In "The Stork Market" I have a chapter on so-called open adoption...how they are the new marketing device since shame doesn't work as well in the new millennium as it used to.
Expectant mothers are lured with sales pitches that make open adoption sound like joint custody in a divorce which it most certainly is NOT! In the majority of divorces -- unless one parent is adjudged unfit -- both parents are still parents. The chld is free to live with either or both and the visit liberally with the other parent. In divorce,there are restriction on moving our of state and other major decisions involving the child that both are still parents of.
Adoption of course begins with the relinquishment or termination of ALL parental rights. This leaves the natural parents no rights whatsoever. no say in how the adoptive parents raise the child and no way to enforce contact agreements....IF they had the money to take it to court and fight when adopters decide to simply pack up and leave the original parents high, dry and betrayed. The best that can happen in such a situation is a mediation, though the mothers who have been betrayed by false promises, as in the case of Carla Moquin, really want the adoption overturned rather than have their chid live with people who would act in such deceitful ways.
Carla is far from the only one who has been deceived. Ever since adoptions were "opened" in this way, mothers have reported being lied to or open arrangements falling part within a relatively short time. Some establish phone numbers for pre-adoption negotiations that are turned off as soon as the child is in their arms.
Some mothers - like the fictionalized charactr in Juno - beleive it best not to have openess or even see their chidl at birth. This was depicted recently on the MTV series "16 and Pregnant." All throughout her pregnancy the young women who was planning an adoption, was sure she did not want to see her baby becsuse it would be too painful. She'd cry every time she said it. It was so utterly pinful to watch. In the end she did not only see her child and hold her, she actually had to wind up leaving the hospital with her and hading he rover in the hospital parkign lot! What kind of adoption agency didn't know these rules to prepare and protect this young woman from such cruelty when she had stated all along she did not want to even see her baby!?
Even if the contact is ongoing, emotionally it is still not as healthy and happy for mothers as thy are led to believe. In fact, it can be in some ways more painful to see your child but to feel utterly helpless. One mother recently told of her child telling her she had been abused by her adoptive parents. The first mother confronted them and they disappeared. No she is left to worry every day.
The pain of ongoing contact was recently expressed very articulately in a blog post entitled Missing My Child by Coley S. I wish every mother considering an open adoption would read this. This is the reality, not the pretty picture painted for expectant mothers by adoption practitioners who feed on our losses like vultures.