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Family Ties: An Intimate Look at Open Adoption

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Family Ties: An Intimate Look at Open Adoption

By Lindsey Theis. CREATED Feb 18, 2014

 Omaha, NE- The way adoption happens for many American families is changing. Trends now show that open adoption is overwhelmingly popular among parents and many social service groups.

Rachael and Steve Henderson have three children, all adopted.

"Growing up, my dream was to get pregnant and have babies. And my twin sister, she has 5 boys, and that she's had no troubles with, and you take it for granted. You think, I can do it. And when you can't it's just devastating. Now, I couldn't imagine building my family any other way," she said.

The Hendersons sought out a domestic adoption agency that specialized in open adoptions.

Open adoptions can vary in degree, but by basic definition birth and adoptive parents share information, from identities to medical information. In some open adoption situations, like the Henderson's, the birth parent and adoptive parents meet and communicate regularly.

Rachael's youngest, Henry is 16 months old. They've seen his birth mother about half a dozen times since he was born.

"How bad is it to have more people that love you child?" Rachael said.

While reports vary, all show that openness, is on the upswing. Twenty years ago, 1 percent of domestic adoptions were open. Now 60 to 70 percent of domestic adoptions are open. Another recent report found just five percent of adoptions in America are closed.

One of the Henderson's initial concerns were the same as many parents in open adoptions: what if the birth parent changes their mind?

Right Turn specializes in post adoptive services, many of their clients are former state wards who were fostered, and then adopted.

"That adoptive parent is their legal guardian so they have those legal rights to them,"Sabina Hardesty, a support specialist with Right Turn said.

Ultimately, Henderson says open adoption isn't just sending emails and pictures.

"It's opening your heart to include the people who made my children possible," she said.