Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Parenthood: Open vs. Closed Adoption

I don't know if you watch the show Parenthood, but right now, there's a story line about adoption. Julia and Joel have a little girl but decided they wanted another child. After trying and trying, they learn that Julia is infertile. They decide to adopt. (Isn't this just wrapping up nicely?) Julia meets Zoe, a coffee barista who works in Julia's office. Turns out, Zoe's pregnant. Julia strategically strikes up a friendship with Zoe and then asks Zoe if she can buy the baby. Yes folks, I did say "buy the baby." I was appalled at that language - especially since the Julia character is a lawyer - but television is television, after all. (See my post on Juno.) Zoe, who really likes Julia, says no. Shocker for all.

Never having adopted (but truly wishing that an adoption will come through for us), and never having had a baby, I have never been in the situation that Zoe is in. (Again, I do realize this is a TV character and not real at all!) But when Zoe told Julia the reason she didn't want Julia and Joel to adopt the baby, I was surprised ... she wanted a closed adoption.

In a closed adoption, the birth parents remain anonymous to the child. In an open adoption, the birth mother or birth parents decide on some level of contact with the child. Whether that be yearly photos and a letter, periodic emails or a higher level of contact is up to the birth parents and adoptive parents to decide. I always assumed that for our adoption, the birth parents would request some level of openness.

Robert and I are willing to consider all of the birth parents' requests without judgement - no matter what they are. And I have no judgement about this character Zoe at all. (Even if she was a real person and not a character on a TV show.) I have not been in that position and don't know what I would choose if that choice was mine. I think what's important to understand is that birth parents have choices, and they should explore those choices to decide what's right for them. And vice versa.

A television show is fine for what it is - entertainment - but if you really want to know what your options are, educate yourself. Read as much as you can. Talk to people who are experienced. An adoption attorney (lawyer) is a great place to start. Meanwhile, you can start your journey here:

Unplanned Pregnancy: Educate Yourself

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