Advantages, Challenges and Reasons to Consider Adoption
What are the pros and cons of adoption? I would say that depends on who you are asking and what frame of mind that person is in. It’s not so easy to be straightforward with pros and cons, as one person’s pro can be someone else’s con. It’s all about whether you are looking at adoption positively or negatively. Facts are not subjective, but perception is.
Here are five common issues in adoption, and the advantages and of challenges of each.
Openness agreements are written agreements between a birth mother and the adoptive parents. This agreement includes terms regarding visitation, when the birth mother receives updates of the child in the form of letters and pictures, and when the birth mother can have conversation with the child. The agreement basically outlines what the relationship between the adoption triad will look like until the child turns 18 years old. An openness agreement is also known as:
- Postadoption contract agreement
- Semi-open agreement
- Openness contract
- Cooperative adoption agreement
- Open adoption agreement
These agreements can be formal or informal. Depending upon how all parties are evolving throughout the child’s life, the agreements may be followed precisely, or communication may increase or decrease. To summarize, openness agreements serve as a mutual agreement between a birth mother or birth parents and adoptive parents.
FACT: State laws determine whether openness agreements are legally enforceable. There is great variance from state to state regarding whether openness agreements are enforceable by law or not. For example, in some states, if an adoptive family is not upholding their open adoption agreement, the birth mother may take her claim to court and be granted rights to enforce an openness agreement. In other states, openness agreements are not legally binding in any way.
CON: Depending on where she lives and where she signed the agreement, a birth mother may not have the right to enforce the openness agreement with the adoptive family. The adoptive parents could cut off communication at any point in time, and the birth mother would be helpless to do anything about it.
PRO: As one of the advantages of adoption, openness agreements allow for both adoptive parents and the birth mother to know what communication expectations are. Postadoption contracts take the guesswork out of appropriate terms regarding communication. Being upfront and transparent from the start allows for a level of comfort for all parties involved in the adoption. Ultimately, such agreements benefit a child who was placed for adoption by giving the child consistency in expectations of a long-term relationship. However, legally enforceable adoption agreements are rarely needed; most birth and adoptive parents are excited about maintaining contact through an open adoption, and adoption professionals can provide ongoing mediation and support to ensure all parties keep up with their communication promises. Open adoption is beneficial for everyone involved, especially the adoptee.
Legal relinquishment is the act of a birth mother voluntarily signing away her rights as a legal mother. Once the document relinquishing her parental rights has been signed, she has officially released her legal rights.
FACT: Once legal relinquishment has taken place, a birth mother has no legal rights to that child. The birth mother cannot make decisions for the child and is not responsible for the child. She has signed away all legal rights to legally parent that child.
CON: If a birth mother feels that her child is not being taken care of in the way that she desires, she has no input in the situation. She must accept the decisions that the child’s adoptive parents make for that child. Whether she respects those decisions or not, there is nothing she can do about it. Of course, if a birth mother believes that abuse is involved, there is always the option of contacting Health and Human Services within her state to see if they believe there is cause for state intervention. Short of that, a birth mother has no legal recourse to parent once relinquishment has taken place.
PRO: As a benefit of adoption, a birth mother can rest easy knowing that relinquishment has allowed for some breathing room. She gets to be a birth mother, and that is a beautiful role to play in a child’s life. A birth mother can just enjoy seeing, speaking with, or giving gifts to her child without worrying about the added responsibility of parenting. When a birth mother signs the relinquishment, she has already chosen her child’s parents. She has made the choice to provide her child with a better life. She has an agreement outlining her future relationship with her child. She has been bold, brave, and can feel convicted in her decision. A birth mother has chosen the parents for her child, and she has given that child the greatest gift she could: the best shot at life. Even though she couldn’t parent herself, she was able to give her child parents who could.
Long-Term Emotional Healing
FACT: Even when adoption is the best option, there are still long-term effects to be considered. A birth mother will very likely go through a grief process at some point regarding her adoption decision. This grief may come and go in waves. One day, a birth mother may be fine and enjoying her life. The next day, she may feel an aching in her heart for the child who is no longer custodially with her.
CON: Healing is a journey, and for some birth mothers, adoption may be a traumatic experience. Adoption is not a one-and-done decision. There is healing required that may take a lifetime of self-reflection and self-directed motivational steps.
