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“The challenge we have is getting the media and people outside our immediate family to understand that open adoption is the best choice we’ve ever made,” said Jill Dillon, a resident of southern Oregon, whose daughter, Carly, is eight years old. “We feel that it’s a healthy, safe way for our child to grow up, knowing her birth family and her ‘real’ family, as we think of ourselves.”
Being so involved in the adoption community, it’s natural that I get a lot of inquiries from friends and random people seeking help in beginning their adoption journey. One of the things I have to often remind myself is that I was once in their shoes. In today’s adoption climate, open adoption is the norm. But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the early stages of adoption knows about open adoption or is immediately comfortable with the idea.
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Parents may also wonder how to react when kids start voicing their preferences regarding birth parent contact. Letting a young child call the shots in an open adoption is probably a bad idea. (After all, small children don’t get to decide when to visit grandparents or other relatives.) But a child of 12 may be ready to make some decisions about whether or when to meet with birth parents. “The older a child gets, the larger the role they should have,” Grotevant advised.