Q: My spouse and I are seriously considering adopting a child, but we haven't yet decided whether to make it an "open" or a "closed" arrangement. What would you recommend?
Jim: There are advantages and disadvantages to both closed and open adoption arrangements. On the one hand, open records may prove extremely helpful to the adopted child once he reaches adolescence and young adulthood. At that stage, he is likely to be grappling with questions about his own identity, origins and direction in life. Practical matters, such as having access to a child's family medical history, may be points to consider as well.
On the other hand, while open adoption may be advantageous in certain circumstances, some families have legitimate reasons of their own to be concerned about it. For example, although an open arrangement may be beneficial during the latter part of a child's growth and development, it can also be extremely harmful earlier on in those instances where the birth mother has unhealthy or unrealistic expectations. There is great potential for emotional damage to a young child who is establishing one parental relationship, while simultaneously being influenced and affected by the presence of another "mother" on the scene. A great deal of conflict and confusion can be avoided if the book is left closed until later in the child's life.
If an open relationship has been agreed to, it's critical that the birth parents understand and respect that the adoptive parents reserve all parental rights to do what they believe to be in the child's best interests.
For further insight into the pros and cons of this debate, I'd encourage you to get a copy of "Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family: Real-Life Solutions to Common Challenges" by David and Renee Sanford.
Q: I've been burned too many times to count by films I thought would be worthwhile and positive for my children. It's to the point where I just want someone to tell me what to see and what not to see. I trust you and the reviews posted on your Plugged In website. But I don't always have time to read every individual review, much less preview everything I think may be appropriate. Where can I find a list of recommended films on your website?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged-In: First, thank you for your trust. That means a lot to us. It might be tempting to assume the role of the media police, who bark out, "Go see this one!" and "Don't watch that one!" But there are a number of reasons we prefer to explain the positives and negatives of each movie, rather than give the stereotypical thumbs up or down.
Chief among them is that we aspire to help every family member become discerning, or what I like to call "media savvy." That "virtue" can't be acquired by simply going off of someone else's judgment. It takes digging into the material with a deep desire to know where to draw the line and then passing along that skill to your children. So, please consider reading the reviews, and, when they're age-appropriate, have your children read our complete movie reviews whenever possible.
That said, years ago I wrote a piece for our blog that highlighted 30 of my then-favorite movies (pluggedin.focusonthefamily.com/a-few-of-my-favorite-things). In addition, our online web reviews can be sorted by our numeric family-friendly rating. This option allows you to search for all movies that we've given a 4, 4.5 or a perfect score. That can help in a pinch.
But again, our best recommendation is that you train your children on how to be discerning, rather than just take someone else's word for it.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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