PRO: Healing is more than possible as one of the pros of adoption. For the birth mother who knows that adoption is the best choice, she does not have to be trapped in feelings of pain. There is a path for healing through support, resources, tools, and action. As an author of spiritual healing for adoption, I offer many resources for healing through website blogs and through my book, How a Birth Mom Healed, with more to come. Many adoption agencies are really starting to pull together more resources for birth mothers through mentorship programs and support groups. With every step toward healing, a broken birth mother can become happier and healthier. A birth mother who decides to walk a path of healing is almost guaranteed a happier and healthier life than when she chose adoption in the first place.
FACT: Both the adoptive parents and the birth parents can choose to stop the adoption process before finalization. The birth mother may change her mind and decide she does not want adoption at any point during her pregnancy, and, depending on state laws, sometimes even after consenting to the adoption. The adoptive parents can also decide they no longer want to follow through with the adoption.
CON: While it is rare for adoptive parents to change their minds, a birth mother who has found a family may be traumatically forced to find another family if potential adoptive parents decide they no longer want to adopt the baby. Adoptive parents may become heartbroken if they have fallen in love with a child and the birth mother decides she no longer wants to follow through with adoption. Changing minds can be heartbreaking and traumatizing for both parties.
PRO: All the parties have a choice to change their minds, which is a benefit of adoption. One moment of decision, or even months of planning and waiting, do not require follow-through when there is hesitation. No one is forced into doing anything that they may be uncomfortable with. Changing minds are a possibility for both the birth mother and the potential adoptive parents before proceedings for adoption are finalized.
“How often we wish for another chance to have a fresh beginning
A chance to blot out our mistakes and change failure into winning.
It does not take a new year to make a brand new start.
It only takes the deep desire to try with all your heart.
To live a little better and to always be forgiving.
To add a little sunshine to the world in which we are living.
So, never give up in despair and think that you are through,
For there’s always a tomorrow and a chance to start anew.”
~New Beginnings, by Helen Steiner Rice
FACT: Whatever a woman’s reasons to give up a baby for adoption, adoption allows for a new beginning for a birth mother, her child, and adoptive parents. A birth mother can set life goals and work toward meeting them knowing her child is safe. Adoptive parents can raise a child as their own. While dreams of parenting come true for adoptive parents, the child lives a fulfilled life. The child is raised knowing that he or she was wanted twice, being loved by two families, and with opportunities that would have not otherwise been offered.
CON: Adoption critics may interpret a new beginning negatively. They may claim that adoption was a birth mother’s “way out” of parenting. There will be those who do not understand the beauty and sacrifice of adoption. All parties in the adoption may face adoption stigmas and stereotypes. Facing such misunderstanding will require patience and courage. An opportunity to educate those who criticize adoption may feel it daunting at times. Such moments might seem inconvenient and frustrating.
PRO: New beginnings are a significant benefit of adoption as an opportunity for dreams to come true, new goals to be set, and a renewed sense of hope for the future. Adoption is a choice that allows for everyone in the adoption triad to have a new beginning and a new chance at a better life. With every passing moment of life, we have the choice to embrace it or squander it. Adoption benefits everyone in the triad by empowering them with an opportunity to embrace new beginnings.
Perception is a Choice, As Is Healing
Perception of reality is our choice. We all have options when it comes to adoption. A birth mothers has the right to determine who she voluntarily places her child with, and adoptive parents have a right to set boundaries with the birth mother.
Ultimately, adoption needs to be a choice that is best for the child, and it is crucial that all parties remember that. While it is easy to get caught up with “what-ifs” and “whys”, it is up to all parties involved to determine what will make everyone happy and healthy. I highly recommend transparency and communication for all parties involved with adoption proceedings from the start. The best chance to get through hurdles for everyone is when there is a foundation of trust and respect.
As with everything in life, there are many adoption pros and cons, as well as reasons to place a baby for adoption or to choose to parent. I know that there are challenges with adoption. Challenges are a part of life. While one can look at the cons of adoption and become paralyzed with fear, that same person can re-align their perception to see every aspect of adoption in a positive light. Sacrifice will be involved for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents. It is an unavoidable by-product of mature parenting. It is also what makes adoption so selfless and beautiful. My suggestion is to consider your own situation when looking at the pros and cons of adoption, and apply to you what is relevant and follow your heart.