The Open Adoption Book:
A Guide to Making Adoption Work for You
by Bruce Rappaport, Ph.D.
MacMillan Publishing Co., 1992
The Open Adoption Experience:
A Complete Gide for Adoptiove and Birth Families—From Making the Decision Through the Child’s Growing Years
by Lois Ruskai Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia
Harper Collins, 1993
Reviewed by Barbara Free

     Although neither of these books is new, both are valuable reading. Prospective adoptive parents should make these part of their “basic texts” and probably have them handy to reread at times. However, any member of the adoption triad, even those whose adoptions were closed adoptions many years ago, can benefit from reading these books.
     The authors have extensive personal experience with both closed and open adoptions, including adoptions that started out closed and were later opened. They relate many stories of actual cases of open adoptions, with years of follow-up information. They also give a good history of adoption in our culture, which was not always as closed as it became in the 1930s and later. The Open Adoption Experience, in particular, outlines numerous situations that don’t often get addressed in books, such as adoption by relatives and stepparent adoption. Oddly enough, although in these cases, birth parents and adoptive parents know each other, frequently the adoption itself is rarely spoken about in the family and the adoptee may not know that his aunt is his birth mother, or that her stepfather is not her biological father. Sometimes these adoptions are excluded in people’s minds from even being adoptions.
     All of the authors of these two books have written clearly and in a style that is easy and interesting to read. Adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents alike will find new insights and some guidance for relationships, even though they may be adults now. Certainly families involved with current open adoptions will find some specific guidelines for handling the complex situation of adoption, and prospective adoptive parents will be able to learn what open adoptions are and are not. Agencies that specialize in open adoptions (such as Choices and Adoption Assistance, locally) use these and other books to help families decide and as guidebooks throughout the adoptees’ lives. For others, although we cannot go back and have an open adoption from the beginning, these books provide some ideas for our lives during search and reunion, particularly the relationships with extended families.

Excerpted from the January 2001 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2001 Operation Identity