Open adoption and international adoption don’t seem to go together, but for us, that is exactly what happened. In some countries, like Ghana, extended family stay involved in the adoption process after relinquishment. They attend court, they are interviewed by the US Embassy and they are asked to give permission to the adoption during those proceedings. Adoptive parents can meet and do meet them during the process. For us, the contact after adoption has been ongoing. Family members would like to receive updates and pictures from time to time. They hope to see them again as well. I wanted to share our experience with open international adoption because it can be a huge positive in a child’s life.
Open adoption has allowed us to fill in the gaps of our children’s stories and why they ultimately ended up in an orphanage. We have received health information, family information and stories that we love to share with them. Kofi is very open about his story as I have shared before and he also remembers a lot from his almost 7 years in Ghana. For Joy, these stories told by family are priceless as she doesn’t have the same memories herself. There won’t be any baby pictures but there are plenty of stories.
Open international adoption grew our family. As our children have figured out their identities in our family, having ties to their first family has proven important. They don’t have to choose, they don’t have to divide. Grief and sadness will always be there, but we present a unified front from across the ocean. Navigating cultural differences and economical differences has not been easy but we are committed to making it work. It took a while to figure it all out and find a comfortable rhythm for all, but we are definitely getting there.
I also think about the future and how having this connection to their country or origin will be vital if they ever want to return. We are planning on visiting as a family but I am also aware of the possibility that they may want to return to Ghana more permanently at some point. I know they will always have people there who want the best for them just as I do.
Open international adoption may become more common as technology allows people to search for each other. I have this hope for our child arriving from China as well. There are websites where first families in China are searching for their children that may have been internationally adopted. Same thing is happening in Ethiopia. We don’t have the technology piece yet in Ghana, but thankfully we can always visit and send letters/packages.
I am thankful for our open international adoption. It is not at all what I expected, it’s much better.
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