological parents.
There is a whole spectrum of openness. Some adoptive families only correspond annually, while others see each other on a weekly basis. John and I enjoy an open adoption with Maya’s birth families. We e-mail them frequently, post regularly on our family blog, and visit in person a few times a year. We have already been greatly blessed by having an open adoption.