by Dan Savage
on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 1:06 PM
I suspect you are inundated with emails on a daily basis so I understand if this one gets filtered out. But I'm seeking some advice and I feel that you are in a good position to help me, given your life experience. I recently discovered that I am pregnant. I've had 2 abortions in the past and I can't go through that again. I'm 31 but unemployed, financially strapped, and an emotional mess. I don't think I am capable of being a nurturing mother or providing the best possible enviroment for a child. So I've been looking at open adoption. I recall you adopted your son this way and wanted to know if you'd be willing to share with me your feelings on how it's gone. Or perhaps some guidance on choosing an agency and an adoptive family? I would like to stay int he child's life if at all possible....
Lost In Chicago
My response after the jump...
Please get in touch with Open Adoption & Family Services in Portland, Oregon. You don't have to live in Portland to work with them, and you don't have to go through with an adoption if you accept some counseling from them. They folks at OAFS are good, smart, and ethical, they practically invented open adoption, and they're fierce advocates for the rights of birthmoms. If you do decide to go ahead with an adoption, they will help you find a couple who wants a similar degree of ongoing contact, post-placement, and they will ensure that your rights are protected. In most states open adoption agreements are legally unenforceable, they're "gentlemen's agreements," but in Oregon your rights are protected and the contract you sign with an adoptive couple—how many visits per year, how many pictures per year—is binding. (You won't be forced to have more contact than you want, if you decide to take some time away; but the adoptive couple can't prevent you from seeing your child as many times per year as they agreed to before the placement.)
Of course my son has had some issues about his adoption—all children have issues, adopted kids tend to have issues about adoption. But when he's wondered why his mom couldn't raise him, or why she picked us, we've been able to pick up the phone and talk with his birthmom or see her and talk about it. And that has been so valuable.