Open to Love: Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents are Joining Forces to Benefit Their Children
Like many proud mothers, Cassidy Stumm has a social media profile that’s full of “aw”-inducing photos of the 27-year-old cuddling her baby girl.
Amidst images of her daughter’s baptism and first birthday party, a picture of Cassidy — lifting up the laughing baby — is superimposed with the words: “I am touched by adoption.”
Cassidy, you see, doesn’t live with her daughter, Grace, who is 1 1/2 years old.
Grace lives with her adoptive parents in the Twin Cities. But because the adoption is an open one, Cassidy is still allowed to be a part of her daughter’s life.
“This is a modern-day adoption story,” Cassidy said.
Before open adoption came to the forefront in the 1980s, children like Grace didn’t have the option of knowing their biological relatives.
And that can be hard on some kids, said Alexis Oberdorfer, the executive director of adoption at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.
“When you’re missing significant portions of what forms who you are as a person, it leaves some holes in your narrative,” Oberdorfer said.
But now, more than 90 percent of infant adoptions through the agency are open. Birth mothers can select the adoptive family of their choice as well as the amount of openness and communication they would prefer.
Overall, open adoption is highly recommended, Oberdorfer said. But like any relationship, it takes work. There can be bumps along the way as all members of the adoption triad work to define that new normal. No one calls it easy.
“For people who can navigate and do it right, you’re creating a new normal and redefining what a family is,” Oberdorfer said.