The Spirit of Open Adoption by James L. Gritter


The Spirit of Open Adoption

By James L. Gritter

Before I go into a discussion on this book, I think it is important to note that its copyright date is 1997. There is some information in this book that is timeless, while other parts may not have aged in a way that one might find useful. That said, here we go.

I really found this book to be quite helpful. Like many other books on adoption, to best utilize all the information in this book, it will be helpful to revisit it throughout the adoption process, including post-adoption. The book starts off discussing the various types of adoptions, issues with closed adoptions, and the various forms of open-adoption. Gritter does an excellent job throughout the book noting the pros and cons to each concept. He pushes for a values-based open-adoption and identifies the values that he has found to be most important in adoption to be as follows: honor the adoptee, candor, providing choices, honoring pain, being covenantal, transformation, adaptable, and community building. He then goes into each value in depth.

He also pushes for quality adoptions and discusses some of the issues that non-profits run into in regards to providing adoptions of quality. He discusses the importance of an agency’s focus needing to be on the birthmother, not the adoptive parents in order to ensure the most ethical adoptions and to provide adoptions that in the end best service the child.

Gritter takes the perspectives of the adoptive parents, birthmother, adoptee, and even the social worker in mind. I also appreciated the time he took to highlight birthfathers and the unique position they are put into and the reactions they elicit from others in the process. He discusses dynamics that occur in these relationships and tasks each party can take to overcome these barriers.

My strongest critique is his occasional assumption that the reader has a belief system that includes God. This isn’t done in a pushy way, but could turn off readers who want to keep their religious beliefs separate from gathering information about adoption. He also can become repetitive in his critiques of closed adoptions and his pushing forward his program, which utilizes a value-based open adoption model. Although I don’t disagree with his points, if you are reading the book straight through as I did, it does start to sound like a broken record. That said, if you return to this book at various points in the adoption process, the repetitive nature of some of these points may save you from having to read previous chapters and allow you to jump into the book at the chapter that is most relevant to you at the time.

Despite the books age, I do think that most of it has aged well and would strongly recommend reading it. It is the only book that I have read thus far that takes into account the actions and responsibilities of social workers (allowing the reader to have realistic expectations for social workers and understanding the emotional toll placed on them). This is also the only book I have found that acknowledges the birthfathers (again, that I have read thus far). I think these are two important perspectives to consider as you move throughout your adoption process.

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