Looking at supermarket tabloids, it seems like celebrities pick up an adopted child as easily as we grab a bag of groceries. But it’s not so simple for the nonfamous to add another member to our families.

Stricter laws governing adoptions from places like China and Romania are sending families who want to adopt back to the U.S., where birth parents play an important — and increasingly vocal — role.

A growing number of adoptions in the United States are open, meaning biological parents help choose adoptive parents and negotiate how much involvement they will have in the kids’ lives. A generation ago, virtually all adoptions in the United States were closed — and often kept secret from the adoptive children. Now, most adoptions are at least semi-open, with parents having some information about each other, and many seeing each other at family holidays.

Adoption experts say a degree of openness is good for both children and parents. When open adoption works, it can be a positive and loving experiment in collaborative parenting. When it doesn’t, it can be heartbreaking.

The relationships between birth parents and adoptive families can be extremely difficult, as both the birth parents and adoptive parents can struggle with jealousy, anger and disappointment.

At age 19, Kateri McCann gave up her daughter, Elizabeth, for adoption. She sought an open adoption — one that would allow her to have a relationship with her daughter but still give her all the things McCann couldn’t provide like a house in the suburbs and private school.

Nine years later, she is still working through her feelings of grief and betrayal. Hear from McCann and others in this asap podcast.

SOURCE: AJC.com