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The other side of open adoption

August 08, 2007

Re "Between Two Families," a two-part series, Aug. 5 and 6

If The Times intended to write in support of the adoption process, specifically "open adoption," then it seems that you picked a poor example. I am the mother of a 27-year-old adopted son who now has a healthy relationship with his biological mother while he remains a vital and confident member of our family. He was raised with the understanding that he was adopted -- but he was not given the opportunity to meet his biological mother until he was a self-assured young adult and all parties agreed that the time was appropriate.

Sensitivity, cooperation and respect governed the relationship we maintained with his biological mother through the years, and this has resulted in a loving and supportive situation for our son.

Adoption, now open adoption, is a wonderful invention. I am sorry you chose a situation fraught with confusion and distress to share with your readers.

Susan P. Hall

Paradise, Calif.

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We have a 22-year-old adopted son. We met his birth mother and his maternal grandparents when he was a few hours old. We took him home from the hospital with a full record of his medical history on the maternal and paternal sides. His birth mother and parents sent pictures, cards and letters through the adoption agency until our son was 4. He has been shown these pictures, letters and cards. We have been open with him about his adoption from the time he was able to understand. We also told him when he turned 21 that he had the opportunity to seek his birth parents through the adoption agency, which as yet he has shown no interest in doing. Our son, now a college senior, is well-adjusted, surrounded by a stable and loving home. To be open frankly about a child's adoption is healthy. To attempt to do what Kendall McArthur's adopted family did is a nightmare and not a healthy way to raise a child. No wonder this young woman has been so torn and confused.

Jerry and Dee White

Capistrano Beach

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The series about open adoptions asks: Is it a good thing? But how can anyone answer that question in an informed way after reading the horror story about Kendall McArthur?

As an adoptive mother involved in an open adoption, I assure you that McArthur's experience is not representative of open adoptions today.

Even the writer acknowledges that the case was "more difficult than most" and that her family did not benefit from open adoption experiences that have developed over the years.

At the same time, the story describes the most comprehensive longitudinal study of open adoption, which found that openness is beneficial in significant ways. Unfortunately, this information is buried deep in an 800-word sidebar, so most readers may miss it.

To make this series more fair and balanced, I suggest that The Times devote an equal amount of space to open adoptions that are working, and examine the reasons for their success.

Laura CastaƱeda

Los Angeles

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